Around 2000 people attended the Microsoft Tech Ed 2007 conference last week.
Once again developers and IT professionals got to look under the hood of new and upcoming Microsoft technologies, which this year included its new server and developer tools that are due for release next February.
Highlights of the event included the opening address by US-based “customer experience” guru Lou Carbone, who brought a bit of an “outside-the-square” flavour to a largely technical event while using local examples to illustrate his points.
Carbone is founder and CEO of Experience Engineering in Minneapolis and author of the 2004 book Clued In: How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again.
At the conference he spoke about understanding customers’ emotional responses to their experience with a product, brand or company.
He says companies should move away from relying on branding to attract and retain customers, a state he calls “brand canyon”, and should rather focus on delivering a great experience for customers.
Businesses should think about and understand how engaging with their products or brands make customers feel, not just about the product – but also about themselves.
If a product or service makes customers feel great about themselves, they become passionate advocates for the brand. A great example of this is Harley-Davison, which has something of a cult following with people going as far as “branding” themselves with the company’s logo in the form of tattoos.
This is the level of engagement any organisation organisation would be envious of, says Carbone. But adds it is all down to the emotional experience.
Conversely, imagine how bad experiences with brands make us feel.
In another example, Carbone says he is a member of the Northwest Airlines frequent-flyer programme and regards it as a reward for “a horrible, crappy experience”.
However, the airline thinks he is being loyal.
These are important lessons for all business owners. Consider how you can make people feel great about themselves by being your customers.
The other highlight of Tech Ed was the Las Vegas-themed Techfest party held at Auckland’s town hall last Tuesday evening.
The event featured top entertainment with Fielding’s best-ever export, Evermore, leading the charge, along with the burlesque-ish Candy Lane Dancers and a casino complete with poker and roulette tables, but no real money in play.
But since this was a Tech Ed party, it was attended by hundreds of developers and IT professionals. In the spirit of the event, here is a list of Top 10 signs that you may very well be at a Geekfest…
1. During Evermore’s performance of “Light Surrounding You” everyone waves smartphones and other Windows Mobile devices in the air
2. While doing this, concertgoers start comparing features on their devices
3. The queue for the bank of Xbox 360 consoles is longer than that for the bar
4. The male/female ratio is less balanced than at a Texas gun rally
5. The groupie-wannabies at the front of the stage are all middle-aged males who curse at each other in programming code as they jostle to get as close to the band as possible
6. You find yourself in a huddle with the Microsoft marketing team sporting t-shirts with “Geek” written on them, singing “Stand By Me” together
7. Someone who looks like an 40-year-old virgin attempts to stage dive during “Running”
8. There’s chaos in the men’s room as tech-heads who know the intricacies of .Net and Visual Studio try to figure out how to operate the automatic hand-towel dispensers
9. Half the Tech Ed delegates at the afterparty didn’t even go to Techfest - they just came from a Cure concert
10. And the top sign that you are at a Geekfest – it’s 2am and Mr Tech Ed, Sean McBreen is still wearing his conference name badge