The 2013 edition of X Change Europe will take place on June 10-12, 2013 in Berlin. XChange is specifically designed for Web Analytics professionals, who want to exchange with peers. XChange is organized by Semphonic, and its Vice-President for Europe, Matthias Bettag, shares some insights about the conference in the interview below.
Nicolas Malo : Hello Matthias, after a successful first European edition last year, X Change comes back to Berlin next June. To start with, could you please (re)explain the concept of this unique conference?
Matthias Bettag : Hi Nicolas. Yes, of course: The conference is somewhat different compared to most other conferences by its format. There are no presentations at all at the XChange. It sounds surprising, but you will not see a single power point slide, we do not even use any projector. Instead it is all about conversations.
The XChange's content is discussed in so called "huddles" (the term comes from American Football since the XChange conferences in the US are always scheduled in September when the NFL season starts). Huddles are discussion groups with ~10-17 people and lasting 90 minutes. The attendees can chose from a total of 42 huddles: Three times per day 7 huddles are running in parallel, each moderated by an experienced digital analytics practitioner. Here's the total overview: http://www.semphonic.com/x-change/europe/huddle-schedule/
The XChange has no vendor exhibitions, no sponsors and no paid speakers - actually no speakers at all, since the whole conference is about conversations, not presentations. Of course, vendors and consultants are very welcome and make a very important stake of the conference, but they attend as normal delegates and take part in the discussions as everybody else - except that they are never moderating a discussion, this is left to practitioners.
This format offers a unique way to get into deep discussions with other industry experts and really share experiences and insights in a relative intimate format, and across roles and types of industries. At the XChange you can discuss topics across different perspectives, e.g. B2B and B2C, non-profit and education, ecommerce and lead-generation, etc. Everybody in the room is a peer and can equally contribute to a discussion. It is very fruitful to discuss topics with practitioners, consultants and vendors, since everybody has a different perspective, made different experiences and by this can share the different insights.
This offers an exceptional level of knowledge exchange (sic!) and offers a much deeper level of interaction and networking. Discussions are not limited to coffee or lunch breaks but instead are the core content of the conference. We regularly get very good feedback from the attendees. If you are in the analytics industry this is a must-go conference. Sounds like advertising (I've to admit it is) but this is really what people say when they've been there.
Nicolas Malo : So, compared with last's year event, what's new and what's the same?
Matthias Bettag : We have moved to another Hotel, now being at the "Berlin Intercontinental" at the heart of the city of West-Berlin. The format is the same as last year, but we increased the total capacity because we were booked out last year and also want to avoid overcrowded huddles. What is new this time are the Think Tank Sessions which we provide on day zero. The Think Tank sessions are independent from the actual conference, you can attend the conference only, or the Think Tanks only, or both. The Think Tanks are four half-day workshops (2 in parallel) which discuss some specific digital analytics practice and methods. Other than the huddles the Think Tanks are lead by Gary Angel, Michael Feiner (Director at AEP Convert in UK, Semphonic's partner on hosting the European XChange) and myself. Details here: http://www.semphonic.com/x-change/europe/think-tank-topics/
Nicolas Malo : Who are the confirmed huddle leaders for this edition?
Matthias Bettag : We have well-known top-practitioners from different industries and countries, some of them have been huddle leaders before but some are new. We have Alex Schultz, Director of Growth at Facebook, from the US, a couple of UK folks, e.g. Craig Sullivan from Rush, Tom Betts from the Financial Times, Alex Emberey from Thomas Cook and RossMcDonnel from Disney. Germany is (beside others) represented by Sebastian König (HRS), Ole Bahlmann (Soundcloud), Karsten Courtin (Panasonic), Tim-Fabien Pohlmann (Spreadshirt). Plus experts like Matthew Niederberger (Philips) and Etienne Cox (Dell) from the Netherlands, Ulla-Kruhse Lehtonen from Sanoma in Finland and Ana Soplon from Sanitas in Spain, and more. All 21 huddle leaders can be seen here: http://www.semphonic.com/x-change/europe/huddle-leaders/. Just in case the questions comes up: The conference language is English. In 2012, we had 100 attendees from 17 countries, so we expect a similar mix this year.
Nicolas Malo : Which outcomes should expect attendees from the conference?
Matthias Bettag : Deep conversations and profound insights. A very high level of expertise with hands-on tips&tricks and the ability to learn from each other and to understand how methods and practice can really be used for the own needs. A huddle offers much more interaction then a Q&A session after a presentation. Individual questions can be discussed in the group, as well as successful approaches or other learnings can be shared and discussed in detail. The outcome is so valuable because you really start to understand how others are working, how they are succeeding (or why not), and how to approach common problems and challenges. It is really an expert-to-expert exchange. Also, the networking is really great. The socializing events last until late night, so this is not a 9-to-5 conference. After two days of the conference I always feel like I've been there for much longer, with a bunch of very good friends. Attending the XChange is broadening one's horizon and boosting the quality of your network.
Nicolas Malo : Finishing with the fun part, what's planned for this edition?
Matthias Bettag : I personally believe the whole conference is great fun. But when looking at the official fun parts, we have three events here: First the welcome event which is scheduled the night before the actual conference starts. I strongly recommend everyone to plan a travel to arrive at the Hotel Intercontinental by Monday (June 10) before 6:30pm. The welcome event is a casual come-together, time for a talk on a drink and a snack, meeting old friends, getting in touch with new contacts, and having a good time. When the first huddle starts the next day, you've already seen and talked to other attendees which makes a much better start.
Then we provide a dinner night at the end of day one (Tuesday, June 11). We are currently evaluating different options, but you can expect a very special and cool location in Berlin, hopefully on a warm summer night under bright starlight (June is usually a great month in Berlin, in the unlikely case that the weather is not that good we'll certainly find other measures in order to validate the fun we'll have ;-)
At the end of the conference we'll provide a closing social after the closing notes. Similar to the welcome event there is time to have another drink and finger food to recap the conference before returning back home. Btw, whoever wants to extend the stay in Berlin can use the special room rate at the Hotel Intercontinental for up to three days before/after the conference.
The full conference schedule is here: http://www.semphonic.com/x-change/europe/conference-schedule/