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“User Group Meetings are a sham. It’s just a way of putting your products in front of a captive audience.”
That’s what somebody told me years ago, and while such a barbed taunt sticks in the memory (like that moment you met your ex-girlfriend with her new husband), it is not why we do it today.
Ok, so twenty years ago there may have been grounds for such criticism – when times were tough anything would be tried to sell more software. But after holding the Geotechnical Office User Group Meeting at three venues for each of those twenty years, I think we can put such ribald charges behind us. Quite frankly this annual ritual has always been extremely expensive to arrange and uses up an awful lot of manpower for weeks beforehand.
So why do we do it?
A clue might be found in what the boss of a Site Investigation Lab told me a couple of years ago at a UGM at Stansted.
“I just wish” he said “that I could bring all my suppliers here and show them how clients should be treated!”
I’ve heard many encouraging comments over the years but that particular one made me preen with pleasure. But even though basking in the warm glow of your customer’s praise is hard to resist, we don’t do it for that either.
The real reason is much more mundane, although, you may argue, as selfish a motive as that suggested at the start of this article. The annual UGM is our best opportunity to stay abreast of the issues uppermost in the minds of the customers we serve. As a software developer and vendor, keeping ourselves briefed on what is important to the SI industry is vital if we are to produce applications our clients want to buy.
That is all very well, you may ask, but how do you get people to attend? What’s in it for them?
Well, aside from the rather obvious corollary that it ensures we continue to write the best solutions for their businesses, it is also a chance for our users to participate in something much more vital, much more dynamic, than mere technical advantage.
Regular attendees tell me that they love this annual event – as well as seeing what is new, both in our industry and in technology generally, they use the opportunity to pick our brains and those of fellow delegates. Data handling techniques are not always obvious and we frequently get the unexpected outburst of a “Eureka” moment from someone who’s just grasped another important principle.
It’s also a great networking event for the industry, and because we have a broad range of industry representation, from drilling specialists to engineering consultants, many valuable contracts have started life at the GO UGM.
Finally, many use the opportunity to renew friendships and relationships with old friends, meet new, like-minded figures in the industry, and generally share their experiences and frustrations with others.
And right now, as our country’s financial strategy becomes clear, it has never been more important to face today’s engineering tasks with, yes, safety and elegant design as primary goals, but also with business efficiency and cost effective data management. To win site investigation business in today’s climate you need to exploit every tool in the box. Don’t lose out on the efficiency benefits available to protect your livelihood. Be part of it!
Mike Rothery will be giving the opening address at the forth coming Geotechnical Office User Group meeting. So whatever your reasons, if you use Keynetix software then come along for a great day out on us. You’ll learn something of value, and perhaps even get a “eureka” moment of your own that will improve your company’s fortunes.