Short Report from FASTForward'07

FASTForward was an interesting conference. It was put on by a vendor of search technology, and the primary focus is on providing value for that vendor’s customers. I have to say, I have been to similar conferences in the past (and never as a customer, always as some sort of awkward outsider) and FAST did it well. Their customers, many of whom are being exposed to these “Enterprise 2.0” ideas for the first time, seemed to be buzzing and curious.

FAST had a tough time keeping the discussion on just search, but rather than shut down other discussions, they simply offered their own take on how search fit in. I was impressed with them, especially as they are going through some internal turmoil (rumor mill).

Interesting Bits:

* Adam Carson, who needs to blog more often, is working for (the biggest?) investment banking operation in the world, and he is the point man on finding a direction for them to dive in to Enterprise 2.0. Adam has his shit together and doesn’t do all that corpspeak bs we get tired of from many of the people trying to do this stuff in big orgs. Adam is taking a 2.0 approach to Enterprise 2.0, which just makes good sense but seems to elude most people. Watch for him as he kicks ass shortly.

* Euan Semple and I had never met, but I have been reading his stuff for years. Getting to hang out with him was great and would have made the entire trip worthwhile.

* My estimate right now: 98% of people are talking, 2% of people max. are doing.

* Ray Lane says “that someone at Harvard calls it Enterprise 2.0, I call it the “Inter-Personal Enterprise”. +1 for Ray for a great rendition of his often given Enterprise focused talk.

* Analysts are banging their heads against the wall trying to understand how to layer social tools into existing organizations.

* Everyone wants to talk about the largest scenarios, and when many ideas are brought up a “that would never work at a place like GE” response is thrown out. Shifting the conversation to much smaller case studies is far more interesting and provides a much clearer idea of possibility.

* The most interesting people are the ones who are curious as hell, but not trying to pretend they get it. What the hell is going on here? What can I do to dig deeper? Is this a complete change or an incremental upgrade of organizations?

* (obvious) Free Beer was plentiful. That keeps people very happy.

Less interesting Bits:

* The place seemed to be crawling with big 5 consultant types. The scary change since 6 months ago: they have gone from saying “this seems cool, tell me more” to saying things like “we have done an Enterprise 2.0 survey of over 16,000 companies with 300 datapoints and we have determined that in order to redefine the paradigm outcome we must reintegrate the 1.0 strategy with a 2.0 multiplier and provide another research study to … blah … blah.. blah”

* Intellectual discussions on this stuff can not only be boring as hell, but probably detrimental. Hearing some of the stuff people were saying in one of the “Enterprise 2.0 Roundtable”‘s was scary.

* Intellectual discussions on “adoption” are even more boring. Talk about a misnomer.

* “Business Intelligence” still leaves me with a blank expression. When I asked E WTF it was, he offered that it was more of an oxymoron than anything. I think I will just let it slide by.

* People tried to convince me on several occassions that this new era is just Knowledge Management repackaged. I feel like I am missing something drastic here. The change now goes deeper, has immediate impact and is focused on PEOPLE, not KNOWLEDGE. Rebuttal needs work.

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