COFES 2009 Day 2

COFES 2009 day 2 was just as busy as the first day but the small sessions were a bit longer and much more intense.  Day 1 was littered with analyst briefings but day 2 was all about the round-table discussions/arguments...well at least one but I will get to that later.

The day started early and I got caught in a bit of traffic on the way in so I missed the first 10 minutes of the keynote.  Nonetheless, the day was again, packed with information, statistics and lots and lots of geek speak!

Day 2 - Keynote

Dr. Joel Orr kicked off the session with his talk, "Remembering the Future" which began with a brief history and background on his journey.  Computers and COMPAT, Nashville and Mapping, CG77, Computer Graphics Magazine, NCGA...and got right into "Chunking"!  Joel explained that "Chunking" was a way to think about topics and best utilize your short term memory.

I had the pleasure of talking with Joel by the pool on Thursday night about all things Twitter and other interesting Internet technologies.  To say that Joel is a passionate guy who loves technology would be an understatement!  This brief introduction gave me some insight when the keynote got into Joel's Facebook group called "Joel's Book-Writing Mastermind" and also about his Blog Joel Orr Coaching.  Joel then proceeded to the "coaching" chair and said, "There is a book inside of each of you and I'm there to catch it when it comes out!" He continued by talking about "Rhythms" like Moore's Law, human life rhythms as well as harmonious/disharmonious rhythms.  He asked everyone to work on themselves, instructing us to each write a book, focus on what's right, don't fear the new - nor embrace it because it is new and consider becoming a entrepreneur.  Inspiring words from an inspirational person!  He finished by saying, "I love you guys!...and it's going to be alright!"

Peter Marks then took the stage and continued the stimulating discussion with a topic called "BlindSpotting".  This portion of the keynote was designed to assist in changing our perceptions by explaining how 1% of our minds are conscious and 99% are unconscious bias.  He talked about a great example of this called the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.  Due to this bias our perceptions are altered, ultimately effecting the future.  Peter continued by outlining 7 ideas to consider:

  1. Recognize our shared biases
  2. The news should contain: national, local, weather, ______ , sports (missing is engineering news!)
  3. Make $$$ predictions for the future (technology, products, features, ease of use....etc)
  4. Become a voice of confidence
  5. Belief and attention maps and metrics
  6. Killer apps (belief and attention management tools)
  7. Innovating everywhere

Peter concluded with one sharp point..."Twitter is the CB radio of today. Our ability to filter is key!"

While leaving the keynote I ran into Jon Hirschtick and Roopinder Tara (TenLinks) and we chatted a bit about running Windows on a Mac, using Bootcamp, VMWare Fusion among other tools. It is nice to see I am not the only one!

Day 2 - Round-table - Is Direct Modeling the Interoperability "Holy Grail?"

I wanted to get my ear into a deep discussion about direct modeling since it is a topic that continues to surface with the question about interoperability.  Little did I know that I was walking into the CAD architects death match!  The roundtable was packed and had participants like Mike Payne (You know..PTC, SW, and SpaceClaim), Blake Courter (SpaceClaim Co-Founder), David Prawel (LongView Advisors), Rick Stavanja (CadWire), Evan Yares (Purecor) and Paul Stallings (Kubotek) to name a few (more in the room than I mentioned).

The conversation started off when Paul sat down and said that "direct modeling started 20 years ago" and commended Mike for the direction of SpaceClaim.  The rest of the conversation was mostly about the history of starting these technologies "back in the day" and the challenges they ran into back then. The conversation got interesting when Evan said, "Direct Modelers exist because the companies that produce them can't do history based modelers for sh#$!"  That's when Blake said, "Your right, Evan, Mike and I stared a company because we thought we couldn't build a history based moder for sh#!"  It was all in good fun and even Rick Stavanja said that in 9 years of attending COFES, this was one of the best round-tables ever!  It was intense but I enjoyed the history lesson and some of the reasons this type of technology is key to our future in CAD.

Day 2 - Round-table - Leveraging Gaming and Social Networking in Business

This was the second social media topic of the event and I was, again interested to hear how these new technologies would be either embraced or ignored by the panel.  The topic was obviously an important one since the room was packed and it was standing room only.

The conversation started with a table consensus of what everyone believed the most power social network tool was.  Many of the popular were suggested, Facebook, Twitter, RSS, Email, Phone, IM, xBox, Skype and LinkedIn.  One major point that was agreed upon was the fact that these services give you an audience that you would not have access to otherwise.

The topic then switched to how meeting technologies could be improved with virtual reality like Second Life (SL) and World of Warcraft (WoW).  Developing technologies like GoToMeeting / WebEX up to the next level and interact in a virtual space with audio and avatars was interesting.  I know some of that is possible now but not highly adopted..yet.

The session broke with one final question, "If you had to pick one, which social network would you pick?" I thought this was an odd question since you don't have to pick.  That is the beauty of having all these tools available.  Choice allows us to use the tools we want when we need them.  After much banter back and forth, one guy in the back said, "FAX MACHINE!" and we all laughed and called it quits!

Day 2 - CONGRESS - The Business of Design and Engineering: It's the Economy, Stupid!

This was the actual "Congress" session which is a forum for all the vendors to listen to suggestions from user participants to explain what they would like to see in future software tools.  I was interested to see how this session would be conducted compared to the others I had attended at the conference thus far.

The session began with a joint survey of Tech Clarity and Cyon Research about engineering software which primarily focused on the impact of the economy on companies as well as the market and what the outlook would be.  The details are on the live-blog but the jest of it was we have some challenges ahead and most believe that it will recover in the 2 to 3 year time frame.  Brad Holtz explained that the good news is this is a great time for companies to retool and jump forward on engineering and IT projects in hopes to gain a strategic advantage over their competition.

Peter Marks then took the floor, asking customers "What can we do to help?" The user participants wanted to see more robust tools with more complete APIs as well as better ways to collaborate and make their existing teams more productive.

While theories as to why the economy was in it's current state were being discussed, one user raises his hand, stands up, taking the mic and says, "The only thing that is for sure is nobody in this room has a clue!"  As the applause and laughter died down, Jack Ring of Cyon Research stands up and concludes, "The engine of sitting in this room."  Jack is exactly right! This is a tremendous opportunity for the engineering community to make a huge difference in our future! And with that, the Congress session ajourned and it was off to have cocktails and dinner while the conversation continued on into the night.

For me, one thing was for certain, COFES 2009 was one of the best conferences I have attended in my engineering career!  The conference stands alone because it is truly "All Hallways" and all about the conversation that starts on Thursday and ends on Sunday.  I enjoyed every minute of it and hope to be a part of COFES2010! ~Lou