Building Business Capability Conference 2011 – my report

I spoke on use cases at the Building Business Capability Conference 2011 in Florida in the US which ran from 1st to 3rd November, 2011.

I want to share my impressions from the Conference in this post. This should help those of you who didn’t attend know what they missed out on and whether you would benefit from attend next year.

I arrived on the Saturday before the Conference to give me a few days to meet people and get some Florida sun before the Conference started (on Tuesday).

As I drove out of the airport, I was confronted with lightning storms! And on the way to the friend’s house where I was staying, I had to drive in the centre of the road as it was completely flooded.

So much for Florida sun!

Overall impressions

The overall event was on a very large scale with over 900 attendees, 4 tracks and, at some points up to six or seven sessions running in parallel! The tracks were on business analysis, business process, business rules and business architecture.

There is so much breadth of knowledge and expertise being shared that I think every business analyst will find a great deal of value in the three days.

For myself, I found most value in the business analysis and business architecture tracks.

One of my particular highlights would be Steve Erlank, President of the IIBA South African Chapter, talking on Systems Thinking. He was an amusing speaker who communicated complex concepts very clearly and simply. I had the good fortune to enjoy Steve’s company on several occasions afterwards including a lunch in London where we talked about ways to help the BA community.

I also very much enjoyed hearing Rich Larson from Watermark Learning talking on Business Analyst as Management Consultant – fantastic voyage or impossible dream?

Let me know if you would like a copy of the slides and I’ll contact Rich or Steve.

I found it interesting that in the Business Architecture stream I didn’t come away feeling there was a shared definition of business architecture.


How does it compare with other Conferences?

I can only compare with the UK Conference. My general feeling is that the BBC is still a little focused on solutions rather than the business problems. Although processes and rules are important tools, I didn’t feel they justified having two complete tracks.

How many business people tell you their problem is they they don’t have enough business processes defined or their rules strategy is incomplete?

The UK Conference is not focussed so much on the techniques. The other difference is that the UK Conference tries to ‘stretch’ the BA by looking at other approaches including creativity and, for example, borrowing from design thinking.

The BBC Conference felt a little more like their was a consistent narrative and deliberate pace to the Conference so the ‘big stuff’ was saved to the last couple of days. Also, the facilities were, inevitably, that much better – and you can’t compete with Florida in November (it was still hot even if a little wet!).

Steve Erlank has plans for a more locally focussed South African Conference in 2012 and a bigger one in 2013, drawing in international speakers and attendees. Does anyone fancy a business trip to South Africa with a safari or wine tour at the end?!

In Europe, we have conferences in Netherlands, Slovenia and Switzerland.

I am also aware many US Chapters run local conferences or development days, some of which have up to 500 attendees!


Networking benefits

I lost track of the number of people who have met or encountered online that I met in person at the Conference. For networking internationally, this Conference is without compare. I met BA’s from the US, Australia, South Africa and Europe (including the UK). Sending emails and talking over skype is no substitute for shaking someone’s hand and talking even if only for 10 minutes.

I met two people that I met when recently recruiting mentors. Kent McDonald who specialises in Agile (amongst many other things) – he has offered to help BA Mentor although to provide advice rather than as a mentor.

I also met Jennifer Van Veen who has offered to mentor for free who I was able to introduce to someone looking for guidance. She will be writing some posts documenting her experiences on this front.

I also met countless important figures from IIBA including Kathleen Barrett (CEO), Kevin Brennan (Community Development), Michael Gladstone (CIO), Tom Karasmanis, Rick Clare(outgoing VP of Chapters), Dave Bieg (COO).

The Chapters Day was invaluable for meeting many members of US and International Chapters but also getting an insight into the challenges facing the organisation.


You’ll be please to know I managed to get a few hours on the lounger by the pool after the Chapters day before I had to catch my flight back to the UK.

All in all, I’d highly recommend going to the BBC Conference if you want to:

– improve your BA skills

– get contacts in the US and internationally

– play a role in the IIBA worldwide and not just the UK

About Alex Papworth

2 Responses to “Building Business Capability Conference 2011 – my report”

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  1. alexpapworth says:

    Thanks Jody – do you think you might make the trip next year?

  2. Jody Bullen says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience about the Building Business Capability Conference, an interesting read.

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