During the Insight 2014 (formerly IOD) conference, attendees will be able to visit the new Smarter Support Zone. The Smarter Support Zone will be staffed by seasoned IBM Support Analysts ready to field your questions and to show off IBM software with hands-on workshops set up around the Zone.
Visitors to the Smarter Support Zone will be able to:
Experience the most current version of products from Business Analytics (BA), Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Information Management (IM) with self-paced, hands-on workshops created by IBM Support Analysts.
Speak one-on-one with IBM Support Analysts about their PMRs or other issues.
Learn more about Smarter Support process and tools.
Engage with Support & Services experts.
Learn how to stay in touch with Support.
Getting the Smarter Support Zone ready is a big task. There are many people behind the scenes making the preparations required to get the Smarter Support Zone up and running.
One of those people is Trevor Kirkland. Trevor's is a manager in Business Analytics Support and for the past couple of years he has also lead the team of support analysts who prepare the workshops for Business Analytics' signature conference, Insight.
Supportlink sat down with Trevor to see how the preparations were going for 2014.
Thanks for taking the time to meet with Supportlink, Trevor. Can you let our readers know what's new this year?
Well, the first big change is the name of the conference. What was once IOD is now Insight. So, that's new. But the other big news is that Business Analytics (BA) is joining forces with Information Management (IM) and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) to create the Smarter Support Zone.
That is good news. And how's it going so far with the workshops considering we've expanded?
It's exciting to bring the new technology into the workshops. We're working with our colleagues in IM and ECM to make sure we deliver a great learning experience for our Insight attendees. Our goal when creating these workshops is that they give you a chance to have a tangible experience with our software so that visitors can learn something - be it from tips and tricks to seeing some new features.
And what about the workshops? Any changes from last year?
Definitely. We're always re-evaluating the content from year-to-year so that it stays fresh. We look at how many times a workshop was run last year, and if the numbers don't justify it we don't bring it to Insight. What's most important is that we don't want to show something that people already know. We want to surprise and educate people!
How many workshops will there be this year?
The numbers are pretty much final for this year, but they can change. As of today, we have 35 workshops for Business Analytics, 12 for Information Management and 5 from Enterprise Content Management.
We had 36 workstation in the BA Hands on Lab last year. And this year, we are increasing the number to 50 laptops. That should be enough to accommodate all of the BA, IM and ECM attendees who visit the Smarter Support Zone even at the busiest of times.
Any other highlights?
What'll be new this year will be the TM1 Mobile and Cognos Mobile workshops - so they'll be some iPads on site.
Will Concert be in any of the workshops?
Hopefully we'll be able to show Concert this year. We weren't able to show Concert last year because it was released mid-conference so we had to keep the lid on it. There was a demand last year for Concert workshops after the big announcement, so now we'll be able to meet that demand.
What about having some time with Support Analysts? Are Support Analysts available to take questions?
We'll have 10 meeting rooms set up for meeting with our Support Analysts from BA, IM and ECM. These 30 minute meetings can be scheduled when you visit the Smarter Support Zone. So have your questions ready about PMRs, product functionality, or just about Support in general.
Also, if you have something that's reproducible on your laptop, bring it in! We'll be glad to have a look. If it's an enhancement or future functionality question, then we can bring you right over to the Product Manager as they are usually right on site waiting to help out.
What is your biggest challenge in getting ready for the Smarter Support Zone?
It's a technical issue. It's what we call the Reset App.
After a visitor goes through a workshop, the laptop needs to get ready for the next visitor. That means restarting services. We don't have time for a complete reboot of the laptop, so we've developed a Reset App that only restarts what's required to get ready for the next visitor. It's got to be quick, that's the main thing – there are people waiting. It doesn't sound like much, but it can get quite difficult, just ask any system administrator!
Have any advice to give to a Smarter Support Zone visitor?
Try everything. Especially the products that are new to you so that you can see functionality that you may not have seen to before. Work at your own pace and, don't worry, we have the experts to help right there on the floor.
Thanks to Trevor Kirkland for providing some insight on the new Smarter Support Zone. Watch for more on Smarter Support here on the Supportlink blog as well as follow @basupp on Twitter and IBM SPSS Software and/or IBM Cognos Software on Facebook. We're looking forward to seeing our Supportlink readers at Insight 2014. Haven't registered yet – don't wait – register today!