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This was my first time attending the Gilbane Conference, the conference solely devoted to all things content related. Gilbane gathers technologists, marketers, consultants and usability experts from near and far and takes place over three days annually each year in Boston. As the website reads, “The Gilbane Conference is all about helping organizations apply content, web, mobile, and marketing technologies to increase engagement by improving the digital experiences of their customers, employees, and partners.”

There was a lot to takeaway from the conference this year. So, here’s a quick overview of what I learned:

You could barely sneeze [and that was a lot considering the bad head cold I had] without hearing omnichannel discussed in almost every session I attended. There was a lot of debate during the content marketing panel over what the definition of omnichannel is versus multi-channel. Omnichannel argues for a shift in thinking – arguing for the seamless customer/member experience. This idea takes marketing one step further than the older multi-channel viewpoint that focuses on the delivery of content via multiple channels – push notifications and blasts of content. Reminds me a lot of what user experience professionals are after, only from a content perspective. Omni hopes to understand the customer, his/her interests and location (whether online or in-person), and to deliver the right content to the customer via the right channel at the right moment. Not an easy feat.

Personalization is harder than you think. While we’re all eager to use the data we’re able to collect on site visitors, uniquely and accurately presenting targeted content continues to be a real struggle for even the biggest brands out there. There isn’t a magic wand (whether through a CMS and/or a marketing automation tool) that exists to perfectly target and execute content. Much of this effort still requires significant manual effort and time.

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My favorite session was the “Wearables and The Internet of Things” session where presenters Raimund Gross of SAP and Adam Buhler of DigitasLBi reviewed some the latest technologies they’ve tested and gave their predictions on tools to come. From insect cyborgs (neural implants in cockroaches) to discussion around universal wi-fi, this was a really fun session. Here are just a few nuggets from that session:

Wearables are still very much an extension of mobile devices. There is a unique intimacy that exists with a wearable that doesn’t exist with a mobile phone. A watch can take your pulse and communicate to its wearer via “Taptic” feedback in a way that your phone or glasses can’t. Buhler gave the example of getting directions via pulses on your wrist (reminded me of the way you might guide a horse when riding) that lets you know when to turn and in which direction, subtly. This is a form of communication that is new, the features are new, and that means the need and opportunity exists for a new form of content delivery and design.

Buhler predicts that we will hear from Apple in 2015 on what they’ve learned from Google Glass. Neither presenter thinks it will continue to exist for the public in its current form, but is a stepping-stone for improved products, especially for the workforce.

Discussion around virtual wallets took place. Will ApplePay and Google Wallet continue to achieve adoption? ApplePay, GoogleWallet, Venmo – lots happening around digital payment and the death of cash. [There’s a recent article in Bloomberg Businesweek I read this week – Cash is for Losers – that is worth the read.]

There is great buzz around Apple’s HomeKit that is launching at CES 2015. Get ready for your fridge to tell you when your milk has expired and for your lights to dim and thermostat to adjust when you casually voice command “It’s time for bed.”

All around, there is a lot to get excited about. What are your tech predictions for the coming year?

Responsive Design has been the buzz word along with “Big Data” in the association community for the past year and there’s a good reason why. With 2013 deemed “The Year of Responsive Design” by Mashable.com, as well as forecasted by many to be the year that mobile browsing surpasses desktop browsing, associations need to have a solid mobile solution.

As all of us have now become comfortable with carrying and relying on multiple devices (tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktops) to tackle our work and manage our communications, we will no doubt embrace even more as new and evolved products continue to infiltrate the market. Just consider the tabtop and phablet.

If associations want their content to be consumed, then they must think beyond traditional mobile sites and native apps as there one and only mobile solution, and really look at their website.

In a recent interview with ResultsDirect’s Cecilia Satovich on DelCor Sweet Spot Live, I asked her the big questions surrounding responsive design, the triumphs, challenges, and reasons why she considers it a solid solution.

Is your association considering moving to a responsive web design? What are the questions you still have?

Last week the annual ASAE Technology Conference took place in Washington, DC, as well as the Higher Logic User Group (HUG) and DelCor’s first ever user group, DUG. As an outgoing three year member of the ASAE Technology Council that helps choose the sessions for #Tech12, it was feeling of accomplishment, as well as reunion of sorts for the bustling association tech community. My overview on the Conference will be posted to the DelCor blog tomorrow, so look there for more details from the event! 

