This past Tuesday, April 29, 2008, was the Global Sourcing Live virtual global sourcing conference. For more information, go to This is a very good idea and an ambitious undertaking. As with anything done on such a large scale, there are some kinks that could be ironed out for future conferences. Here’s my opinion of what could be improved upon based on my experience. I love being Devil’s Advocate.

Sound Quality: This is at the top of the list for a reason. If there was one thing that hamstrung this conference, it was the sound quality. It was difficult to hear and understand the presenters. I tried both the Windows Media and Real Player and so did a few coworkers of mine and the results were poor. If I really paid attention and cranked the volume, I could get it, but that would mean I couldn’t do anything else the whole time to distract me from honing in. Also, you could hear some background noise and mouse clicking which crowded out some of the speaking. I can’t imagine this being too hard to correct. I listen to NPR all day at work and that comes in fine as a live feed. Next time, try a better sound system or record it in advance and edit any background noise and enhance voice quality. I know that would take away from the interactivity, but I will address that next.

Time: Everything was GMT. Not to be your run-of-the-mill, egocentric American, but being on EDT, I missed the first two presentations, and if I recall correctly, part of the third. I like my job, but you won’t find me here at 6am; find me at the gym then. This goes back to recording the presentations in advance and lack of interactivity. If I was on Pacific Time, I would have missed the whole show, so it wouldn’t have mattered if it was interactive or not. So if everyone’s not on the same time and can’t listen live, why not spend the time to make quality audio? This ties to my next point, interactivity.

Interactivity: The lengths GSL went to to make this interactive are highly commendable. This isn’t a rag on their efforts in any way, just a few points to maybe make it a bit more user-friendly next time. If not everyone in every time zone will be in the midst of business hours while this conference is transpiring, why not broadcast pre-recorded presentations in a staggered fashion, the way TV shows are broadcasted across the U.S.? You might say, “The material is available to be viewed at anytime until the end of July, so if you miss it, big deal.” Reasonable point.

This is where sound quality, time, and interactivity come together. To give participants across the world interactivity with presenters, it may be a good idea to stagger the broadcast times based on time zones and then have a Q&A with the speaker after that block. Say you have an eastern and central time zone block starting at 10am EST. The presentation lasts 45 minutes and then is broadcast at 10am Mountain and 9am Pacific. While that second block is hearing the presentation, the first block is in a Q&A with the presenter. Have it revolve in such a fashion. This way you could record the presentation in advance for superior performance and sound quality, you can listen the day of at a reasonable time based on your time zone, AND you still have the opportunity to ask questions of the presenter. I don’t know how feasible this is, but it’s my thought.

Minor Point: The lounge, where you can interact with different participants and trade contact info is a great idea. In the future, it would be helpful to group participants by a category like job title, or company, or industry, or specialty, etc. Instead of browsing through every participant, with appropriate labeling, you could narrow in on who you want to engage with.

Overall: This is a great idea and I wish it success in the future. If I didn’t want things to improve I wouldn’t have put my two cents in cyberspace. I’m sure I will attend future conferences. GSL has a lot going for it. The ability to access the documents and download slide shows three months after the conference is a great idea. The web presentation was incredible. It made me feel like I was playing a corporate version of Grand Theft Auto. By making a few tweaks and having a bigger turnout with more sponsors, this could turn in to something.
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Jazzy Sourcer

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