I Went to Boston for a Free Tablet

There were many, many acronyms that were being tossed around at the latest Gilbane Conference. Gilbane is a research and consulting company that looks at the emerging trends in technology and content creation. It is a little wider spread across industries than the more narrowly focused Tools of Change and other publishing technology conferences. There is a strong focus on Tool Vendors at this conference, if you’re in the market for a new CMS. Or, if you’re a consultant who needs to know what’s available to manage marketing, content creation, content translation, globalization technologies and social network management, than this is also the conference for you.

Two Key Takeaways

  1. Big Data is big: The increasing volume and detail of information captured by enterprises, the rise of multimedia, social media, and the Internet of Things will fuel exponential growth in data for the foreseeable future. The CEO of EndPlay, one of the big sponsors of the conference, gave an engaging presentation on the need for ways to manage Big Data. His approach was called “Quantum Data”. 

    The company Hippo got a shout out from Robert Rose during the workshop on “Integrating Website and Mobile Strategy for Consistent Customer Engagement”, an amazing three-hour seminar based on the book Managing Content Marketing by Rose. We all got a copy of his latest book co-authored with Joe Pulizzi who also gave a great presentation. I love what Hippo has built and is building, but it is beyond the capacity of this blog post to go into detail. The main take away was their ability to integrate profiles and globalization and repurposing content in creative, targeted ways.
  2. The second thing generating a lot of buzz was this “new” idea that stories are important. The amazing presenter Georgy Cohen gave an rousing talk about how to blend digital and “real” into one through narrative. I’d say it was the best keynote. 

    There was a lot of talk about needing new roles for this new approach. There is a need for journalists, editors and community managers in the enterprise. Scott Liewehr, a likeable Gilbane lead analyst, gave a number of insightful presentations throughout the week highlighting the need to put the journey first, ahead of the tools quest.

An Aside

One of the main reasons I signed up for the workshops—aside from how interesting they looked—was that I really wanted one of those Kindle Fires they were giving away. Actually, at one point during a workshop, a question was posed about strategies you might use to get people to the conversion stage and “offer a Kindle Fire” was shouted out. I guess I can vouch for that strategy…

When I got home and showed it to my 9 year-olds the Amazon vending machine disappeared. My kids grabbed it and were off shopping. I had to remind them repeatedly not click the buy button. Sadly, they didn’t go straight to the Books tab, but rather clicked on Videos right away—and made me wonder about the future.

And, of Course, Standards

I talked to Doug Gorman, the CEO of SimplyXML. SimplyXML has integrated DITA, an XML standard for Document Markup, into Microsoft Word. They have enabled input from Word and allowed output into all kinds of formats—most importantly good XML markup! I talked to Doug because I was intrigured by DITA after checking it out a bit here. I told him I would probably get back home and everyone will have heard about it. However, I was surprised Doug had never heard of ONIX.

Was the Gilbane Conference worth it? Definitely. I found the time spent thinking about the concepts and trends worthwhile. There were great discussions around the changing nature of content distribution—not all of it relevant to the book publishing space but definitely lots of takeaways about how we might start to think differently about what and who is a publisher. But the main point was that organizations need to find a way to collaborate within their own houses, to learn what it means to engage their audience. Content is being mashed up, globalized and redistributed through many channels on many devices and there is no reason to work in silos.