EMC World 2009: Twitter for business that works?

Jennifer Scott

COMMENT: I am writing this from the (not so) sunny state of Florida having attended the EMC World Conference 2009.

The main thing I will take away from this conference may not be the need to jump in the cloud or the take over of virtualisation. Instead it is the continuing giant hovering over us all. That giant being social networking.

I have found Facebook fantastically useful to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues whilst the other side of the pond, on top of the usual emails and IM. I am not the only one taking advantage though, as it feel like everyone attending the conference is also making their presence known by tweeting and updating their statuses.

On our arrival, both customers and press were presented with a sheet, firstly welcoming us, but then listing all the social media tools it was using. As well as the event website, there is a Facebook page, LinkedIn page and a Twitter feed to follow.

My initial reaction was can I not, just for one day, get away from Twitter? If you have read my recent comment pieces I do feel that, although a useful tool sometimes, it is not all its cracked up to be. Did I really want to follow EMC World?

The answer, surprisingly, is yes. Once I had taken the plunge and clicked on the follow button I had constant updates of who was talking where and when, what break-out sessions were available and even when lunch was being served. It also had somebody tracking followers' comments and replying to questions, complaints and just showing general appreciation for their input. It was genuinely a useful tool for everyone in attendance.

The best role I feel it played was allowing people to ask questions to those running the show. And I don't just mean about logistics.

During the several panel sessions held on the main stage - in front of 7,000 people no less - questions had been influenced by the buzz across the Twitter feed. Again the cynic in me says that is just what they want us to think and they are posing it in a way we feel important, but having followed the comments of people it seems they really did take note of the topics of the hour and put them to the panelists.

All the hype about businesses using Twitter has so far come to very little. But, if businesses used the social media brains that EMC clearly has working for the company, it could become the business tool everyone dreams it will be. Or perhaps my normal negativity will resume when I am back on GMT...

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.