International Spectrum 2019 MultiValue Conference Recap

The 38th Annual International Spectrum 2019 Conference was at the beloved WigWam again this year, and wrapped up on April 12th. This week of professional development and networking for the MultiValue Community was a resounding success as always. Those who came returned to work with lots of information and ideas.

There was a lot of very intense discussion this year between attendees. Many were looking to push forward with their existing systems, while others were looking at what the Sponsors had available so they could return to work with a new plan of attack for the upcoming year.

One of my functions at the conference is to make sure everyone is talking to the people they need to and to provide a neutral perspective on the MultiValue industry. Here are some of the questions I received this year:

IS: How was this conference different from Spectrum Conferences in the past?

Nathan: This year's conference had more intense feel to it. Attendees spent extended amounts of time talking with speakers and sponsors during the "Partner Exchange", aka exhibit floor, timeframe. There was more of a sense that budget lines were open for MultiValue projects.

These conversations weren't little 5 minute talks. They focused more on the details, the specifics, to help the attendee's address their problems.

IS: Why did you talk about Total Cost of Ownership in the Welcome Address?

Nathan: Over the years, there has been a lot of talk about how to justify modernizing an existing application vs. purchasing something new. These conversations always ended up talking about two things: The costs of modernizing and the battle with upper management; competing with the sales pitches they receive from outside software companies.

There wasn't much information available on presenting Total Cost of Ownership that the MultiValue Community could use when talking with upper management. When I asked to see what others had done in comparison to what I had presented, I was a bit surprised that no one seemed to have done it before.

This was the reason I took a first swipe at generating a template that could be used for this purpose. It's something many of us need.

IS: How do I modernize my MultiValue application?

Nathan: Most MultiValue developers have been looking to modernize their core applications, but found it daunting. I think that was due to a certain amout of misdirection, due to looking at the wrong things. In the past, modernization efforts were focused on redeveloping core screens and reports into graphical desktop interfaces and web interfaces.

More recently, there's been a shift in thinking. CEO/CIO/COOs have come to realize that their business is their software and their software is their business. So now the focus is less on simply adding GUI and more on creating productive interfaces. In other words, they are focusing on the UX (User Experience) instead of the UI (User Interface).

Each business has different definitions of what modernization is based on what would bring the most productivity to them. Some of examples of modernization are:

  • User-friendly reports and dashboards
  • Mobile apps
  • External web interfaces. Examples: Business APIs, E-Commerce
  • Internal interfaces: Sales Tax, Government e-filing, Geolocation
  • Office integration

Each of these processes is focused on only a small percentage of the overall core application. Most are new interfaces for very specific purposes, with very little focus on rewriting entire existing core systems.

Plus, with the Millennials moving into management, Command Line Interfaces (CLI) are once again considered acceptable production interfaces to modern systems. There is less focus on GUI/Web and more focus on business process specific interfaces. They may or may not be graphical but they must be tied to measurable gains.

IS: What do you think the future of MultiValue is? Where is it going?

Nathan: I think the MultiValue database and applications have a strong future. The overall IT industry has come to accept that the Relational Model (SQL/RDBMS) is starting to stifle business productivity. You can see this in the continued adoption of alternative databases — NoSQL databases — in core business application.

Software development has moved into the arena of solving the problem with the the best tools, instead of the most popular tools.

There are several cross-sponsor community initiatives that were announced this year as well. These sponsors are dedicating a lot of resources to the community, as well, rather than just focusing on their segment of the community. Keep watching for more announcements in the newsletter and magazine regarding these shared initiatives.

IS: Any closing comments?

Nathan: I would like to thank our sponsors for their support and input during the conference. I enjoyed spending time talking with the attendees about their problems, solutions, and ideas. I would like to express my pleasure working with my speakers, and thank them for their support, time, and knowledge.

If you were one of our attendees this year, don't forget about the conference videos and session downloads. And even if you were unable to join us for 2019, we can look forward to seeing each other at Spectrum 2020.

International Spectrum

Located in Thorton CO.

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