What is Meeting Management?

Chorus.ai Meetings are recorded, transcribed, indexed, and analyzed.
Chorus.ai Meetings are recorded, transcribed, indexed, and analyzed.

One of the recent additions to Sales Engagement feature sets is meeting management. Two years ago, meeting functionality was little more than a Calendly link, but now meeting setup and analytics are being automated, providing a much better experience for both sales reps and prospects. Reps spend less time setting up meetings, are better focused during meetings, and can review and share call snippets afterwards. Furthermore, calls are likely to run more smoothly and quickly.

Sales Engagement vendor SalesLoft has moved quickly into building meeting management after acquiring NoteNinja last year. Key SalesLoft features include:

  • Automated Calendaring: The email template includes a calendar link which allows the prospect to view open meeting windows and setup the call without they typical back and forth that wastes time. Rescheduling functionality is also supported.
  • Video Meetings: Calls are supported by Zoom and other video meeting platforms.
  • Automated Recording: A bot automatically attends the call and records it, transcribes it, and indexes it. Reps can search by word or topic and review a call timeline color coded by topic and speaker.
  • Improved Presence: Because the sales rep is no longer charged with note taking, he/she can focus better on the conversation. This allows for fewer delays, better call management, and better comprehension.
  • One-Click Notation: During the call, the sales rep can click on a set of pre-defined buttons for reviewing a topic post call. Thus, next steps, open questions, issues, pricing discussions, etc. can be quickly found after the call. These are presented alongside the automated indexing.
  • Sharing: Excerpts of the transcript can be shared with managers, technical staff, customer support, etc., allowing them to hear the voice of the customer. This removes bias and errors on the part of the sales rep. For example, if a sales rep feels she poorly handled a situation, she can forward the excerpt to her manager for a coaching session during their next one-on-one.
  • Training: The call timeline helps the rep see whether the meeting was conversational or a set of monologues, whether too many filler words were employed (to help reduce them), or whether next steps were set. More broadly, the training department (or sales operations if there isn’t a training department) can assemble a set of best practice meeting excerpts providing a library of short videos around value proposition, objection handling, competitor discussions, new capabilities, etc.
  • Best Sales Practices: Longer-term, machine learning will be applied to the transcripts, helping identify best practices and evaluate deal health.

This functionality is also coming to mobile devices to assist field sales reps and reps that need to place calls during commutes. In March 2019, SalesLoft announced an app for placing digital calls through its platform and Chorus.ai announced a similar app:

“The Chorus Mobile app, paired with proprietary Smart Playlist technology, surfaces critical moments from sales calls that a manager should review, and allows them to provide personalized feedback to their teams. Using the mobile app, sales reps can now better prepare for customer interactions by reviewing sales calls, key moments and manager feedback while on-the-go. The solution proactively identifies patterns within conversations, and automatically curates playlists of relevant calls utilizing Chorus.ai’s proprietary AI-driven technology. With the Chorus Mobile app, users are no longer tethered to a computer and can take coaching and call preparation with them anywhere.”

Chorus.ai press release, March 26, 2019

Meeting Management is an exciting new set of functionality for sales reps and managers. It is likely to spread to other departments and be employed internally, particularly for remotely staffed companies.

SalesLoft Rainmaker Product Announcements

At their Rainmaker 2019 conference, SalesLoft announced a doubling of their partner ecosystem, mobile functionality, a rebuilt analytics engine, and a hot leads feature, and expanded CRM connectors.  The show attracted 1,300 attendees to hear 164 speakers.

SalesLoft released an iOS mobile app that allows users to place digital calls through the SalesLoft platform.  Calls are directed through a Twilio dialer and then analyzed by SalesLoft.  Post-call automated features include automated transcription and indexing, call analytics, and CRM sync.  Thus, if the rep places a call on the road, she will have a fully transcribed, indexed, and analyzed call when she returns to the office.

Prior to making the call, the user can set one-sided recording or local number calling.  Users can also add new contacts to cadences and will be notified when prospects engage with a cadence.  An activity stream is on the mobile app roadmap.

For inbound calls, the rep can quickly enter call notes which are synced to the CRM.

