Several years ago I was part of something special. Something truly unique. The kind of something that you only realize how valuable it is at the moment it is gone. That something was Xchange.
Xchange was the vision of Gary Angel and perhaps others, originally supported by his wife Grace and business partner Joel Hadary. It was a conference where analytics practitioners could come together to share their experiences. Experiences chock full of insight, stimulating discussion and occasionally dubbed “group therapy”.
When assembling the list of who to invite, there was a great deal of care put into the balance of those practicing analytics and those selling technologies. Due to the conversational huddle format of the sessions, a balanced group needed to be present. The number who could attend from any practitioner’s company was limited. Too many vendors could stall the conversation, but representation on the appropriate topics was needed. Not too many people in the room, or it would be too difficult to speak. Not too few or conversation could not begin. Xchange was always a delicate balance.
I’ve attended every Xchange except the first one and the one hosted by EY (Ernst & Young). In the years after the EY acquisition of Semphonic, Xchange struggled and finally morphed into the Digital Analytics Hub “DA Hub” under the care of ex-Semphonic colleague Matthias Bettag and Michael Finer who launched it in Europe.
This week “DA Hub” returned from Europe to repeat what had always been one of the best Xchanges in Monterey, California. Everyone wondered how it would compare. The format was largely the same. A strong keynote to kick us off. Huddles led by experienced practitioners with strong points of view. A gala dinner at the fabulous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Tete a tete talks. A new technology showcase was added. And what was the result?
It was spectacular.
So I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Matthias, Michael, Grace, Roxanne as the organizers. You successfully transplanted the heart of Xchange into a new brand and refused to let go while bravely innovating. And I am grateful to everyone who came. The experienced practitioners and the newly minted analysts who all believed that regardless of the name, something special could be shared again. If the organizers are the heart than the attendees are the soul.
What a wonderful two days. Thank you for bringing us together.