CITE Insights

I’m just back from CITE 2013 in San Francisco. Though I wasn’t there long and it was not a giant conference on the scale with a Dreamforce or Oracle OpenWorld, it was great for close, focused and yet completely honest interactions with other attendees. Those interactions helped to provide a raw, grassroots view of some of the big issues facing IT and the computer industry in general. Here are a few of the more interesting tidbits:

  • I had the most amazing conversation over lunch with a group of IT pros. Though the conservation was ostensibly about various mobile technology needs, it quickly turned to the IT sales process. Everyone had a horror story about difficulties in getting real and relevant information through various vendors’ sales organizations. Either the salesperson was so uninformed about the products they were selling or the website poorly laid out that coming by basic feature information was damn near impossible. Getting simple questions answered was a chore. What really caught my interest was how sales decisions were being made not because of better products or services but based on who could get information to a customer needed more quickly. So, if you are part of the IT vendor community you can immediately get a bump in sales by improving sales operations and the quality of your sale professionals.
  • IT definitely understands the new world order and see themselves as partners with other knowledge workers in IT buy decisions. Most of the people I spoke with seemed to embrace the chance to be more strategic and less burdened with small details. The idea that knowledge workers had a stake in the decision seemed to make them feel that their choices were better.
  • I asked everyone at my session if they had social collaboration software in place. They all raised their hands. I then asked who was happy with their social software and almost nobody raised a hand. Wow! Most had rolled out enterprise social networks widely across their company with little focus on processes and had experience really poor adoption by end-users. On the one hand, that’s sad given how long we’ve been in this social game. On the other hand, it was good for me since my whole talk was about alleviating that situation. It has become obvious that for companies to realize the benefits of the social enterprise they will have to do things different and will need vendors to support a “go slow” attitude toward enterprise social network rollouts.
  • On the mobile front, security and mobile device management were most on the minds of the attendees at CITE 2013. There was more of an emphasis on securing applications on a device than securing the data. I think this is borne more out of frustration with managing data on mobile platforms than on lack of interest in doing so.
  • The cloud is taken for granted. Every IT person I talked to acts like cloud services at every level, from IaaS to SaaS, are just tools in the toolbox and not at all unusual. Developers especially assume that any resources they can’t get in house they can get in the cloud.

CITE was a great conference with insightful speakers (include yours truly… hopefully), cool new products, and eye catching demonstrations. The best part was the people. The close proximity of vendors and customers makes this an excellent opportunity to get the real story about social and mobile in the workplace. The big takeaway (and surprise) for me was how technology problems, including mobile device security and social enterprise adoption, are taking a back seat to bad sales processes. If vendors want to really help customers, getting the sales house in order should be the number one goal of the company. Now maybe a little social enterprise applied to sales…