A woman I admire, Olga Grkavac, at the Information Association of America (ITAA) recently got back to me on an email inquiry. I had asked Olga what, if anything, the ITAA member companies were thinking about Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 for their businesses. In an email response, she basically said, “Not much, but I’m still checking.” (I’m paraphrasing). I remember being at an ITAA conference with Olga in 1998 or ’99. We were standing on a beautiful outside deck at a cocktail party at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. The Colorado Rockies loomed hazily in the distance. I gestured toward them and said to her, “Olga, the Internet is like those mountains. It’s a giant phenomenon that’s going to hit the IT industry by surprise. Some people can’t see it, but it’s coming.” She looked at me quizzically, but I was going for a Hollywood impression, and I think I got it. I reminded her of that discussion this week in my return email. I told her, “I’m writing you from a conference on Office 2.0. The conference is sold out with standing room only in the popular sessions. There are over 45 companies exhibiting here. A lot of these firms (most actually) are startups. My point is the federal and commercial groups not only should but must start looking at this phenomenon. The Internet has finally grown up and is going to work!”
Office 2.0 was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended in my 20+ years experience in the high tech industry. Why? Because there was a special magic in the air that we were all on the ground floor of something BIG. Even the skeptics who made for some interesting panel discord, couldn’t deny there was something going on here that was worth sticking around for. For the record, I am an unabashed believer. I asked Rafe Needleman who sat next to me, “Rafe, are we in another bubble?” Thoughts of losing my income, my house, my car, and my stock portfolio like in the last bubble were haunting me like the ghost of Christmas past. Rafe said, “Yes,” but reassured me that the market was more mature. Rafe Needleman is an insightful guy who reviews new technology. I felt good he wasn’t fearful of the road ahead. We agreed we’d live another day to write about it, if we were headed for another implosion.
At the same time we were in San Francisco, I got an email from a friend who said there were over 6,000 people at the Gartner IT Expo that was on this week in Orlando. I was surprised to hear that even Gartner analysts were talking about Enterprise 2.0. and that it was a hot topic at the show. This encouraged me. Most of the dissension and disagreement was related to whether or not IT is the enemy or not. More on that for another post. In short, I’m starting to weigh in on the side of the neo-Enterprise 2.0ers who believe we can find some common ground. IT will embrace Enterprise 2.0 the same way they have accepted Salesforce.com; it’s just a matter of time.
With 56 vendors exhibiting, and my obligation to my client, Itensil, I didn’t have enough time to see every product. This was probably my biggest disappointment, but I’m the one to blame. The most impressive, hands-down, company I spoke to was Atlassian. The reason was not for the imaginative nature of the product, but because of the company’s fast-track success. I will post separately on Atlassian, as I spent a lot of time getting a demo and brief from co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes. Other products that impressed me included Approver, FreshBooks, Koral, SiteKreator, Vyew, Wufoo, and ZoHo.
Major Props to Ismael Ghalimi for conceiving and delivering a first-class conference!