A day at SMAU!

Just back from SMAU… right, what the heck is SMAU, for those of you that are not Italian??? Simply, that is (should be..) the largest, most famous and historical ICT exibition / convention in Italy, held in Milan and generally in October. The event went through a roller-coaster, somewhat hard times: it once was the reference for anybody in IT (ICT, later..), it was submerged by schoolboys in desperate quest for the latest gaming/pc/whatever cool gadget from, say, end of ’90 to mid Naughties, then went a bit downhill and then, supposedly, resurged in the last couple of days.. supposedly, as to avoiding the screaming hordes of hormonal youngsters crazy for bytes and bums (companies’ stands swarmed with hostesses..), SMAU became a business-only game… quite sad indeed, to be honest..

The excitement buzz was lost, no perception of technology riding the tidal wave of innovation, no feeling that ICT was out of the basement and into everyone’s house and life… it is back to be a trite and sparkless affair for boring attempted-pin stripes suit wearers … nevertheless, I went.

Scope was to attend a conference (more a workshop as it turned out to be..) on Web 2.0 business opportunities…

A good two-and-a-half hours blew in the wind of Second Life and geomarketing “a la GoogleMaps”… incredibly boring, to be honest, particularly for a couple of issues:

  • the SL part, albeit well documented with infos and numbers from the usual sites, including Second Life Insider and KZero, was poorly organised as to give out some new insights on what is business in/with/via SL (if any.. ) and focused on the end user experience guideline (how to fly, why to fly and some other amenities..).. the only biz remark was about the SL potential to extend relationships and create some sort of improved customer care, supposing your customers are actually in..
  • nobody stressed the cultural impact of approaching SL to enhance and empower the organisation, that including training, virtual conferencing, interactive product / feature demonstration, workgrouping and so forth.. in a country (Italy) where it is scarcely adopted even the “remotisation” of a workplace, or at least is not as widespread as it should be, I trust it will be hard to explain your boss “I am actually working..” when interacting with a fish called Wanda …

Plus, there were some other statements and pearls of wisdom which I thought were superfluous for those already within a VW and totally out of place for those who are not yet in (remarks included something along the “people buy stuff for the avatars and not something to take back to real world..” lines).. the approach was either druidic or “we and the Others” kind of patronising tone. A big no-no altogether.

There was a nice notation on all of the above: the absolute high percentage of female attendees in the audience. Now, before you start with pub-style comments, it is interesting to notice how an usually male populated area (girls, IT WAS boooooring !!!) today was sort of 50-50.. you give this a nice explanation, I believe it could be due to information technology being increasingly embedded into everyone’s life, with some cool declination quite recently and, more importantly, it is no longer a technical affair but it could well be placed amongst the “humanistic” topics…. (which I rather..)

The interesting presentation from Microsoft about its Virtual Earth application was somewhat too quietly digested by the attendees, I was expecting a rain of questioning, how that could go against Google Thingy(es) and similar amenities, whilst all went out with a mild clapping of hands, unheard it went in the overall buzz-chatty sound of the hangar-like compound SMAU is in..

Some missing companies: Microsoft itself, nobody from the mobile comms industry apart from RIM and Telecom Italia (partly mobile, ok…), none of the networking giants (Cisco and bros..), PC manufacturers went AWOL apart from IBM and a neighbour such as Lenovo, absolutely nobody from the Web 2.0 industry, whatever that may be… if someone of the above was around, either its stand was real tiny or it was placed nearby the toilet area, which I did not explore at all.. furthermore, gadgets were horrible, I ended up with a c@#p yellow yo-yo… poor me, what a day…

So, end game was not so exciting as I supposed it could be, and that is remarkably sad, considering the wealth of innovation and buzz that is going on today all over the World.. and that is scary, for you need to have a stronger grasp and a better picture of ICT as the main change agent at your disposal today, if you want to have an healthy country system, ready to ramp up. I better go to my feed reader and see what is going on…somewhere else??!?!

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