Thursday, October 3, 2013

Build IT Together Detroit Wrap Up

Thank you to all who joined us at Grand Circus in Detroit for Build IT Together on October 1, 2013. We're happy to say it was a success with over 20 different companies' CIOs, and Technology Directors coming together to share experiences and collaborate on emerging trends and ever present needs. Congratulations to Eric Spicer, of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, and Jeff Schefke, of City of Oak Park, who won themselves a Nexus 7 tablet and Samsung 303 Chromebook, respectively. We have already received great feedback and look forward to being involved with future collaboration events.

Philip MacKethan of
University Liggett School testing Google Glass
We all gathered at Grand Circus early Tuesday morning and were able to experience brand new technology including Google Glass & a Double Robotics robot. It was fun to see attendees' reactions to wearing Google Glass, trying out the voice commands and hear the discussions about use-cases for the new form factor. Many discussed practical applications of the device in their environment, from streaming technical specs and hands-free information look-up to training videos for new employees. When it came to the Double robot, the ability to interact with a space and group over long distances seemed to be the most valuable feature.

Getting to Know Each Other

Build IT Together opened with a unique survey allowing attendees to anonymously compare their current IT environment to the rest of the group. This allowed everyone to reflect on areas of improvement, while simultaneously providing connections to others at the event with which to network and learn from. Those in small companies were able to compare their current setup with that of a mid-sized company and glean insights for how to scale. Larger companies were able to see what helped smaller companies remain nimble.

Technology Infrastructure Benchmarking

We're building an IT Assessment Tool to help your organization benchmark your technology infrastructure against industry trends.

Sessions & Take-a-ways

Breakout sessions were available in 4 topic areas including: data backup & business continuity, helpdesk, mobility & collaboration, and change management. Below are some of the highlights.

Anytime Anywhere

  • The demand for mobile technology and collaboration tools is so great that when IT departments don’t give them company tools many end-users use their own, putting company data at risk from both security and ownership standpoints.
  • Google Apps for Business was highlighted as a tool that many attendees’ organizations have found success with while Office365 and Vibe were mentioned as potential alternatives.
  • With the paradigm shift in tools and functionality from personal productivity to team productivity, change management and solid training curriculum, particularly for older end-users, are essential for good adoptions rates.

Beyond Backup

  • Randy James from Greenleaf Hospitality Group provided some insight into the decision-making process he went through when moving to a tapeless backup solution with replication to the cloud
  • Many attendees had questions about specific implementation points, including bandwidth throttling, hardware configurations, Disaster Recovery scenarios and data classification
  • It was noted that upwards of 60% of business data now resides on laptops, of which 30% are stolen, lost or damaged every year
  • Long-term, the feeling in the room was that other cloud-based services would reduce the exposure to data loss and that only mission-critical and data-intensive applications would remain local to businesses

Change is Hard

  • Managing expectations of the Executive team and explaining the change management plan for a project is a best practice and worth the extra effort, increasing strategic thinking about the benefits of the new technology and ensuring training for staff during adoption is budgeted for.
  • Utilize the early adopters within your staff from many departments to vet new technology is very helpful for smooth rollouts. They will be social champions when the roll-out occurs as well as training agents for co-workers within their team.

Helpdesk Panel

Daniel Jefferies leads the helpdesk panel including
Brian Miller of Davenport University,
Michael Cross of Greenleaf Hospitality Group, and
Hans Erickson of Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Measurement is key. Tracking time to close of support tickets as well as number of tickets closed on first call are most important data points in tracking improvements and creating a great opinion of the helpdesk among end-users.
  • Optimizing helpdesk personnel by hiring for attitude and training for aptitude is a best practice.
  • Investing in helpdesk personnel training to ensure a majority can close any ticket, regardless of complexity, on the first call is better than having a more traditional L1, L2, L3 tiering structure in securing praise and satisfaction from end-users.
  • When there is a high opinion of the helpdesk within an organization the entire IT department benefits from higher user satisfaction, supported and increased access to budget resources.


Build IT Together was a great experience and we look forward to being involved in other collaboration events. There were plenty of great ideas shared, techniques, and strategies. More than we can put into this wrap-up article. Please share your favorite moments & ideas you found valuable below.