#itelliFest2020, the NTT DATA Business Solutions conference, but different

#itelliFest2020, the NTT DATA Business Solutions conference, but different

Earlier this year we announced that the NTT DATA Business Solutions Conference would not be going ahead in its usual physical format. As I explained at the time, it was a decision that was taken out of our hands by COVID-19.

Despite the uncertainty that the Pandemic brought to all our lives, internally at NTT DATA Business Solutions UK the entire conference Team were 100% committed to running an event this year. We felt it was important to make a clear statement on this so we announced our plan to push the replacement #itelliFest event to after the summer.

I am pleased to be able to confirm that #itelliFest2020 will launch on Tuesday the 6th of October and run until Friday the 9th of October.

There is one question that I have been asked multiple times…

“When you do run the event, what type of event will it be?”

This is an attempt to answer that question.

Rethinking the NTT DATA Business Solutions Conference for Online

It was clear that large-scale physical events (#itelli2020 had attracted over 1200 registrations) were going to be either a) impossible or b) unappealing for the rest of 2020. So, what should we do instead?

The quick, obvious, and only practical choice was to move to an online / virtual event. But that quickly leads to more questions…

  • How long should the event be?
  • Should we replicate the successful format and structure of the physical conference?
  • What platform should we host on?

Luckily, we were not the only company going through this thought process and there were plenty of examples to learn from.

Running a list of Conferences Going Virtual

Factors that Cause Virtual Events to Fail

The closest alignment I found to my embryonic thinking was on Diginomica where Den Howlett and particularly Jon Reed had pulled together an impressive set of articles that really chimed with me.

Will Coronavirus mark a tipping point for virtual events?

Don’t blame clunky tech for stale webinars

Will your upcoming virtual event be mediocre – or memorable?

Having experienced and read about several events that had struggled online it was clear to me that #itelliFest2020 would have to be based on 3 simple guiding principles.

  1. Attention is Borrowed not Owned
  2. Networking and Interaction Drives Value
  3. Real Conversations Win

Attention is Borrowed not Owned

You registered for our conference, great, thanks. What can we expect from you? If you have previously attended the NTT DATA Business Solutions conference or any of our other events, then it is fair to expect you to give us a chance. Beyond that? That is the challenge with online events, not interesting enough, or going on too long. The attendee has a remarkably simple choice. They do not have to get up from a chair and leave the room, they can just ALT+TAB to another window and they are gone.

We are asking to borrow your attention and we must make damn sure that we work hard to keep it.

woman with laptop

How will #itelliFest2020 be different?

At our physical conference we have the luxury of a captive audience for an entire day. It is not practical to try and replicate this in the online world. We are taking a different approach. True to its name, #itelliFest2020 will be a four-day festival of content. All sessions will be bite sized lasting no more than 30 minutes. You are in control; you will have the opportunity to pop in for live sessions or you can catch up on demand afterwards.

Day 1 will kick-off with a keynote including a special celebrity speaker and we will be including quizzes and prizes to keep you engaged.

Following this there will be clear times set aside to focus on what you tell us are the big core topics:

  • Improving Decision Making with Analytics & Data Management
  • Moving towards S/4HANA and the Intelligent Enterprise
  • From Hire to Retire – HXM and the Evolution of Employee Experience
  • Improving Customer Experience through Sales, Service and Commerce
  • Sweating your SAP Assets with Managed Services and Cloud Transformation

Networking and Interaction Drives Value

A huge part of the positive feedback we receive for our physical conference can be distilled down to one thing, the networking. When we gather 1,000 SAP professionals (plus a dash of other interested parties) under a single roof, the opportunities for knowledge sharing and interaction are unprecedented.

We must ease and encourage networking and interaction between attendees as well as between attendees and NTT DATA Business Solutions people.

itelli conference

How will #itelliFest2020 be different?

We will support and encourage 4 types of interaction:

  1. Targeted Networking – the so-called “Virtual Tap on the Shoulder.” You can search through the attendee list and ask someone to join you for an impromptu catch up. Using either text chat, audio, or full video the opportunity to meet with fellow delegates or NTT DATA Business Solutions people is just a click away. Of course, there is the opportunity to block and report any unwelcome attention.
  2. Open Networking – have some free time and interested in “bumping” into someone? You can opt in to be randomly connected to someone who is available for a conversation. Just like those unexpected meetings in the queue for coffee at a physical event, this is a wonderful way to make new and unexpected connections.
  3. NTT DATA Business Solutions Booths – the online version of the always popular Consultants Corner, your opportunity to video chat with practitioners across all the SAP solution areas. Whether you want to see a product demonstration, get an answer to a functional or technical question, or just catch up with someone you have not seen for a while.
  4. Sponsor Booths – our final networking and interaction opportunity is with our sponsors. We are grateful for their support and will announce the full list soon.

Real Conversations Win

The most popular sessions at our events are always those that are based on real work experiences. Whether a customer telling their story, or a Consultant sharing ‘warts and all’ insights from working with innovative technologies. We know that you come to NTT DATA Business Solutions events to get behind the headlines, to hear real opinions.

We must ensure that we share credible stories in a punchy way that is not hindered by a lack of face-to-face interaction.

speaking at itelli conference

How will #itelliFest2020 be different?

We will work extra hard to ensure that #itelliFest2020 delivers:

  • Credible Stories – as always, we are choosing our presenters and topics based on their real-world relevance. All presenters will encourage audience participation through live Q&A and reactions.
  • Face to Face Interaction – as well as opting into the networking options above, every customer and NTT DATA Business Solutions presenter at #itelliFest2020 will follow their session with a moderated virtual video roundtable. A wonderful opportunity to ask questions and gain deeper understanding.

Introducing Hopin

After a rigorous search of the market and a demanding evaluation process, I am pleased to announce that #itelliFest2020 will be delivered in partnership with Hopin.

The Hopin platform will support our aims to remain true to our guiding principles:

  1. Attention is Borrowed not Owned
  2. Networking and Interaction Drives Value
  3. Real Conversations Win

The crew at Hopin are 100% aligned with these goals and they at once understood our desire to run a different type of event.

Do not just take my word for it. Jon Reed had a few interesting things to say over at Diginomica.

What’s Next?

If you registered for the #itelli2020 physical conference, then please keep an eye on your inbox. In the coming days you will receive your personal invitation to the Hopin platform where you can complete your profile, review the agenda, and add sessions to your calendar.

#itelliFest2020 registration image

For those of you who were not already registered, the full agenda and registration pages will be made publicly available shortly afterwards. Please keep an eye on all the usual channels for the update.

I look forward to meeting many of you (virtually) at #itelliFest2020, the NTT DATA Business Solutions conference, but different.




Andy Steer
Andy Steer
Chief Technology Officer

I have responsibility for defining and driving the evolution of the business in step with our customers and partners. I spend most of my time listening and learning from 3 sets of people; our customers, our partners and our employees to ensure that we are able to imagine, describe and deliver the innovative solutions that will ensure our customers future success. Before NTT DATA Business Solutions I worked in a variety of Consulting and Management roles in the field of Data Management and Business Intelligence for nearly 20 years and I regularly present at industry events in the UK and beyond. When not at work I spend most of my spare time either drinking wine with my Wife, playing Lego with my sons or getting depressed supporting Tottenham Hotspur.

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