I attended the Social Now conference in Lisbon this week, and I found the format and the company truly fascinating.
The format involves creating two use cases — coming from a fictional company — and asking tool vendors to build demos showing how their products would support those examples. There were a number of companies presenting, with a very broad range of capabilities: Evernote Business, Foulders, Podio, Yammer, Spreadd, X-Wiki, Yoolink Pro, Zynchro, and a WordPress approach by a consulting firm, WigiLabs.
Here’s my thoughts for the conference organizer, Ana Neves, that she consider the following:
The case studies are interesting, but they might work better if vendors were free to improvise a bit. For example, the case study was predicated on a fictional company rather than an activity, like a marketing campaign or a product design initiative. Instead of basing everything around a single company, maybe it could be a network of 30 people, made up of multiple companies. Likewise, it might be interesting to have consultants present how a combination of tools — like Asana and Dispatch.io, for example — might work for people.
A second notion: dream up 4 or 5 scenarios, and let the companies pick which two they want to implement. Tools don’t necessarily have to be good for every sort of situation, and a task-ish tool will shine more in a project with many deadlines, dependencies, and coordination. While another tool might be better oriented for ideation and knowledge sharing. The model of Social Now implies that tool users want to evaluate and then select a single tool, which will bias the experience toward general and broad work media tools.
Personally, I think the future is a spectrum of deep and narrow tools. This is a likely fall out of the fast-and-loose style of work, where individuals or small project groupings select their own tools rather than a network wide adoption of a single general tool. Social Now might be better off showcasing the sweet spots of many tools instead of an implicit bake-off looking for the best tool.
Also, during a discussion with other attendees, we considered the idea of involving the attendees in voting for ‘best of’ awards. I think ‘Best in Show’ might have gone to Spreadd in Lisbon (see Spreadd is a smart eavesdropper, building profiles in the background and making connections), but other possible categories, like ‘Best Knowledge Sharing’ and ‘Best Coordination’ would have been a toss-up.
While I love Lisbon, I think that many people will consider it an exotic locale for a tech conference of this sort, especially since there wasn’t a Lisbon-based tool company in the group. Personally, I think London or some other tech hotbed would be a better choice, when considered as a European event.
I’ll be posting an abbreviated version of my keynote talk, soon.