Given that I am at an Adobe analyst show today I really need to post this soonest. Better do that right now in fact…
We recently stumbled upon a new microconference format (as opposed to a new microformat conference), when I ran an event intended to encourage cross fertilisation between Adobe and SAP’s respective developer communities. My service level, under the terms of sponsorship driven by Robin Charney from Adobe enterprise developer marketing was pretty simple – get ten or 15 people enterprise development types in a room to learn more about Flex and Lifecycle in a conversational format, meeting one of Adobe’s evangelists James Ward.
Adobe is all about the front end. SAP is all about the back end. Flex ties these two worlds together (ahem- more on this later… )
We succeeded pretty well in meeting Robin’s SLA - not only did a super group of people show up in person, but we were also able to engage another ten or so people elsewhere by streaming the conversation on Ustream.TV, which allows for chat response to what’s going on in the room. Of course eminence grise of the enterprise Dennis Howlett was in the mix…
The feedback was really positive, so I plan to turn nanomonk into a series, rather than a one off – it can be a new RedMonk product. I would even have bought the url if some prick hadn’t registered the domain last week. We’re talking about the Long Tail of conferences: take a niche subject, a good table of people from different backgrounds, and create a solid learning and community bridging environment. Kind of like an even smaller unconference. I have tried to pitch similar though larger events before to Adobe, but the beauty of the nanomonk was that it so simple and intimate. Oh yeah- and for the second half we enjoyed adult beverages – hey it was a Friday afternoon, after all. I think it was bitpakkit aka Ben Watson, who noted that I am not the only one talking about nanoconferences – Josh Porter too apparently. An idea whose time has come, perhaps. Another recent use of “nanoconference” comes from Boston ixda.
Multichannel communications can add so much to an event like this, allowing for time and place-shifted conversations. Talking of channels – I really can’t thank Craig enough for editing it into shape. Even better has been the positive feedback about said video. Co-creation rules!
On a personal note I was heartened in watching the video afterwards to see that my skills as a moderator seem to be improving. My tendency is to talk too much, so it was particularly pleased to see me steering the conversation to those that have something important to say. To be honest: we probably needed a bit more code and a bit less chat, but we can work on that. The SAP community people responded particularly well when James Ward started to show off some code.
One of the reasons its valuable, I think, is that as Craig describes it “a frank and open conversation between SAP, Adobe and a collection of partners and customers.” Evidently people that were not there thought so too. According to Hans Senden: “great show and interesting discussions about the (SDN) communities and the ownership of knowledge.” I’m waiting for part 2 ;-)”
More Code Less Chat
Not surprising given that the a significant part of the core group of attendees- Oliver, Darren, and Anne (yojibee) - are all involved in Enterprise Social Messaging Environment (ESME), a grassroots co-innovation effort from SAP’s developer community, which is using a lot of cool new technologies and approaches, integrated with SAP Netweaver backends: namely
- Scala Lift: David Pollak’s messaging-based application development framework.
- BlazeDS: An open source implementation of Adobe Data Services
- AIR: Client-sde technology allowing for rich interactions between users and data, as well as offline access.
- Scrum- the team is using Scrum-like methods to get the work done fast, for marketing as well as development. The slick little platform for agile collaboration the group is using is called Assembla.
So the ESME team were particularly interested in specifics about how to use Adobe software for obvious reasons. James offered all the nanomonk attendees licenses for Flex Builder so I look forward to seeing what they build.
You Get Out What You Put In
I have spoken before about the Contribution Society, and it was funny to see Craig Cmehil, the most recognisable and helpful member of the SAP Developer Network community, defending SDN in similar terms.
Anne complained that SDN didn’t give her enough information about some newer topics, but Craig pushed right back. He asked whether she had posted the question on SDN blogs, to ferret out some answers. The answer being no, Craig chided her to contribute more. Basically- you get out what you put in.
Craig had much the same conversation with Henry Brake of Arch Consulting, a boutique software and services company specialising in SAP and Adobe Forms integration. I have to admit, this was probably my high point of the day. Henry’s first thought is not to contribute to the community, its “how do I make money”. But unfortunately it means that Arch doesn’t contribute a great deal to SDN, or expect to get a great deal of it. I think Craig convinced him, and if that’s a solid result I dont know what is…
There is frankly a hell of a lot more I can say 0- and almost certainly will. But I think now is a good time to sign off.
“Over the last couple of years working with the solutions from the SAP-Adobe alliance, I have seen the need for information about these products grow steadily. Many customers have problems finding information about this alliance and what it can do for them, so much of my work has simply been explaining the different products and new technologies to them. Although in many cases, for technical reasons, the projects failed to materialize, it is clear that as soon as they migrate to newer systems, they will return again.
As the need for information from the customers grow, I have felt the need for more information myself. But because I am not an employee with either SAP, or Adobe, finding the information I need, has proven difficult. During this conference, the questions “What are you getting or not getting from the ecosystem?” and “What do you need from an ecosystem standpoint?” were raised.”
Thanks everyone for your contributions!