This week began with me playing straight-man to Jill Hart in a presentation on User Experience to the CT Project Management Institute’s conference. The fun part of presenting as an employed end-user is that I get to talk about the things we did wrong, or in this case, the things we didn’t get right until the second attempt. I told my story and Jill talked about what I did wrong (at first) and what I did right (eventually). Although I was trying to get off the stage to let Jill work the room, I got a question about the process we had worked to automate. If you’re familiar with this blog, I’m talking about our loss-control inspections. A young woman asked me “why do people have to create agendas? Couldn’t your process start by generating a suggested agenda of inspection items?” I explained that while we do have inspection guidelines, the nature of our business doesn’t lend itself to a fully-scripted process, but I honestly thanked her for the question. That’s an example of the kind of questions we simply have to ask – “is there a way I could make this process even better?”
The very next day, I gave the presentation I talked about last week, the Career Day presentation to our local high school. We didn’t have a big crowd, but I verified that every guy and each of the two girls all wanted a technology-based career. One of the questions that I was asked was “what do you like most about your job?” This came after I had shown a slide of about seven things I like about my job and a slide of the single thing I hate – meetings – but the answer I gave the young man wasn’t on the slide. I like learning new things, I like that I was able to build an app for my iPhone, I like
playing conducting research with new technology, but the thing I like most is solving problems. A love of problem solving is what originally sent me to college to be a chemist. Solving problems with technology is what I appeared to be better at than chemistry, and for 35 years, that’s what I’ve been doing for a living. SharePoint is simply the latest in a long list of technologies that I have been able to bring to bear on the problems presented to me.
Thursday, AIIM New England held its first event in Connecticut in recent memory. Steve Weissman led a spirited discussion around the mission of AIIM and the local chapter. We had so many interested people in the room, that we are already planning a CT meeting in the upcoming chapter year. I was batting clean-up in this meeting by reprising a presentation I made at the AIIM Conference titled “Expand, Unlearn and Ignore.” I am not going to go through that here, but if you want to see it, I think it’s part of the Virtual Best of AIIM Conference on June 7th. The memorable question I received after that presentation is “what did you try before SharePoint (for content management)?” I get that question a lot, and I love answering it. I point out that I’ve been a systems developer throughout my career, so my first thought was “I can build that!” Then I explained how we did build a system for storing documents, and that we did include some cool features, including a controlled upgrade process (PDF(n) to PDF(n+1)) but that when it came to access and retrieval, we struggled to meet the needs of our coworkers. Whenever I do think of SharePoint’s weaknesses, I remind myself that SharePoint 2003 was better at navigation, search and web-based access than the system I built.
The question that I really enjoyed was when a woman asked about controlling content management in things like cloud-based solutions that our employees can download for free, or controlling the proliferation of smart phones and tablets that have spawned the term BYOD (bring your own device). You might think that I planted that question, because the answer was “I am so glad you asked that!”
On May 23rd, the AIIM New England chapter is staging our final event of the 2011-2012 chapter year, and the topic of conversation is going to be “The Cloud, Mobile Content Management, and BYOD” – seriously, how cool is that? When I say conversation, I mean conversation. We have assembled a panel that includes: Roger Bottum – VP of Marketing, SpringCM; Christopher J Luise – Executive VP, ADNET Technologies and Marc D. Anderson – Co-Founder and President of Sympraxis Consulting. I have seen these guys give presentations on their own, and I can’t wait to see them together! This event will be held at the Marriott in Newton, MA, so if you’re in the greater Boston area (that includes CT, just sayin), join us and be part of the conversation. Oh, did I mention breakfast? I think that means there will be bacon.