Gist was honored to receive a “cool vendor in the high performance workplace” award from Gartner this year. Given that we entered open beta (September 15) and we still have a long way to go to realize our vision it feels pretty good to be recognized at this level. As part of that award, we got a booth and both Robert and I attended the event. I was only here for 2 days and Robert will be there until it ends on Thursday, so go by and see him in the Cool Vendor Pavilion.
Some quick thoughts based on my experience include;
- The cloud” is still very scary for most CIO/CTOs, but they are really grappling with what is means, how it can apply and how they can leverage it for benefit. Despite the fact that they have been supporting sending email and documents “to the cloud” for years or that many of them have servers located in/managed by other companies, they somehow see this as different.
- Google Apps for the Enterprise has arrived, big time – Michael Lock (leads sales for Google Apps) gave a great presentation about the value of cloud based services (e.g. 68 major features in 2008 and 83 already in 2009 for Google apps vs. um, how many from Microsoft Outlook, Exchange, Office…?) as well as the additional benefits of hosted services (lower cost, security, management…) which was compelling. He was followed by the CIO from the Motorola Handset Division who switched his 15,000 people from Exchange to Google earlier this year. I also talked to the CIO for all of Motorola and she said they are likely to move the whole company over in the future. This is major!
- Also from Motorola – they are really embracing social media and encourage everyone across the organization to use the tools to get the most from their networks of coworkers, customers, partners, potential employees. This was exciting, but there were lots of other people saying that they “lock down” the social web, seeing it as more time waster than competitive advantage (short sighted).
- While many of the Gartner analysts were saying familiar things, they do have a new practice focused around the “customer centered web” which brings together lots of good angles from web2.0 to CRM. Both times I heard Gene Phifer talk, he was very smart, had great data and laid out some specific plans for enterprises to embrace. Another smart guy was David Cearley who understands the evolution of the CRM space and how tools like Twitter and Facebook can work for a company’s benefit. Clearly Gist fits into this space as we can help everyone in the organization get a handle on who is saying what on all the different channels (email, web, blogs, twitter…) and can help get the most from your network. We plan to talk to these guys soon to get more detail on what they see happening in the most innovative and forward looking companies (the ones who will want to embrace Gist).
- Despite these talks, most of the attendees seemed really “internally” focused vs. externally focused. They still seem way more concerned about managing their servers, deploying some management software… vs. getting their people more engaged, connected and productive. This is another good case for the cloud, where companies like Twitter, Facebook, Google are developing and deploying solutions that can be set up in minutes and cost $0 to manage.
- The wi-fi in the halls sucked. This is embarrassing since the place is filled with CIO/CTOs. We also had a small booth and the wired connection was hard to get working (after the great work of a few of the staff). IT FAIL.
- There were <10% of the people who had laptops open during the presentations and the Twitter banter was pretty sparse (check out #GartnerSym for details). Contrast this with a conference like Defrag where the levels of conversation are so much richer and the wifi is awesome (I hope). We are really looking forward to seeing all our friends at Defrag this year in Denver (Nov 11-12).
- Mark Hurd (HP CEO) is a masterful presenter. He did a keynote/Q&A and he was awesome. Great blend of data, process, humor, humility…and he even drew on a flip-chart to make more of his points.
- The general mood was upbeat and enthusiastic. Most people seem like they are looking forward, looking to invest in new solutions and will, over time, embrace the social web.