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J.Boye Philadelphia 2015

12th May 2015

Whilst most people in the UK were looking forward to the early May Bank Holiday and everything that comes with that: watching Morris Dancers in the drizzle, entering tombolas to win cans of beans at school fetes, or perusing unusually large vegetables, we were getting excited for something completely different. 

The first week of May is when the annual J.Boye Philadelphia Conference is held. Every year a theme is allocated to the event and this year it was “Making it Work”.   

Our Co-founder, James Cannings, is a veteran on the J.Boye circuit and has presented and ran workshops in Europe and the US. Our Client Services Director, Ian Stanton, also attended Philadelphia this year with the desire to attend sessions and speak with peers on various subjects including Agile, digital content strategy and delivering exceptional customer experiences. 

James was once again running a workshop but he was also part of a number of different sessions including delivering a Keynote talk and being the Simon Cowell of the judging panel in the “Web Idol” competition.  

Below is Ian’s account of the conference including his stand out highlights of what was another brilliant event from the J.Boye team… 

Unlike most conferences, there is no “salesy” element to the event e.g. exhibition stands, instead, the conference is based on the following principles: discussion, challenging trends, innovation, challenging ideas, knowledge sharing and fun.  

Focussing on the “fun” element, in true J.Boye style the first social event was an informal, pre-conference drinks and dinner reception which was a great opportunity for introductions and networking. 

Day one of the conference consisted solely of workshops and there was a rich and varied list for delegates to choose from. I attended a workshop given by Kathy McKnight from Digital Clarity Group, the US based research, consulting and advisory business.  The workshop was aimed to give advice to digital procurement teams on how to make effective vendor and service provider selections, to inform expectations on areas of work and expertise that will likely require budget, to help find affinities between organisations and products and advise on how to avoid common pitfalls of digital procurement.   

James’s workshop, “How to be the Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Agile”, helped the attendees explore strategies for achieving faster Agile delivery, based on MMT Digital's ongoing application and continuous improvement of Agile implementations. James discussed how we have used Agile practices on some of our Kentico projects such as Actavis and Scope.

The second workshop I attended was given by Jake DiMare from the US based Agency Oasis and concentrated on being “customer obsessed”.  This workshop included themes that resonated throughout other seminars and discussions from the conference.  The most prevalent of which was the assertion that in digital products, very soon, the main differentiators used in the consumer and business selection process, will be customer experience. Jake talked about sharing techniques to achieve the optimum customer experience.  He also focused on exploring user journeys and identifying the correct messages to be delivering to product users in the context of their position in their user journey and differentiated between marketing personalisation and personalisation of service in online experiences, which again resonated as a differentiator that is often ignored. 

These workshops were followed by some quick-fire keynotes delivered in 15 minute time boxes and included contributions from our own James Cannings once more where he presented the Agile inspiring skateboard diagram (shown below). In addition, we heard from Rob Gethin Smith from London's Southbank Centre on how his digital team achieved a collaborative and participative development process in rebuilding the South Bank Centre's main e-commerce platform.   

We also heard from Desiree Peterkin-Bell, Director of Strategic Operations for the Mayor of Philadelphia, and how the digital communications team within the Mayor's office have used social media to communicate with the city's constituents using the applications, and language that they are familiar with.   

Suse Cairns from the Baltimore Museum of Art also presented. She talked about how techniques for maximising the quality of user journeys for the museum's digital products has led to those same techniques informing service provision in the physical domain of the museum. Finally, we heard from Rose Cameron, Director of Innovation for Penn State University, on the need for business analysis and strategic investigation to take place before the execution of digital products. 

As you can see, the calibre of speakers was incredibly high, as is always the case at a J.Boye event, and the discussion topics were varied but always informative. 

The first day of the conference was topped off by a visit to the local bowling alley, which involved industrial sized orders of Jagerbombs and some tequila and lemon juice, eye-based, experimentation – don’t try this at home!

Day two and three involved a series of interactive seminars, given by, in all cases, delegates themselves, who shared practical examples of their successes and lessons learned with innovation in the areas of Digital Transformation, Content Strategy, Customer Experience Design and Marketing Transformation. 

To maximise engagement and collaboration the seminars were interspersed with a selection of activities including round tables on subjects such as: designing a model for enterprise level social networking standards, challenges involved in selling the business need for content strategy, digital brand experience, designing customer experiences that delight, intranet management, balancing purpose, platform and partner selection, and using data to lead. There was also a light hearted, but also hotly contested, web idol competition. The high standard of entrants included Cellum's Digital Asset Management solution, EYO's Employee App that brings enterprise social networking to non-office/desktop PC based staff, Telerik's Sitefinity CXM and the winning contestant, Siteimprove's web accessibility analysis tool. 

The conference was finished in the most topical of fashions. To coincide with the UK general election, there was a debate chaired by delegates who undertook the roles of Sarah Palin (?) and David Cameron to decide on a number of pervasive issues including the decline of the Creative Director, opening up company data to agencies and  the ownership of digital. Staying loyal to the political theme, the debate quickly resembled a passionate encounter within the House of Commons, but it was great fun and there were no lasting scars.

In conclusion, J.Boye Philadelphia 2015, ticked all the boxes. It was informative, interesting and inspiring whilst simultaneously being a lot of fun! The next J.Boye Conference is in Aarhus, Denmark on 3rd – 5th November, if you can attend we strongly recommended it, if not we hope to see you in Philadelphia next year.