The new roanoke.org site has been launched. Vision Point Systems has been working with The Roanoke Regional Partnership and Neathawk, Debuque, and Packet for a few months now on implementing this great new site. ND&P provided the look and feel to go along with the group’s new branding, and we made everything work, and easy for the RRP admins to maintain.

I’m really proud of this site for many reasons, but if for no other reason than for it being a home-grown product. RRP is as much of an advocate of this region as you can get. By choosing us from Blacksburg and ND&P from Roanoke, it was an easy process for us to collaborate, communicate, and actually meet in person to get the project done. The site is even hosted by Tech Squared, also in Roanoke.

Another great aspect of the site is that we were able to use tools and data provided by other parties such as with the Cost of Living Calculator and Site and Building Data.

My favorite, though, is how we’ve brought in the MyScoper events feed here. This is great example of RSS and syndication at work. I’ve spoken with the folks at MyScoper and I know they love that we’re doing this.  I’ll be looking for other potential information providers – perhaps for things like restaurants, weather, outdoor activities, etc.

I see the blogs are already abuzz about this (Stuart Mease, EdPro), and I look forward to the continued evolution of this new tool for the region’s current and future residents.

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IT Management for MBAs

January 10, 2009

I started the second semester in the Wake Forest Executive MBA program today. One of the classes on the transcript for this semester is Information Technology Management. As you can imagine, there’s a good mix of technology tenderfoots and techies in the program. It will be quite interesting to me to see how this class progresses.

Today’s opening session left me with the following thoughts.

  • The professor does seem to appreciate the fact that we are living in exponential times, as is very well communicated through this video. I sensed an academic concession that the topics covered in the class will be outdated soon after this session is finished.
  • There is a negative bias against “IT” from those people who are in non-IT positions. I got a real reminder of how much of a hindrance infrastructure IT folks are perceived as, and how nervous managers can get when it comes to business application implementation.
  • The Client-Server model seems to be pervasive. SAAS was mentioned briefly, but there was an emphasis on how systems are centralized in hardware server.

I’ll keep posting on other interesting items covered down the road.

Roanoke Career Fair Report

January 1, 2009

Brian Alexander and I manned the booth for Vision Point Systems at yesterday’s 2008 Roanoke Holiday Career and Lifestyle Fair put together by the City of Roanoke and Stuart Mease. My takeaways from the event really boil down to the following:

  • The industry we are in – Software and Business Consulting – is definitely not a good representation of the general population
  • There is very little trained talent out there for software related work that don’t already have good jobs.
  • Yes, there are a lot of people who are jobless, but a large percentage of those people are nowhere near suited for anything resembling a professional career.

In all of the business association and groups I participate in, it’s always a common topic that recruiting for tech jobs is near impossible, especially in the Roanoke and New River Areas. Yesterday’s event did nothing to dispell this thought. The only attendees that had specific experience or training in computer related fields consisted of some computer/electrical engineers with specific experience on a narrow field, and at least one college student studying technical writing. The vast majority of people were noticeably intimidated and quickly ran away any time I mentioned “design specification”.

I don’t know how unique VPS’s position really is, but we’re getting ready to hire multiple people going into 2009. I know many other local tech companies are looking for similar recruits, as evidenced by the NCTC Job board. I think this again shows that there is a dearth of talent stateside, especially in this region. I hope that one of the result of the pending “correction” in the economy is to get our youth into programs in the universities that would be helpful to the NewVa Corridor Tech community.

My other point about the preparedness of population for work really centers around professionalism and, frankly, laziness. I know the lifestyle is different in the white-collar, shake-hands, business community I’m a part of, but even if I was interviewing to be part-time dishwasher at a famous fast food franchise, I still don’t think I’d meet with the hiring manager wearing a Nascar jacket and cut-off shorts. I’m embellishing a bit, but not much. I don’t know how things got this way, but you’ll never see the local news channels comment on the people who apparently seemed to show up to the fair expecting jobs to be handed to them.