A Look Back to ETE 2021

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It’s a wrap! Another year of Philly Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise (ETE) is in the bag, and the post-event teardown has slowed to a pace where we can finally reflect on and recount another successful year.

Virtual (Again)

It goes without saying that ETE couldn’t be in-person this year. No doubt we all miss the serendipitous hallway connections, the cheesesteaks on the patio at lunch, and the catch-ups with old friends and colleagues… but we have to say: a virtual format definitely has its benefits.

For the first time, we had speaker representation from all over the globe. Dan Bergh Johnsson, Daniel Deogun, and Adam Tornhill joined us from Sweden; Martin Kleppmann and Simon Wardley reported from the United Kingdom, and Michael Geers delivered his talk from Osnabrück, Germany.

Without plane fares and hotel bookings, our attendees joined us from all over the world as well:

Shout out to Argentina!

The hope (hope!) is that next year we’ll gather in-person again. That said, our committee is seriously considering what a hybrid (half-in-person, half-virtual) format could look like moving ahead: expanding our geographical reach this year felt like a major win for virtual.


Whereas last year we had to make a sudden, unexpected pivot to virtual in a little over a month’s time (and iron out all the kinks along the way….) this year, we came to the show with a solid base of tools and experience to run a successful virtual conference.

We leaned on these three tools to help facilitate the conference experience.

HeySummit: Content Management and Website

After vetting many tools, we landed on HeySummit to organize content like titles, abstracts, and speakers, to manage ticket sales, and to serve as the marketing website for ETE (the level of brand customization HeySummit offers was a big selling point.) It also integrated Zoom, and allowed a single place for attendees to log in and watch talks.

While the tool is not without its warts, overall, it served its purpose for our needs.

Slack: Engagement and Conversation

In terms of engagement, lively conversation, and thoughtful Q&A, using Slack really worked for us last year. But when we made the decision to implement Slack again this year, we were not without our doubts. Last year, we posited, Slack may have been so successful because it was the start of the pandemic: lockdowns were at their strictest, and attendees felt isolated and were perhaps craving connection. We wondered if a year of Zoom fatigue would impact this year’s engagement.

We’re happy to report: it did not. Our Slack was as lively as ever.

The Q&A sessions post-talk were often as insightful as the talks themselves. Many of the speakers logged into Slack as well, encouraging the audience to ask them questions directly. In fact, after delivering the first keynote of ETE 2021, Dr. Alan Kay stuck around to answer questions for about an hour or so.

Alan Kay has entered the chat.

A couple of our speakers seemed to enjoy the Slack component as well.

“The lineup was amazing and I’m looking forward to watch a few of the talks I’ve missed in recording. I think the combination of Slack and Zoom worked out quite nicely. Haven’t seen that before.”
Michael Geers, Author, Micro Frontends in Action

“Thanks for hosting such a wonderful event! I really loved the incredible engagement with the Q&A.”
Dr. Nicole Forsgren, VP of Research & Strategy, Github; Co-author of Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps

Zoom: Video

All that was needed was a handful of Webinar licenses for buttoned-up broadcasts. Not much more to say here, we’re all pretty familiar with Zoom at this point in the game 🙂

Some New Things

This year, we introduced a daily ETE ‘Pregame Show.’ We likened this to the ETE version of the red carpet show. Ken Rimple and Sujan Kapadia, the hosts of our TechChat Tuesdays livestream, kicked off each day of ETE with an interactive livestream that included exclusive speaker interviews, and looked ahead to the day’s talks.

The chat was lively, and the livestreams are now available on YouTube. You’re free to watch all three: Day One, Day Two, and Day Three.

Join Us Next Year

ETE will be live again (we hope!) here in Philadelphia, in 2022. To hear about upcoming events and ETE announcements, follow us on Twitter @ChariotSolution, or sign up for our events mailing list.

Additionally, all video from the conference will be released to the public by the end of July, so we also recommend subscribing to our YouTube channel to be the first to know.

We hope to see you next year!