October 10, 2004

I have decided to try to blog my experience at Training Fall. I arrived in San Francisco last night about 7:30pm local time after a day long journey from Wheeler Fork (my home in West Virginia). It has already been an interesting experience. I am writing this blog from the Apple Store in Downtown SF. As my teenage friends from church would say... coolioso!

My flights were uneventful, however, I did pay $6 to get wireless access for my layover in Minnesoto. I was able to respond to my emails, check in with the online version of the conference, and review the conference schedule.

My shuttle driver from the airport to the hotel was obnoxious and crude.... He felt compelled to detour from the direct path to the hotel to show me where the transsexual activity was most active downtown. I started to miss home a little bit more just then...

The hotel is cool, a bit far from the Moscone Center, but I was lucky to be this close having registered so late for the conference. Because of the time difference, I was up early and decided to walk to the Moscone Center to determine how much time I would need tomorrow to get the the conference on time. My timing was thrown off when I stopped for lunch (9am local time) at Starbucks. My new drink is Jones Rootbeer, we have it at Panera Bread back in WV.

I made it to the conference center and registration was open so I checked in and got my ID badge and bag. I walked into the Expo area were the companies were setting up for the show. After being able to recognize a few companies that I am familiar with the security guy came back and asked to see my badge. Then he informed me that the area was off limites to me. Oh well.... He said the Cyber Cafe was open so I went to it and checked my email and got directions from the Moscone Center to the Apple store.

There was a line outside of the Apple Store at 10:40am because the store didn't open until 11am. By 10:55 I was in it. While waiting in line a young girl came up tot he guy next to me and thanked him for speaking at her college and indicted she appreciated him taking the time to do it.... I was trying to determine if he was famous... I don't know. Once inside, I set through an IPod presentation. Apple does marketing and branding sooo good. It has inspired me to do better with our marketing message at the office. (This is the same feeling I get when we go to Disney). I want an IPod, but I have an IPac so I really can't justify the expense.

I feel that if we could incorporate this type of consistent marketing into our content development efforts it would improve the effectiveness of our training. Which is an obvious statement, but we often just don't follow through to the level of industry leaders of Apple, Disney, and the like... I am often also amazed with the simplicity... itunes, imac, italk, ipod, on and on.... We have Information Research Corporation, IRC Learning, SP Learning Platform, .... We need to keep it simple. (stupid) Although we don't say stupid at our house because we have a 6 and 3 year old.

I am very excited about attendng the conference. I have been following Jay and Workflow Learning since he started blogging about it. I am trying to apply the concepts to our projects and consider what types of changes we should make now to put us in a better position for the markets of tomorrow. It seems to be a fairly challenging task.

I often ask my clients, "What do you want to get out of this?", "What would make you say, Wow, that was awsome!" For the conference to be a success for me, I would like to have a better grasp for what it takes to serve the commercial training market, what do the companies want from elearning providers, and how can IRC differentiate ourselves. The last one, may be the most important. I hope that we can figure out a way to serve the training industry as a niche or even a micro-niche service provider. This seems obvous to anyone in business, but I often struggle with the challege of building on our past experiences and focusing our services to a few that we can do well. For me to say Wow, that was awsome!... I would have to build a relationship(s) with people in the industry that I could activly engage with and to actually meet a company who wanted IRC to help them with their elearning project.

Our past and current projects are almost exclusively in the Federal Government Marketplace. While, it seems appropriate to grow these areas, the risk is in the changing political environment and the slow growth rate. Budget cycles and procurement processes drive up the cost of customer aquistion. Although I am sure there is a list like this in the commercial world.... I am suffering from the grass is always greener syndrome.

Well, there is a line here to use the IMacs to get online (notice I didn't say computers, great marketing)... better run. I'll share more throughout the next three days. Let me know what you think if your reading this... Lee

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