Where to begin..
My head is still reeling. So much sharing, so much learning, so much fabulous geekery! Expedition Everest wasn’t the only rollercoaster I rode last week. During Innovate, from one moment to another I was up and down (and sometimes upside-down): energized from all the intense knowledge, camaraderie, and opportunities to learn (and gallons of caffeine!) then exhausted from all the over-stimulation and long days (and caffeine withdrawal); and then back around for another ride the next day.
So, now that I’m back on solid ground again, what did I take away?
I had no idea what I was getting into
… but it was fabulous madness. I’m sure I made a million newbie mistakes, but that just leaves me wanting to head back next year to get better at it. A few things I learned (which I’m sure every newbie before me figured out):
Always have business cards with you
.. even when you think you’re just grabbing a nightcap on your way to bed. But don’t despair if you get caught without.. just get creative and exchange info on drink receipts. :)
Keep a little notepad handy.
I tucked a notepad and pen into my badge holder and it came in handy for exchanging contact info, taking notes, drawing pictures, and soaking up spilled coffee.
Be a hero; bring an extra power cord.
I did. It saved someone. I felt like a hero. Not the kind they make movies about, but maybe the kind they write tiny footnotes about. ;)
Take brief mental breaks when you can. It takes energy to maintain focus and enthusiasm. It takes breaks to maintain energy. Despite what I felt Tuesday morning, it turns out there is life after Innovate.. unless you never escape the insanely-air-conditioned Expo (does it really need to feel arctic?) and wind up cryogenically frozen to your station.
Schedule time to connect.
The conference has so many great things going on and so many interesting people to talk to, that it's helpful to schedule a time connect with folks. It's also helpful if your cell phone has texting so you can connect on the fly.
Be ready to improvise.
You can plan all you want, but be prepared to go with the flow. I stuck to the script 0% of the time, but I learned something valuable from 100% of my interactions.
Anticipation of presenting is much worse than the presentation itself.
The nervousness leading up to my presentation (co-written with the lovely and talented Kelly Raposo), Smarter Documentation: Shedding Light on the Black Box of Reporting Data, seemed so silly after the fact because it was a really enjoyable experience. There was so much great audience participation and exchanging of ideas, and I got a lot of useful feedback on the subject of reporting documentation. Thanks to all who attended and helped in the preparation. Special thanks to Kelly, Arthur, and Jackie!
Read more about what we learned and our plans in my upcoming blog: Insights from Innovate 2013: Making Smarter Documentation Even Smarter
Personas help us understand our users. We had persona trading cards and posters that we ask people to comment on. I had a self-proclaimed Allison and a Marco and a Susan and a Tammy sitting across from me. I even had someone who wanted to get Tanuj’s autograph.
I want to talk to our users all the time!
It’s so energizing. The positive feedback is wonderful, and the negative feedback is empowering. Any time we can identify a problem, it’s an opportunity to make something better, and when you talk to the person who’s actually having the problem, you get to see how you can make this person’s life better. That’s pretty awesome. And we want to start or continue the conversation with all of our users.
The work we’re doing on the Jazz Platform is valuable.
For our work on the evolution of the Jazz platform, we understand that people need to get at their data across their repositories and across their tools to help them get work done and make important decisions. People also need to have an easy way to share with others in their organization. We're excited and happy when we show someone early previews and they ask “When can we have this?”
Everyone needs reporting, and it needs to be easier and faster.
Not a shocking revelation (I’ve been working in reporting for quite a while), but I had the chance to talk to folks about specifics, and I plan to continue the conversation with a variety of folks who said they were willing. Look for more insights on querying and reporting on my upcoming blog: Insights from Innovate 2013: What we learned about querying and reporting.
Thank you, Steve Wozniak, for not just saying that you support the kids and education, but for living it. I was hanging around the Expo after hours Tuesday evening and wandered into the Code Rally room. Turns out that all the students who got a shout out during the morning’s general session were doing their awesome, brainy thing, hacking and racing and having a great time. The room moderator told me that they’d all spent a couple hours with the Woz, and that despite a press agent tugging on his sleeve, Steve would not leave until he’d spoken to and taken pictures with every last kid. Rock on, Woz, rock on.
Dinosaurs never go out of style. Thank you for the reminder, Animal Kingdom.
Read more about this in my upcoming blog: Why dinosaurs will never be extinct -- Kidding!
The feeling of camaraderie, the sense of technology racing ahead and data accumulating at the speed of light, the impression that everyone you speak to (and don't get to speak to) has something really interesting to say, the spirit of support for education and our future… those things stuck with me. (The rainbow of ribbons I accumulated stuck with me too..until I went out in Tropical Storm Andrea, that is.)
I was personally inspired by the talks on innovation, disruptive and incremental. You can watch the General Sessions and other videos at Innovate 2013: The Technical Summit video library. From what I heard in the sessions, on the Expo floor, at the lunch table, over drinks.. we’re all passionate about innovating. And we can't do it without you! Follow the blog and participate in the IBM Rational Design Community to learn more about how you can get involved and make Rational software work better for you!