What do beer, miniature JumboTrons and urban farming all have in common? Not much, but at Centric Consulting’s 10th Annual Camp IO, they all speak tech.
Camp IO is Centric Consulting’s yearly technical conference that occurs before the company-wide summer meeting. This year’s full-day conference was hosted on August 15, 2019, and lasted from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Attendees learned about machine learning via an alcoholic beverage recommendation engine, and how open-source technology can help create a lightboard similar to a JumboTron. Presenters also covered natural language processing through the development of a time tracker bot, and the relationship between PowerBI and Raspberry Pi as they help create a self-monitoring aquaponics urban farming system.
And while none of these sounds like your run-of-the-mill tech conference presentations, one stood out above the rest. Why? There was no technology to be found.
Who Needs Emotional Intelligence Anyway?
In Katie LaFollette’s talk “EQ for Nerds,” she discussed the importance of emotional intelligence in our daily lives. LaFollette’s presentation wasn’t technical. It didn’t ask its attendees to dive into machine learning or robots. It didn’t discuss how to use technology to change our lives.
Instead, it explored how we can change our own lives through self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
Emotional intelligence is a personal topic for LaFollette. She has received constructive feedback about her personality her entire life, and most of it wasn’t necessarily good — she’s been called “harsh,” “direct” and “impatient.” But without working on her emotional intelligence, she always thought her personality traits were innate and something she couldn’t change.
In early 2018, she decided she should at least try. She tracked down the book, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” and dived into quizzes and presentations. She learned how to change her default responses, and she opened herself up to further constructive criticisms so that she could learn and grow.
Even without the technological focus, LaFollette so impressed attendees with “EQ for Nerds,” she won best short talk at the Camp IO conference. Other winners include “Best Long Talk” for Aaron Aude’s presentation on using open source technologies to help nonprofits and “Best General Talk” for the resurrection of Time Buddy by Brian Starr, Joe Setiabudi, Marc Johnson, Eddie Gady, and Ted McKenna. Winners received an Oculus Go to keep them looking toward the future of technology.
The Other Tech (And Not-So Tech) Talks
Altogether, there were 12 presentations at Camp IO this year, all ranging from 15-minute discussions to 30-minute demonstrations and presentations. Here are a few more of the presentations:
Time Buddy Reveal
The winners of best general talk demonstrated how they built a new version of an old tool. Time Buddy, an old tool Centric phased out as we consolidated our internal technologies, is now reimagined as a bot that integrates into Microsoft Teams. It connects directly to our time reporting system so employees don’t have to switch between systems as often (and payroll can see more timesheets come in on time!).
Open Source and Open Ideas Can Help Nonprofits Stay on Mission
Aaron Aude’s presentation showed how technology — especially open-source technology — doesn’t have to act as a hindrance for nonprofits. Using Arduino, Jinx, and a ton of LED lights, he helped his local church create a lightboard to keep kids more engaged without breaking the bank or the mission.
Drink Recommendations From the St. Louis Machine Learning Council
Amos Long and Jorge Mendoza presented the St. Louis Machine Learning Council’s work using data to help people choose the alcoholic beverage of their dreams. They used machine learning to create a Recommendation Engine, so you’ll never worry you ordered the wrong drink again!
Botify Your Life
Tracy Dixon’s talk asked Centric employees to think about how robotic process automation can make us more efficient in our personal and work lives, so we can focus on innovation and fun rather than rote, tedious tasks. She discussed how robots will fundamentally change our jobs in the next decade, what to expect at home, and even how attendees can incorporate robots into their daily lives without spending a dime!
A Step Toward the Future
Every Camp IO has one goal: to inspire internal employees and keep an eye toward innovation and technology. And while this year’s presentations are over, employees have access to them all-year-round in Degreed, an organizational platform we use for continued learning.
With 2020 around the corner, we’re already planning for the next Camp IO, so we can continue to be the best technological resource for our clients from now into the future.