Phorum 2014, to be held April 10 during Philly Tech Week, has powerful list of headliners

Philadelphia’s Phorum 2014, hosted by PACT (The Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies), and sponsored by investment bank Fairmount Partners and technology integrator LiquidHub, will take place on Thursday, April 10 at World Cafe Live, for the first time as part of Philly Tech Week.

The conference, which is probably Philadelphia’s premier tech event targeted towards top level enterprise management, has varied and in some ways broadened its theme in each of its three years. This year’s theme, “Increasing Customer Engagement in a Digital World”, encompasses not only social, customer relationship management (CRM) and mobile, but all means used by enterprises to connect and interact with customers in the digital world.

While customer engagement continues to be a top priority for CMOs with over 70 percent of
respondents listing it as their top business challenge that they need to address, a recent survey conducted by PACT Phorum in late 2013 revealed that the issue is increasingly gaining traction with CTOs and CEOs. According to the survey, 38 percent of CTOs and 33 percent of CEOs also concur that customer engagement represents the top technology challenge they need to focus on in 2014.

The list of keynote speakers is impressive. Salesforce.com VP and Head of Platform Research Peter Coffee, a leading Salesforce evangelist, will be making his third since this is his third consecutive appearance at Phorum as its MC.

David Pogue, technology columnist formerly with the New York Times and now
with Yahoo and NOVA ScienceNow; Aneesh Chopra, who served as the first U.S. Chief Technology Officer and just yesterday was named an advisor to Box to help develop its healthcare IT strategy; Dan Hilferty, President and CEO, Independence Blue Cross who has been a leader in expanding the healthcare IT landscape in the region; and Maggie Fox, Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP and a leader in social media, are the other key speakers.

Functionally, an emphasis of the conference will be not to simply focus on the rising influence of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) as a key decision-maker in many tech buying decisions, “but on the importance of the CMO [and other functional chiefs] working with the CIO”, said Suzanne Lentz, Vice President of Marketing, LiquidHub, Inc. and a member of the Phorum 2014 Advisory Board in a phone interview. Though the rapid adoption of a stand-alone functional app can be attractive, any large-scale projects requiring integration of corporate systems and data will need more coordination.

A recent Forrester survey tends to confirm this need. More than half of CMOs see their relationship with the CIO as essential, up from 30% in 2011.

An interesting feature will be a “Fireside Chat” between Salesforce’s Coffee and SAP’s Fox discussing the challenges and opportunities their clients have faced in moving beyond simple outreach to creating real engagement with customers.

Other discussion panels will cover subjects such as “Mobility as an enabler” and “Turning
Big Data into action.”

One of the most popular features of Phorum has been the Demo Pit, which features early stage digital technology ventures generally based in the Philadelphia area. Past selections for “Best in Show” included PeopleLinx and one acquired by Artisan Mobile.  Participants will be named in early April.

The day kicks off at 7am with a continental breakfast.

The conference will close with Cocktails (free beer) & a Network Reception with live music. Price points are $199 for PACT Members and $249 for non-members.


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