This was my second time attending the SmartLabs Exchange: http://www.smartlab.co.uk/Event.aspx?id=230824 . It was great, last year, and great, yet again for 2010. Although I had a terrific experience as a speaker, last year, being able to serve as chair, this year gave me yet more access to people and their opinions. It gave me the opportunity to watch the Exchange from the eagle’s nest view, so to speak, and to watch the progress people made.
Speakers and Hot Topics
Although all the speakers were top-quality, there were a few that I especially want to mention GSK made a presentation discussing “The Cloud” that was simple yet enlightening. Most people talk and talk (and talk…) about “The Cloud” but are not sure what to think or do about it. In the GSK presentation, the topic was simplified and a simple plan was given for trying out “The Cloud” in a low-risk manner.
Pfizer had a presentation by two of the people that manage the informatics solutions for them, where they were talking about alternative strategies and software they use to allow Pfizer people to communicate and work more easily. As we all know, it’s a large organization. As such, this is a key issue for them. They presented some cool stuff that was working for them. It was fun and practical all at the same time.
I also just generally enjoy John Trigg’s presentations. He always has some good nuggets of wisdom to share. I think he’s such an important figure in our industry that I try not to miss seeing him speak when I get the opportunity.
Many of the sponsors had excellent presentations, as well, but I must specifically mention the Lodestone presentation. A key concept of that presentation was that we shouldn’t treat our laboratory informatics projects as IT projects but as business projects. The speaker spoke in more detail about why that works better. Coming out of that presentation, many customers were muttering things like, “Yes, that’s what I must do – it’s so clear, now!”
This Exchange was not about just coming and hearing people speak, but about interactively exchanging ideas. At the beginning, I could tell that some attendees weren’t entirely comfortable with that idea, but they warmed-up to it and, by the end of the first day, I noticed a distinct difference in people’s behaviors, where they seemed more confident about asking questions and giving their opinions. I enjoyed watching this change.
Many of us think networking is for sales people, but when the exchange got all the attendees together, many of them found so much in common with other attendees, with similar projects and problems, that they found good long-term contacts where they can mutually be of use to each other.
Although this might not be the event that is right for everyone, many people left the event claiming they’d see me, next year. I know they plan to ask for that in their travel and event budget for the following year and I hope we do all get the chance to exchange ideas, yet again.