Neil Miles (second from left) with Jennifer Davidson and Heenal Taylor of Gartner events
Now that we’re are no longer Gartner “virgins”, this post covers Smart421′s second only event with Gartner, their Application Architecture, Development and Integration Summit in London on 16-17 June (Twitter hashtag #gartneraadi).
We learned a lot about working with Gartner at our first one, the Enterprise Architecture Summit last month (see previous post).
For us, Getting Gartnered is an unfolding story and not self-evident; analyst relations is one part of the equation, and working with event audiences another. We don’t see this as a “one night stand” – it’s more like “going steady”.
We’re getting to know the way that Gartner does things and learning a lot of lessons in the hope that we can get closer. If it is to succeed and develop in to a long term relationship, then clearly 50/50 will never cut it – so it has to be 100% from both sides.
Joseph Spear, marketing manager at Smart421, preparing to go on camera in a TV interview to explain Smart421's growing relationship with Gartner
Smart421 is investing in analyst relations because we recognise the power of the Gartner brand. Their analysts are well briefed people who are focused on providing their research clients with insight far beyond what’s available elsewhere. We have seen this in action at our parent company, KCOM Group, which is itself a research client. We also recognise the significance to the IT industry of their analysts’ reports and various presentation methodologies (Magic Quadrant, Hype Cycle, etc). But the rubber hits the road for us where Smart421′s customers are using Gartner research notes and consulting, etc. to help guide their strategic decisions.
We want our existing Customers to see us mentioned in research that matters to them and we think that our future customers will also reasonably expect this. We realise that we have no exposure today in Gartner research so our senior management team have agreed to act on this. Robin Meehan, Smart421′s chief technology officer, is leading this effort. Although it’s early days, I’m encouragd by all that Robin has already achieved with his three separate Vendor Briefings on Enterprise Architecture, on Cloud Computing and on SOA, in advance of the events as well as holding Analyst 1:1 sessions during the events.
In terms of events, our objective has always been to provide delegates with an exceptional experience. Whether through scheduled meetings and spontaneous encounters, Gartner summits provide an opportunity to show something about Smart421′s brand values which are an important part of who we are, what we do and why we do it.
Smart421 answering questions from Maersk Line
I think that most delegates to industry events expect to be button-holed by the event sponsors; it goes with the territory. Yet, whereas this has been a bit uncomfortable at some other events we’ve done in the past, we’re finding that Gartner delegates are more ready to open substantive conversations. They are intelligent people who think strategically. They are more open to explain their challenges and are more prepared to listen for possible solutions.
This is refreshing and frankly a little unexpected.
Alongside the serious business of conference sessions and on-stand discussions, we really enjoyed laying on a bit of corporate hospitality for the evening Networking Reception. These receptions are deliberately informal and give a chance for each sponsor to select a theme which the Gartner events team reviews and approves. Each theme is designed to be as unique and as entertaining as possible for everyone to enjoy at the end of an intensive day of conference sessions. There were some great themes…
Jack Sparrow with Charlotte, a Smart421 Customer
Smart421 selected a topical Pirates of The Caribbean theme (hot on the heels of the latest release) and invited the UK’s leading lookalikes to come along and help us. Simon Newton as Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Sarah Key as Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) delighted delegates by handing out champagne and chocolate, and many had their picture taken with them. We ran prize draws every 20 minutes and winners were drawn out by our MD Neil Miles, and by Keira and Johnny.
I think that the cinema chain Cineworld will be getting a lot of extra business over the next two weeks with all those lucky winners cashing in their cinema vouchers, maybe to watch Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides if they’re quick enough.
Jack Sparrow awards Cineworld tickets to Rita, one of our lucky prize draw winners
Perhaps delegates visiting our stand didn’t find the Fountain of Youth but they certainly all enjoyed a glass of Taittinger champagne with us.
No doubt Robin Meehan will blog about his findings from the conference sessions, so I’m off to re-count our hoard of pirate gold i.e. the belgian chocolate money we splashed everywhere to add some bling to our stand.
Fans of the movies will know there are only 9 Pieces of Eight. At last count, we had 4,800. Well, we didn’t want to run out – did we !
“Take all you can, give nothing back” crowed Jack Sparrow.