Monday, May 3, 2010
mLearning Featured at WES 2010
Our team just returned from a full week down in Orlando, Florida participating in Research in Motion’s 2010 Worldwide Enterprise Summit (“WES”) Conference which proved once again to be a spectacular event and learning experience for all in attendance. Plenty of attention was paid to the fields of mobile Learning and mobilized content delivery to the ubiquitous BlackBerry – or as RIM refers to it – the “preferred smartphone for business” and this year’s event once again set the gold standard for “Best Conference Experience/Value” in what’s been an otherwise tepid tradeshow circuit these past few years.
Participation at WES is open to anyone interested in “The World of BlackBerry” though this year’s attendees (6,000+ and up 20% from 2009!) tend to fit one of four profiles including: (1) business or IT teams from larger enterprise accounts, (2) technical or channel resources from global carriers/wireless providers, (3) application developers and enterprise solution architects, or (4) market analysts, bloggers and techno freaks interested in experiencing what’s hot in BlackBerry. Virtually everyone we encountered throughout the four-day conference seemed to have either a mission to learn or a budget to invest (many had both!) and opportunities abounded!
Who’s not in attendance at WES? Thankfully, RIM’s international event wasn’t filled with casual tire kickers or non-practitioners just wasting time or trolling for free giveaways. In fact, more than half the attendees flew in from outside North America (with heavy participation from Europe and Asia Pacific) and they were there to really gain some advantage after enduring 10 to 20-hour flights!
Sessions of Interest
While there were no huge (unanticipated) product announcements from RIM, the highlights of the show included two new BlackBerry devices (the CDMA BlackBerry Bold 9650 and the BlackBerry Pearl 3G/9100) that are both highly polished and ultra fast. And we’ll all soon put that speed to good use as RIM announced the upcoming availability of their BBOS version 6.0 platform coming sometime in Q3 2010. BBOS6 will provide a raft of new (and some long overdue) enhancements to the interface and web browsing experience and also serve to support new features like Flash Player 10.1 also slated for delivery later this year. For mobile learning developers and users alike, these advances and the new devices that will run them will help to ensure the BlackBerry remains a leading device in the smartphone arsenal for mobile learning delivery.
The discipline of Mobile Learning was spotlighted in several of the main sessions including a well attended session titled “WB-11 Developing and Distributing Media-Rich Content for Mobile Workers” in which I was a featured panelist along with Keith O’Loughlin from Intuition. Chalk Media, formally a direct competitor and now a subsidiary of RIM, also presented a few sessions on mobile content creation and delivery to both general audiences and channel partners and a short series of Chalk Pushcasts were deployed to WES attendees via their BlackBerry smartphones helping to make syndicated content delivery a front-of-mind experience for all interested parties.
The Solutions Showcase
The official Exhibit Hall for WES 2010 was the Solutions Showcase area and a record number of sponsors signed up this year and manned their “popsicle stands” to meet interested parties from the RIM ecosystem. The OnPoint team was able to meet and talk with a great number of current customers, partners and prospects and demonstrate why mobile learning in general and our CellCast Solution in particular are gaining in market acceptance and popularity. We were especially pleased with the interest from MVNOs/carriers and VARs we visited with and their expressed commitment to begin leveraging mobile learning to train their own employees and partners: interest seemed to come equally from North America, LATAM, EMEA and APAC alike as the global market heats up from mLearning. We look forward to the opportunities that mature in the coming weeks and months from our active participation in the Solutions Showcase. Martin Brown, our MD from Sydney, Australia, was certainly glad to made the trip over too!
Exceptional Value & Production Quality
Even though RIM brought in US$10M or more from the sponsorships and paid registrations from the 6K attendees, they spared NO expense making the event special and inspiring for everyone. Everything from the keynotes to the sessions to the exhibition hall to the catered meals (breakfast, lunch, snacks and evening entertainment) was top notch and greatly appreciated. Speaking of the keynotes and sessions, there were 4 full days of scheduled presentations from RIM’s top brass, technical leadership, top customers and strategic partners. Evening entertainment included on Tuesday included British song siren Joss Stone as well as Will.i.am from the Blackeyed Peas and a few others with plenty of fun and games and drinks to lubricate conversation. And no lack of bootleg video and audio recordings from the BlackBerry device virtually everyone was carrying with them 24x7. Not to be outdone, a few of the tier one carriers sponsored their own on or off-site shindigs too – we got to attend the ATT Private Party at the Hard Rock Café which featured San Fran band Train singing their popular catalog for the 300 lucky invitees.
The 2010 event was my third WES as an attendee but our first as a company/sponsor and we were certainly not disappointed. The crowds were bigger and seemed more interested in finding ways to leverage their current investment in RIM/BlackBerry and smartphones in general for improved business communications and training. With the continuing flood of new technologies and fully capable devices, the months and years ahead all bode well for mobile learning to finally take flight and soar in the enterprise.