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The 2018 ECC Conference Is Over, but it’s Still On My Mind

July 2, 2018

For the fourth year in a row, I had a chance to fly to New York, take to train to Poughkeepsie and then a cab to Marist College for the 10th Annual Enterprise Computing Community Conference. The event was vibrant for so many reasons. The conference started Sunday evening with a reception at the Marist College Historic Cornell Boathouse. There were interesting keynote speakers, solid technical presentations, demonstrations and student and academic panel discussions on Monday and Tuesday. In addition to these conference activities, other matters made an impression. Let me explain.
Old and Young, Business and Technical With Diversity Everywhere 
At the conference, I noticed the key role played by women. They had a leadership role in running the conference, they promoted departments at Marist and there were many different women working for the companies that are represented at the conference, including sponsors like IBM. The conference had a newly redesigned z14 in the hall and there was a tech savvy woman from IBM telling me all about it. Women were everywhere and they were taking the role of leader and supporter.  
At the conference, there were all these red-shirt Marist students helping out. I went out of my way to speak with them to see how much I understand about what they are learning and doing day-to-day with computers. They are really focused and mature. I consistently learned someone was a freshman when I had assumed they were a senior. My comment, “They are all really focused,” seems too good to be true, but they are that good. Maybe there is a bum here and there, but I have not met them yet. 
Since I am now on Medicare, I go out of my way to talk to the older attendees. Sometime, I find them standing by themselves drinking coffee at a break and I join them and start chatting them up. Many have all the vitality of the red-shirt kids, but they just have older bodies. I met a couple this time that were so energized that I just shut up and went for a ride on their ideas and a journey of life experiences. I discovered that older IT professionals teach programming languages to high school students and sign up technology speakers for cruise ships. “Ever been on a cruise ship?” I was asked. They are just plowing ahead with their professional lives showing no signs of running out of energy or ideas. I am not kidding; they are very determined not to waste their energy. It inspires me.
Academics and Students: University Meets the Real World 
At the conference, I spent more time than in the past with the professors. I had a chance to speak with the business professors who taught the strategic use of IT, as well as the community college teachers who were teaching enterprise computing with the pragmatic goal of helping students find good jobs. Of course, it’s not as simple as strategic versus tactical or abstract versus practical, but what I write about the range of purpose is mostly true. I taught practical things like MVS Facilities, MVS JCL and JES2 operator training workshops for IBM by day and at night, I taught MIS in a Master of Business Administration program and CIS in a Ph.D. program at different times over 30 years. I appreciate mixing big ideas with important dimensions of the practice of IT. I could relate to the challenges that the professors at the conference spoke about, particularly the challenges facing the community college teachers. There is nothing easy about those jobs and their associated responsibilities.
Industry Including Hardware, Software and Services People
The conference is better because the industry sponsors are there. Since they pay for our food, I feel like I need to stop at every table and let them give me their pitch. It goes well beyond the sales story that they tell. Often, an IT company will have the senior people there and a young developer or two. CA Technologies had one of those early-career developers, so I spoke with him to see if I recognized anything he did for a living. We might do a post together in the future. 
I want to call out five industry sponsors from the conference and thank them for being there with their innovative solutions and for feeding us by sponsoring events:
  1. Sunday Welcome Reception, sponsored by BlackRidge Technology.
  2. Monday Sponsored Lunch, sponsored by Mainline Information Systems
  3. Monday Industry Sponsored Event at Riverfront Barbecue, sponsored by IBM
  4. Tuesday Hot Breakfast, sponsored by CA Technologies
  5. Tuesday Sponsored Lunch, sponsored NewEra Software Inc.
What’s Next?
Next week, I’ll cover the first day of the conference: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., including the keynote talks and the break out sessions that I attended, including the amazing demonstration at the Marist Security Operations Center used for teaching the cybersecurity courses.  

Posted July 2, 2018| Permalink