Software 2007, Building Relationships and more – Interview with MR Rangaswami

This year Software 2007 is
happening in Silicon Valley on May 8 and 9, 2007. I will be there and I
am excited about it. I had an opportunity to ask a few questions to MR
about the a number of topics ranging from the origins of the conference
to building relationships. Here are the questions and the responses.

1. RS: Out of curiosity, what brought you into the world of conferences MR?

When I left corporate life in 1996, I had a Rolodex with more than
4,000 business cards. My original desire was to simply stay in touch
with all my friends. I thought I would start an annual party and invite
everyone, but my friends told me that I would do much better if I had
an agenda! So I began to think about starting a conference but I wanted
to do something very unique. There were hundreds off technology events
every year and I didn’t want to simply add mine to the list. So I
decided to focus on the strategic business needs of C-level software
executives, and to donate the entire surplus of revenue to charity.
That’s how the Enterprise conference was born – and I am proud to say
that we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary this year with
Enterprise 2007 in July at Pebble Beach, Calif.

RS:  MR, you have been organizing Software 2007 for a while now. Can
you share what goes on “behind the scenes” to organize such a massive

MR: When we began the
Software conference, we knew it would be very different than
Enterprise.  The main reason is that Software is a much larger event:
We expect 2,000 executives at Software 2007 while Enterprise was
limited to 200 attendees. But as with any organization, the key to
scaling our success was to have the right team. My event team has been
working with me for more than ten years. And while technology has made
some aspects of running the conference easier, a lot of what makes our
conferences successful is the attention-to-detail and personal focus of
our managers. Preparing for the Software conference takes more than six
months of effort – involving everything from stimulating activities,
like signing up sponsors and lining up keynotes, to more mundane
activities like managing registration systems. At every turn, we keep
in mind the high caliber of our senior executive attendees and work to
incorporate feedback from all of our constituents.

3. RS: MR, There are so many conferences in the valley. Why should someone care to attend Software 2007?

Great question! This year we have an absolutely all-start lineup of
keynote speakers which headline the most comprehensive and insightful
agenda we’ve ever had (see

Software 2007 starts with an opening keynote from Hasso Plattner, the founder of SAP
who rarely keynotes at conferences these days, and closes with Steve
Ballmer, the CEO of the largest software company on the planet! And
that’s not all: we have Marc Benioff from, Ed Zander from Motorola, Jeff Nick from EMC Corporation, S. Ramadorai from TCS and Shane Robison from Hewlett-Packard – all visionary leaders from the most influential companies in the industry.

theme for this year’s conference is “Powered by Innovation.” By
attending Software 2007, attendees will learn innovation strategies
from all of these leaders, as well as dozens of smaller, emerging
innovative companies. We’ll also have a 2.0 Pavilion to demonstrate the
latest and greatest Enterprise 2.0 products, as well as an
International Pavilion that showcases companies from India, Israel,
Finland and the UK.

of course, the networking opportunities will be amazing! Hundreds of
companies have already registered to attend – you can see all the
companies here . And of course, we will also have a fantastic array of food, drink and entertainment!

RS: From your experience, what is the best way for an attendee to make
the most out of any conference? What should one do to make the most out
of this conference?

MR: In my opinion, the best conferences mix an impactful agenda and an influential group of attendees. At Software 2007,
we believe we have both ingredients which allows attendees to take full
advantage of the event. As I explained earlier, our list of speakers
and breakout sessions is phenomenal. The breakout sessions offer a
forum for more  detailed interactive discussions with industry experts

this year, we have set up a social networking application that will
help attendees to meet other key attendees at the show. This will ease
the networking process and maximize use of time.

5. RS:
The last question is a related question. The speaker list for all of
your conferences is impressive. It probably is because of the long-term
relationships that you have built with many of the speakers over years.
What advice do you have for young professionals on building long-term
MR: Relationships
and friendships are everything. Looking back at my personal career my
mentor was the main reason for my success. Youngsters need to have a
role model and get mentorship from a senior person both inside their
organization and outside. This is not an easy thing to make time for
because everyone’s schedule is always full. Start with people in your
own company and then look for wise people that you meet in personal
interactions. But it is important to seek out people and be genuinely
enthusiastic about maintaining relationships and willing to learn.

I am sure I will meet some of you who are going to be there in person.