We’re kicking off a blog series about CampIO — a hackathon of sorts for our technologists — by sharing a few of the reasons the event holds such a place in the hearts of our employees.
Part of our CampIO 2020 series.
Summertime always reminds me of certain memories and images. Whether it’s that one summer where I learned how to surf or the friends you made at sleep away camp, we all have fond memories of summer. For technologists at Centric Consulting, summertime also has special meaning, for this is when we hold our annual gathering of technologists called CampIO.
The event usually coincides with our Summer Meeting, when all of Centric’s employees meet in person to review annual imperatives, business results, and generally have a good time. Explaining CampIO to people outside of our company invariably draws comparisons to a hackathon. But for me, CampIO is more than that.
It’s a rock concert for nerds, a chance to share ideas in a low-pressure forum, a place to learn what other technologists are paying attention to, and so much more. Maybe, a better way to describe CampIO is to share the things I love about CampIO in a blog.
Top Five Things I Love About CampIO
1. It’s like a rock concert for nerds.
If you’ve never been to Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) or Amazon Web Service’s re:Invent or Salesforce’s Dreamforce or any similar developer conferences, imagine a room full of technologists, all gathered to hear about the latest technology trends. While CampIO doesn’t have anywhere near the size in terms of attendance as the conferences I listed above, the vibe is the same. It’s something that Centric technologists look forward to every year.
2. We Get to try new technologies in a low-pressure forum.
Like a hackathon, most of the projects at CampIO are not polished. Heck, most are barely proofs-of-concepts (POCs), but that is by design. CampIO is a forum to try new technologies without the pressure of having a fully functional app or system working.
Furthermore, a lot of the projects you see at CampIO are technologies we typically see in our normal client projects. I mean, not many clients are asking us to build a Lego block exchange application (a past winner at CampIO). But, while no client is asking for a Lego block exchange application, the journey of building such an application is far more valuable than the destination. We find many of our investigations morph into real solutions that benefit our clients.
3. We learn what other technologists are following.
A lot of the buzz around CampIO revolves around finding out what your fellow technologists have been working on since last year’s CampIO. Several of our “campers” have built a reputation around being innovative, creative, and frankly, brilliant with their CampIO projects. Rarely do I leave the event without at least one or two topics I want to follow up on. This is also by design. CampIO is a great way to expose our technologists to new ideas and ways of solving complex problems while at the same time having some fun.
4. It reinforces our unique culture.
Centric’s unique culture is a main pillar of the company. We have been a remote workforce from day one, and the Summer Meeting is one of the few opportunities we usually get to all be in the same place for a couple of days. CampIO reinforces this culture by setting aside a whole day for us technologists to gather in our unique way. Conversations throughout the day are a mix of talking shop, catching up on family events, reminiscing about past CampIO speakers, and generally enjoying the chance to spend time together outside of our normal work environments.
5. We get to do a live demo.
One of the unwritten rules about CampIO is the live demo. Speakers are strongly encouraged to demo their project as part of their presentation. Remember, from my second point, this is a low-pressure environment, so attendees universally accept and applaud crashing and burning in a demo.
I literally avoided a disaster during one of my live demos when my semi-autonomous drone demo came perilously close to taking out the first row in the audience! In a strange way, the live demo portion of CampIO flips the script on one of the fears that cause most technologists to lay awake at night — the demo that I’ve rehearsed 100 times will fail in front of a room full of people. At CampIO, we embrace and celebrate successes and failures.
Like many events this year (2020), CampIO is a virtual event because of the current COVID-19 pandemic. We are attempting to maintain all of the in-person vibes of the event using video collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams.
While this year’s event will no doubt be different because of the circumstances, the spirit of the event remains unchanged for all of the reasons I listed above. Live demos will still happen, people will still share ideas, and someone’s dog will bark at exactly the wrong time during a presentation — it will be awesome!