More than 100 employees attended our company’s 8th Annual CampIO conference to swap tips on tech trends and innovation.

Centric’s eighth annual CampIO kicked the company’s summer meeting off with a technological feast on August 17 in Cleveland, serving up everything from Raspberry Pi, to a slice of Kotlin code, to homemade beer brewed with help from Tableau.

More than 100 employees joined to watch colleagues present on 16 different tech topics that could help pave the way for innovation.

National Cloud Services Lead and Senior Architect William “Bill” Klos launched the internal tech conference in 2010 as an outlet for consultants to convene and share insights on new and exciting technology that they weren’t necessarily working on at client sites.

“As always, I come away with a heightened sense of how much we can learn from each other by simply taking the time to hang for a bit, show off our passions, and share experiences,” said Bill, who masterminded the conference in partnership with Vice President and Technology Solutions Practice Leader Mike Brannan.

While the format of CampIO — a day of tech presentations preceding the company’s annual summer meeting — hasn’t changed much since that first day in 2010, the amount of presentations has increased and the audience now represents a wider cross-section of the company.

For that reason, more “technology and human interest” topics are covered, from which all employees – technologists and non-technologists alike – can benefit.

Erynn Truex, Client Satisfaction and Delivery Analyst, said the conference “is a way to share knowledge, resources, get to know one another, and talk about industry trends we see coming down the pike.”

Talking Tech Trends

This year featured 16 presentations, all spanning 20 minutes in length:

Kids Can Build Rockets Too! 

A group of Cincinnati sixth and seventh graders reflected on the challenges and successes they experienced during their summer-long project building a model rocket capable of reaching 500-plus feet. They used Arduino programming and data analysis to record telemetries such as altitude, the force of acceleration on three axes, temperature, and gyroscopic readings.

What You Need to Know About Blockchain

Senior Architect Shawn Wallace touched on the current media interest in the worldwide digital payment system Bitcoin, and how the company uses blockchain based systems to keep financial exchanges secure.

Labradors Eat Too Fast – Solving Real-World Problems using Arduino

Does your dog ever wolf down so fast he forgets to breathe? iOS Consultant and Designer Graham Savage presented a slow-eating solution of programming an Arduino to control a cereal dispenser.

Slice of Kotlin

Consultant Soumya Nayak described the benefits of using Kotlin, a new typed programming language for modern multiplatform applications. With features such as null safety, extension functions, concise syntax, and data classes, Kotlin is often a preferable coding choice over Java.

Don’t Break My Heart: Security, Privacy, and You

As the Internet becomes more accessible, and cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated, Senior Consultant Dusty VonHandorf pointed out common security vulnerabilities everybody has (such as social media and email) and suggested ways to mitigate risk.

Azure a Boon for Startups

Senior Architect Amanpreet Singh discussed a project for a start-up client that involved the development and deployment of a minimal viable product with less IT infrastructure investment and easy scalability.  Microsoft Azure, the cloud-computing software, was used to achieve this goal quickly with little infrastructure investments.

Beer Goggles: Turning Brewery Data Into Drinking Insights

Operations Analyst Katie LaFollette reflected on using data visualization with drill-down capabilities in Tableau to tell a story about brewing beer at home She collected tags and data her beer-brewing husband uploaded into the app Untappd, and created dashboards to portray which homemade beers were best.

Book Me a Room, Chuck!

Architects Bruce Smith, Brian Starr, and Kevin Shaffer presented a solution to the common of the dilemma of being unable to book a conference room because it is “filled,” only to sneak by and see it empty. By using beacons, employees can check the beacons’ presence or absence against a calendar, allowing them to book or cancel reservations in real time.  

Empowering Non-Technical Experts

Oftentimes, technical projects and tasks require extensive business knowledge that a programmer might not have. This means longer, and more expensive onboarding processes for new clients. In this presentation, architect Jeremy Gruenwald explained a way to simplify the process, which incorporates technical, process and change management disciplines.

Ethics in Technology

As technology advances rapidly, so should the ethical conversations surrounding it. For instance, many companies don’t realize that a customer’s ability to opt out isn’t as clear as it is perhaps intended to be. By starting a conversation about the ethics of creating/implementing certain technologies, Business Consultant Manish Gupta shared insight regarding the question, “Just because we can do something, should we do it?”

Smart Staffing: Rainbows & Kittens to Reality

Last year, Talent Acquisition Lead Carmen Fontana and Architect John Panzeca demonstrated how recruiting isn’t always just rainbows and kittens, and proposed an idea of using machine learning to help optimize recruitment efforts.  With the project underway this year, Carmen and John explained how machine learning and Azure can help companies find the best talent.

DIY Home Automation

Developer Britton Clapp showed how he turned his home into a 2017 version of Smart House by using Home Assistant to wire together a heterogeneous network of IoT devices. IoT can have a variety of unique, yet practical home applications. For instance, a star in Britton’s office tells him if it is raining or snowing outside. A heart in his bedroom can show if his children are out of bed when they should be sleeping.

Alexa, How’s the Surf

Mobility Architect Chris Martinez discussed how he programmed his Amazon Alexa Echo that he received for Christmas for personal use. By utilizing the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) function, Chris was able to tell Alexa that his favorite surf spot is Lake Worth, so that each time he asks her “how’s the surf?” she tells him the exact surf conditions at Lake Worth.

My Splunk Adventure

Developer Pat O’Malley offered his perspective on Splunk, a new model of Operational Intelligence. Splunk helped make machine data accessible, usable, and valuable for several Centric clients.

Pure Functional Programming

Software Architect Eric Galluzzo illustrated what it means to use pure functional programming in day-to-day coding. Functional data use functional techniques such as filters and maps, as well as mathematical functions, that makes it easier to write, rebug, and replicate.

How Random is Rand()

What appears to be random usually isn’t, and Software Development Consultant Michael Newman discussed how inaccuracy of the native random functions of excel and programming languages can be problematic for clients. The solution? Avoiding the gambler’s fallacy by testing these functions and providing quantifiable results for clients.

CampIO Is Cool

The audience kept abuzz on the new companywide social communication app, Bonfyre, sharing thoughts about the day and casting votes for the best presentations. Crowd favorites included “Kids Can Build Rockets Too,” “Beer Goggles,” and “Blockchain.”

“Rockets are cool, who doesn’t love rockets?” said sixth-grader David Schnitter, son of Mark Schnitter of the Cincinnati team.

Mobile Developer Michael McKinney enjoyed Katie LaFollette’s Beer Goggles presentation because of its real-world application to beer.

“While I’ve always had a lingering interest in data visualization, I’ve never seen it put in the context of something so near and dear to my own heart: delicious brews,” Michael said.

And while the slides of code and talks of programming Arduinos had non-technologists like Julie Schaffer of Shared Services feeling like “an alien whose right-brained spacecraft crash-landed in a universe far, far away,” everyone – from business consultants to marketing experts – learned a thing or two about each other.

“I’m a firm believer that the best teams have all-stars in a variety of areas, AND those all-stars appreciate the talents of the others on the team,” said Talent Acquisition Lead Carmen Fontana.

Looking Ahead

As we reflect on this year’s CampIO, Erynn said there is a lot to look forward to. Possibilities for next year include everything from hosting intensive training sessions to melding with the company’s summer meeting breakouts on Fridays – all signs that point to growth.

No matter what changes, there will always be one constant: a focus on technology and innovation.

“The changes over time are actually coming full circle as we discuss the format going forward, ever-evolving,” she said. “There are lots of exciting possibilities on the table, and I can’t wait to see which direction we go.”