Over the years, we at 1to1 Media have attended countless conferences and industry events as part of our promise to bring our readers the latest trends within the customer experience strategy space. But, after attending multiple events this summer, I've come to realize that said conferences might not be as beneficial as leaders believe.Conferences, of course, encourage leaders to think outside the box so they may share new thoughts and ideas with their internal team upon their return. For this reason, industry events will always remain worthwhile. However, it seems there are an increasing number of sessions that focus on theoretical practices without supporting cases that demonstrate strategy in action. Companies clearly recognize what they need to do, but few have yet to implement these measures, leaving audiences to grapple with abstract concepts without concrete instructions. Like children, brands often succeed by emulating the behaviors of their exceptional competitors. But, without examples to guide their endeavors, attendees will likely continue to spin their metaphorical wheels in the proverbial mud.
No matter the nature of the given session, however, audience members will notice that, more than ever, speakers are calling for an end to organizational silos. In fact, attendees cannot emerge from one discussion without terms such as 'omnichannel' and 'seamless' flooding their thoughts. (Yes, we're all aware that this omnichannel approach you speak of isn't just ideal--it's necessary. If your audience doesn't know this by now, then they need much more help than they'll ever find in your lecture hall.) Yet, by their very nature, events rarely facilitate the very concept they constantly promote.
For instance, despite the fact that each session I attended during CRM Evolution dedicated ample amounts of time to the importance of developing an omnichannel strategy, the overall conference structure depended on the very silos each speaker urged us to eliminate. How can every department land on the same page if the conference does not support cross-disciplinary communication itself? Attendees could mix-and-match sessions from one of three tracks--marketing, management, or sales--but the sessions themselves failed to provide professionals with insight into how they could breakdown these silos and cross-pollinate the lessons learned. Logistically, this arrangement makes sense, but it ultimately contradicts the exact problem these professional wish to eradicate.
During her talk at CRM Evolution, Diane Magers, founder and chief engagement officer for Customer Experience Catalysts, referenced one photo (above) that highlights just how inefficient silos actually are. She explained that, if some city were to hire construction workers to build a new bridge, the team would not divide the job into sections and operate independently, for they'd likely fail to align once they attempted to bring each portion together. Thus, companies cannot allow their various departments to function separately, as that's what makes it difficult to gain the ideal, holistic view of the customer experience. Conferences must continue to serve as educational experiences for leaders who wish to learn by fostering omnichannel thinking through innovative lectures that enable disparate departments to cross those internal bridges so they may facilitate internal dialogue and organizational growth themselves.