Gartner DWS 2016: How It Went Down

It may have been a typically grey London morning, but the Park Plaza Hotel in the heart of England's capital was looking elegant as I made my way to the entrance. I was ready for the first day of Gartner DWS 2016.

Once inside, I was directed to the registration room where I was able to sign in and print my own pass. An attendant remarked that I was the first member of the press to arrive – which only intensified my resentment for my early morning alarm.

But hey, I was on time for Gartner’s opening keynote, which to its credit, made it all seem worth it.

Gartner's Debra Logan delivered the keynote to a room brimming with attendees. She entertainingly hopped between topics like customer engagement, leadership, and risk taking in the world of business. It was an intruguing presentation with lots of imagery, perfect as an appetizer for the two days ahead.

Spotlight on Social Colloboration

The rest of the two-day event had a big focus on social collaboration in the workplace.

The sponsors of Gartner DWS 2016 – each of whom had a booth in the lunch and coffee hall – mainly consisted of social collaboration platforms like Huddl and Prysm, while many presentations touched on the same subject.

For example, Anthony Leaper from SAP spoke eloquently about how social collaboration in the workplace is changing. He referenced SAP’s social collaboration software ‘Jam’ very often, citing the impact it had been having on the internal workings of SAP and its customers.

Meanwhile, Liferay, the digital experience platform vendor, also had a presence at Gartner DWS 2016. Edmund Dueck , their Marketing Manager for Europe, delivered a short but valuable presentation that highlighted the importance of establishing a platform that was customer centric, meaningful, and that engages people on levels that they deem familiar.

He referenced Tumblr’s latest video feature as an example. The Tumblr team resisted the urge to create their own standalone video streaming platform, and instead built their platform around existing ones like YouTube and Periscope. Thus, they were able to engage vloggers in a way that was convenient for them.

Other notable presentations included:

  • Top 12 Emerging Digital Workplace Technologies to Transform Your Business (Matthew W. Cain)
  • An Etiquette Handbook for the Digital Workplace Leader (Carol Rozwell)
  • 10 Proven Ways to Find the People and the Ideas You Need (Diane Morello)

The Gartner DWS Atmosphere: Professionalism vs Personality

As for the overall atmosphere at Gartner DWS, it was seamlessly professional. Maybe too professional.

The Gartner bag I received at registration was filled with small booklets and leaflets about the event itself, but there was no freebie or souvenir in sight other than a train ticket holder.

When it came to lunch time, you once again felt the constant presence of uber-professionalism looming over the room. It didn't help that presentations were being made in the same room (and at the same time) as lunch. It only added to the feeling that you weren't ever going to truly relax at any stage of this event.

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Gartner DWS 2016, and the presentations on show were insightful.

I also recognize that Gartner is a serious brand, but it’s sometimes nice to see a company let its hair down a little at these prolonged events, even if that just means throwing a small gadget or keepsake into the goody bag.

Otherwise, the event risks having no personality at all.

Or who knows, maybe I’ve just been spoiled by free conference loot given out at previous events.

In any case, a big thank you goes out to Liferay for kindly inviting CMS Critic to attend Gartner DWS 2016, and a congratulations goes out to Gartner on an event well hosted.