My Interop Journey
Romi Mahajan, CMRO Quantarium
With Interop coming up in a month, I wanted to reflect on the event- its past and present.
I’ve been a votary, fan, customer and partner of Interop for decades now. I’ve also been lucky enough to be an Advisor for the past 6 years. I’m found my role – howsoever small- in Interop to be one of the richest and most rewarding of my professional experiences each year.
For the past 22 years, I’ve worked in the Silicon Universe- mostly as a Marketer but also as a sales leader, product helper, partnership developer, strategic advisor, Board Member, and consumer. In each of these incarnations, I’ve learned a lot from Interop- from the community, the content, and the commerce that is generated.
Themes and emphases have changed. In 2007 and 2008, I worked for Microsoft and we set out to show IT Pros and Developers that Microsoft was a good partner who was seeking their feedback in product development and design. We also wanted to make it clear that Microsoft existed in large part because of and in support of their efforts. During those years, my contribution to Interop had nothing to do with products or solution but instead with the generation of goodwill and stewardship for the community.
Some years later, I was at Interop looking to develop business for a startup I was lucky enough to be CMO for. A year after that, on behalf of a client, I was there to help coach IT teams how best to communicate with the “business side” of the house in order to gain a mutual understanding and to stop the recriminations between the two sides. Hugely diverse roles but all found homes in Interop.
This year, I am lucky to wear multiple hats. I’ve been able to convene an entire track on AI and Data, wherein we’ll have some incredible presentations looking to cut through the noise and offer real and practical information and skill development on these popular subjects. Here is one example, where we’ll feature Kathy Visser-May of SAP, Samir Saluja of Ahrian, and Cal Escue of Akvelon, all leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of the trade.
I also have the pleasure of running two panels and a “birds of a feather” session on the emerging area of Fintech, where we’ll be discussing Cloud-Native Fintech solutions, AssetTech, and the evolution of Payments. Indeed, all of this will be done under the Interop umbrella. These Fintech sessions can be found here and here. It’s exciting to be able to work with folks like Pulak Sinha of Pepper, Danielle Funston of Sentinel Compliance Group, Dharmesh Godha of Advaiya, Khadija Mustafa of Microsoft, John Thomas of Zact, Sarah Wheeler of HousingWire, and Syed Hussein of Liquidity Digital.
Only Interop can bring together such a gallery of eminent technologists and innovators. As always, I look forward to the discussions and the creation of new professional and personal bonds, even though this year’s event is virtual.
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A Letter From the GM
What makes Interop so special is its community. Over the past 35+ years, we've enjoyed bringing the IT community together through face-to-face events and all that goes with in person gatherings: handshakes, warm hugs (remember those?), hands-on learning environments, packed keynotes and Vegas parties are a few things that come to mind from Interops of the past. While we're seeing early signs of cities opening up from COVID-19, we're not ready to risk bringing this community together in person. This is a disappointment for all of us––however, there is also optimism and opportunity as we re-imagine Interop for the digital space.
We've researched countless platforms, brainstormed program possibilities with speakers and review board members, and have participated in dozens of virtual events to experience them first-hand as attendees so we can produce the type of event that meets your (and our) high expectations. With each, we've grown more and more excited. In some ways, the opportunities are endless. At a live event, we've been bound by the physical four walls of the venue and the constraints of involving those that could travel to the event. In a digital world, we're free from those barriers.
- All the Content. Why choose?! At a live event, you can only attend one session at a time. Same is true in a digital world. But, we'll record much of our content and make it available for ongoing learning after the event.
- Optimized and Targeted Networking. Want to find IT directors in the healthcare space to get advice on a problem you’re having? No need to hunt around a cocktail party awkwardly staring at someone's badge to quickly suss out if they’ll be able to help you. Our platform will allow you to easily find and reach out to other attendees in a frictionless way to "chat" informally or to schedule a video meeting.
- Personalization: Demos and Tools on Your Timetable. At some events, you're relegated to strict expo hall hours, and end up rushing from booth to booth to see quick demos and get your badge scanned before content sessions start back up. In a digital world, we won't be restricted. Our platform will open weeks before the "live" event to allow attendees and exhibitors to schedule meetings in the weeks leading up to, during and after the event. Don't get a 2-minute lightning demo with 10 other attendees. Get specific questions answered that you have regarding your technology stack.
- Limitless Birds of a Feather Sessions, Small Group Discussions and Affinity Groups. OK, maybe not limitless, but pretty darn close. In the physical world, we have x number of rooms available at x number of times. We do the best we can to plan for discussions that are of interest, but *you* know best. With a digital environment, we can easily poll to find out which topics will be of interest to attendees––and schedule for all of those that have significant interest. Last year we piloted a very well received Community Connections program bringing together attendees in the government, healthcare and finance spaces for facilitated discussions and networking. We can offer many more of those in a digital world––only held back by demonstrated interest. In other words, if enough of you raise your hand for something––we'll make it happen!
These are just a few highlights that we're excited will be improved experiences via Interop Digital. We almost look at this as a "build your own adventure" Interop. We'll provide the foundation -- bringing together our passionate community, providing the great content you've known to trust along with expert speakers, and the vendor community. Then, the tools will be in your hands to build your own Best of Interop.