I am typing this blog shortly after the closing session of SAS Global Forum Executive Conference in Seattle and I am going to admit that I've found the whole conference experience amazing - such a privilege for me to be able to attend. Especially as being from the 'international' community I was a little concerned that it might be wholly USA-centric (I needn't have worried).
I knew this was going to be something special from the opening session last night; from the 'business bit' of preparing the way for the major announcements at the show; the presentation of the 4 Enterprise Excellence Awards and even the 'fun' bit with Acapella singing from Vox Audio and fish-flinging from the Fishmongers of Pike Place Market.
Well today didn't disappoint: Jim Collins did a great opening keynote, drawing from his experiences in researching the books 'From good to great' and 'How the mighty fall' - and a very stimulating Q&A session from the floor. This was then followed by a panel session involving Marriott, Accenture and SAS on Business Analytics.
After the break, it was straight into the first of the concurrent sessions - achieving Marketing Success in a World of Empowered Customers with Cisco, Staples, GE Capital Retail Finance and the Lacek Group. Great practical insights in how to effectively engage with customers who are becoming ever more powerful in determining the directions our companies should go.
After lunch the concurrent sessions continued with the Social Media Roundtable providing powerful examples of how engaging with customers can radically impact the business; The Wet Seal (clothing merchandiser) and Starbucks shared their experiences and examples. For me, there was a real 'ah ha!' moment when they addressed customers as part of the innovation engine - stunning results.
The Final session I attended was on Innovations in Marketing and Revenue Management which looked at how the hospitality industry has adapted to address the new economic reality. Once again good, practical advice from leaders with Wynn Las Vegas, Marriott and Wyndham Exchange and Rentals. I really liked the discussion about the balance between customer acquisition and revenue optimisation.
The closing session featured Jim Goodnight talking about SAS' 35+ year history and how to build a company culture that lasts.
There was so much good content that I wished I could have been in more than one place at once, which brings me to my final point; Social Media at SAS Global Forum. The #SGF10 & #SGFXC twitter tags were carrying an enormous amount of traffic all through the conference - there must have been 100s of posts today alone (I know, I wrote at least 50 of them myself). All this immediate content really contributed to the buzz surrounding the conference and certainly made me feel like I was part of an engaged, valued audience. There were views from customers, bloggers, journalists, industry pundits and many more - With SAS' announcement about Social Media Analytics, we've certainly got a rich vein to mine for insights.
Tomorrow I will attend Global Forum (the user conference) - another day packed with valuable content. I'm really looking forward to it.