Last week I returned to the Gaylord Texan resort in Dallas for the UConnect conference. I hope you agree with my previous description of the Texan. The Texan is an amazing feat of engineering and design. The entire resort is housed under a giant glass dome. The nearly 2,000 UConnect attendees were not the only occupants, but we certainly dominated the place.
I was struck by several aspects of the event, and most of them actually made me happy... for a change. Most of you said the sessions were informative, and some even called them "entertaining." With nearly 100 sessions I wasn't able to get your comments on each of them, but I did see people as they came out of them actively discussing the sessions they had attended. I'm generally more impressed with sessions that get us talking than those that leave us with just a smile.
Another aspect of the event that pleasantly surprised me was the overwhelming intent of the participants to push toward the very same goals I harp on all the time. Are my tyrades getting through, or is it just that the goals of lowering the barriers to entry to e-Commerce actually make sense to you as a group? In the sessions I attended, the speakers espoused standards that keep everyone on the same page, and reduce the need to reinvent processes. There was also a constant emphasis on reducing costs.
Back on the subject of the Gaylord; it wasn't until someone on the phone asked me how the weather in Dallas was, and I automatically answered, "It's a beautiful 73 degrees," I realized that I really didn't have any idea what the weather was. It could have been 40 degrees and raining, but inside the Texan's domed enclosure, the world was perfect, and strolling through the gardens and along the river made the fantasy world easy to love. Maybe that protective enclosure had the same effect on the participants with regard to their attitudes on conducting e-Commerce. The atmosphere was positive and pleasant; a contrast to the competitive, sometimes unfair practices I see in most of my travels.
As I spoke with several of you throughout the week, I got the clear message that each of you believe in the work you are doing and its importance. The world of people "outside the dome" are generally unaware of the impact electronic trading has on their lives. And overall, that's the way it should be. While the world community is busy buying and selling goods, people like you are sweating over the details of how to get products in their hands when they want them. It's impossible to imagine the commerce world functioning as efficiently as it does without the efforts of all of you.
So, if it sounds like I'm ending on a positive note this week, I am. I was privileged to be invited to attend the eC-BP.org Best Practices Award dinner (a nine-course gourmand's extravaganza) where no less than six companies were recognized for their efforts and achievements in implementing various e-Commerce initiatives. The overall award went to Food Lion's Carolyn Hager, with honorable mentions to Smart & Final's Sandy Milon, Bon-Ton's Linda Heflin, United Food Service Group's Bob Burnett, Associated Food Services' Doub Carlile, and DOT Foods' Debbie Bower. But as impressed as I am with the progress made by the companies recognized for this award, I know there are hundreds of others with equal or possibly more impressive achievements. I only hope that more of you will submit entries for next year's awards.
I'll be back on the road next week and will report my adventures to you. But for now, I'll leave you with happy thoughts of cooperation and mutual gain from pursuing the same set of goals.