There are no immediate plans for an Android app.

“I believe sales is about relationships and sales engagement is essential to building those relationships.  Through data science, meeting intelligence and efficient account-based workflows, SalesLoft lets you focus on what matters most: building relationships and solving customers’ problems.”


SalesLoft VP of Product Butler Raines

SalesLoft is implementing a new reporting framework with an event-driven architecture which supports an open data API.  Two reports, a Cadence Performance report and an Account Report, have already been rolled out.  The framework supports configurable dashboards which can be quickly built with advanced analytics and visualizations using Business Intelligence tools.  Sales Ops can also build real-time reports and dashboards within Salesforce.

SalesLoft is extending machine learning and AI into its platform.  For example, SalesLoft machine learning tools detect the prospect’s position and level at a firm and selects the optimal persona-based cadence.  A new Hot Leads feature prioritizes prospects based on content engagement and website activity.

SalesLoft, which has long supported Salesforce, will be adding connectors for Microsoft Dynamics and SAP.

“We have seen a sizeable increase in CRM demand beyond the Salesforce ecosystem. SalesLoft is excited to enable organizations running on SAP C4C and Microsoft Dynamics to better serve their customers.”


Sean Kester, SalesLoft VP of Platform Strategy

SalesLoft will be regionalizing its data hosting by region or usage.  “This not only allows for customization (for example, keeping data that originates from the European Union in the EU) but also improves security and platform performance,” blogged the firm.  “Whether it’s through regulation compliance, security-minded development, or thought leadership, SalesLoft looks to partner with our customers for mutual success.”


SalesLoft announced a set of additional partners available through their app directory. I will discuss these on Monday.

SalesLoft Rainmaker 2019 Keynote

SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter Gave the Opening Keynote at the SalesLoft Rainmaker 2019 Sales Conference.
SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter Gave the Opening Keynote at the SalesLoft Rainmaker 2019 Sales Conference.

At their Rainmaker 2019 conference, SalesLoft announced a doubling of their ecosystem, mobile functionality, a rebuilt analytics engine, and a hot leads feature.  The show attracted 1,300 attendees to hear 164 speakers.

“We’re in the middle of an evolution in the relationship between sellers and buyers,” said SalesLoft’s CEO, Kyle Porter.  “Sales teams need to tear up their playbooks and start fresh with a blend of human, relevant sales tactics and the modern technology needed to create an authentic sales experience that is repeatable and scalable.”

SalesLoft’s purpose is to “to activate the authentic seller in all of us” and elevate the sales profession by offering “world-class experiences.”  The firm operates under a quintet of values that inform its hiring and operations:


SalesLoft Operating Principles.

These principles led to SalesLoft being named the top-midsized employer in Atlanta for the second year in a row.  “We embrace the transformative power of technology innovation for our customers, but we believe in people first,” said Porter.  “Our founding purpose is to create an environment where others can come to learn more, do more, and become more.  Team members are encouraged to take their talents and skills and apply them to serve others and find fulfillment.  We show love to our people so they can share that sentiment with our customers.”

SalesLoft’s sales engagement platform is designed to support evolving buying behavior.  B2B buyers are swamped by messaging and “super busy,” yet need to solve complex problems.  Buyers are looking for an “engaging, authentic experience” that understands buyer needs and solves their problems.  However, sellers are inefficient and operate with broken processes.  SalesLoft is looking to address process failures by centralizing sales workflows and encouraging best practices.  Objectives include elevating the sales profession through community, encouraging diversity amongst its staff and event speakers (54% of whom were women or minorities at Rainmaker), and transparency in its policies and outcomes.

Porter described his future vision of sales where “every single seller has a digital assistant by their side” along with a “sales coaching network” which is a “giant distributed network of sales activity.”  Sales reps are supported by a digital assistant which delivers broad data and context-specific insights based on seller, stage, and customer to help reps “connect authentically with the buyer.”

Porter contends that “you can’t take the human out of the equation” but you can make it “easier to distribute a world-class experience to your customer.”

