Thursday, 18 June 2009

AEC Technology Strategies Conference 2009 - summary

Last week, I was pleased to attend ZweigWhite's 2009 AEC Technology Strategies Conference;

After an epic journey, lasting 29 hours door-to-door due to delays and stopovers, I finally arrived at the impressive Green Valley Ranch, Las Vegas, just after midnight, the night before the conference. I must say that Atlanta airport has a surprisingly good jazz pianist! :)
After a scant 5 hours of sleep, whilst adjusting to the 8-hour time difference, I arose to set up the CADsmart booth and meet the organisers. My thanks to Russ and the team at Stagnito Media, who proved to be extremely helpful and obliging hosts.

This was the tenth annual gathering of AEC leaders and it proved to be a worthwhile event. Attendance was very good, in what is clearly a tough year for event organisers. The genial MC for this year's show was Ken Young, CIO at HOK, who kept things running to schedule and offered his own perspective on how recession has affected technical decision making strategy at his own Practice, throughout the proceedings.

Notable keynotes on day one were delivered by Michael Tardif, Director of IPD at Grunley Construction, who discussed Aligning Technology with Core Business Strategy. This was followed by Walter P Moore CIO, Jim Jacobi, who covered the Importance of Leveraging Technology in a Challenging Environment.

The conference split into concurrent working groups after the break, covering topics such as; Communicating & Delivering IT Value, Intranets Made Easy, Leadership Strategies, Adopting 3D, Managing Remote Teams, WAN Optimization, The Reality of BIM and the Changing Role of Technology in the AEC Industry.

An excellent lunch of filets mignon, sponsored by TW Telecom, was followed by further working groups and a wrap up of day one's proceedings. This was followed by an entertaining evening's networking, which included watching the LA Lakers series win against Orlando Magic, and a round of 'beerpong' in the casino. I'm pleased to report that CADsmart were on the winning team, thus jointly holding the reigning title of AEC Tech Strategies Beerpong champions! :)

Day two began with a technical presentation from Dennis Shelden from MIT and Gehry Technologies. Then further working groups covering the following subjects; Collaboration Tools and Techniques, Document Management, Future of BIM, Training For Effect - Improving Your Firm's Knowledge Base.

The final keynote of the day was a fascinating presentation on Building a High Performing Virtual IT Team, by MWH Global's CIO, Micki Nelson. This was followed by an expert panel, comprising all principal speakers, and included a host of technology-related questions from the floor.

In summary, a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days, with many new connections made and friendships renewed. My thanks go to ZweigWhite for their hospitality and to the following delegates for taking me under their wing; John 'Pickle Loving' Robison, Chris 'Sharepoint Guru' Parsons, Chris 'Hustler' Pinckney and Karl 'Rainbow Trout' Fischer.

I thought the return trip couldn't possibly be more convoluted than the journey over; how naive I was! To start, we routed to NY JFK, via Salt Lake City. Then, we were held on the tarmac at JFK for an hour due to congestion; there were literally 30+ planes lined up nose to tail! We missed the connection to London Heathrow by 5 minutes, then took another 5 hours to persuade Delta to let us on the last flight out that night. I squeeked onto the flight with the last seat, only to be held up on the tarmac for another 90 minutes due to yet more Saturday night runway congestion! Grr! So, in fact, my return journey lasted 31 hours door to door!

Still, the rewards of a successful trip far outweighed the down side of a few too many cups of airport coffee. And the Atlanta pianist really is very good! :)

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