Despite a black ink pen exploding on my hand just as I was ready towalk out the door this morning, I made the rounds, raring to go.First stop? Breakfast. A girl's gotta eat and having already worked out in the Hyatt's swank fitness center made me crave my usual breakfast, a yogurt parfait. Instead, I opted for some protein-filled bacon and eggs and settled in at a table where a gentleman immediately eyed my "press" badge and pointed to two women sitting adjacent to me. "They are the one's with the interesting story," he said.
So, of course, I had to ask, "what's your story?" Apparently, the ladies traveled seven hours on the red eye from Hawaii to come to this conference for the first time. New MAS users, they work at a video game company and wanted to learn more about their software. They were enjoying themselves but were tired and of course, cold. Will they be going online and getting involved in the new MAS community? They're at least going to try it.
After breakfast, I headed to DeFelice's session, "Business Succession Planning: Hiring and Keeping the Next Generation." She'll be posting about that experience - so stay tuned - but the room was about at capacity with a healthy mix across all generations. This intergenerational stuff - it's a hot topic and people are hungry for information.
I bolted from there to hit the CRM Keynote - but on my way ran into Yacov Wrocherinsky, who was also headed in that direction. Wrocherinsky is founder and chief executive of Infinity Info Systems in New York and is a top Sage CRM reseller. It's been a very successful year for him, despite the economy - the best ever - having hired five new people and working on projects for current clients. It's next year, Wrocherinsky wonders about- yet, I have to say, the guy doesn't seem too worried.
I arrived at the CRM keynote and David van Toor, the senior vice president and general manager for the group has got the mic. He's talking about the story and the success of the ACT! online community telling the audience about a specific disgruntled customer named "Pat" who posted a comment on a discussion board wondering - hey, is anybody out there?
van Toor got back to Pat within five minutes (pretty good for a company exec) and a string of dialogue had begun.
"Without the online community, without having a one-on-one dialogue, Pat would have left the business and I would have never known," van Toor said.
All together now: "awww."
He also talked about the concept of Social CRM and mash-ups, which is taking a CRM system, connecting it to the Internet and finding information related to a specific contact. He also touched upon my favorite topic - social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace and how it's getting harder and harder to have a work persona and a personal persona nowadays.
"You put it on Facebook, honey, it's public information," he said, after telling a nugget about a guy who was rejected during a selection process because of a Facebook profile.
As I was told by a trusted PR rep at the user conference, this basically is a catch-up time for the customers. It's about showing the customers what's out there to add value to their business and realizing the times they are a' changing.
"Selling boxed software is not going to be around forever," this person said, pointing to ACT! Platinum Care, a subscription service that includes the ACT! product and upgrades, customer support and exclusive password access to a portion of the online community that offers business tips and strategies. "So you have to find other models."
What's next for Sage? Keep reading for more. Now, if I could get the rest of this black ink off my fingers ...