Last week, our first post-pandemic in-person Outperform conference concluded with spectacular success. We had 800+ registered with our highest-ever attendance (over 85% attendance rate). This is an outstanding attendance rate. FYI, the industry average is only about 65%, and 70% is typically considered an excellent turnout for most conferences with over 500 attendees.
As mentioned in the pre-conference post, I took on the responsibility of delivering 3 sessions for the 3 years that I’ve missed seeing you all (the previous in-person Outperform was in 2019.
- AI for Everyone: From Big Data to ML and Beyond
- Beyond ChatGPT: Inside the Minds of Generative AI
- TAKE FL(AI)GHT: A Journey Towards a Customer-Centric Airline Retail
In retrospect, I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but seeing people learn and seeing their light bulbs lit up make all the hard work worth it. Although I have yet to see the feedback and rating data from these sessions, the people I’ve talked to were very positive and had great things to say. But more data and stats will come as I get the survey feedback from our events team.
In the meantime, let me share a few things with you.
I was lucky to be invited to a live-streaming event along with our CMO Grad Conn and one of our customers, Yining Zhang (Senior Director of Customer Pricing from LaserShip). And the hosts are none other than the renowned CRM Playaz: Brent Leary and Paul Greenberg, who wrote the Bible of CRM: CRM at the Speed of Light. Paul and Brent are not only influencers in the world of CRM and CX (customer experience), they are my mentors and my friends. And I was fortunate to learn from them in the early days of my career as I enter the industry right out of my Ph.D.
Although the conference is only ~2 days long, we had 116 presenters with over 50% customer speakers. This demonstrates the strong support and championship we had from our customers. Beyond the customer advocates, Outperform had the tradition of inviting an inspiring external speaker to be the star of the show. This year, we are so lucky to have Dr. Poppy Crum keynote this Plenary Session. Ever since I learned that she has agreed to speak at Outperform, I’ve been excited and greatly anticipated to hear her keynote: “Optimizing the Customer Experience with AI.”
For the rare few who don’t know, Dr. Crum is a neuroscientist, technologist, and futurist who is at the forefront of developing empathetic technologies. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University and her work focuses on the intersection of neuroscience, technology, and human behavior where she is leveraging technology to enhance our senses and our ability to interact with the world around us. And I can go on and on with her achievements and accolades.
Meeting Dr. Crum is a real treat for me, because I was also a neuroscientist when I was in grad school at UC Berkeley. I used machine learning (ML) to model the visual processing within the human brain using fMRI and electro-physiology data. And I was surprised to learn that Dr. Crum was also a neurophysiologist as we chat backstage. Similar to Dr. Crum, I had been and still am very passionate about human behavior. When I was at Lithium Technologies (now Khoros), I used ML to analyze and predict human behaviors on social media platforms. We even go to the extent of influencing user behaviors using Gamification and other Behavioral Economics techniques. Recognizing the potential risk of such powerful behavior-changing technology, I’ve long been an advocate of the responsible use of technologies, whether it is social media, gamification, or artificial intelligence.
In addition to meeting Dr. Poppy Crum, Outperform with PROS has always been a destination for many of my industry analyst friends. Many of them are very difficult to get hold of because they are constantly on the road somewhere around the world (e.g. Ray Wang is on the road for more than 200 days a year).
Lastly, it’s no secret that PROS hosts several other unpublicized meetings at Outperform. These include our Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meetings (for both the travel and B2B side of our business) and the Analyst Day. Although I couldn’t participate in the CAB meetings because I was delivering the “AI for Everyone” workshop at the same time, I am very privileged to be brought in to speak to our investors and financial analysts at our Analyst Day. I must say that I don’t have much experience speaking to investors. Including VCs, I’ve probably only done that a dozen of times throughout my career. So it’s quite fascinating to hear the questions they ask and grasp their concerns. It’s definitely a learning experience for me.
After 3 years of going virtual, it feels great to be back in person. The past few years have been challenging, but they have also been an opportunity for growth and innovation. We have learned to be more resilient and adaptable with the help of AI. We learn to be more appreciative of the little things we often took for granted (e.g. seeing our customers and friends face to face). We have also learned the importance of community and human connection. So even though we have all been through a lot in the past few years, it is important to remember that I am with you on this journey together.
THIS IS THE WAY! This is how we Outperform with PROS.