The Social Business Forum took place in Milan on July 1st and 2nd and we had the chance attend the event and the opportunity to present our thoughts on how the cloud will change social business systems.


Here are my Top 3 takeaways from the event:

  • The OpenKnowledge teams keeps pushing forward the social business agenda, with Rosario Sica and Emanuele Scotti at the help as invigorated as ever, having the Social Business Forum for the 7th time this year. What started as a humble university annex is now an event in its own right, with international speakers, an expo hall, different tracks and the largest audience ever. It is interesting to see an event experimenting successfully with a public freemium track and paid premium track. The good news for the freemium attendees was that all keynotes and many presentations were – free.

    And OpenKnowledge is following a similar path with its research. For instance the 59 thesis that form the Social Business Toolkit are free to use and were widely presented on banners at the conference. And the company will also provide an app for that – which will likely change the dynamics of filling out the questionnaires. We are very curious to hear about the first results in late fall.

Scotti opens Social Business Forum 2014

  • Esteban Kolsky and Ray Wang came back for a continuation of the CMO versus CIO debate that was very popular in 2013. But who was lucking for new arguments in this ongoing debate was disappointed. Both (in their fictitious roles) got headhunted away from their jobs and are filling roles as CDO (you guessed it Chief Digital Officer). As such they did not have to debate each other, but could share the challenges CDOs face – with a perspective of the ex CMO and ex CIO. The real value was a set of 7 recommendations for practitioners in regards of putting in place digital processes.


Esteban and Ray think smartwatches were a bad idea -
their (fake) careers have moved on, they are CDOs now.

  • The state of social business is good. With attendees mostly from Italy, but also from North of the Alps and as far as Israel – it is clear that social business has arrived and is here to stay. Even though an ironic Scotti could not miss to state how it all got relabelled from Web 2.0 all the way to digital transformation.


A good event, which showed the ‘labor of love’ that is needed to put up such conference. With a rich set of topics and diverse speakers it is certainly an event I would recommend for any practitioner involved in the digital transformation maelstrom. 

As with many enterprise software projects, the ROI case remains a challenge. Simple putting social business as a necessity and not questioning the ROI will not stop the (valid) questions. It comes back to the industry’s thought leaders and vendors to come up with better tools to justify the not insignificant investments required to gear up and maintain social business systems.