What a day! And, it's really not even over yet, as I write this at 6:30PM. The first full day of C3 just wrapped up (as far as sessions, but certainly not social activities) and I'm mostly murmuring to myself, "Wow." Just wow.
It all began with an incredible Opening Keynote from CallidusCloud CEO Leslie Stretch that unveiled our plans for evolving the technology of Artificial Intelligence into something, shall we say, smarter? We're calling it Augmented Intelligence and it promises to continually improve business and individual performance, as well as be easy to set up and use. Perhaps most notably, augmented intelligence allows humans to override AI recommendations as long as the override doesn't conflict with improving business performance. Now, that's something to chew on, isn't it? But, we don't have the space to get into more on this huge topic in this post. There's way too much to cover.
During his keynote, Leslie welcomed an impressive array of customers to the stage to tell their success stories with CallidusCloud solutions. It was entertaining and eye-opening to consider how progressive companies like ADP, IBM, Salesforce, SAP, Atlas Copco, PsychArmor and others are innovating how we do business by leveraging technology, but also by breaking the mold of how things have been done in the past. Cheers and thank you to our amazing customers for sharing their ideas with our broader audience.
Next, Bill McDermott, SAP CEO, took the stage. Mr. McDermott is hands-down one of the best speakers I've ever seen in my life. I recounted his incredible life story in a recent blog and won't take the space to do so again here, but suffice it to say that some leaders simply have the power to inspire and to bring out the best in people. His graciousness, humility, honesty, humor, persistence, and good, old-fashioned grit had everyone in the audience riveted as he told his story of how a big-thinking kid from Queens could become the CEO of one of the largest technology companies in the world. My words do not do it justice; I hope you get the chance to see him live sometime.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, Captain Mark Kelly, Commander of Space Shuttle Endeavor's final mission took the stage. This brought the term "inspirational speaker" to a new level. Not only did he share (with great wit and humor) his harrowing tales of combat missions in Iraq and the perils of space travel, he also brought tears to my eyes (and I know I wasn't alone) as he shared the brutal reality of his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, being nearly assassinated as she met with her constituents in Arizona and her beyond-heroic return to public service. I hope his similar talks are available on YouTube and you take some time to watch. There's no possibility that you won't be deeply inspired by this man's story of hard work and more importantly, heart.
Thank goodness lunch came after these mind-blowing keynotes. Some of us (ok, me) needed to pull ourselves together and make sure no mascara trails remained on my face. After all, it was time to rally for the afternoon of Litmos and learning thought leaders!
We kicked off the afternoon in the Litmos room with a fun, informative, and very funny keynote from EVP Rory Cameron, who covered up-coming product capabilities and direction. The technology developments seemed to really resonate with all of our customers in the room (assuming applause levels are a good indicator).
HR pioneer, Patty McCord, rocked the room next with her personal brand of disruption and defiance of norms. She challenged our audience of L&D pros to step out of the box of normalcy, to question best practices, to have the courage to do things differently, and simply to "ask why." I can't imagine there was a single person in the audience who didn't walk away with a gem or two (or more) that they could apply to shake up the senseless policies or practices in their own company. I was sitting in the back row and saw countless phones capturing the wisdom on her slides. Go Patty! You are a business rock star.
We wrapped the afternoon with incredibly insightful talks and a panel with Dani Johnson from Bersin by Deloitte and Michael Rochelle from Brandon Hall Group. They both shared research on where we are as a learning industry that was both comforting and shocking. How is that possible? It's possible because only a small percentage of organizations are really in the top levels of maturity and development. The majority of organizations exist in the intermediate levels, which is comforting, meaning that if you're not there yet, don't fret, neither are most of your peers. But, it was also shocking to consider that many companies are lagging behind in delivering the type of continuous, mobile learning that today's learners need to perform at top capacity. We'll continue to look to both Bersin and Brandon Hall Group for such straightforward and useful advice and analysis going forward and share it with you here on the Litmos blog.
So, that was just a slice of Day One. There's another full day of this enriching, enlightening, empowering conference tomorrow! Stay tuned...