It’s great to be back at home base, recovering from the Social Connections 9 event and resuming normal family and work pace. After the hectic weeks leading up to the event and the effort of actually running it, this is proving to be a welcome and much needed change!
Before too much time passes, the team wanted to quickly write up the event for those that couldn’t attend. We tend to follow a broadly similar pattern for each Social Connections conference, so hopefully this will help you to decide whether you should attend the next one!
After a short introduction from the team, the first day of the two-day event kicked off with a warm welcome from Barbara Koch (Solution Sales Leader Social Business & Commerce, Germany) and Huguette Ranc (Vice President, Client Success Social & Smarter Workforce, Europe). We quickly moved on to the event keynotes. We’ve been proud of our keynote speakers and sessions at every event, but think that we surpassed all previous lineups this time, featuring presentations from John Stepper (Deutsche Bank), René Schimmer (IBM), Eric Marzo-Wilhelm (ThyssenKrupp) and Silvia Cambie (IBM). The keynotes varied in tone and content, but were all very well received by attendees. After the first break, and alongside the third keynote, the breakout sessions kicked off (with Victor Toal having the honour of launching the technical content for this event). We had 23 breakouts planned for the first day, split over several tracks to have something of interest for every type of attendee. Rooms were full, speakers were energised, and the audience seemed to appreciate the content as well.
Meanwhile, our sponsor lounge was already alive and buzzing. With a record 16 exhibitors (from a total of 22 wonderfully supportive sponsors) the area filled up nicely at each and every break time. After the last session of the day, we served drinks in the sponsor lounge and kicked off our Speed Sponsoring with MC Tony Holder. This was the opportunity for our sponsors to convince their audience of their solutions in just 3 action-packed minutes and to open up conversations for the next day.
With Speed Sponsoring closing out the formal agenda for the day, the team had arranged for bus transport to Sensapolis for our Gala Reception. The idea was to pick an informal location (Sensapolis is primarily an indoor child’s playground) to ensure that our attendees had an opportunity to network, but also to thoroughly enjoy themselves in the process! We offered some activities after dinner such as a challenging climbing wall, karting and Segway-riding. We even had a professional photo booth (with topical props!) to provoke some fun pictures. It worked out exactly as planned, check out the pictures here. Thankfully, despite the fun, games and beverages consumed, everyone managed to make the bus to their hotels and were picked up again on the second day.
On Friday we had another 32 sessions lined up, split over 4 breakout rooms. Many of the sessions were extremely busy, but the most popular was surely “What’s coming in IBM Connections Next” from René Schimmer.
We closed the day’s agenda with the popular ‘Ask IBM’ session. We had some unscheduled departures from those earmarked for the panel (due to the Lufthansa strike and people rebooking their flights) so we owe a debt of thanks to the other IBM people that stepped up on stage and maybe answered some questions outside their comfort zone.
As is now our custom, we couldn’t depart from the venue without our Social Connections community photo!
As a conclusion, we think that this was the best Social Connections event that the team have run so far and it feels as though we are improving every time. We received a lot of compliments as an organisation team, but we could not have done it without a superb venue, supportive sponsors and insightful speakers. I would like to thank our awesome team (onsite, off site and those that had to leave early!) for all the work and all the fun. I’m very sad that we did not have the time to have some quality time together!
Finally, I wanted to share some statistics with you. Social Connections 9 had:
Thanks to everyone that attended.
See you all for Social Connections 10!