April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so to help promote understanding of the topic we have overhauled the StepInStandUp website. This announcement is less about the website, though, as it is mentioning this as our first project working with Barkley REI, one of our master contract web vendors.
We have historically done most of our projects in-house, but this project marks a turning point. When working on projects that are brought to us from other parts of the university we will be engaging with our list of vendors to help get things done. In this case, Barkley REI did a great job on an incredibly tight schedule.
As well as attending the mobile conference last week, I was also a presenter. I have added the presentation slides to Slideshare.
The presentation was on Marketing the Texas A&M University Mobile App. The primary focus of the Division of Marketing & Communications is on an external audience, we don’t do a lot of marketing to the university itself. In order to market the app, then, we rely on our partners from across campus – those with content in the app. We have found that they are the best evangelists of the system, because by promoting the app they are promoting themselves.
Our partners also have a much larger reach than my team has. The campus visitor center, libraries, transportation services, and all of the other content partners are able to get the message out to many, many more people that we could do on our own. This presentation will show some of those partnerships, and how we can engage with the large student population spread across a campus as large as ours.
I just returned from the Kurogo Higher Ed Mobile Conference, and had a wonderful time. This is a conference hosted by the vendor for our university mobile app. While open to everyone and technically not specifically about the app, the majority of the attendees are current or prospective clients. This meant plenty of new people to meet, see how our peers are tackling the same problems we are, and share ideas.
Rather like my first experience at HighEdWeb, I quickly discovered that almost all of us are in the same boat. No matter the size or makeup of the institution, none of of us have the resources we need yet are somehow able to produce some amazing work. We all look out our own apps and see where we could be doing more, yet get compliments from the others who we look at and see as being so much more “with it.”
I am coming home with a lot of great ideas. Not that the app will be taking all of our time and attention away from the overall web environment, but it is increasingly apparent that it needs to have a place of importance as one of vehicles of campus communications. So don’t be surprised if I start reaching out to you about how we can collaborate in making this platform better…as well as how we can use it to make your content more accessible as well.
Just like at any conference, last week’s Tech Summit had its vendor room. Many of the people that I talked to didn’t engage with the vendors, though. There were a couple of common themes for this – they thought the vendors were just there to sell you something, or that the vendors’ products were nothing that you are interested in, or that there was no value in talking to vendors because they are not in a decision making role in their department.
These are all common responses, and I have thought them myself at various points of my career. Having matured a bit, though, I can say that there definitely is value in talking to vendors, and that these reasons are not as valid as we think.
Yes, these people are there to show off their products. After several years there have been very few that have pushed the hard sell. They know that we aren’t the ones who will be writing the check. They love to interact, though. While most companies do send sales teams, they also send engineers to explain the product. These are IT folks too, and love to geek out the same sorts of things we do. You can learn lots of tidbits just through this type of interaction that you would never pick up from a white paper.
Also remember that “corporate sponsor” means that they are helping to support the conference. If you enjoy the conference drop by and give them at least a “thank you.” This is often a good icebreaker to extend the conversation into other areas. A lot of times you find out things about the company that you didn’t know, or find out that some of their business is in areas that you didn’t know about but are interested in.
Probably most important, don’t think that you don’t affect decisions just because you aren’t in a managerial role. If you specialize in something, your bosses will likely come to you for input on topics relating to that area. If you have talked to vendors and have a sense of options they can offer your advice will be more trusted (and they will be more likely to come to your for advice.) It also pays dividends into the future. As you progress in your careers this kind of background knowledge becomes more and more assumed.
Interaction doesn’t have to be brilliant conversation. Half of the booths that I visited started something like “I’m in web development, what do you do that might be related?” Once the ice is broken, questions and discussion becomes pretty straightforward. So next time you attend a conference, approach the vendor room with a new sense of purpose.
Charlie mentioned last week that we had a great time at the Tech Summit. I agree wholeheartedly. This was my third time to attend, and was by far the best. The Tech Summit is different from any other conference you might attend. The attraction is that it offers all of the normal track sessions, but you are attending with people that you know and work with from throughout the system.
This, to me, is the most important part of Tech Summit. It is easy enough for us to set up an appointment if we want to talk to one another here on campus, or there are social opportunities like the GoWeb presentations and meetings. None of those approach the conversations that happened last week, though. The casual atmosphere and diversity of attendance created a bonding opportunity that I have not experienced here in town.
I know budgets are tight, but I encourage you to consider this as your destination location next year, and to start showing your decision makers how useful and even important it can be.
LiveWhale has updated their product web page, and are giving us some prominent recognition. See the Our Favorites in the right column of the Our Customers page, the Calendar Inspiration section of the User Guide, and the main body of the Demo page.
Big shout out to LiveWhale for their product, their team, and the recognition.
This recognition is also a reflection of all of you who worked with us on the selection process, through implementation, and who maintain events within the system. Thank you all, and I hope we can continue to make the system even more useful for our audiences.
Had a great time at the TAMU Tech Summit this week in Galveston. It was my first time attending, and I have to say I was pretty impressed overall with the tracks and the level of expertise gathered. There were some really good keynote speeches, and I finally got to meet a number of people I had only known by name before. Personally, I’d like to see at little more in the system administration or networking areas, but that just means there are areas of opportunity to grow in the future.
Thanks to all our leaders on campus who worked to facilitate and make this possible.
After losing Chase Friedman as the leader of our GoWeb Analytics Special Interest Group, we have rebooted the group and are starting fresh. We have now met twice and plan to be more active than we have for the last several months.
The goals we have set for the team are:
- Learn analytics ourselves so that we can be a local resource
- Create a plan to get a central tracking code on top-level university sites
- Survey university units to determine their needs
- Create a local documentation hub that web professionals on campus can reference
- Set up training and consulting opportunities so that the team can share what we learn with the rest of campus.
Obviously there are many sub-points to each of these, but this gives you an idea of the direction we are going.
I posted this on the GoWeb site a few weeks ago, but since people have continued to ask about it I am repeating the information here.
Several years ago we did a survey of what content management systems were in use across campus. After several years of change in this space we thought it would be good to see what those numbers look like now.
A trend of consolidation stands out. Through self selection, the majority of us are naturally aligning around Cascade and WordPress. Most of those who have not made that migration are considering it. The exception is Provost IT, which is firmly tied to Kentico.
- Bush School – moving into Cascade
- College of Architecture
- College of Engineering – moving from Umbraco to Cascade
- College of Geosciences
- Health Science Center
- Division of Marketing & Communications
- TAMU IT
- TAMU Galveston
- Tarleton State University – for the entire university
- Extension programs
- Department of Wildlife & Fisheries
- Department of Entomology
- College of Dentistry – for news site
- College of Education – moving from Drupal to WordPress
- College of Engineering – for some smaller sites
- College of Science
- Department of Statistics
- College of Veterinary Medicine – moving from Umbraco to WordPress
- Health Science Center
- Mays Business School
- Division of Marketing & Communications – for news site
- Public Policy Research Institute
- Student Affairs
- TAMU IT
- TAMU Qatar
- TEEX – will soon begin using for microsites
- Education – but actively moving to WordPress
- College of Engineering – but actively moving to Cascade
- College of Veterinary Medicine – but actively moving to WordPress
- Finance & Administration – but considering moving to Cascade or some other platform
- Provost IT
- College of Education – but actively moving to WordPress
- Transportation Services -but considering moving to Cascade or some other platform
- College of Science – but likely to change