We’re live from Gartner: Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit 2012 in Orlando, Florida this week and we’re very eager to roll up our sleeves and get down to details about how to develop, integrate and measure employee intranets, customer portals and oodles of multi-channel content. With four definitive tracks focusing on Portal & User Experience, Content & Information Management, Social & Collaboration, and Mobility & Context, there’s lots to learn and we’ll do our best to cover a little of it all.

Always On, Broken Realities & Creative Thinking

But what’s a summit without a keynote? Garnter PCC brings us a keynote in three acts, starting with Whit Andrews, Nick Jones, Carol Rozwell and Gavin Taylor -- all with Gartner to discuss life in an always-on world. On Tuesday, Jane McGonigal, Director, Game Research & Development at the Institute of the Future and author of “Reality is Broken” will speak, followed by Seth Godin on Wednesday, who is slated to reveal the creative thinking necessary to create a meaningful customer experience.

Minecraft as Metaphor for Social Business

Whit Andrews began the day by talking about Minecraft, which I admit that, while odd, actually became a pretty useful metaphor for the crossroads of social, cloud, mobile and information technology. In Minecraft there are no real rules but after awhile, it can become woven into the fabric of your life – it’s all you talk about, share with your friends, customize the way you interact with it and define characteristics that describe you and the way you work.

Minecraft, at is core, promotes creativity and building, allowing players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D world. Much like portals, collaboration and content, no?  Like social, mobile and local, there is no user manual for Minecraft, and to become more successful and to discover new features, collaboration is essential.

This is Your Brain at Work

Carol Rozwell asked us “what if work was fun?” That’s a lot to contemplate on a Monday morning, I admit, but Rozwell wants us not to think about our dream job, but instead about what it would be like if we worked in a positive work environment. But doughnuts and free coffee will only get us so far. It takes a combination of positive feedback, business humanity and socially useful tools to get us to the point where we feel confident, passionate, supportive about the work we do.

For many inside the enterprise, the nexus of technology breeds isolation and robot-like performers, when socially collaborative platforms are actually designed to network, build relationships and share different perspectives, in an effort to innovate ideas and improve product designs and experiences. But getting there doesn’t just come from the technology, it comes from the people. How are you going to use social technologies to humanize the workplace to make work fun again?

Bring Your Own Information Technology

To Nick Jones, the consumerization of technology isn’t just about smartphones and iPads -- it’s about information technology. To embrace it, you must let knowledge workers become empowered by it. Companies must focus on people, not devices -- it’s not important what platform you use to create a document or digital asset, as long as it gets created. As a result, BYOD culture becomes BYO-IT. Technological empowerment is required and admittedly somewhat unstoppable. Subsequently, the enterprise must find ways to create a technological environment where employees can love their work, which can really only happen when we lift limits and restrictions for how employees can work together productively and efficiently.

The Culture of Work

Gavin Tay presented the final element in our “always-on lives” by introducing us to the culture of work. As we become more global, the way we work is changing -- not just so we can deliver the appropriate customer experience, but so we can create the right employee work environments. By thinking globally, we can leverage the differences that make us unique to create socially, culturally relevant collaborative settings that inspire us to work together. Culturally adaptive environments need culturally adaptive technology.

The Culture of Portals, Content & Collaboration

It’s no coincidence that culture, whether organizational, social or global, is a focus of today’s keynote and breakout sessions. Without it, even the best social technologies will fail to harness the power of the people around which portals, collaboration and content are built.