However, one moment worth mentioning twice was meeting the opening keynote of #Tech12, Brian Solis. A big fan of his books and blogs, it was an honor shaking his hand and grabbing a quick photo with the business analyst.

For more on the Conference, as well as my interview with Craig Sorrell, the Project Coordinator at AIHA, please read my post on the DelCor blog tomorrow.

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Wowser, It’s been a busy few months and my goal of blogging more is well, suffering as you can see. I’ve been a horrible blogger on my own personal site, as well as on DelCor’s, although I’m making one hell of a blog coach to the DelCor staff as our blogger competition ramps up. Whistles up!

So, in case you didn’t know, I host this little bi-weekly show for DelCor called Sweet Spot Live where I get to cover association and tech-related topics of my choice for an 30 mins to an hour every other Friday from 12:30-1:30pm ET. This Friday I just happen to be attending The Washington DC Chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association event, so it’ll be an extra little perk to share some of what I’ve learned during the morning sessions. I’ve had the opportunity to interview some outstanding guests from the National Association of County and City Health Officials  as well as Dave Coriale, my boss and the President of DelCor, on his travels to Dreamforce 12. Definitely check out the archived shows if you get a chance and join the next live show, which just happens to include a live chat too which goes great with a bagged lunch. *hint hint*

One thing I love about being a consultant is constant learning, and I recently just interviewed Vivian Zhang and Sammi Liu, organizers of the Council of Tall Buildings & Urban Habitats World Congress in Shanghai, China. Our podcast is on MCI Group’s blog if you get a chance to read the full post.  

Podcast – Council of Tall Buildings & Urban Habitats World Congress Shanghai – Part 1

 

Please share your blogging secrets with me if you got ’em! What are your tips for blogging on the run?  

Liv Tyler by Ruven Afanador

“We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us; to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter.”
-Rainer Marie Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet 

I came across this passage this afternoon, highlighted in my paperback copy “Feb 2006” in pen. I have no idea what I was doing in February 2006 or why I felt the need to document the date, but I do know that Rilke’s intellect and prose is just as moving in 1934 as 2006 and now, in 2012.  He writes this to the young poet who has suffered a great loss, but his words apply to everyone who has or is navigating through transitional periods in life. Whether starting a new career or a new project, fear of the unknown and our boundless insecurities seem to arise. This is a reminder to push through. That we are so much more than we ever imagined.

Associations have always been in the business of community building and advocacy. Like almost every other company out there, associations are (or should be) eagerly trying to catch up with technology trends and discover where discussions are taking place online surrounding their industry.

Many association executives struggle with learning the social media tools, messaging, and means of engagement and aren’t sure how to properly lead their organization and staff into building dedicated social media programs.

On Friday, June 29 from 12:30-1:30pm EST, Megan Berry will join DelCor’s Sweet Spot Live host Kylee Coffman to discuss what associations can do now to help build their online communities.

Megan Berry is the Founder of LiftFive, partnered with Lerer Ventures to help top startups with social. She previously led marketing at Klout for two years, after starting as the fourth employee. She blogs about social media on the Huffington Post, Mashable and more.  

Basically, yes, you will want to ask her questions while the opportunity comes a’knockin. Have a question you’d like to ask her in advance? Post your comment below! You can also follow her on Twitter at @meganberry.

Mark your calendar! It’s gonna be a good one.

For the last live episode of DelCor Social Media Sweet Spot I decided to explore that fuzzy and oh-so-popular term, “The Cloud.” There are a ton of misconceptions out there about what a cloud is and can/can’t do, so I met with Partner and Vice President of DelCor, Brian Sheehan to discuss in advance of the live show.

My DelCor Sweet Spot guest later that week was Laurence Hart, CIO, The Global Community of Information Professionals (AIIM), and master tweeter @Piewords. While he wouldn’t let me in on the secret story behind his Twitter handle, he did answer a wide range of questions surrounding cloud computing.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

If you can’t view the Sweet Spot interview with Laurence (above), please just follow this link.