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I attended a software-related conference recently; I’m not going to say which one as this is about something I observed at the conference, not about the conference itself. Being a software conference, the conference organizers did a lot of the expected digital stuff: registration, reminder emails and conference check-in. Up to the end of the registration process, everything I did with respect to the conference was handled electronically. The first time I went analog was after I picked up my geek badge (conference credentials) from the printer and went over to a human who handed me my badge holder, backpack and requisite stack of sponsor advertisements.

I dutifully loaded the conference app and proceeded to manage my interaction with the event (session schedule, location of special events and so on) through the app. When attending conference keynotes and sessions of interest, I carried my smartphone and tablet, nothing more, and that’s when it got interesting.

One of the things the conference gave me during registration was a pen. I’m a digital guy; I didn’t have any reason to use a pen, so I dropped it on the desk in my hotel room and carried on. As I approached any conference session, the gatekeeper outside the session would try to hand me an evaluation form. Yes, a paper evaluation form. This is what started me thinking about what happens when you only do digital half-way.

Being digital is like jumping out of an airplane: Once you’re out that door, there’s no getting back in the plane.

In this case, the conference had an app, so I expected to do session evaluations in the app. At each session, I politely informed the gatekeeper that I didn’t have a pen, so I couldn’t do the evaluation. They got to know me and eventually started letting me know they’d have a pen for me the next time, but never seemed to come up with one.

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via Forrester Blogs John M. Wargo

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