Providing Extended Services: How Much Is Enough? How Much Can We Deliver?
The longest running discussion on the CEDPA Board is "What should CEDPA become to address the needs of its membership?" Inherent in this question is the implication that CEDPA needs to do more. This need has motivated the Board to improve the yearly conference and to extend the communication capability of the organization. I think the volunteer board has done an exemplary job at these two tasks.
Consider the conference. In a few short years, it has gone from a simple vendor show and speaker schedule to a series of orchestrated events that are coordinated across four conference days. Beginning on Tuesday, three preconference sessions focus on an in-depth and highly technical presentation of a specific topic. Corporate or education partners are selected to prepare members to deal with emerging trends in the IT environment. Always well attended, preconferences set the tone for the succeeding three days. The Wednesday speaker strands have grown from two to four, five if you include this year's new alignment. These strands are organized around topical issues including the conference theme, technical talks, vendor presentations, IT general interest issues and statewide initiatives. The degree of sophistication of these sessions has also improved to meet attendee expectations. Keynote speakers now attract major corporate or industry participants. This year's two slots will bring superb ambassadors of corporate America.
The Network Operations Center began as the Internet Room a few years back. It now boasts the latest in infrastructure and application delivery systems. Technical expertise abounds and the Tech Talks have become a favorite. This year, the NOC will be reconfigured to move email central to another location and one of the Tech Talk strands will have its own breakout room. The improvements will eliminate the competition for space and provide quiet meeting rooms.
As the Board works to provide a rewarding experience for attendees, it tries to improve offerings. Excellent meals and more frequent refreshment breaks punctuate the three days. Bags, portfolios, and other provisions are high quality and members find they can use their CEDPA equipment for years.
The vendor show has also grown in size and complexity. Kiosks are now common and are multiple booth presentations. Vendors have Internet connection if requested. They also take great care to make appropriate presentations of equipment, software and services offered. They consistently remark that will miss other events but make sure not to miss CEDPA's yearly conclave. This year's show is virtually sold out already.
We can't forget the annual golf tournament. This event, more than all others, provides attendees with a welcome break and just pure fun! Vendors, attendees and friends conclude the conference chasing golf balls around a beautiful course, sharing tales of birdies and pars with only an occasional bogie or mulligan to interrupt the fine companionship.
So with all that has been added to the conference, why the discussion to add more? Every Board member must manage the day-to-day operations of an IT organization therefore they recognize the collective potential that our membership could bring to all who could benefit from increased service. If there were an easy way to share information, each of us could be more productive, make better purchasing decisions and provide more resources to our staffs. So the Board continues to dialogue and tries to find ways to improve our WEB presence, to look for better collaborative tools and to keep each of you aware of developments that could positively affect your decision making process. As the Board works to secure a better organization, I am confident it will be successful in its search to find methods for achieving its goals. At the conference and in our communications to you, you will see the results of this process. Please let us know if we have met your expectations.