This is our second year at the American Public Garden Association conference (APGA) and we have already pencilled in on our calendar for 2014, the conference in Denver on the 23rd of June. This setting is extremely valuable to us, not only to promote our product, but also to be able to share ideas with our users and be inspired by the community. As a bonus, the 2013 conference was attended by 750 of the friendliest, most enthusiastic and knowledgeable plants people you could hope to meet, as well as being placed in the most excellent setting of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale. The experience was superb from beginning to end.
I would also like to thank everyone who visited our booth at the exhibition on Thursday and Friday. I know that we were far too busy to properly look after all of you, for which I apologise. However, I hope that with will be able to answer any queries that you may have by phone or email in the months to come. Also, please note that we have software to host online meetings, support and training.
A special thanks to those of you who had time to join us at the reception on Wednesday. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I hope you did as well.
Last year, we were newcomers to the conference and had at that point, no installations in North America. In the subsequent 10 months, we signed up 10 gardens in North America. A special thanks to the first 10 gardens from North America for supporting our product.
Finally, I would like to thank Karin Blevins and Peter Conden from Mesa Community College who generously offered to take me on a day trip to the Grand Canyon on Sunday. If you can’t get a ticket to the moon, Grand Canyon is a good alternative. Simply remarkable.
What did we learn?
- The feedback we received, confirms more than ever, that the scope and features fit very well with the requirements gardens have in 2013. However, we will not be resting on our laurels, but will carry on working and evolving with the botanic garden community, with a view to helping you in the important work you do.
- One aspect that we will prioritize in the months to come is to improve integration with Esri ArcGIS. ArcGIS is a great tool for geoprocessing and is used by many gardens for that purpose. Although you may be able to use ArcGIS base maps in you plant record system, a tighter integration makes a lot of sense. We are in close dialogue with Brian Morgan at Esri/APGG and we will keep you informed of our progress. We have already looked into this with our in-house ArcGIS consultant, and our preliminary tests indicate that this should not be too difficult.
- Data migration was a question that was raised by many last year. In the last 6 months, we have made a considerable investment in data migration solutions from a number of new platforms. We can now offer a data migration service from ALL common database platforms used by botanic gardens. Based on the feedback, we are confident that our investment has been worthwhile. Some of you mentioned that we should better advertise that our data migration service, supervised by a taxonomist, also includes moving your genera over to APG III. Thank you for pointing this out.
- Technology is becoming ever more important as a tool for enhancing the visitor’s experience. However, there is a general consensus that technology should be a non-intrusive supplement to the traditional visitor experience and not seen as an alternative. We will keep this in mind when we look at how our product can help you improve the visitor’s experience in your garden.
- Environmental and conservation issues were given a lot of attention at the conference and are a top priority for many gardens today. Consequently, we will be looking at any improvements we can make to our product to support gardens with these issues.
- If you are looking for inspiration, visit the APGA conference next year.
The APGA conference is an invaluable source of inspiration and guidance in our work. We look forward to talking and working with the APGA community in many years to come.
I think it is a great idea that the APGA is trying to reach gardens outside the North American borders and I hope this effort will be carried forward to next year.
If you did not have a chance to talk to us at the conference, please get in touch directly by email or telephone.