In the 90s, SAP used to fly a handful of Gartner analysts to Walldorf, Germany for several days of briefings. It allowed analysts “full immersion time” with executives and product development/strategy folks.
It required significant investment on both sides, and I presumed it was too much to expect other vendors to do similar. Most vendors invite analysts to user conferences (which are designed for customers, not analysts) and do periodic briefings over a couple of hours.
I have been pleased to see the emergence of the “analyst summit” over the last few years. Many vendors are trying out versions with their own twist on the concept – shorter and denser than the multiple-day format SAP had, but also inviting a wide range of analysts, bloggers and media.
Oracle hosted a summit this week which was a marvel in the wide range of coverage in a couple of days. Their cloud has so many infrastructure and tools dimensions that the SAP summits did not need to cover in the 90s. Not only was the breath of coverage wide, but beyond product sessions, there were customer and sales field panels. Quite a logistical feat to coordinate the session with close to 100 presenters and 50 or so analysts.
Microsoft has been hosting such a summit for several years now, albeit bit more focused on their applications. Similar to Oracle,they have been expanding the agenda to showcase “One Microsoft” – to expose newer devices and displays and I have requested an Azure data center visit next.
Infor has used its summit to also showcase its very attractive headquarters in NYC and the handiwork of its captive design agency, Hook + Loop
Workday had an electric summit in 2010 which broke new ground on transparency – conversations, not just vendor presentations, captured live on Twitter I described in this blog it was “Like a marathon tennis match with plenty of volleys and lobs and aces, the back and forth was something to watch”
Plex, with its manufacturing focus, has invested in plant visits – both in their labs to showcase the future shop floors and at actual customer sites. It is nice to see their software in a real life situation.
JRocket Marketing takes the “many to many” to a different dimension. The summits involve presentations from multiple vendors (typically smaller ones who benefit from the shared economies), 1:1 time with executives, combined with a fun outing – like a Gangster themed evening in Chicago.
It’s good to see vendors experiment with various formats and locations for such summits – personally I value time with vendor and customer executives the most, and I prefer conversations over presentations, but a creative agenda certainly makes the visit memorable .
The challenge most analysts report is how to balance the time investment across vendors. I only go to some every couple of years. The agenda, the attendee list, the location are all complex decisions. Which is why I titled the post “art-form”