What does South by Southwest have to do with Enterprise IT? Everything!

ZapThink is currently putting together our plans to run the first Enterprise IT conference at the South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference next March in Austin, Texas. In case you’re not familiar with this combination conference/festival, SXSW bills itself as “the unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery.” Sounds like fun, but what does a laid-back music, film, and interactive festival have to do with enterprise IT? As it turns out, everything.

If you’ve been following the ZapFlash over the last few months, you know we’re fleshing out our new ZapThink 2020 vision for how enterprise IT will change over the next decade. We’re progressively delineating the numerous trends that are impacting the world of IT, and seeking to clarify the interrelationships and Crisis Points that are in the offing. One of the more subtle Supertrends we’ve discussed is the Global Cubicle.

The basic idea of the Global Cubicle Supertrend is that any group of people anywhere in the world can interact on a personal level as though they were in the same cubicle. The component trends to this Supertrend include the arrival of Generation Y in the workforce, the increase in ubiquitous computing, the maturation of social media, the continuation of the outsourcing trend, and the rise of the virtual enterprise. From the perspective of the IT manager, this trend suggests that the IT employee of the near future will live anywhere, work anywhere, and use whatever technology is at hand to collaborate, communicate, and get their work done.

But the perspective of the individual contributor is quite different. Gone are the days that IT workers are little more than cogs in big wheels (wheels made up of legacy technology, no less). Instead, we are members of many communities, covering the continuum from purely personal to entirely career-centric, with no clear distinctions among those communities. Furthermore, the old model of “belonging” to the company we work for where we expect our employer to take care of us is long gone. We are all our own individual contributors with our own individual brands, and sometimes we lend our brand to a large organization.

These are the people we will be involving in our pending Enterprise IT conference at SXSW. No cogs in big wheels here! Instead, we want individual contributors who see themselves as members of communities, as creative participants in the organizations they choose to contribute to. The common thread at SXSW across music, film, and interactive is creativity, and creativity is what we hope to bring to Enterprise IT.

Over the next few weeks, ZapThink hopes to finalize our roster of sponsors for this event (email us at info@zapthink.com if you want more information on sponsorship opportunities). If you’re thinking of sponsoring because you want to sell to the SXSW audience, however, you’re off the mark. It’s time for vendors to focus on collaborating with their customers, to foster the creativity that the individual contributor brings to their organization. The days of one-way marketing (“here, buy our stuff!”) are gone. Instead, having conversations with customers is the only way to involve the individual contributor in the Global Cubicle. Join us in the conversation!

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