June 11, 2013 | Written by: Paul DiMarzio
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I’ve attended many, many conferences, shows and similar events over the course of my career. But most of them have been focused on information technology and, usually, the more specific theme of mainframe IT. And, although I’ve presented at scores of these gatherings, I have never had to work an exhibition floor.The saying goes that you can only grow by stepping outside of your comfort zone, and so it was with growth in mind that I recently assented to attend the 2013 ACORD | LOMA Forum in Las Vegas and help manage IBM’s exhibition space—meaning that I was, for a few days, a Vegas booth babe.
The Forum, held from May 6 to 8 at the MGM Grand, is the insurance industry’s premiere North American gathering. So, all kidding aside, it was a great opportunity for me to gain a different perspective on the industry that I cover and make some valuable business contacts.
The Forum is co-sponsored by two of the industry’s leading organizations, and 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of the combined event. ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development) is primarily dedicated to the development of open consensus data standards and forms for the insurance and financial services industries. LOMA (Life Office Management Association) focuses on the improvement of insurance and financial services operations through business research and education. In effect, ACORD represents the technical interests of the insurance industry, and LOMA promotes business best practices. The Forum is truly a unique opportunity to gain both technology and business insights within the bounds of a single insurance industry event.
Although my primary role at the Forum was floor support, I was attracted to the rich agenda of presentations and roundtable discussions on tap from a diverse set of industry leaders. Happily, Forum organizers closed the exhibit floor during session hours, allowing me to plan out a full educational calendar for myself.
If you’ve been following my other blog posts on this site, you know by now that I’m also responsible for System z cross-platform operational analytics solutions. To my delight there were quite a few sessions dedicated to the use of analytics in the insurance industry, and I was pleased to come away with the conclusion that our own IBM strategy for mainframe-based insurance analytics is perfectly aligned with industry trends and needs.
During exhibit floor hours, I talked to anyone and everyone I could grab about what we’re doing to leverage the mainframe toward the goal of improving insurance processes. You can learn more about our insurance solutions, and find a number of insurance case studies and related materials, on our IBM zEnterprise insurance solutions page. I came away from my stint on the exhibition floor with some valuable contacts to follow up, and even when my audience was not familiar with the mainframe—or even familiar with technology—we had some good discussions.
If you are an IT professional and are given the opportunity to attend or work an event in your industry of interest, I highly recommend the experience. It’s important to expose yourself to the business side of your industry, and it’s equally important to communicate with people who are not necessarily familiar with the technology that you promote. That’s how you grow and produce better solutions!
If career growth is not a sufficient incentive to work an industry conference, you might consider the side benefits, such as a closing party, Vegas-style!