I've been to my fair share of J. Boye events both in Philadelphia and in Denmark, and always come away with the same conclusion: J. Boye events are different. They're more than just traditional conferences, they’re really centered around networking and sharing knowledge among peers in a friendly atmosphere. It’s an event organized by people with a passion and deep understanding of the online space, not built around the wishes of vendors (read sponsors). This three day event filled with interesting speakers from around the globe leaves you feeling like part of the J. Boye community.
The conference program covers the latest best practices and featuring industry experts from a wide range of sectors and industries -- B2C as well as B2B. Case studies are not sponsored by vendors, but selected on strategic as well as operational approaches to digital projects.
For J. Boye’s 10th anniversary, we gathered in one of the oldest and most historic towns in northern Denmark, called Aarhus (which dates back to the 8th century). I think there's a reason why this event is so hard to reach. It’s like dressing up for a party -- it’s worth the effort. When you're there, you feel more enlightened. And you’re sure that everybody else made the same effort to travel all this way, will stay for the duration of the event, and is eager to share and learn.
It’s hard to do justice to the entire event, but I’ve put together some of my key takeaways, based on the talks I attended and conversations I had there. And since I’m a CMS guy, they are mostly content management related.
1. We can no longer get away with not having a content strategy
Talk of content strategy was consistent throughout J. Boye -- especially focused on the reusability of content across channels. Rahel Anne Bailie from Intentional Design shared some excellent ways of thinking about your content assets to maximize their effectiveness for business goals. She reminded us that everything is metadata, and that to truly create effective content, organizations need to identify their dividing line between data and content.
Ultimately, Bailie's talk focused on how to adapt your content workflow to create truly flexible content. Scott Liewehr from the Digital Clarity Group took the COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) concept to a new level, introducing CAPE: Create Anywhere, Publish Everywhere, and Luke Bragg from MSD/Merck underscored the importance of a customer-facing multichannel content taxonomy.
2. Marketers need to understand the psychology of online persuasion
For content marketing to truly have an impact, it needs to address the audience in a compelling way, communicating the true value of a brand or service. In his talk “The Psychology of Online Persuasion-- Creating Experiences that Click,” Allister Frost, founder of Wild Orange Media shared seven techniques of online persuasion to guide marketers when creating digital experiences:
- Scarcity -- we infer value in something that has limited availability or is promoted as being scarce
- Social proof -- we tend to follow the patterns of similar people inner or unfamiliar situations
- Completion -- the closer a collection is to being complete, the more we desire collecting all pieces (the predictable, not knowing the pattern, affects the motivation)
- Loss aversion -- we hate losing or letting go of what we have (even if more could be had)
- Little delights -- We remember and respond favorably to small, unexpected and playful pleasures
- Consistency -- We desire to act in a manner consistent with our stated beliefs and prior actions
- Choice -- We’re more likely to make a choice when there are few options that are easy to compare.
3. The Best of Breed vs. Full Suite debate is alive and kicking
Not that I’m in any way biased in this discussion, but it was interesting to notice the range of views expressed by CMS vendors during the "Founders that Invent the Future” session. There’s a real range of views among the vendors, especially when it comes to the question of one big marketing cloud versus an open platform which can connect to different vendors.
4. We need a pragmatic approach to big data
The title of Bebo White’s keynote (Big Data is here! -- Embrace it!) still isn’t easy for everyone in the C-Suite to accept. And although businesses are increasingly waking up to the fact that, “organizations not embracing Big Data Analytics and Data Science are doomed to be lost in the current data deluge,” the best approach to big data still sparks lively debate. In one particularly memorable session, Rocky (a.k.a. Scott Liewehr, Digital Clarity Group) and Gandhi (a.k.a. Hannu Vangsgaard, Dansk Supermarked) went head to head on the future of big data strategy.
5. Standards matter
Adding to the friendly atmosphere of this year’s J. Boye event, the conference was celebrating its 10th anniversary, as well as the 25th anniversary of the web. Appropriately, J. Boye dedicated a track (“Towards the open web”) to the recent and rapid changes we’ve seen in technology over the past several years. Talks like “What do we want from the web?” by Steven Pemberton brought to light just how central these changes in technology are to businesses.
6. Successful organizations are agile organizations
Even the largest enterprises can apply agile methodologies to improve their efficiency and add value. In her presentation “Making your organization more agile,” Karoliina Luoto, senior concept consultant Codento Oy, discussed how any organization can gain from agile ideas, regardless of the project model. Her definition of a good project? Clear vision, transparency, predictability and intelligence.
7. Looking to the future
One of the ongoing discussions throughout the event concerned looking to the future of content management. When looking at Content Management solutions, businesses need to look beyond the basics and anticipate future challenges. As Perttu Tolvanen rightly tweeted, “the word ‘open source’ has been thrown around quite a bit today. Personally I don’t think having a freebie version qualifies.” But a CMS should be future-proof: agile and open enough to respond to an evolving business strategy -- but so should business practices. As Brian Bentzen tweeted during the event “People, skills and organizational culture are the biggest challenges to digital change, not technology #jboye14”
These are just a few of the topics covered at J. Boye ‘14 -- and the conversations between sessions, over dinner (and a couple Carlsbergs and Tuborgs) were just as fascinating as the presentations. I’m excited to see what’s on the agenda next year.