Trip report: TED@IBM

September 24 2014

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the first-ever TED@IBM event at the San Francisco SF JAZZ center. I've watched a few TED talks, but it's far different being there in person with those big red TED letters sitting on the stage. About 500 people attended, a mix of IBM clients, partners, industry figures, visionaries, and IBMers. We heard about a dozen different talks - half from IBMers and half from industry voices. There was some entertainment, some intrigue, and some Twitter trending topics (#TEDatIBM and #SharingInspires).

The talks were interesting. Some were validating, such as social business experts Charlene Li and Bryan Kramer. Charlene talked about several principles of a social business:

  • Create a culture of sharing (I prefer to say a culture of "participation" but clearly we are on the same page)
  • Practice followership
  • User networks to make meaningful decisions
  • Get decision-makers involved
These are very aligned to the goals and guidelines that my team has set out for IBM's own social business journey, so it was good reinforcement for me (and my colleagues!) to hear these from a strong industry voice like Li. Bryan Kramer talked about "H2H" - human to human interaction, or as I described in my book Opting In, "humans want to buy from humans." It's a key guiding principle and often is the turning point between social media and social business.

Another speaker on the social meme was Kare Anderson, who talked about how it is important to choose the right people to be in your personal networks. "If you are the smartest person in the room," she said, "you need a new room." She talked about what happens when people in your network have similar goals... "when you connect with people around a shared action, serendipitous things happen in the future."

Other speakers were more diverse, covering topics like monitoring brain waves, harnessing solar energy in remote locations, and big data. We also had the wonderful opportunity to hear from Academy Award-winning director Brad Bird, talking about shared experiences and what the movie industry is about in 2014.

The IBM speakers represented very diverse parts of our business. We had the company's most prolific inventor, Lisa Seacat DeLuca, talk about her inspirations. We had my colleague Marie Wallace, who focuses on social analytics, talking about privacy and data concerns of the future. Erick Brethenoux demonstrated the notion of "emotional analytics". Florian Pinel talked about "Chef Watson," and how the real-world application of Watson in the production of food is that today, about 1/3 of all prepared food is wasted...Watson can help reduce that waste and make food more accessible to more people.

At mid-day, I was able to host a CrowdChat on Twitter for the TED@IBM event. We had about 150 active participants and millions of impressions on the Tweetchat. Thanks to all who participated.

Overall, it was a very useful day. It was one of my first opportunities to talk with a broad audience about my new role, and also to hear others preach what we practice. I saw many long-time friends and colleagues, and got the chance to build relationships with newer network members. I applaud my colleagues in the social business marketing team for conceiving and executing this event - it was very "un-IBM-like", in a very good way. I hope we'll do it again someday.

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  1. 1  Amy Palmer |

    Sounds like a cool event. I have listened to some of Bryan Kramer's talks before, and he always make a lot of interesting points. We're currently working on becoming more of a social business, so I'll have to check out your book - Opting In. Sounds like a good read!

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