“[It’s time to] elevate the profession of sales to focus on delivering customers world-class experiences.  With that, you can maximize revenue.  A sales experience must be authentic, engaging, relevant, human, one-to-one and, most importantly, it understands buyers’ needs and solves their problems.”


SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter

Sales reps have long suffered from a bad reputation, being forced to take ethical shortcuts to meet managerial demands.  SalesLoft is looking to lead by example.  According to Porter, when “we do right,” SalesLoft customers are able to hire, innovate, and invent new things.

SalesLoft’s other goal is to improve the efficiency and efficacy of sales teams.  A SalesLoft study found a 22% increase in opportunities created when comparing the 90-day windows before and after implementing their platform.  To back up their research, they commissioned a Forrester study of their customers which found a

  • 2.5X improvement in response rates
  • 20% lift in conversion and productivity
  • Doubling of the funnel
  • 13% increase in renewals
  • 329% ROI

“Many people say we’re in a state of digital transformation,” said SalesLoft CMO Sydney Sloan.  “For sales, we’re entering a revolution of how we engage customers.”

Buyers are looking for partners that work with them to identify and resolve issues.  “Today’s successful seller has to be a problem solver and you do that by asking great questions and collectively solving the problem with and for your customer,” said Sloan.  “It doesn’t matter if the product goes 10 miles an hour or 50 miles an hour, it’s the people I want to work with in partnership and, at the end of the day, it’s the people I want to work with.  I’ll pick a company because of the relationship.  The product still has to solve my problems but if two things are equal, I’ll go with the partnership.”

Buyers are looking for partners that work with them to identify and resolve issues.  “Today’s successful seller has to be a problem solver and you do that by asking great questions and collectively solving the problem with and for your customer,” said Sloan.  “It doesn’t matter if the product goes 10 miles an hour or 50 miles an hour, it’s the people I want to work with in partnership and, at the end of the day, it’s the people I want to work with.  I’ll pick a company because of the relationship.  The product still has to solve my problems but if two things are equal, I’ll go with the partnership.”


Part II: SalesLoft Rainmaker Product Announcements

Artesian Risk and Compliance Hub

Artesian will be launching its Risk and Compliance Hub, which supports front-line KYC checks, in 2019.
Artesian will be launching its Risk and Compliance Hub, which supports front-line KYC checks, in 2019.

Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates published a year-in-review blog and a preview of their upcoming Artesian Risk and Compliance Hub (ARCH).  The new ARCH capabilities will extend their social selling platform into Know Your Client (KYC) reviews at UK banks. ARCH is in early testing.

ARCH leverages Artesian capabilities around interpreting structured and unstructured data ”to create useful flags and to drive appropriate actions.”  Artesian already is on the desktop of relationship managers (RMs) at most of the major UK banks.  “This puts us in a unique position to make insights regarding financial and KYC risks available to the front-line as a pre-screen, to ensure that corporate banking relationships begin with an appropriate understanding of risk.”

Arch supports an automated audit trail and storage of evidence.  Early tests found ARCH to be “100% accurate in reflecting policy in pre-screening.”  Arch also reduced the time spent in gathering risk assessment data by 90% and identified 14% more risk issues compared with manual processing.

By providing a pre-screen at the front-end of client discussions, RMs can focus on new clients that will pass muster during the onboarding review process.  This process makes both relationship managers and compliance professionals more effective.  RMs will no longer be spending time with prospective clients that won’t pass compliance review while compliance professionals can focus their attention on more complex reviews which require their skill and expertise.

“ARCH gives companies control of a sophisticated decision engine to enable data being accessed to have rules applied and flags created. It means that Relationship Managers can see a summarised view of what their central risk teams assessment of a potential client would be, before spending time and money engaging with them. The automation aspect of this is fundamental as it brings efficiency, consistency and control to the areas it transforms.

But more than that, it places compliance at the heart of the business – front of mind for every member of staff, informing every decision, instructing every interaction and shaping every relationship from pre-screens for new customer prospecting through to long-standing client development.”

Artesian CEO Andrew Yates

Yates cited McKinsey research which notes that the risk function at financial institutions is being transformed “with the detection, assessment, and mitigation of risk” being transferred to all employees by 2025.

