Camunda in Context
As is often the case with a conference on process technologies, Sandy Kemsley has the best live blog available on the subject of CamundaCon. As she notes, Jakob Freund delivered, as usual, a very thoughtful opening keynote from his home base in Berlin, laying out their plans to tackle any process, anywhere.
I knew in advance that on day 1, we had a few clients presenting, and I was excited to see how they represented their success to the community. But I was surprised by a really nice shout out in Jakob's talk track during his opening keynote:
There weren't a lot of believers back in 2013, but I think you could count me as one of them. It was a crowded field - many BPMS software suites, many process engines. But, I felt like they were off to a good start, they had a foundation in delivering process solutions that would arm them with years of good ideas to implement in the product, and we had some great conversations at bpmNEXT that year that reinforced my impressions that they would succeed.
In short order, BP3 became the very first Camunda partner in North America, even before there was really a partner program. And it's been a great partnership, with some great mutual client success stories - and of course Camunda has gone on to grow and evolve into a really fantastic software company. I've had the honor of speaking at CamundaCon in Berlin, and Camunda has attended our own Driven customer conference here in Austin, TX. They may be a startup today, but they were *really* a startup back in 2013. Now they have 4000 people attending a virtual conference! Quite a change in 7 years.
What's clear is that Camunda has carved out an important role in the ecosystem of software for running businesses based on their processes - or as Jakob put it - based on algorithms, because processes *are* the algorithms of a business. Our focus on helping people solve these problems has often given us a chance to see the potential early.
The conference sparked several interesting conversations for me, including how Camunda and RPA might co-exist, among other things. I'll share those thoughts across a couple of blog posts here, and I'll include links to Sandy's excellent blogs because she has great details about each session.
Putting CamundaCon in Context
So many conferences have cancelled lately because of COVID-19. Or postponed to some future date, as yet unknown.
But Camunda decided to press forward with their New York City event - by going virtual in US-friendly time zones. I've attended a few virtual events and conferences that have been poor experiences, but also weren't expensive to attend (free), so I can hardly complain. As others have noted, you get a lot of pre-recorded sessions, and you're missing the key features of conferences: Q&A, interaction between sessions, peanut gallery conversations during sessions, and making new social connections with attendees. With all of that missing, conferences really decline in value.
CamundaCon was also turned into a free event, but in this case, they really took it up a notch. As a baseline, they made use of the On24 platform - others have as well - and while it is okay, it is insufficient for to address the concerns above. Camunda did better than most at having the presentations live, or appear to be live (pre-recorded presentation followed by live Q&A). The key was a Slack workspace for collaborating and discussion/live-chat during the conference. It allowed for the backchannel communications, it allowed for interacting with people you haven't met before, and it allowed for conversations about the session to continue.
It isn't perfect, and it doesn't replace the value of an in-person meeting fully. But, it has some advantages - most of your comments can be read by anyone on the platform - so you might be more careful what you say, but equally, you can engage more people in the conversation than you might at your impromptu lunch conversation. You can also open a private chat with folks as well.
The combination of discussions in Slack and great presentations made for a great virtual experience. It gave me hope that virtual conferences in my near future will be worth the time invested!