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WhippleHill conference, 2009

In mid-summer, I attended the Whipplehill 7th annual User Conference in Boston, and thought I would share some of my insights with all of Eighty20’s former clients who could not make it to the conference.

I would encourage you and senior management at the school to set aside a bit of time to review the CONFERENCE KEYNOTE PODCASTS. I think everyone will find them very insightful.

Firstly, the annual conference is a must-attend event. It was very well organized, with about 300 participants from a broad range of schools. Many of the presenters were WhippleHill clients, who spoke on the leading edge ways in which they were using technology, or dealing with technology challenges.

The tracks that I followed very closely related to social marketing. The insights I gained from schools using social marketing effectively with parents, alumni and other constituencies, and from other university and public school social marketing gurus were phenomenal, and will be extremely helpful to me in my book and seminar marketing, as I seek to engage a growing community in my work. For schools, it is critical that they embrace and utilize social marketing well, so I was delighted that WhippleHill not only GETS IT with respect to the importance of social media, and how schools can use social marketing successfully, but that they already have social marketing tools that integrate with their software, Facebook being a prime example.

I gasped at the HUGE number of software enhancements that WhippleHill rolled out again this year, and the roadmap they presented for Podium’s impressive growth. Many enhancements arose from deep customer feedback, and one in particular is something that many schools were seeking – the ability to generate powerful highly customized lists to whom they can micro-market very specific messages. Judging by the number of times that the audience applauded enthusiastically at the new product roll-outs and announcements, it was clear that WhippleHill was meeting its clients’ needs, now and for the future, very well.

The third area of keen interest to me was to see how WhippleHill’s decision to partner with highly specialized firms as part of their eco-system allows schools to easily tap into the very specialized services that these firms can offer. In some cases, the partnerships involve just single, common sign on. In other cases, they involve deep integration with other partners, such that data is automatically synchronized. The eco system has grown very significantly since I first saw it a year ago.

The “sexiest” part of the three day conference was the roll out of mobile applications for the iPhone and other mobile devices, in partnership with TerriblyClever, a brilliant young firm that just launched powerful mobile applications for universities such as Stanford, North Carolina, etc. I think the entire audience was drooling as we observed the “sexy” and powerful, yet highly secure and totally integrated customized mobile applications, particularly for the iPhone, that will soon be available for all WhippleHill clients.

It was also wonderful for me to see that in areas where Eighty20 had a competitive software functionality edge, WhippleHill has now bridged and leapfrogged (e.g. e-newsletters), and that where we had pointed out areas of weakness that Eighty20 clients had endured, WhippleHill could now offer powerful solutions that in most cases exceeded schools’ wish lists!

So it was a great three days of learning: I am now MUCH better informed about how I can use social media, and the huge potential for schools; I was delighted to see that the very significant annual investment that WhippleHill makes in software development was so well received by the audience; and I am overjoyed that WhippleHill is  very much on top of and practically addressing key trends such as social media, mobile applications, and highly beneficial partnerships with many specialized software firms. I know that WhippleHill’s clients will benefit tremendously from all that I saw at the conference, and feel very confident that Eighty20 clients who have switched to WhippleHill will benefit significantly, from both a service and technical viewpoint.

I hope this short note gives you an overall perspective of my impressions.

I would encourage you and senior management at the school to set aside a bit of time to review the CONFERENCE KEYNOTE PODCASTS linked here. I think everyone will find them very insightful.

Please feel free to call/email with any questions/comments.

Warm wishes,

Karim H. Ismail
416-383-1300 x 3