Risk and Compliance tools are a greater focus amongst European sales intelligence firms due to the availability of private company registry data.  While US private companies provide only minimalist filings with Secretaries of State offices (with a few exceptions in insurance, banking, and nonprofits), UK company registration data includes directors, shareholders, and financials.  Other UK compliance data includes sanctions lists, Politically Exposed Persons (global government officials and relatives), disqualified directors, gazettes (shuttered business and those in receivership), and traditional credit reports.  Vendors such as Artesian, DueDil, and Bureau van Dijk have recently emphasized compliance and risk tool development over sales intelligence offerings.

Artesian reached 30,000 users in 2018 with their user base tracking over 800,000 companies.  According to Yates, Artesian customers “have received 12.5 million actionable insights, 2.5m unique computational matches each week, automated the equivalent of 2 trillion Google searches per week (13bn per hour), and have made 523,813 useful connections using Artesian data.”

Artesian staff provided over 350 training sessions, webinars, and workshops to more than 3,000 users in 2018.  Artesian Academy delivered an additional 1,200 multi-media tutorials, certification modules, role-based tips, and social media best practices overviews.

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Data Privacy

Speaking at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), Apple CEO Tim Cook forcefully called for expanded global privacy protections akin to GDPR:

Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency. These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold. Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm…

We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance…

We should celebrate the transformative work of the European institutions tasked with the successful implementation of the GDPR. We also celebrate the new steps taken, not only here in Europe but around the world — in Singapore, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand. In many more nations regulators are asking tough questions — and crafting effective reform.

It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead.

We see vividly, painfully how technology can harm, rather than help. [Some platforms] magnify our worst human tendencies… deepen divisions, incite violence and even undermine our shared sense or what is true or false.

This crisis is real. Those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment…

They may say to you our companies can never achieve technology’s true potential if there were strengthened privacy regulations. But this notion isn’t just wrong it is destructive — technology’s potential is and always must be rooted in the faith people have in it. In the optimism and the creativity that stirs the hearts of individuals. In its promise and capacity to make the world a better place.

It’s time to face facts. We will never achieve technology’s true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.

He also warned about the dangers of AI which fails to protect privacy:

Artificial intelligence is one area I think a lot about. At its core this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. But advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency.

For artificial intelligence to be truly smart it must respect human values — including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound. We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It is not only a possibility — it is a responsibility…

Yesterday, Cook tweeted that privacy is a human right

Tim Cook on GDPR

based upon four principals:

  • Data Minimization – Personal data collection should be minimized or de-identified.
  • Transparency – Individuals have the right to know what is being collected and for what purpose.
  • Right to Access – “data belongs to users” with personal data available to individuals for copying, correcting, and deleting.
  • Right to security – “security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights”

Cook isn’t the first CEO to call for a global GDPR. Microsoft has built GDPR into its products and CEO Satya Nadella has expressed similar thoughts. Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff discussed data privacy and cybersecurity on a May earnings call and SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin has also voiced concerns.

Radius-Leadspace Merger Aborted

Radius and Leadspace quietly called off their merger back in August, agreeing not to point fingers at each other and continue supporting joint customers.

“At the end of the day, private to private mergers are incredibly hard to pull off. In this case, despite all of the best intentions in the world, we could not get to something that would work for all sides,” Leadspace CEO Doug Bewsher told Demand Gen Report. “We are excited to see the evolution and clarity around the whole customer data platform really starting to define itself in B2B.”

Bewsher remains bullish about Leadspace and the Audience Management space:

Leadspace pioneered this space when we launched our Audience Management Platform two years ago. We continue to see great success with customers as they both simplify their data management processes and bring additional data driven insights and recommendations into their activities. Whether driving an ABM strategy, a content marketing / inbound lead driven strategy, or outbound prospecting, the right data and insights deployed into systems of engagement is typically the first step in any company’s success…

We look forward to working with you to develop, build and lead this category as we continue our mission to help B2B sales and marketing teams drive a new level of engagement, targeting and resulting revenue for their organizations.

