Kathy Madison, Comtech Services

The Inspire Awards, given out at the Best Practices Conference, seek to recognize information development organizations that have implemented outstanding and successful processes or programs to improve their productivity, quality or reputations. Eight companies submitted their innovations prior to the conference and then had five minutes during the conference to inspire their fellow attendees. The candidates included: Catherine Lyman from MapR, Charles Dowdell an independent consultant, Doris Nagola from Sony Interactive Entertainment, Eeshita Grover from Cisco, Laura Bellamy from VMware, Leticia Guzzetta from Cadence Design, Sylvester Smith from Mastercard on behalf of his co-worker Joe Daugherty, and Tanya Grant from Microsoft.

This year, Laura Bellamy from VMware received both the CIDM Advisory Council Judges’ Choice Inspiration Award and the Community Choice Inspiration Award for her team’s adoption of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). VMware has taken the ML-plunge and created an autonomous virtual assistant, called AVA. AVA is an AI-driven set of microservices whose goal is to improve customer success and deflect support requests. AVA maintains deep context to recognize customer intent and provide highly-efficient and accurate recommendations. Within the Content Strategy & Operations team at VMware, AVA began as an incubation project to increase the ML experience within their team. The product documentation team was able to learn emerging ML skills that demonstrated their engineering capabilities and take a spotlight position with content as the key to successful ML. Laura talked about their new motto and best practices when adopting ML is “Content is the New Code.” She ended her lightning-fast summary by saying she hoped that attendees will feel inspired and empowered to take the lead and build ML into their own content strategy as well.

Other Inspirations included:

  • Holding weekly tech-talk meetings to learn about new information development technologies and insights into advanced features of their company’s product offerings.
  • Own your content and sell it, remembering that your processes aren’t for sale.
  • Using a simple 5-slide strategy to quickly show upper management the value of your Tech Comm organization.
  • Rebranding your team from Tech Writers to Information Development Services (IDS) and creating the first companywide Writer Summit.
  • Keeping good energy with the laws of attraction, both in personal and professional experiences.
  • Dealing with merger or acquisition with continuous communications and an understanding of each team’s culture, process and practices.
  • Improving your span of influence to work smart and efficiently with both siloed and large teams.

Congratulations to all the participants. We hope they inspired the conference attendees and that we’ll see great submissions next year.