The SUMO Heavy team trekked to Las Vegas last week to attend the 2012 Imagine eCommerce Conference. Magento (and their parent company eBay) know how to put on a conference, and this one did not disappoint.
The conference included many valuable networking opportunities, eight Keynote sessions and 15 Breakout Sessions. The Breakout Sessions were divided between three tracks: Technology, Business and Partner Powered Track. This worked well for us as team – Bart and I hit the business sessions while Bob and Sean took in the tech tracks. One of the most memorable breakouts for us was ’Doubling Your Revenues in 6 Months’. The session was geared to merchants, but we walked away with some good insights that we can pass on to our clients.
The eight keynotes featured product announcements from Magento as well as inspirational talks from business leaders.
On Day 2 we heard from Stephen Messer of Collective[i], who told us big data is worthless, it’s about big answers, and Tim Kring (best known as the creator of HEROES), who showed us the art of storytelling and the new monetization models of Hollywood. He took us through the creation of ‘Conspiracy for Good’, which is a multi-platform, multi-player ‘augmented reality drama’, which featured “Social Benefit Storytelling”. The pilot, which took place in 2010, spanned the globe and culminated with 4 weeks of live events and gameplay in London streets.
On Day 3 we heard from Jim FitzGibbon, former president of Four Season Hotel & Resorts, who shared how the Four Season created and lived by a service-oriented culture. He topped off the morning by giving away a free 7-day trip to the Four Seasons in Bora Bora (!). Names were chosen by random drawing, and then the lucky contestants had to answer a few questions, game-show style. The winner was Krister Lenman from Sweden.
The afternoon keynote (which was our favorite) featured Alison Levine. Alison is a remarkable woman – she’s skied across the Arctic Circle to the North Pole, and was the first American to complete a 600-mile trek from West Antarctica to the South Pole. Oh, and she climbed Mount Everest. Twice. In her talk, she recounted her struggles to ascend the mountain and how these experiences can translate into lessons in life and business.
The Venue: M Resort Spa Casino
Even thought the M Resort is way off the beaten path, the location was an excellent choice. All conference events were held within the resort and I think it really helped keep everyone focused (and out of trouble) since the strip was a 30-minute shuttle ride away. The M is one of the newer resorts in Las Vegas and the accommodations were top notch. The resort featured a large pool, where the networking parties were held, and the usual assortment of bars and restaurants within the casino.
The only (minor) complaint was the spotty Internet service within the rooms. A conference of tech geeks with a minimum of 3 devices each brought the house Internet to its knees. Forget trying to check email at 6am, you were better off waiting until you got to the show floor where the conference had their own network.
You never go hungry at one of these conferences. I was impressed by the selection of mostly lighter fare with a wide selection (no trays of bland baked ziti here). Our vegetarian friends were satisfied.
There was an opening night cocktail reception that took place at the smaller pool area featuring a DJ, dancing girls on platforms and of course plenty to eat and drink. Day 2 was the legendary Magento party at the main pool, featuring an old-school Vegas theme, complete with showgirls, fire-eaters, a band and a ‘Rat Pack’ tribute trio. Both parties were excellent opportunities to network and reconnect.
Congratulations to the organizers for pulling off an amazing event. If you’re a Magento developer, partner or eCommerce web shop, we highly recommend this event. We can’t wait for Imagine 2013!