Those of you that follow me know that I frequently share how Versature has moved to an end-to-end Salesforce approach over the last 8 years. You’ve heard me talk about how all our senior staff are comfortable building reports and answering their own data questions. You’ve heard me talk about how all our staff can access invoices and other client-centric data without leaving Salesforce or passing clients between teams.
Well, at the Salesforce World Tour last Thursday, I shared more of our story in two sessions that focused on our journey, our challenges, where we are headed, and how we plan to get there. Never to let me down, Salesforce shared a few interesting new features that are coming and one amazing stat: according to Gartner, Salesforce now holds a larger share of the CRM market that the next 3 vendors in that space combined and is still gaining. Wow.
But let’s get serious. Of everything that I saw, one thing worried me before speaking to the audience and has stayed with me as I write this.
Can you see it? Yes – the headphones. Let me explain; the three largest breakout rooms were not rooms at all. These “rooms” were actually cordoned off areas of the main “campground” (the trade show floor). You could see the screens between the rooms and from the vendor areas. To listen to a talk, you simply went to the cordoned off area and grabbed a headset. You could even change your headset between sessions and crane your neck around to see the other presentations.
The technology driving this? The same hardware that drives a craze from a few years ago, the silent disco. For those not familiar, this is a party (often street party) where a DJ is playing music which all attendees hear and dance to but is not played on any speakers. The neighbours, of course, love this and these disco parties can, therefore, happen anywhere at any time.
This is a very interesting idea – for an event like the Salesforce World Tour, it seemed to work well. I suspect many of those who would have walked “the floor” and then headed back to their offices downtown in previous years might instead see something going on and sit for a session or two, versus the traditional model where they might never make it down the hall or up the escalator into a breakout room.
For presenters, however, it poses an interesting conundrum that you can see in my photos. During my first session where we had a discussion about B2B marketing tools, I opted to wear the headset. This meant that I could easily hear my Salesforce host as he asked me questions. I could also hear my own voice back in the headset, with surprisingly little delay. In my second session, I went the other way. Being a presentation only to the audience I went without a headset and so no ability to hear my own voice. Of course, because all those paying attention had headsets on, those who received a cell phone call or need to discuss something simply remove their headset and have a discussion since all those listening are unoffended by the noise of their actions.
As an attendee instead of a presenter, I found the whole thing pretty seamless and the audio surprisingly good for borrowed headsets. One of the biggest benefits was that I could tweak the volume level up or down on my headset and could have a discussion with those around me should it come up.
You get the idea, and I suspect it won’t be the last time this technology is being used for this. In fact, while sitting in one of the sessions I wondered if the Ottawa Product Camp Unconference next year should be thinking about such an approach. Instead of leaving a session to find another, one would simply flip the headset channel. Could we have 5 or more sessions running shoulder to shoulder? Like Picture-in-Picture on your 90’s TV for those old enough to remember the great idea to watch 2 screens at once without buying another TV.
I’d love to hear from others who have experienced this before, should we see more of it?