Posts Tagged ‘conferences’

Dinosaur Tech Vendor Conferences in the Non-Linear Digital World

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Doug Hadden, VP Products

I've been watching a bit of on-line hyper-marketing content and following some of the tweet stream from #OOW13. Big Enterprise Software conferences are becoming more and more irrelevant. These firms are resorting to hyperbole that is well beyond reasonable.

I dare say that having to explain big conferences to young people 20 years from now will be difficult. (As difficult as explaining radio – "you don't pick what you listen to". TV – "you had to wait until your program came on".) These conferences are an expensive anachronism in the non-linear digital age.

What are these conferences all about?

Advertising. Marketing. Selling.

The characteristics are:

  • One-upmanship on competitors (who cares?)
  • Holding back on product announcement until the event (announcing everything from vaporware "pre-beta" to shipping products)
  • Tech focused geek speak (NoSql, key-value pairs, map reduce…. for example)
  • Rolling out customers to brag about something to promote the customer in the glow of the ERP vendor
  • Senior executives keynoting, talking to the press and analysts, avoiding the difficult questions
  • Telling you what you are going to get and when you're going to get it – and you should just accept that (this is what enterprise software vendors consider "leadership" or "thought leadership")

There's a lot of misdirection at these events. What seems to be wholly missing is any connection to what is driving business. Cloud, social media, big data, mobile, internet of things, collaborative economy are possible solutions to challenges and opportunities faced in the real world. These companies seem to focus on presenting features and advantages without translating this into the benefit that customers will receive. So what if you can do a query 100x faster on an engineered system if you don't need it that fast? What if the costs are too high to justify?

Vendors who fail to smarten up and pivot to customer-centric conferences where they learn about the real world – where they hear the voices of customers – the faster that the circus will come to an end. (Some might say that there are more people at OOW13 than OOW12. Don't be fooled by the uptick in activity thanks to social media marketing – it's at the inflection point where buyers are making more decisions by researching on the web.)

I have yet to hear any executive at any enterprise software company speak with any authority or with any insight about:

  • Effects of globalization on business (other than suggest that the cloud, or a single system of record, or CRM is needed)
  • Demographic changes (other than millennials use social media)
  • Organizational flattening and agility (other than use predominantly monolithic and hard-to-change software)
  • Changing role of business and government to society (other than governments should think like business)

User Group Conferences

I'm not a huge fan of the conference sponsored by independent user groups.  User groups can be more business oriented, but are often problem-oriented.These seem to take on the air of therapy sessions where everyone is trying to overcome the problem of what they bought. There are optimists who have found clever ways to get around limitations. Most realize that they are all "in it together." 

Software company executives sometimes attend user groups conferences. Rarely the most senior management. In other words, the vendor doesn't need to commit to anything.

Steering Committees

FreeBalance uses a different method known as a Steering Committee. The characteristics are a bit different:

  • Government oriented where 3rd party speakers provide value to governments on the challenges of the day
  • Governments send qualified people to participate – and this is covered by maintenance revenue
  • The product roadmap is presented and then customers change it, re-prioritize
  • Every customer presents lessons learned in public financial management that may or may not have anything to do with our software
  • Round-table discussions are facilitated (this is work for customers who come)
  • The FreeBalance International Steering Committee owns 20% of our R+D revenue
  • Executives are there the entire time, and there is no escape (except for illness) and fully accessible to customers
  • No press, a little hype, and confidentiality so that customers can speak (we do tweet, storify and blog but with no mention of what a specific customer said)

The point is: if you are going to spend the time to go to a conference so vendors sell to you – surely they should be paying you. And, you should expect commitment for the vendor to try to give you what you need when you need it.

Public Financial Management (PFM) Knowledge Sharing from Conferences

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

 

Part 1: Introduction

FreeBalance participates in many Pubic Financial Management conferences around the world. Valuable information is shared among PFM professionals at these conferences. We find this information critical for improving our Integrated Financial Management and Information System (IFMIS) designed exclusively for government. We recognize that not everyone can attend these conferences. Therefore, we are sharing notes and observations with you. And, we will augment these entries as we attend more conferences.

Themes

This series of postings will cover 9 themes:

  1. Introduction and References
  2. History of Public Financial Management Reforms
  3. Benefits of IFMIS
  4. Acquisition Practices
  5. Implementation Practices and Project Management
  6. Implementation Sequencing
  7. Capacity Building
  8. Subjects in PFM – Procurement, Budget Planning and Performance Management
  9. Transparency and Accountability

Format

Each entry begins with a summary of the theme followed by bullet point notes. Some sections within each theme are generated from a single presentation while others have numerous points from many presentations. The speaker who is paraphrased is identified. Links to the presentation or paper is provided, when available for each posting. (And the references for all 8 themes are provided at the end of this blog entry.)

We may not have captured the full essence of conference information in our paraphrasing. If so, please let us know by commenting.

Other Blog Sources

We recommend the International Consortium on Financial Management (ICGFM) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) PFM blogs. ICGFM provides all conference presentations and copies of the International Journal on Government Financial Management on the ICGFM web site.

References

The following material is referenced in this series by speaker: