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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Connectathon Day 4

I didn't keep a log of activities for today, since I was rather up to my ears. So, I'm going to take a few minutes to talk about the Connectathon in general.

One of the best things about connectathon in my experience is the collegial, problem solving atmosphere. We are here to make our products interoperate with each other. It's not about making ourselves look good, or the other guy look bad. The connectathon monitors don't care. If two parties in a transaction cannot make it work, neither one gets credit for it. The people working here truly do work together on solving their interoperability problems.

At connectathon we run into the same kinds of problems that we don't want to appear in the field. Here we have the people that would normally be providing Tier 3 support on such an issue present from all sides of the problem. The only danger here is in failing to pass a test, not dealing with irate customers or losing contracts. This environment is extremely condusive to problem solving, and most of the time before any customer would ever see an interoperability issue in the real world.

Another incentive is that many of us will be going on to demonstrate our work at HIMSS. This is an opportunity for many engineers to appear in one of the most high profile booths on the HIMSS showcase floor. Traffic at HIMSS through the showcase booth has exceeded 8% of attendees for the past four years, and has gone as high as 12%. If these numbers seem small, realize that an Anchor booth is doing good when it draws 3% of the attendees. The IHE showcase at HIMSS is sigificantly smaller than those booths, and has traffic all week long. It also recieves quite a bit of high profile traffic, many in key decision making posts and government policy positions.

I offer the following picture as proof that connectathon makes interoperability a priority over everything else (reproduced with permission of those present). These engineers were working late into the evening making sure their systems worked together.