Retooling Federal Workforce Skills

With the introduction of technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), mobile apps and more, the business functions of government are becoming more automated. While fears of machines taking over the world -- or at least our jobs -- are unfounded, the type of work government employees will be doing is changing dramatically. Additionally, there is a huge learning curve needed for employees to adopt these technologies to ensure they live up to their promise of greater efficiency and cost savings. The common denominator for managing all of this change? Training.

In a recent survey, 43 percent of Federal IT professional respondents said that one of the reasons their IT environments were not optimized to meet current demands was insufficient investment in training. Organizations need to take full advantage of budgeted education stipends to get holistic training for management and employees to ensure they get the most out of their technology investment. Investing more in training up front can save money down the road by avoiding the need to re-tool or even scrap systems to better fit the skill sets of the workforce. Continue reading

Adding Code-A-Thons to the Event Mix

Code-a-thons and hack-a-thons have moved out of the basements of Silicon Valley and into ballrooms across the country. These events are usually one or two day intensive sessions where software developers work in teams to develop a technology solution to a stated challenge.

Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted one as part of their efforts around the national opioid crisis. The Opioid Symposium and Code-a-Thon allowed HHS to educate attendees on their five-part strategy for combatting opioid abuse. The event posed three challenge questions to programmers from private industry, academia, and government. From there, the 50 teams began designing solutions for the next 24 hours. Winners in each of the three tracks were selected the following day.[Tweet "New #GovEventsblog article: Adding Code-A-Thons to the Event Mix"]

While this in-person event was specific to a single government agency, the federal government as a whole has been hosting virtual code-a-thons since the launch of challenge.gov in 2010. This site allows federal agencies to submit a problem that needs a technical solution. Prize money is offered, and a time frame is given for the development of working code. Both individuals and companies are eligible to participate in solving complex, mission-centric problems. Continue reading

What’s an Event Worth?

There is no magic formula for what an organization should spend on producing events, but there are some facts and trends that can be used to better calculate the event line item in 2018 budgets. Beyond venue rental fees and food and beverage purchases, there are many more elements that factor into the cost (and eventual ROI) of an event.[Tweet "There are many elements that factor into the cost of an event. #GovEventsBlog"]

We've pulled together a couple of guidelines from industry research as well as advice from our organizer members, to help with budget allocations for events. Continue reading

High Tech, Low Budget: Tech-ing Up Your Event

The vast majority of events listed on GovEvents are technology related. However, the events themselves tend to be manual and paper-based. This reliance on the "old-school" way of doing things is often driven by time and money (or lack thereof).

Events as marketing tools are an expense so keeping spending in check is critical to producing a return on the investment. Often, these events are organized by a small staff with other job responsibilities beyond planning the event. Knowing this, it's understandable to default to the "way we've always done it." This "status quo" thinking might keep the expenses low but ROI will continue to fall as less people attend a show they see as stuck in the past.

We've pulled together some ideas on how to affordably add tech to your events to increase your relevance without increasing bottom line spending.[Tweet "Ideas on how to affordably add tech to your events. #GovEventsBlog #EventTech"] Continue reading

Rethinking the Speaker Relationship

Speaker giving a talk on corporate Business Conference. Audience at the conference hall. Business and Entrepreneurship event.We've written here about what shows without speakers might look like and how realistic it is for the future of events. The dynamics of a peer interaction-driven show are appealing on many levels, however, there is still a real need for subject matter experts to be a feature of many events.

Speakers fill many roles at a conference. Some play a motivational role energizing an audience to make changes personally, professionally, and globally. Others open minds in a way that impacts how people receive more technical or logistical material at the event. And then there are our true subject matter experts--they have been there, done that and are sharing what they've learned with the audience so mistakes can be avoided and successes repeated. Still other speakers work as facilitators to get conversations started at the event and beyond. They keep a group on topic while pushing the conversation forward.[Tweet "Rethinking the speaker relationship: Guiding principles in working with speakers. #GovEventsBlog"]

No matter which type(s) of speakers an event uses, it is important to recognize the value of their role and support them accordingly. We've pulled together a couple of thoughts on what should be some guiding principles in working with speakers. Continue reading