IRCE 2011 – Tech Sessions

By Chris Wilson | Jun 20, 2011
More Articles by Chris

IRCE 2011 LogoLast week I had the opportunity to attend Internet Retailer 2011 in San Diego with Janet and Avelyn.  I even got to help with the table during exhibit times – how many tech guys get to do that?!? That meant I got to do one of my favorite things, talk to people and learn what they do and how we can help.  I miss that a lot when being in front of the computer all the time.  Oh and forgot to mention, I got to visit San Diego, it’s beautiful!

Last Thursday was when all the tech-related sessions started up.  So, of course, I jumped in as many as I could attend.  The topics ranged from privacy and security to development processes and how to work with programmers.  The presenters were great with my personal fav being Tracy Terrill, CIO at LegalZoom.  This guy knows how to do it and works for a company I’ve been following for a while.  He definitely knows the secrets in working with developers so it was great to hear the tips and what has worked.  More about this in a bit.

Here are my highlights from a few sessions:

“Consumers don’t like choices when dealing with privacy.  Rather give them the default but ALLOW them to opt-out”
- Kurt Olender (CEO, Ascentris)

“Only write code if it provides a strategic advantage.  It’s like a swiss army knife…how many blades are in there that you won’t even use.  Don’t reinvent the wheel.”
- Mark Uhrmacher (Founder & CTO, ideeli)

“Focus on SaaS and only bring in-house when it’s cost beneficial.  Remember if you’re not a software development company, don’t try to be one.  Follow a development process:  Plan -> Analyze -> Design -> Build -> Test -> Deploy -> Monitor.  Most of all, remember, testing should be done early and often.  Testing isn’t a result of development, it should be done throughout.  Use bug tracking software like Mingle.”
- Darrell Ross (Advanced Systems & Technology, Accenture)

Lastly, I wanted to mention a bunch of interesting points made by the CIO at LegalZoom, Tracy Terrill.  His focus was on programmers and developers but definitely applies to all employees and companies.  I’ve always enjoyed watching environments evolve and with the onslaught of technology we’ve seen in the last decade as well as an economic downturn there is no doubt that the employment arena has seen some vast changes.  There was a lot in this session but here are a few notes:

Company and employee competition has changed a lot in this generation.  Several large firms are competing for the best of the best.  Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are the big four in tech.  They have the salary and benefits to pull just about anyone they want.  Google offers, on average, 20% higher pay than the rest of the industry.  So how does a company compete…benefits!

Employees value a few common attributes

  • Flexible working environment
  • New daily challenges
  • Implementation of employees’ ideas
  • Family/friendly feel
  • Family-focused
  • Efforts contribute to something bigger/worthy

Now for just a few tech-specific notes:

  • Resource allocation is difficult
  • Training is hard to schedule
  • Perfect documentation is a myth
  • Release cycle is rapid
  • Offshore development is usually messy
  • Use peer code review
  • Standardize, standardize, standardize
  • Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate
  • QA has to be a part of development

So overall the sessions were very interesting.  Lots of takeaways and even got to here a case study about Best Buy and their site analytics implementation over the last 18 months.  If there is one thing you need to be doing it’s analyzing those numbers and how people are using your site.  Take it from Best Buy, their online e-commerce has shot up ($20 million incrementally) since taking the data to board meetings and testing like crazy!

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