Mission Critical

So I had to bail from the AAM Annual conference in Minneapolis early. I had committed to a gaggle of sessions (I’m just a guy who can’t say no) that I had to extricate myself from. However, I found some technology that allowed me to participate asynchronously.

I came across this service a month or so ago called Present.me. Upload a PowerPoint, PDF, Doc, etc and capture yourself giving a presentation with it. Its about time someone figured out how to solve this problem – I’ve tried to Skype-present but it doesn’t work, based largely on the fact that nobody seems to understand bandwidth requirements these days – particularly the hotel I stayed in which charged me $13.95 for 24 hours of “premium” wifi. It wasn’t. They should spend less money on that daughter of theirs and more money on hotel technology infrastructure.

The first time I created a presentme, the plugin crashed and I lost my “word-perfect” presentation. But given that I actually hadn’t paid anything at that point, I was only marginally annoyed and duly submitted an email to tech support. About a minute later I got an email back from the founder of the company saying they would fix the problem straight away. Clearly, they’re a tech startup. The company is based in the UK (huzzah!) and they were true to their word, which was stirling as it was about 3 am in the UK. As I found bugs or issues (not all down to end-user error) the founder would duly inform me that his “boys were on it”. Again, he, and they, were true to his word.

The value of a technology service provider is as much about the strength of their product, as it is about what they do when their technology works, as it is about what they do when it doesn’t work: acknowledge it, fix it. I am now a self-proclaimed presentmeist.

In this blog, which I suppose is really a vlog, I thought I’d showcase the present.me technology and share my submission to Jack Ludden’s session How to Pitch Technology to Your Board: Strategy to Implementation. Its a pitch for technology investment, to move away from piecemeal technology funding to ongoing operational technology investment, maintenance and support. Boards are bored most of the time and like big ideas to grasp onto. Ideas and thoughts that will give them something to talk about at the food and drink reception that invariably follows the meeting. So my pitch is less about numbers and more about some compelling reasons to invest and permanently align budget to support technology infrastructure and methods of engagement that depend on it.

Boards need to be shepherded to particular places in a way that doesn’t reveal the sheepdog. Getting them to sign off on the principle of committing to ongoing (and increasing) operational funding is more important than presenting a hard number for them to vote on.

In this presentme I use a quote from Nick Serota, Director of Tate, which I’ve quoted a number of times when trying to help folks understand the paradigm shift we are facing and why this stuff is mission critical. Its always a good strategy to find a “name” to plead your case on your behalf:

“the future of the museum may be rooted in the buildings they occupy but it will address audiences across the world – a place where people across the world will have a conversation. Those institutions which take up this notion fastest and furthest will be the ones which have the authority in the future.”

“the growing challenge is to … encourage curatorial teams to work in the online world as much as they do in the galleries.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate.

A couple of months ago, my director and president sent out a similar call to action to the address the issue that our online audiences are not second-class visitors and more importantly, it is incumbent upon everyone to begin weaving this into their daily job:

“… it is imperative that we constantly strive to do more and to do it better. This is especially true in digital technology where innovation is the key to success. Providing online access to the Getty’s collections, research, scholarship, and databases must be a priority for every department and program at the Getty. Technology can deepen our visitors’ understanding of and engagement with art and cultural heritage—whether before, during, or after a visit to the Getty, or during a visit that takes place entirely online. I am committed to helping the Getty provide richer online content for our collection, use the latest technology tools to make the work we do accessible to a larger audience, and provide online visitors a portal to a fuller, deeper experience across the web.”

Jim Cuno. President, J. Paul Getty Trust. Communication to staff, February 1st, 2012

At least for me, my imaginary board pitch is not required. The man in charge here “gets it” and supports investment in these initiatives wholesale. My only problem is having to deliver – no pressure then.

I’ve been Nik Honeysett. I’m on a mission. Thanks for watching.

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