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January 29, 2009 
 
       
 

TODAY'S TECH
CONFAB


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The last two days, we joined over 1000 association execs at ASAE’s Association Technology Conference & Expo to hear about management software, social networks, and website fixes. We don’t envy the IT department tasked with choosing between the more than 100 exhibitors. But we do envy the IT department because they’re definitely in vogue; five years ago, there was no such thing as a technology conference.

 

So here’s the fashionable association techies from the CIO roundtable: American Chemical Society’s John Sullivan and Association of Fundraising Professionals Prabhash Shrestha. (Society for Human Resource Management’s Heidi Byerly spoke as well, but must be off fixing a bug.) They agreed a good CIO can put modesty aside and toot your department’s horn about projects; otherwise, departments forget what you’ve done and feel like IT is ignoring them. One clever suggestion from Heidi: An end-of-the-year survey asking staff to rate all your IT projects. Sure, the results are helpful, but more importantly, it reminds them about all the work you’ve done. Oh, you mean like your Congressman’s “surveys.

 

ASAE prez John Graham dropped in on the CIO panel, so moderator (and ASAE CTO) Reggie Henry asked what he expects from his tech chief. “Candor,” John said, and never finish a conversation without answering “What are the consequences, good or bad, of this information.” In addition to co-coordinating this event, Reggie recently served as a brain trust for Smithsonian 2.0. The recent gathering explored how to make SI collections and educational resources more useful to younger generations who will largely experience them digitally.

 

Here’s keynote Chris Sacca, former head of special initiatives at Google, just after he told the crowd there’s more talent outside associations than in. That doesn’t mean fire everybody, but do pay attention. He extolled the benefits of Google Trends (using search to deduce the national mood), which has been able to predict movie opening weekends as far as six weeks out. Also, by using open source code to let users and phone manufacturers improve Google Talk, he was able to build the entire thing with only 10 other employees. (Is that a lot? No. He’s heard tell that AOL used five full-time staff just on those smiley emoticons.)

 

At Google, Chris’ projects included Google's 700MHz spectrum, and its free citywide WiFi network in Mountain View. He also made us jealous about Google office culture, with free breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. His prediction for ’09 and beyond: A move toward real-time search, a larger version of what’s already possible with micro-blogging site Twitter, in which he’s an investor.

 

Higher Logic’s Suzanne Carawan, Syscom’s Jim Kelly, and SocialFish’s Maddie Grant answered the question “Are Social Networks Living Up To The Hype?” Jim says the biggest mistake he sees is expecting the IT department to actively manage your network. If you can’t dedicate a new position to it, find someone who can float across multiple departments because everyone can benefit from it. Even the revenue folks will want in because of the ability to sell ads based on info in user’s profiles.

 

We interrupted lunch for American Hospital Association’s Jim Gibson, Avectra’s Doug Brown, and Professional Photographers of America’s Joe Kendall. Turns out we interrupted some deal-making, as well: While AHA already uses Avectra’s NetForums management software, Doug was convincing Joe to get his association on board. Did he throw on a suit just for the occasion? Nah. Later on, Jim and Doug were leading a panel on “using technology applications to solve a specific goal.”

 

Corporate Network Services’ Marshall Micheals and Karen Kalantzis were the most photographed exhibitor because of that eye-catching disaster scene behind them, advertising why you need data backup. Marshall says it’s an attention-grabber, but, actually, the most common use of backup is after employee theft. He says their product replaces tape backups (which are easily lost or stolen) by sending your secure data to three back-up servers in Baltimore, Phoenix, and Wisconsin.

 

Integrity Computing’s Ted Udelson, Raffa’s Seth Zarny, Professional Examination Service’s Pradnya Khandekar, and Raffa’s Jeremy Taro. In tough economic times, sometimes the simple pleasure of spinning a wheel is all anybody needs. But if you need a wheel spin and consulting on your financial systems and databases, call Seth.

Send story ideas to Curtis@Bisnow.com

 
 
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