I just returned from the Business of Software 2009 conference, and can summarize it as excellent. Here are some thoughts on specific bits of it, mostly interesting to people who were there.
- Geoffrey Moore’s opening talk was an early highlight of the conference; I’ve often been disappointed when a well-known person from somewhat outside a conference’s focus is invited to talk, but it turned out that Geoff had ample highly relevant content. Most notably, his 9-point recommendation for small software firms is dead on.
- It is highly likely that my next project will be in one of the 20-something categories that Paul Graham thinks will grow. I’m not sure if this is saying much, though, because his points were so numerous and broad.
- Mat Clayton had strong points about A/B testing, but I felt a bit dirty merely being in the room for his list of “dirty tactics” for social networking promotion. I heard similar feedback from other attendees.
- Don Norman’s talk was excellent, but would have been more excellent if it was a bit shorter and thus tighter.
- My favorite talk of the conference was Ryan Carson’s. In conversations about his talk, I heard the idea of several directions that the essence of Ryan’s message was to trade off, to give up profits in order to do various good things instead. I strongly suspect, though, that Ryan is doing the best he can, i.e. the strategy he proclaims is also how he maximizes profits (for a company like his).
- Paul Kenny talked about telling stories. You must do this. I can’t explain just how important this talk was, so I won’t.
- Pecha Kucha was this conference’s name for lightning talks. As elsewhere, these talks are usually very dense and very good, because the format forces the speaker to discard all the slow parts, all the boring parts, all the exposition, and instead go directly for their key points. It works.
- I noticed a large number of people using TweetDeck, and adopted it myself. It is a higher-mental-bandwidth way to consume Twitter and Facebook data streams, and is well suited to the a sane Twitter usage pattern of one short intense sessions per day.
I have only a few criticisms:
- A few of the speakers went long. Though it would annoy the speaker, it would be much better for the conference if all sessions were promptly stopped on time.
- Luke Hohmann’s talk on “Innovation Games” felt like a sales pitch for his company, even though he tried hard to talk mostly in general terms.
- The schedule was a bit too dense. We needed more slack between / before / after, to discuss and absorb the information.
- It would have been nice to have a talk address the business of custom software development.
- The swag, in the form of a slanket / snuggie, is much too physically large for an event attended mostly via air travel. Of course I could have discarded it (and some attendees did), this would have felt like waste. I would have preferred if Neil had simply scrapped it and kept that money as profit.