Web sites vs. beer – guess who wins?

24 09 2009

It’s time for an update.  Vacations and a flurry of event activity has gobbled up most of my time recently.  And that’s a good thing!  Further pricing discussion will wait another few days while I write about the launch of a new idea that’s been hatching over the past few months.

SAP for Utilities 2009

This is a top-notch event.  This year I was lucky enough to be involved in the mechanics of a new extension of the event itself – a new, utility-centric collaboration and social networking community.  The event’s theme was “Collaboration Fuels Innovation”.  More specifically – cross-company collaboration. Nobody has to reinvent the wheel or solve the same problem twice if they work on common problems.

The event itself draws a very high level audience.  At the event itself, CxO’s, chief architects, and anyone involved in creating the next generation (pun intended) utility company all rub shoulders and share stories.

Utility companies (generation, transmission and distribution, retailers, and operators of all types) show up to talk about their plans for working with new demands in the marketplace as well as any new governmental mandates.

Our objective was to keep those conversations going beyond the event.  So, we created the UtilityCollaboration community.  The idea was first envisioned by the event organizer, Eventure Events.  I just helped figure out how to do it with them.

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The OSIsoft Users Conference 2009

3 04 2009

About every year, OSIsoft holds what can only be described as a love-in for their company and customers.  It is truly amazing how their users come into a software conference with bright eyes and bushy tails, eager to learn something new and see all their friends again.

I should know, since I’ve been to these conferences for 10 years and directly participated in 13 of them (one year they did 4). So, yes, I have more of the inside track that most attendees since I used to help give their keynotes etc.

This year marked the 20th annual conference event, and it was good to see the user enthusiasm hadn’t diminished.  In fact, larger partner companies that attend are often surprised at the undeniable user excitement.  I overheard some anonymous Microsoft attendee commenting about how “your users really do love you!”

That user affection of course has grown out of producing products that solve a problem and also an image of being a “family” or the “little guy” in the market.  OSIsoft isn’t little anymore, though with over 600 people working for them, they certainly aren’t a Microsoft, SAP, IBM or any other company that a user might have to contend with.

OSIsoft does help these companies become more accessible to its users by contextualizing their products for the process industries.  I’ve been involved in many collaboration projects with Microsoft or SAP and OSIsoft that really showed off the benefits of the partnership between the larger player and OSIsoft.

Another reason for the user loyalty is that they feel well taken care of on support matters.  That means they often get through to a support engineer on the first ring, and know they’ll eventually get in contact with a very skilled individual if escalation is in order.  Users also know that if they come to the conference, they can talk directly to a developer.

So, it’s always fun to see my friends again, and rather than give a blow-by-blow account of the conference, I want to discuss some of the connections and take-aways that I observed from both sides of the fence.