by Jane Macoustra, The 2011 Virtual Candidate for Director
Today I joined my very first Virtual conference in Philly, as I was unable to attend this event in person. I found the software easy to upload, and attended my very first session, which was Stephen Abrams talk. This was interrupted by some technical problems at my end, but this isn't an issue as I will be able to go back and watch all the sessions later on, if I have missed anything.
I caught the Larry Prusak session, which was extremely good. He was speaking about the importance of cognitive diversity, knowledge management and the Wisdom of Crowds. He provided examples such as when Lehmans collapsed how many VPs knew it was about to go over the cliff edge. He spoke of Toyota's corporate model, and of Japan, China and India's changing global status. It was an incredibly interesting talk and I really enjoyed it. The questions that people posed afterwards were extremely good, covering knowledge within an organisation, the motivational factors in decision-making and taking deliberative time to consider questions, organisational behaviour and whether there is a corporate equivalent to transparency.
The quality of the Virtual Conference is excellent, and we have our techie guys to assist us. James Newman (hiding behind the screen at the front of the stage - we know you are there!) and James Sek in avatar mode in the theatre, have guided the Virtual delegates through using the software and they have been great! We have a choice of 2D or 3D access. The 3D version lets us use the virtual world with our own avatars, and we can move around the auditorium and the conference rooms. We can even sit down! In between the sessions, we are entertained with either earlier session replays or some music. Virtual conference allows us to talk with each other and brings us closer to the conference itself. The distance suddenly seems irrelevant because we are interacting with each other within conference and discussing what we are watching live. We are attending virtually from across the globe, but it actually feels like we are all together.
During lunch (my early evening) I joined all the candidates in the Exhibition Hall to meet and speak to the delegates. I was on Skype, and there was a computer erected in the candidate area, so I didn't feel remote and I could hear the conference buzz and talk to people. The connection was very good and I spoke to quite a lot of people. However, others were very shy about approaching me to say Hello, so I waved at them. Natasha Kenner set up the connection for me to interact live with people, and it was a very successful experiment! I've had a really good conference day, and it isn't over yet.