MAX 2008 Day 0

I came into to town early to participate in an Education event before the main festivities. I, of course, woke up late and missed the bus to Adobe HQ. I blame Ryan Stewart. However I got there eventually and got to participate.

It started with the VP of Education, Peter Issacson, talking about Adobe’s outreach to the Education sector.

Some cool facts that came out early:

  • Job Demand for Flash Knowledge is up 35,000% over the past 3 years
  • Job Demand for Flex Knowledge up 4500%
  • Job Demand for Ajax is up 20,000%

Those aren’t typos. For Education, these numbers mean that Adobe has to get in an engage the Academic sector to get people trained in these tools. This event was designed to impress upon us that Adobe knows it, and are working on it, and are looking to those in Education to help them out.

Next we heard from Steven Kurtz talking about his program at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He talked about the New Media Interactive Development Program at RIT. They take design students and teach them ActionScript among other programming languages. One of the success stories from that program Colin Doody talked about his experiences in it. It sounds like an amazing academic program as it combines both programming and design into one track. It’s pretty rare in the academic community. It’s also interesting as the problems that these students deal with are supposed to be addressed by Thermo.

Next we heard from Ozge Samanci from Georgia Tech. She talked about the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture. It’s yet another program that is turning out Adobe Tools and technology experts. The program sounds like a cross between a Liberal Arts education and a design and programming education. There appears to be a pattern to these programs. They all are programs that didn’t exist when I was in college, but I would have loved to do.

Also from Georgia Tech, we heard from Manvesh Vyas, who is doing work with surface computing. It was beyond me to describe, he actually talked about how surface computing worked at a low level. He also went into the “multi-touch” problem. Basically, is every finger a mouse, or it your hand the mouse? It seems very difficult. The part I did get was that they built a bridge between his surface computing and Actionscript, and are publicly sharing the code in a bit which means to me that Flash might get into the surface computing space sooner than later.

Next up was Mike McKean, who is professor of Journalism, who talked about the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. He challenged students from several disciplines to create AIR apps with the broad focus of having to do with Journalism in some way. The thing that impressed me about it was that it was a great proof of how AIR can really make desktop development accessible to people who would never have created applications before.

After Lunch we received a presentation from SoDA, or the Society of Digital Agencies. They’re trying to advance the design industry “through best practices, education and advocacy.” Basically they are design employers who want Higher Education to pump out graduates that they can hire.

Next was Salesforce.com, which I was totally expecting to be a little dull. I was shocked, the speaker was very engaging. I still don’t get Salesforce.com, but he had my attention. His talk was mostly about cloud computing and his company’s offering in that space.

I’ve heard many people talk about Salesforce offerings before, and like I said above, I still don’t quite get it. But my understanding of it seems to be a provided enterprise CRM with an complete web service API that basically allows you to do anything on the backend system. Like I said it was interesting, but I’m not sure the tie in to Higher Ed.

The final section of the day was a break out section where educators that are teaching Adobe products talked about their experience with it. One compelling thing I heard, was Bill Bain’s point that Flash as having both a design and a programming component can be a Rosetta stone for getting developers into design and designers into development.

All in all, it was a very cool session, and I’m excited to see what Adobe continues to do to interface into the Higher Education industry.

2 thoughts on “MAX 2008 Day 0

  1. Higher ed is just starting to get on the CRM bandwagon. Lots of commercial vendors running in to the space, but the vast majority of them don’t grasp the complexities of the higher ed environment.

    Key differences:
    * scope – running a college is like running a small city
    * terminology (simple fix in some respects)
    * roles and relationships – very complex
    * even slower to change (you know that already)
    * customer lifecycle really is just about a lifetime
    * more reluctance to trust offsite vendors

    There are more, but it’s late 😉

    So they try…shipping a rebranded, relabeled commercial product and bash the square peg in to a round hole. Then there are other vendors who are aggressively targeting the space with a really flexible and/or designed-for-higher-education solution. No surprise that Salesforce is trying to make inroads here.

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  2. I second Steve’s comments. The previous two attempts by our central university IT department to take commercial CRM products and retrofit them to our computing environment ended in failure. Attempt #3 just started but it sounds like they kept the tinkering to a minimum this time, so maybe it’ll turn out better.

    Still, the idea of Salesforce targeting the education sector is an interesting one.

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