Leadspace had a strong Q2 with its “best ever revenue growth.”  New customers include SAP and Splunk.  Growth was driven by the increasing recognition that B2B firms require a data-agnostic Customer Data Platform “which brings together many different data sources at the company- and individual-level, drives recommendations, insights and a single source of truth through AI, and then has a single point of integration into multiple executions systems (CRM, MAP, Ads etc),” said Bewsher.

“Radius and Leadspace agreed to continue operating independently and are now partnering to support joint customers,” said Radius.  “Radius’ customer data platform is the first for B2B, and we will focus on offering enterprise companies integrated, unified and trusted data across all go-to-market systems, while Leadspace’s audience management platform will continue to equip companies with audience enrichment and analytics.”

Both firms no longer talk about predictive analytics and emphasize Customer Data Platforms.  The Predictive Analytics space has been squeezed by both DaaS vendors with light scoring tools and integrated AI solutions such as Einstein.

MintigoAI Launched

Demand Center is a Predictive Audience product that helps marketers generate the right audience for each prospect.
Demand Center is a Predictive Audience product that helps marketers generate the right audience for each campaign.

Predictive Analytics company Mintigo unveiled its new MintigoAI service.  Mintigo describes their solution suite as “a comprehensive intelligent customer engagement platform powered by AI” for mid-size and enterprise companies to “drive greater pipeline and revenue.”  The “customer lifecycle solution” includes CRM and MAP connectors, ABM targeting tools, inbound lead enrichment and prioritization, upsell / cross-sell recommendations, and a new Buying Stages capability.

Buying Stages determines where accounts and leads are in their buyers’ journey.  The solution assesses lead enrichment, fit, intent, and behavior data to determine customer intent and stage.  Data is sourced from 1.7 billion user interactions per day spanning 13 million global companies.  Buying Stages tags accounts into three categories: Target (based on fit), Awareness (based on intent), and Consideration (based on behavior).  Buying Stages evaluates the “aggregate actions of leads” and weighs both anonymous web traffic and site visit activity.  Mintigo also factors in firmographic, technographic, and social intelligence.

“To plan, strategize and execute B2B marketing effectively in today’s world, marketers need a high-definition view of their customers,” blogged CEO Jacob Sharma.  “Using AI and predictive analytics, we built MintigoAI to mine billions of data points and identify the set of insights that make a company’s actual customers unique. These insights range from hiring patterns to technology installs to firmographic data, and much more. The result of this process is the ICP, which MintigoAI uses to identify right targets within existing marketing databases and proactively discover new high-propensity targets that display the ICP characteristics.”

SalesLoft Acquires NoteNinja

NoteNinja transcribes calls, tags them, and supports quick topic searching for insight discovery.
NoteNinja transcribes calls, tags them, and supports quick topic searching for insight discovery.

Sales Engagement vendor SalesLoft acquired B2B SaaS Collaboration tool Noteninja. Durham-based NoteNinja provides meeting intelligence which transcribes, tags, and annotates meeting recordings. The service is managed by an AI bot which recognizes upcoming meetings on the rep’s calendar and attends the meeting.

“I realized our category of software was missing something important,” said SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter. “Neither us nor other engagement solutions were solving an additional problem. Customers told me they need more insights on what’s actually happening during sales meetings. They realize (and Gartner reports) ‘three out of four customers report spending more with a company because of a positive buying experience’. Modern revenue organizations need meeting intelligence software to solve painful problems.”

SalesLoft listed a set of sales challenges that are addressed by meeting intelligence platforms:

Meeting Challenges. Source: SalesLoft Blog.
Meeting Challenges. Source: SalesLoft Blog.

Tagging assists with meeting review, helping users search for key moments such as pricing discussions or prospect objections. According to Noteninja, “No longer do you have to click around a meeting aimlessly looking for the right spot. Save time and quickly hone [sic] in on the moments that matter for you and your team.”

Comments can be shared with co-workers or management, providing “game-film for meetings.” These excerpts can also be used for new hire training, objection handling, and learning from top reps.

