SAO's Transformation is Officially Underway
Friday, April 27th 2012 by Skip NewberryAs we approach SAO’s first-ever Member Recognition Gala, I want to take a moment to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going as an organization. In the past seven months, we’ve taken steps to transform SAO into an organization that is more than just another trade association. By this I mean we’re evolving from a pure trade association into an organization that also does economic development on behalf of Oregon’s software and technology industries. These efforts are aligned around three areas: industry promotion, advocacy, and connections.
The vast majority of Oregon’s software and technology firms serve customers that are located outside of the state. We’ve therefore developed a website and database to focus on promoting the tech industry in Oregon and SW Washington in key markets nationally and globally. This project is called Techlandia, and the Gala marks its official launch.
As a complement to the website, we have also started to bring thought-leaders from important markets to Oregon, such as a meetup with Israeli entrepreneur and investor, Jonathan Medved, and a Wireless Innovation Forum with leading Canadian companies. We are also using events like Webvisions to create buzz for Oregon tech firms in key markets outside of the state.
At the Gala we will be announcing another initiative, called Portland 100, to build and strengthen connections between high-growth Oregon software firms and top-notch advisors, investors, and influencers in Oregon and in other markets. This program is a collaboration of private, public, and nonprofit organizations.
With industry data and company profiles featured on the Techlandia.org website, we are able to tell an authentic and compelling story about the economic importance of Oregon’s technology industry. This is important not only in markets outside of the state, but also here in Oregon. The success of Oregon’s technology industry depends in large part on the state’s business environment. In order to improve that environment, as an industry, we need to have a credible seat at the table.
The public sector has the ability to impact the supply of tech talent, the cost of doing business, the availability of resources for businesses, and the regulatory environment. For this reason, we are strengthening SAO’s presence throughout the state on issues of importance to the technology community, developing relationships with public officials and other business leaders, and listening closely to the needs of our member companies. At the Gala we will provide an update on some of our recent advocacy efforts like the Oregon Investment Act.
The effectiveness of trade associations is measured in large part on their ability to connect people, companies, organizations, and industries. What marks a truly great organization is, however, its ability to foster collaboration. This is our goal at SAO.
Through networking events and programs, SAO connects tech companies to other businesses to drive revenue. Through Leadership Exchanges and Forums, SAO connects people to other people for professional development. By working with other industry associations and economic development organizations, SAO connects the tech industry to other markets.
Collaboration requires alignment around values and objectives. As a result of the PDX11 effort, we have a decent understanding of what drives different parts of our tech community, and where there are some shared goals. Our next step is to figure out ways to improve upon existing points of connection—such as programs and events--to address these common needs. At the Gala we will provide an overview of some of the latest initiatives undertaken by the Mentor Network to make it easier for people to connect and collaborate, as well as some new program offerings from SAO.
As an organization that represents the tech industry in Oregon and SW Washington, SAO faces a number of challenges. Regarding industry promotion, our challenge is to represent the tech industry, its companies and professionals in a clear, compelling, and authentic way. In our advocacy efforts, our challenge is to educate and listen to the tech community and develop consensus and alignment around important issues. And in terms of connections, our challenge is to find ways to transform connections into meaningful collaboration.
My challenge to you is to get involved. SAO is at the beginning of a transformation. It’s your organization: now’s your opportunity to define it.
The Evolution of Techlandia
Monday, April 9th 2012 by Skip Newberry
A couple of weeks ago, we launched the beta version of the Techlandia website. There are now about 150 software and technology company profiles in the Techlandia database, and many more will be added in the coming weeks and months. I’m proud to report that we’ve garnered a healthy amount of attention, with 1.5K visits to date with an average of six page views and about 10 minutes on the site per visit.
The Techlandia.org website and database is designed to help raise the visibility of software and technology firms from Oregon and SW Washington. The website showcases local software and tech firms through video, company profiles, and data about the industry.
In Phase I, which is now underway, we are publishing only those profiles of companies that develop software or hardware. In Phase II, we will be publishing profiles of software and technology service providers as well. All company profiles may be created and modified at any time.
Some people who provided feedback loved the site, and others thought the design was too informal or cluttered. We will be adding some new features to the site over time, including more interactive content. We have already started shooting video interviews of software executives from around Oregon and SW Washington. These video interviews will be visible on the website in each company’s profile.
Work is already underway on a mobile version of the website, starting with a web-based solution. In Phase II, we're considering a native app that incorporates certain features and functionality of the website.
We received a couple of comments from people who requested that data on the site be more readily accessible, without having to drill down through a number of steps. Others liked the dialog boxes that walk visitors through a number of specific questions. We’ll keep in mind the need to accommodate multiple common approaches that people use to find information in future site development. The Industry Resources page is text-heavy at this point. We intend to create a chart or two of key indicators for the industry that we can update periodically with publicly available data.
Use of Calagator
Techlandia.org’s event calendar page is powered entirely by Calagator. Following Techlandia.org’s launch, a number of software community members expressed concern that a visitor to the website’s event calendar page would not end up on Calagator when he or she clicked an event listing to learn more about the event. The Techlandia project team is now working to change this.
A number of bugs were identified in the week after launch, but these issues have since been resolved. When using the site, if you encounter an issue, please use the site’s feedback feature to notify us of the problem.
A number of folks in the software community have been hard at work developing a mentor-mentee matching solution. This is tentatively scheduled to be unveiled in beta at the next Mentor Network Roundtable on April 17.
Are there other features and data you would like to see on the site? Don’t be shy, please let us know. In particular, if you have something interesting you would like to share about the industry, a company, or group, please let us know, as we are always looking for new content for the StumpTech blog.
Welcome To Techlandia, Population…?
Tuesday, March 20th 2012 by Rick TuroczyThere's something happening here in Oregon. Something creative. Something entrepreneurial. Something world changing.
We all know it. We just haven't really been able to put our finger on it.
And we've all been gushing--okay maybe I’ve been gushing--with anecdotal evidence about all of the activity. About all of the great things happening here. About all of the amazing people and projects and companies. About how things are changing drastically and for the better.
But we've been distinctly lacking in facts. In the metrics to defend it. To quantify it. To measure it.
Today, that changes. With the launch of Techlandia.
I've been in the Portland startup scene for more than 16 years. And I honestly can’t say that I've seen an endeavor like this one. It’s a project that will help us quantify the impact of technology on the economy of Oregon and Southwest Washington. That will help connect our community. And that will make Oregon and Greater Portland as strong as we know them to be.
And it’s all thanks to the Software Association of Oregon embarking on this journey.
In my opinion, there is no better local entity to lead this effort. To enforce the collaboration that will make us successful. And to help guide the activity that will help ensure this is a valuable resource for years to come.
But launching is only a first step. Now, it’s up to us--the community--to take Techlandia from here. And to continue championing Oregon as an amazing place to start, build, and succeed with technology companies.
If you're a software, hardware, or technology services company, create a profile on Techlandia. The website is a community effort so please give us your feedback on how we can improve and grow over time.
Let’s get started.