Google’s Great Big Ideas Camp

Google is hosting a conference in Sicily this week simply called the “Camp.” This is a different kind of conference. It’s not just about business. Attendees are from business, politics and entertainment — they bring their families. I was interviewed by Fox News about what will take place and what Google can expect from this event. You may find this interesting.

I have been invited to attend many of these types of events over the years. Big companies like Emerson, Lucent, Nortel, Compaq and more. They’re held in glorious places like Palm Beach, Las Vegas and Maui and sometimes on cruise ships. These meetings are full of sun, sand, friendship and ideas.

At some meetings, attendees are invited to bring their spouses; at some, the entire family is welcome. That changes everything. So, how much business is done? As it turns out, plenty — but not in a conventional way. In this case, the emotional side of business is built.

Business and Pleasure

These conferences are not typical business meetings. They are several days of bonding with other attendees. Everyone contributes their thoughts, and everyone learns new things they can take back to their work and life.

Attendees typically are senior executives of companies the host company wants to bond with. Many are invited to mix and mingle and help stir thinking during business meetings and casual conversations.

The result is often very powerful. Since cream rises, this is a way for everyone to learn new secrets of success and take them back to their own businesses and lives. They learn things they may not have thought of before. Everyone wins.

There are business meetings every day, but they are limited in scope to, say, the morning hours. That’s when business leaders mix and mingle, sit on panels, and talk about all sorts of things — from business to technology to the economy to the direction of society.

After the morning meetings, attendees often are free to participate in a prearranged activity like golf, swimming at the beach, shopping downtown, or touring historical sites.

At the end of the afternoon, guests return to their rooms to prepare for a festive dinner. This is usually a spectacular event, often with big name entertainment.

Over a couple of days, many high-level people get to make new friends — always a welcome benefit to all.

Some of these events are on the smaller and more intimate side, with a couple dozen guests. Others are larger events with hundreds of guests — and more if their families are invited.

So what does Google or any host company get out of this type of event? Plenty.

Start of Something Big

These gatherings not only break down the walls of resistance to corporate customers, but also allow the human side seep into relationships — especially in the more intimate settings.

The larger the deals that companies do, the more important a level of trust is with the buyer. Trust is not something that is merely objective. Trust comes from the heart. It’s partly an emotional response. The best way to develop more personal, emotional, trusting relationships among business leaders is through these types of events.

I don’t expect any big deals to happen at Google’s Camp. Deals typically are struck in a private meetings at other times and places. This will just be a fun couple of days to relax, share and learn. Everyone will leave refreshed and loaded with new ideas.

Some of these new relationships may last forever. Some may be the beginning of some big new thing down the road.

That’s why these events not only are popular, but also valuable both to the host company and to every attendee as well.

After all, companies are run by people — and people need to share ideas and bond.

This Google Camp event takes the typical conference to a higher level. Rather than just inviting corporate customers, I think Google wants to hear fresh thinking on the direction of everything from business concerns to those of individuals and society in general.

That way Google can start to think about new products and services for tomorrow. Remember, Google does not play in a game to be one of the crowd. Google leads. Even if it enters an existing space, it redefines the space, and it leads.

So Google and attendees will get quite a bit out of this Camp. It’s very good thinking on Google’s part.

Jeff Kagan

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a technologyindustry analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at [email protected].

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