Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bon Nuit Geneve

I just had a wonderful experience in Geneva, Switzerland where I spoke at the Marketing and Direct Focus Europe 2007 conference hosted by Baptie and Company. I gave the keynote address on the second day which is traditionally reserved for an academic offering her/his view on the state of marketing (thanks to Paul Marsden for the referral). This conference was focused on the B2B sector, and specifically the technology industry. I feel like I contributed a lot to the conference -- I spoke on the implications of Web 2.0 to companies and the four phase model of conversational marketing that I've been developing (oblivious, monitoring, listening and responding, and joining in) -- but ultimately I feel like I took away more than I contributed.

The people there were incredibly smart, representing marketing professionals for many of the large and middle-sized tech firms in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Attendees included Google, Microsoft, HP, Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent, and Oracle just to name a few of the larger firms.

The Chatham House Rule applied to the workshops and presentations -- which is the UK version of "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" -- so I won't go into a lot of the details about what the main themes and take-aways were. However, I will comment on my reflections for how Web 2.0 played out at the conference.

I found that many companies were focusing on Web 2.0 and the implications to their business. This is quite understandable and happens anytime something as powerful as this cultural shift comes along. However, I couldn't help but think that people were focusing too much on how to leverage Web 2.0 technologies, like Second Life, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc., without a clear articulation of WHY they would even want to leverage them. That is, I think it's more productive to START WITH the goals they would like to accomplish, and then think of the range of ways these goals could be accomplished, perhaps including Web 2.0 technologies and perhaps not. It's a subtle, but I think important point.

As I mentioned above, I found this conference extremely valuable for my understanding of the B2B tech sector in Europe and the people extremely pleasant. People were genuine and willing to share their own insights with others. It was a wonderful experience. Thanks to Rod Baptie and crew for their incredible efforts at organizing this conference. I look forward to the opportunity to participate in such an event again!