Saba People 2010 Conference trip report – Part 1

It’s always a re-energising experience attending a conference and this one was no exception!

Monday 1st November

The event started off on Monday with a “Town Hall” meeting of the global Saba user group – most of this discussion was around support related areas and was a good first opportunity to meet other customers. This was followed by 2 separate special interest groups – I went to the Collaboration group which was well attended and resulted in a decision to keep the group active using Saba Live. If you haven’t yet seen Saba Live, perhaps this video might give you a clue as to what the fuss is all about!



The day ended with a networking event and a session with the EMEA team and fellow EMEA customers – we already have a good informal network in the UK so this was another opportunity to catch up!

Tuesday 2nd November

Jeff Carr from Saba opened the event with a highly entertaining look at the birth of the American Revolution and how that might have looked had Web 2.0 tools been around! First major keynote of the conference was delivered by Gary Hamel – he had some great content – here are some key soundbites from his session:

  • “We are not limited by our resources, we are limited by our aspirations”
  • “passion, creativity, initiative- new skills for the knowledge economy”
  • “it’s not so much work sucks, it’s more management blows”
  • “most important invention of human time in last century is management . It is the technology of humankind”
  • “The flows of knowhow are becoming more important than the stock of knowhow”
  • “Be Bold”! (a recurring theme during the conference!)

Gary’s presentation will be available on the Saba Live Customer Community along with all the others from the event – recorded using Saba Centra. More about Gary’s thinking can be found on his blog:


My next session was also about collaboration – Saba made a great hire in poaching Jim Lundy away from Gartner where he led the Social Software & Collaboration team. Much of this session focussed on an area that I have been talking about for a number of years – the power of community conversations to power innovation. This aligns very closely to my own thinking on where Knowledge Management meets Learning and was a good omen for my own panel session with Jim later in the day.

The next sessions were mainly about product enhancements plus a few items I gleaned from the solutions centre:

  • 3 functions now JSR286 – include Search, In progress learning & Approvals in any JSR286 compliant portal.
  • Saba Anywhere – off-line player which doesn’t need a special off-line version of the course to be created.
  • Centra 7.7 pm iPad.
  • They have hired some former Google staff to improve the search function.


Next up was a customer presentation from Hitachi Data Systems – some good examples of how they have used Web Services to “Make Saba their own”. One example is how they use this to extract data into an interim database which then feeds into a Business objects Universe or similar.


The day finished with a panel discussion on “Collaborating in your Enterprise: Managing Change”. I really enjoyed this panel working with Janice Watrous-McCabe from Allina Hospitals, Nick Howe from Hitachi Data Systems, Alice Harkin from Saba and facilitation from  Jim Lundy.  A great question at the end got these responses from the panel:


Q: What is the business case for collaboration?

1) 50% of your people will be gone in 5 years time
2) novice2expert
3) power of connectivity

The evening ended with a customer appreciation event at the Museum of Science featuring a live performance by Fitz and the Tantrums. (They have a free mp3 download on the site!). One highlight of the evening for me was the opportunity to meet again with Mike Fitzgerald, formerly Global Head of Learning for RSA, who was responsible for recruiting me into a role in the eLearning space – I remain in his debt for introducing me to the best jobs I have had in my career!


Another old friend, Peter Olguin, from Deloitte was making a video diary of the event – his day 2 summary will give you a flavour of the event!

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