Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 BDPA Conference Review by Alphonse Porter (Atlanta)

2012 National BDPA Conference:
A Rookie’s Experience

Alphonse Porter
A lot of time has passed since the last time I went to a conference. But years ago, I attended a conference multiple times a year. This year I decided to attend the annual National BDPA Technology Conference for the first time ever. Baltimore was the host city this year, with the conference being held at the beautiful Hilton Baltimore, located across the street from the historic Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles.

The opening presentation was given by Wal-Mart senior vice president of IT strategic services Ben Hasan. Mr. Hasan had a very inspirational story. He dropped out of college and was raising a family. Hasan was being generous to a friend and was helping her with school. As a result of his generosity, the friend decided to help Hasan return to college. Mr. Hasan is now a leading executive with Wal-Mart.

Tom Hempfield
The second morning session was a presentation of “How Emerging Technology is Changing the World” by HP executive Tom Hempfield. The interesting concept regarding this presentation was how servers are used differently. There is so much data being created, minute by minute, that speed and a large space are essential in today’s world. Being able to use multiple servers gives IT professionals the ability to effectively analyze that data. This gives companies the benefit of being able to predict trends in market area. This concept is often called “Big Data”. After these wonderful presentations, it was time for lunch.

The afternoon session kept up the momentum of interesting presentations. The first presentation was 'Word Press: Not Just for Blogging Anymore'. My thoughts prior to this presentation were that Word Press was mainly for blogging websites. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Word Press can be used to develop a technology advanced website. A huge selling point with developing in Word Press is that there are plugins that enhances the website dramatically. The features available with Word Press are beyond amazing.

The second workshop that I attended in the afternoon was 'Managing Your Digital Footprint'. The main idea behind this workshop was that by managing your digital footprint, you can secure yourself in the digital world. This workshop did a great job of scaring me into paranoia. It opened my eyes to the fact that nothing really is safe. You still have to be proactive with your security.

During the evening, everyone was invited to meet the National BDPA Leadership Team. The Leadership team was very accommodating and welcoming. Everyone was also very encouraging when discussing technical skills and careers. The first day definitely had a lasting impression.

The second day started off with a demo of 'Creating Visualizations with the Google API' by Yolanda Davis. This workshop stood out because the attendees were actually able to program. All you heard throughout half of the workshop was the pressing of keys. The workshop was very interactive. I hope this type of workshop happens at every conference.

The next workshop I attended was 'Mobile-First Responsive Web Design' by Rudy Duke. This workshop focused on emerging technology. Mr. Duke did another wonderful job explaining that web design has changed. In the past, websites were seen on monitors; however, that has changed with the increasing popularity of smart phones and tablets. If you’re planning a website you have to cater to these mobile devices. I’m thankful I attended both of Mr. Duke’s workshops. I will definitely use his ideas for future web development.

Another workshop I attended called 'Does IT Certification Matter?' addressed an issue I had been wrestling with for the past couple of years. The panel consisted of three experts in the field of Program Management. They gave very passionate arguments on both sides of the issue. I actually can understand both sides, but I do agree with the side that certifications do matter. The reason being is that there are times that a HR rep will require a certification and not having a certification, will limit your options.

2012 HSCC Champions
The banquet was magnificent. There were some great speakers, but what stood out to me were the High School Computer Competition kids. These kids were very impressive. All of the kids were very competitive and bright. I wish I would have had the same type of contest available to me in high school. The skills the kids are learning will help them to not only do well in college, but look enticing to any IT company’s internship programs. Everyone was on pins and needles waiting to find out who won the competition. I’m pleased to say that Atlanta’s chapter won for the first time ever in history of the competition. The kids received scholarship money, as well as, brand new laptops.

I had a great time at the national conference. The workshops and networking opportunities were topnotch. I encourage everyone to attend this conference to advance their professional development. I definitely plan on being in Washington, D.C. in 2013.

Alphonse Porter, VP-Technology
BDPA Atlanta Chapter

No comments: