I delivered the closing keynote at SocialNow in Amsterdam yesterday. The organiser Ana Neves takes an interesting approach to connecting technology vendors and potential customers. Each vendor is asked to demonstrate their system, from the stage, as if applied to the same fictitious company. A panel of experts ask the first set of questions and then the audience get their chance. As a way of helping potential customers get their heads around technology it was so much more interesting and relevant than the usual unsatisfying mêlée at trade shows or being hounded by salesmen. This was a neutral space where the vendors were on a level playing field and people had a better chance to understand their offering.
I don’t know this for certain, but sadly I suspect that there weren’t many in the room in control of IT budgets. The macho, big numbers game of enterprise procurement gets played out in very different ways in different places. During my time at the BBC I got an insight into the world of IT procurement and it is not pretty. In fact it is borderline corrupt. Same old players, often changing sides from vendor to buyer, escalating expectations and budgets in a pathetic arms race. They then spend even more money deploying their over engineered, over priced systems, and their organisations waste even more time and energy adapting to them and coping with their not always positive impact.
Building a technology ecology from small iterative deployments of specific tools, with a throw away mentality that allows more constant adaptation, driven by ongoing conversations with users is the only way to do technology efficiently. We can manage this on a global scale on the internet. All that is stopping us doing this inside our organisations is a combination of complacency, lack of imagination, and greed.