RailsConf 2015 was local and in downtown Atlanta this year, making it the perfect opportunity for my first RailsConf. For starters, I whole heartedly appreciate the effort that goes into staging a conference of this size. Lining up venues, negotiating with hotels, managing vendors, attracting quality speakers, and just getting people through the process takes a lot of time and effort. It's an impressive undertaking for a non-profit organization relying on volunteer support. For that, the team behind the conference deserves some kudos.
That said, my company spent a good deal of money and three days in a critical period for my team to go. With that context, I didn't feel like I got enough out of it to go again, especially not outside of my home city. What follows are my thoughts on why.
Consumer products have long utilized the viral effect to spread awareness and increase the utility of the offering. Facebook was great when it was just your college friends, but value increased greatly when it became the easiest way to keep in touch with your family living half a world away. The consumerization of enterprise is one of the biggest trends in B2B software and we're starting to see the the similarities extend beyond UX to include "enterprise viral."
It's spring, the season of growth, and recruiting is top of mind for many of the companies at ATV. During one of my conversations with a colleague, he asked me "well what would it take you to join my company?" This is a question that hiring managers don't ask themselves often enough while designing and working through an interview process. It's too easy to focus solely on the companies needs and completely neglect the impact of the experience from the candidate's perspective.
Most software engineers know that a technical interview has as much in common with real life working on software as Guitar Hero has to do with playing in a rock band. To worsen the situation, the traditional technical interview rewards certain skills and characteristics that can often lead qualified candidates out in the cold. Jon Evans wrote an article detailing an alternative approach. However, all Evans proposes is to substitute one set of bias and false rewards with another.
At Rivalry, we recently had a release with one of a CTO's nightmare scenarios. The release shipped with a bug that caused a key action to occur multiple times. When users started reporting issues, customer success, product, and the CEO jumped into action. More than pride in our product, the unquestioning support from the entirety of the team came from the fact that supporting our existing customers was the best business decision. This is one of the great hidden benefits of the SaaS model.