How do you really know if an event was successful? I mean, really, really know?In true analyst fashion, I guess the answer to that is: It depends on the event.Take one of the three most important events in my life: my wedding. Original staging date: November 7, 1987. Successful? Well, we just passed the 20-year mark, we have two beautiful daughters (the other two events), and I’ve never been happier. I can’t speak for my wife, but she comes home every night, so I’m taking that as a positive sign. I know, I know. That one was pretty easy (not to mention a bit self-serving!). Let’s look at a more relevant event -C-Scape 2007. Original staging dates: December 11-12, 2007.Was it successful? Worthwhile? Did we -and more importantly, you -get what you needed out of it?Impossible to answer any of these questions definitively because the old adage -to each his own -applies. And the evaluation forms from the event prove that even further when you consider the wide range of comments they contained. Some attendees thought this was the best analyst conference Cisco had put on to date; others indicated it was the worst. Not a big surprise. I’m willing to bet every event ever staged, regardless of topic or industry, has resulted in a similar spread of opinion. One thing was certain: our conference scores were slightly lower than what we’ve typically seen for this event over the last couple of years. A valid data point and an indication that we can certainly do a better job. To me, however, that does not mean the event was a failure. On the contrary, we were actually very pleased with the conference overall because we believe we met our objectives, including our primary one of engaging the influencer community in a candid, two-way dialog. Furthermore, we were not surprised by some lower scores because -like the company itself -the event is in transition, and in times of change or disruption, there will likely be a dip in scores due to unfamiliarity or uncertainty.That said, we did take away a number of lessons learned thanks to the straightforward feedback we received from attendees. Some of the big one (in no particular order):1. Some PowerPoint is actually OK. A couple of years ago, we got a clear message that we were clearly ensconced in the”death by PowerPoint” zone. We then made a big effort to reduce slideware to drive more dialog. Given your feedback, it looks like we may have overcorrected. Sometimes a couple of slides can actually help structure the dialog and keep a session -as well as the attendees -focused on the salient points.2. Ease up on the panels, big fella. Our philosophy in Analyst Relations over the last 12 months in particular has been: Discussion, Debate & Dialog. In making that a reality, we may have gone a bit overboard with the number of panels this year. All right. All right. We DEFINITELY went overboard. 3. Get to the meat faster. A big challenge at these events is to balance the corporate-level, main tent information with the product-specific drill-downs of the breakouts. Reducing main tent time and getting to Day 2-type sessions during the second half of Day 1 may be effective. We’re looking into for next year.4. Vision is good, but some execution every once in a while is helpful. Day 1 is typically the”strategy and vision” day. Day 2 then becomes more of the”execution” day -how are you planning to deliver on what you told me on Day 1? This year, a lot of Day 2 focused on product-level strategy and vision instead of details on execution of product roadmaps and features. We’re good at explaining what we do and why we do it, but could focus more on”how” we do it. I believe this one is an easy fix for next year.5. Hey, what happened to the business update? While the majority of you like the fact we’ve focused the event on the industry analyst needs (largely because we developed a separate financial analyst conference last year), you miss the financially focused business update that used to be a staple of past conferences. Another one I think we can fix pretty easily for 2008.We received myriad feedback -both positive and constructive -from many of you about C-Scape last month that goes well beyond some of the main points I captured above. If there are still a few pieces of advice, criticism or suggestions you want to share, I’m all ears, so give me a shout or drop me an e-mail.You’ll be happy to know that I’ve already started the planning process for next year’s event, which will be held on December 9 and 10 back at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. I’m looking forward to that already…Happy New Year, all!