“I’m incredibly proud for what this means to our customers and the advanced opportunity they will now have to deliver a better selling experience to their customers.  With the acquisition of Noteninja, SalesLoft is providing our customers with the first full suite Sales Engagement Platform that combines sales cadences with sales intelligence, serving AEs, SDRs, CSMs, managers, and execs to generate the most revenue.”

  • SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter

Noteninja supports major web conferencing services including GoToMeeting, Zoom, JoinMe, and WebEx. Google Calendar, Exchange, and Office 365 productivity applications are also supported. While a SalesLoft connector already exists, the firm is working on a native integration of NoteNinja capabilities which will be offered as a premium feature set within their product line.  SalesLoft is targeting August for native availability.

SalesLoft complies with state privacy laws.  “We deploy call recording governance for our current dialer and will be incorporating our technology across the platform as we integrate,” said VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester.  “We also work alongside the governance and compliance assets deployed by screen sharing technologies.”

NoteNinja does not automatically join meetings with generic (consumer) emails nor does it join meetings with only internal staff. However, this rule can be overridden by including the Noteninja assistant in the attendees list.

Acquisition terms were not disclosed.

SalesLoft has grown to 277 employees with offices in Atlanta, Durham, and San Francisco. SalesLoft supports over 2,000 companies including Square, MuleSoft, Alteryx and Dell.

SalesLoft is ahead of plan in 2018.  Q1 was above a “very aggressive” revenue plan to once again double revenue in 2018.  Q2 is tracking 120% of plan.

Approximately one-third of NoteNinja customers are joint licensors of the SalesLoft solution.

Salesforce: There is a “crisis of trust” concerning data privacy and cybersecurity

A few weeks ago, I wrote about enterprise software vendors calling for an American version of GDPR with Microsoft announcing that it was building GDPR into its global product line as its standard privacy protocol.

On the Salesforce earnings call last week, CEO Marc Benioff observed that the software industry has been going through a “crisis of trust for the past six months” related to privacy and data ownership:

“From the European perspective the way they look at data is data belongs to you, it’s your data. Now for us at Salesforce, we understand that. We’ve had that position from the beginning. Our customers’ data belongs to them, it’s their data. I think in some cases, the companies that are start-ups and next generation technologies here in San Francisco, they think that data is theirs. I think the Europeans with GDPR have really flipped the coin, especially in advertising but in another areas saying hey, this data belongs to the consumer or to the customers, you guys have to pivot back to the consumer, you have to pivot back to the customer.”

Benioff once again called for a US privacy law similar to GDPR which provides “guardrails” around trust and safety. “This is going to help our industry,” said Benioff.  ”It’s going to provide the ability for the customers to interact with great next generation technologies in a safe way.”

Benioff also warned that when AI technologies are indistinguishable from humans, trust will also be an issue.

Outreach Amplify Brings AI to Sales Engagement

Outreach Amplify provides response analysis, helping firms select the most effective message.
Outreach Amplify provides response analysis, helping firms select the most effective message.

Sales Engagement vendor Outreach is teasing a new predictive analytics capability called Amplify which leverages the history of a firm’s sequences and workflows. The firm will not be employing a black-box AI strategy but providing recommendations with explanations.

CEO Manny Medina faults deep learning strategies which lack “the ability to make inferences, such as the ability to figure out why things work” and require users to trust the recommendations without providing a basis for the suggestions.

“We believe we need to tackle this problem following general scientific principles. Hypotheses need to be testable, data should be very carefully examined to verify the quality of the data.”

  • Yifei Huang, Machine Learning Lead, Outreach

“When we built Amplify, we built it with the core belief in mind that, the human needs to understand why things work so that machine can understand why things work so that the machine can get better at helping the human,” said Medina.

For example, Amplify deploys natural language processing (NLP) around email responses to help identify whether responses are unsubscribes, objections, or positive.  Outreach claims that their NLP classification is 92% accurate, only three points behind manual classification.

NLP will also be used to assess objection handling to identify reps who handle objections well and which ones need improvement.  This feedback is then available to managers to assist with coaching.

Amplify addresses two key managerial questions: “Is my team adopting the new technology? Is the new technology delivering a measurable lift?”

Amplify will be unveiled at their May Unleash conference.