2010 International Spectrum Conference Feedback

Connie Eaton, GM Nameplate

SPECTRUM: We are talking with Connie Eaton from GM Nameplate. In our conversation last night with Nathan and Tracey, it was my understanding that you paid your own way to come the conference this year.

CONNIE: I did.

SPECTRUM: You're probably one of the only people at the conference that wasn't sent by their company.

CONNIE: Yeah. Though it's not that the company wouldn't have liked to have sent me or maybe others. We have in the past, and I'm hoping we will in the future send people. But this year and the past two years there has been absolutely no budget for anybody to go. I thought about not going, and it's been a couple years since I have gone. But there's something about being around all the people who do the same things we do. It was in Denver, which made it close enough to actually be reasonable for me, and I thought, "Yeah, I will." So I'm taking back a lot of ideas and things that I learned here to our management. And I'm going to start as soon as I get back lobbying to make sure that we send somebody to subsequent years. I was the only one in our department who could afford to foot this myself. That is why I did it. But in the future, I think the company will send people.

SPECTRUM: You said you have some new programmers, new young (meaning under 45 for some of us in the MultiValue community) that you would like to see come here.

CONNIE: Under 30. And I would like to see both of them come here. One of the things I found really exciting this year was the level of excitement that people have about the future and about how easy it is to keep your business logic in the MultiValue world that we all know and love, and present it in the web, which the rest of the world knows and loves. We can kind of have the best of both worlds. There were lots of presentations here about various degrees of how to do that. That's kind of what I concentrated on here because that's our next initiative at work. We've got a big investment in our database and in our business rules. We don't want to throw that out, but we've got some of the ugliest green screens you've ever seen. People judge that by that screen and not by the content or the value of the data. So management has come around to saying, "Let's improve the user interface and keep the database, rather than going out to some SQL app or something." And that has just recently been kind of verbalized in our company as a "we better think about this." So the timing was perfect for this, even though I was coming from my own agenda. I distributed the session descriptions to the people at work and said, tell me what you think would be of benefit for me to bring back. They all read them and guided me in some directions I might not have gone, the business case stuff that Shannon did, and the make it pretty kind of stuff. I'm not sure I would have gone to those left on my own. But because there was an interest in the company to go to those, I did. So I think that's good. And once I go back with things from here, I think it will be easier next year to send the two young guys, both of which are new to MultiValue. One is an SQL programmer and the other is a web design programmer. Both of them are learning the jBASE side of it — one is a little ahead of the other by a year or so — but both are excited about it. They see the value, see the ease of using it, see how nice the data is. So that gives me a great hope.

SPECTRUM: So even though you decided on your own that Connie was going to Spectrum, you still took the opportunity to basically prime yourself to act as an advance scout for GM nameplate.

CONNIE: Exactly! Because you know, I do work there. I do care about their future. So I wanted it to be as beneficial as possible, and I think it has been. I was pleasantly surprised at the width of presentations — the variety. And I had to make tough choices as to which to go to sometimes. I really did get some really good ideas to take forward. If we were going to do this, here are some options for direction. We could go and hear about it. We could talk to some people who had already done it. We could go from are we going to build our own to are we going to buy some expensive package. There were a lot of presentations that made all of that possible here, and I think it would have been very difficult to get the possibilities concentrated in a short period of time if I had gone out and just done research.

SPECTRUM: It sounds like GM Nameplate as decided that not only the data but especially the — how many years accumulation of business logic...

CONNIE: Oh, 30 or more.

SPECTRUM: 30 or more years of business logic that your MultiValue system contains actually provides you a noticeable competitive advantage.

CONNIE: Well, I think so. I think they realize that. We are customer driven. We're an on-demand manufacturer. We don't make things for resale. We make things because you want something for what you're building. And so we have to respond pretty rapidly as our customer's needs change. And I think it's recognized within the company that that rapid response would not be as easily possible with one of the standard type databases — Oracle or DB2 or something like that. I think they realize that having the responsiveness that a MultiValue system gives you is an asset to them. And we can respond to a customer's need where it's only one customer's need, but we can come up with something for that and implement it quickly. Our customers are happy about that.

SPECTRUM: You just came from the vendor exhibits. What did you think of that? Did you find anything that you might be considering?

CONNIE: Yes, I did. The fellow that presented at the breakfast this morning — Informer. So I went and talked with him a little bit more, because we didn't really have a chance to talk at the breakfast. I'm glad he was there, because I was able to talk to him more. That's the kind of thing that I'm interested in myself and probably for GM Nameplate. So I was happy to be able to talk to him. And then some of the people in the other booths, like the Ashwood booth, that have solutions that might be solutions for me that I might not have connected with, had I've not gone into the floor. So that's valuable. And then just meeting up with old friends like MITS — we're a MITS user. Meeting up with them and kind of catching up. And talking to the jBASE people here. That was valuable.

SPECTRUM: So being able to actually talk directly to your vendor?

CONNIE: Yes. That's been valuable, and I think that's always valuable in these kinds of settings. And it's fun. It's a fun time to talk to people. Yes, it was good.

David McGee, DCS Information Systems

SPECTRUM: We are talking with David McGee from DCS information Systems. Where is that?

DAVID: Plano, Texas.

SPECTRUM: How has the conference been for you? Did you get out of it what you had hoped for?

DAVID: Yes, I did. I thought the selection of topics was excellent. I've heard a lot of buzz around me of people saying they got a lot interesting information to carry home that was very timely, and I will agree with that. That's what I told Nathan.

SPECTRUM: What in particular was it that caused you to decide to attend?

DAVID: In my case, jBASE 5 and mv.NET. Talking to the people.

SPECTRUM: Talking to the vendors?


SPECTRUM: And did you get the information that you were looking for?

DAVID: Yes. I did.

Leif Nelson, Landcar Insurance Services

SPECTRUM: We are talking with Leif Nelson of Landcar Insurance Services. How was the conference for you? Was it useful?

LEIF: It was good. It got me exactly what I was looking for.

SPECTRUM: And what was it that you were looking for that made you attend?

LEIF: Well, actually I come every year because there's no better place as a clearing house of what's out there for MultiValue. Like last year, we were looking for ways of printing reports. We wanted to make it easier for users to do their own reports. This year we're planning on redeveloping one of our main products. So I was looking for ways to speed up that development. And I've got some competing viewpoints I've got to work out now, but I've got different vendors who can help me. Now it's a question of sorting through the data and deciding which is the most likely to be of value.

SPECTRUM: And you got that information?

LEIF: I got that information through both classes and on the floor. I talked with people at the preview party, went to their classes, and talked with them again the next day.

SPECTRUM: So you would say that your goal was met?

LEIF: Very well, actually. Yes. It was quite worthwhile.


May/Jun 2010