The theme for this year’s conference was “Spanning Silos, Building Bridges” which called speakers and presentations on the topics of collaboration, project management and customers’ journey.
The conference was conveniently located in Croke Park Conference Center, at the famous Dublin stadium. The stadium can hold over 80,000 fans and hosts the most important Gaelic games, such as hurling and Gaelic football. The light and settings were excellent and the conference team as amiable and competent as ever.
The conference not only lasted three days but also spanned over four tracks: Spanning Silos, Building Bridges; Content Strategy & User Experience; Case Studies & Tribal Knowledge; Thought Leadership. A live streaming track provided a good overview to those who registered for free to the virtual conference.
Games at the Fore: Jeopardy Booth and Snakes & Ladder Workshop
However, the games did not stay in the field this year as Dawn and Brianna Stevens from Comtech Services designed a “Jeopardy” booth to test your expertise on DITA and trivia. Attendees and vendors tried to collect them all! The questions were drawn from the DITA specifications, spanning metadata, reuse, maps and attributes, with a touch of the history of the standard.
With over 30 participants, the Snakes and Ladders workshop (presented by yours truly) was very successful this year. By introducing games, asking people to team up and present the result of their discussions and plans, the workshop provided an excellent ice-breaker to all the attendees present. This year project challenge was focussed on subject matter experts’ collaboration.
“The Snakes and Ladders Workshop was one of the most interactive and beneficial sessions!”, according to a LavaCon attendee.
Technical Content IS a Business Asset – and Should be Treated Accordingly
Overall, the technical content was promoted as very beneficial to organizations in many talks during these three days.
Andrea Ames, keynote presenter, introduced herself not as a Senior Content Designer at IBM, but rather as a person “who solves business issues”. She advised the audience to present technical content as a presales activity. Her most (re)tweeted slides read: “Using technical content is the 2nd most important presales activity for technology buyers.”
Irina Pashina from SAP, made the case that content should be treated as a business asset by defining its a) purpose, b) audience and c) impact.
Bruno Fraissinède from FluidTopics, went further by explaining that the organization’s technical content could - or really, should - even become a strategic asset.
In the meantime, Marie Girard and Peter Gilliver, both from IBM, presented how to map your customers’ experience with content…
With all these repeats, there could be now no doubt left in the minds of the attendees that technical content is indeed an asset for any organization!
Curation Versus Content Overload and New Skills to Pick-up
Stephen Walsh’s keynote presentations stressed that to overcome the tsunami of content published every day, the need for filters, taxonomy and relevant content curation were of the utmost importance. Ultimately, quality, curated and relevant content requires human minds. And skills. Co-founder of the Anders Pink agency based in Ireland, Stephan demonstrated how it is possible to mashup and create curated content based on the LavaCon community.
Handle DITA Content in your CMS as Merchandise on the Conveyor Belts
Megan Gilhooly, a Senior Content Manager at Amazon, presented three aspects of content craft and delivery that content professionals need to rethink. Her keynote underlined that the time spent to only transition content between phases in the development life-cycle was a huge waste of time. She estimates that up to 6 weeks could be wasted on a 3-month cycle. She mentioned that the component content management systems (CCMS) can act as huge conveyor belts, to simplify and specialize contributors’ work during the content creation and curation processes.
Design Thinking – a Practical Workshop to Bind Us All
The final workshop on the afternoon of the last day included practical design thinking exercises. Each group got to work on conference personas, tackle one issue, create solutions and design a journey for a selected solution. The workshop was very well attended and very effective for collaboration and creative thinking. A big thank you to the team at IBM for accompanying us and showing us how this can be easily achieved!
LavaCon 2017 was indeed an excellent conference and Jack Molisani and his crew made an excellent job, covering both thought-provoking presentations and fun social activities in the lively city of Dublin.
Thank you all for reading this far and see you next year in Ireland!
Missed out Dublin? Experience @LavaCon in Portland, Oregon and meet the IXIASOFT team 6-8 November.