Nobody Goes to a User Summit in the Digital Age!

Jeff for TwitterWell, as I pack my bag to travel to Orlando—along with over 600 other people—apparently not!

Just to be clear, not all 600 people are packing their bags with me; I would need a bigger bedroom. 600+ people are traveling to the same summit as me this week.

Last time GE's Intelligent Platforms business had a User’s Summit was in 2007, before the financial crisis hit, and we all painfully realized the hard link between the stock market and our 401(k)s. A lot has changed since 2007; Apple launched the iPhone® and iPad®, Facebook had 20 million users (it has 665 million active users today, before you ask), and most of us had never heard of Twitter and LinkedIn.

So I think my question, when I heard about the summit, was justified: Will anyone go? Is it still relevant in today’s digital age? Well, obviously the answer is yes. End of blog. Goodbye.

Well, hang on, the answer is yes, but why? What are the driving factors that make folks commit their time for four days, in a world where time is the most valuable thing we have?

I spoke with a few of those planning to attend, and it really fell into three core areas.

Firstly, the subject matter of making the Industrial Internet real resonates. Does GE really have something I can use here? If not, are there people there who can help me understand what this whole IoT subject is and how it could impact my world?

Secondly, to be fair, having our CEO and Chairman Jeff Immelt attend is quite a big deal and was a draw for a number of executives who have the opportunity to see him speak and perhaps even meet him. I have been with GE 13 years, and this is the first time Jeff has spoken at any of our events, so this subject matter is important for him to support as well.

And finally, one inescapable fact is that people like to talk to people. Digital is great for broad research and general information, but when you need to optimize your time in the best way you can, face to face still has advantages. You typically get the answers you need faster and more to your satisfaction when you speak face to face with an expert; if any of you have been in an Apple store, you will know exactly what I mean.

If you’re coming to the show, come say hello to me; if you’re not, I will post pictures on Twitter @BarryLynchGE. Just follow #GEMakesItReal.


Barry Lynch

Barry, Global Marketing Director – Automation Hardware at GE's Automation & Controls business, passionately believes that connected machines, mobile data analytics and workforce enablement don’t have to be hurdles in business today. He leads the strategic direction of the company’s automation and information systems programs to help customers apply the power of the Industrial Internet to their businesses. By connecting machines, data, insights and people, our technology solutions deliver critical insight for greater operational efficiency, effectiveness and optimization. Learn more about how Barry works at GE on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @BarryLynchGE.

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