keys to the summit

Monday will be the start of CMSWire’s first-ever conference of its own, DX Summit 2015.

If you’re a frequent reader of this publication, I probably don’t need to tell you again that it’s being held from Monday, November 2 through Wednesday, November 4 at the W Hotel City Center in downtown Chicago.

After COMDEX died, folks supposedly in the know began to predict the death of all technology conferences. Folks in the know have also predicted the death of the telephone call.

(I’ve lost track of how many times that’s been pitched to me as a story idea. By phone.)

Today there are so many tech conferences that they overlap from week to week. Why would we want to add another to the mix?

Because there needs to be at least one venue in the world where people who work in information technology, in marketing, in product and service development, in DevOps, in operations and in software development meet in one room (not the virtual kind) to discuss how we expect to work together in the coming years.

We sometimes talk about aligning our business strategies across company departments as if this is something we can send out to a repair shop to have done for us.

For once, we need to meet together in one place without the auspices of some particular technology or brand to be celebrated. The one thing we should hold in common between us, upon which we should focus the lion’s share of our attention, isn’t something to be marketed or advertised but someone.

For once, we should put the customer front and center.

For the better part of three decades, in one publication or another in print or online, I’ve prefaced my coverage of technology conferences with a rundown of the key issues that will be on attendees’ minds, and the people who will have the most to say about those issues.

With DX Summit, the issues have become so important that they each deserve an article of their own. Here is the first.

Alignment, Convergence and Collision

Perhaps you’ve read about a pending merger of giants, the largest technology industry fusion in history: the engagement of server producer Dell with storage hardware leader (and VMware parent company) EMC.

Oh, it’s still on. It’s just that the ground hasn’t quivered beneath our feet for some reason. Now that storage and compute power are coming together under one brand, and cloud data centers are desperate for mass-produced compute and storage solutions, you might think the potential for a one-stop-shop would be a bonanza.

But we are entering a phase of history where technology — especially the kind at the lower layers of the stack — is being divorced from the vendors who put their stamp on it. No one has made a clearer case for this fact than The Real Story Group founder and principal analyst Tony Byrne.

“I don't see a future where customers gain anything from procuring Dell servers and EMC storage from the same vendor,” Byrne wrote, in his firm’s blog post two weeks ago. “EMC and Dell have each failed separately to effectively bundle their manifold offerings already; what makes them think it will more be successful together?”

The scale of a vendor’s catalog no longer matters, as Byrne foresees it. This is important, coming from a fellow who in 2010 saw fit to rename his firm from CMS Watch to The Real Story Group.

(It’s a little fact that’s difficult for a publication called CMSWire not to notice.)

Byrne told our Dom Nicastro last month that the best way for an organization to determine the proper technology for a task is through direct testing, within the company. This implies a much tighter relationship between the IT and business departments, and assumes (unlike the prevailing theory of cloud computing, circa 2014) that the IT department is fading away.

Prior to the advent of cloud computing, vendors placed themselves at the core of their customers’ technology strategies. But this made these customers almost solely reliant upon these vendors to determine the pace of change for them.

So when the need for product and service differentiation required vendors to pick up the pace, they didn’t. Cloud dynamics became a reality largely because the need for interoperability began driving organizations away from the monoliths upon which they’d grown dependent.

Today, the most importantly open parts about the OpenStack cloud platform are the exit doors. With such a platform, no longer are customers narrowly channeled through any one vendor’s pre-planned course.

Your organization’s plan for testing, choosing, and implementing the right technologies to align with your business strategy, will be the topic of a comprehensive, three-hour workshop, at DX Summit Monday, Nov. 2, at 9 a.m. Central Time. Tony Byrne will explain how your business can coordinate a testing and implementation strategy that assesses the key differentiators among both proprietary, vendor-driven technologies and open source technologies.

Tectonic Shift

On Oct. 26, there were three simultaneous technology conferences. Both the Oracle and IBM conferences paid considerable mention to the underlying forces of transformation affecting businesses everywhere today.

And both asked these questions: Why is your business lagging behind? What can you do to drive transformation, so your organization can catch up?

Typically, there are phases to technology revolutions. The first is the call to arms; the second is the plaintive wail of those who lament that so few heeded the call to arms.

Even Oracle Co-CEO Mark Hurd acknowledged that the cultural and business shift to a cloud-centric computing world would take at least a decade. At least.

That sounds less like a revolution than it does a campaign.

What vendor-driven technology conferences fail to take into account is that the evolution of business is not vendor-driven. If what IBM is saying at its Insights conference this week is true — if the change is best phrased as the “business transformation” rather than the “digital transformation” — then those responsible for the business end are the ones doing the transforming.

DX Summit is not a vendor technology conference. It’s a forum for information, marketing, and business professionals to discuss how to benefit, succeed, and yes, even profit (it’s not a dirty word) by way of the transformational possibilities enabled by the people who are making new technologies feasible.

If we’re to take IBM at its word that it’s business that’s in the midst of true transformation, then you are going to be the driver of this change in your organization, more than any single vendor. This isn’t to kick the vendors out of the boardroom, but rather to put you at the head of the table.

Oracle’s Vice President for Social Cloud Mike Strutton joins Tony Byrne and others for our DX Visionaries Roundtable at 9:45 am Central Time Tuesday morning, “The Future of Digital Experience.” Fresh from Oracle OpenWorld, Strutton may have something to say about the topic of employee advocacy.

This is an understanding that employees are often the ambassadors of your brand, especially through social media. Simply ensuring the happiness of your employees can contribute a wealth of energy and charisma to the digital experience your customers perceive of your brand, as employees present them.

And at 2 pm Central Time Tuesday, Forrester Research analyst Mark Grannan takes the ballroom podium to discuss the pain points that triggered the creation of his ground-breaking report, “The Integration Imperative of Digital Experiences.”

Organizations with compartmentalized technology strategies are failing to come together seamlessly to produce a single view of their brand on a digital platform. Some of the reasons why are actually a bit obvious, but your plan to overcome these multiple roadblocks may not be so easily perceived.

I’m hoping you get the idea: It’s okay to admit that technology has provided at least as many problems to business evolution and customer experience innovation, as it has solutions. Up at the summit, where the air is clearer, we can put all the problems and all the solutions onto the table, and examine them for what they are.

Come to the W Hotel in Chicago next week and enjoy the clearer air. I’ll see you there.

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