I’ve just got back from the Influence event, held in the lovely Hunter Valley wine region north of Sydney. A very interesting experience, and as far as I’m aware a unique event globally. Phil Sim has been running Mediconnect, doing events and an online PR exchange for some years now. These bring together Australian technology journalists with tech vendors and PR. The company is also involved in the Asian market. This year the event has been renamed Influence, and broadened to Include not just journalists, but also other influencers such as analysts and new media players. The influencers come for free, while vendors and PR pay handsomely for sponsorship and attendance. The structure is highly conversational, with a series of panels on both enterprise IT and consumer IT topics, where the panelists give a five minute intro which is then opened out into Q&A and discussion by the entire room. The reason the event is, as far as I’m aware, unique, is the scale of the Australian market. It is possible to bring together in one venue a critical mass of the tech journalist community. Most have been in the industry for a good many years, they mainly know each other, and they value the chance to get together.
I asked people there their perception of the value of the event. Several PR people said it was fantastic, as wherever else could you ever access 50 top journalists for two days? But the journalists get a lot of value and stories from the event too. The concept is great – value for everyone here as there are truly interesting discussions of where technology is today in bringing together the right people. It does take the right execution, too, of course, and Phil clearly has the network and respect it takes to pull it off. Everyone I spoke to at the event was extremely interesting. No duds. Phil also is immensely oriented to the conversational, which is a very welcome relief to all as still most Australian conferences have very traditional formats.
Just a few fragments of what struck me from what I saw and heard:
* Met William Pramana - I just found out his blog is ranked #17 on Technorati – not bad for a guy hanging out in Western Sydney… Over a lunch chat on what Web 3.0 will be like, he suggested that the ability to share site revenue with participants and contributors to the site will be part of it. Very thought-provoking.
* Duncan Riley, head of operations of the blogging network b5 media, said that 80% of their 135 bloggers are female. Great to meet Duncan at last and hear his views as a top-tier blog businessman. His first post on the conference includes his thoughts on my presentation and the Web 2.0 panel.
* In the blog world as much as in traditional publishing, people are concerned about editorial independence and credibility. This is a topic that will last forever. How is information paid for? Does that influence its credibility?
* Dan Warne of APC talked about how journalists blogging makes news more granular. Smaller pieces are more acceptable and expected. You don’t take the time to craft a longer piece until later.
* In the IT-Enabled Innovation session, Andrew Lamble of Dimension Data spoke about collaborative sourcing, multisourcing, alignment of objective, tapping innovation in high trust relationships. Hey, that’s what I talk about too. I’ll be spending a lot more time on this sort of stuff soon – good to see this is very solidly on the business agenda, as it should be. Some people in the session didn’t seem to understand the idea of open innovation. People had better get this soon – you haven’t a hope if you rely solely on your own internal innovation capabilities.
Unfortunately had to leave a bit over half way through the event to get back to other commitments. I’m sure I’m missing lots more good conversations. Great to see this sort of thing happening in Oz – look forward to the next one.