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May 24, 2017

Information Energy 2017

How Digital Transformation Will Change Our Work Life

Helena Maier

Information Energy is the annual gathering of information professionals taking place in Utrecht, "Little Amsterdam". On these two days, from May 17–18, 2017, interested and committed heads of technical communication shared their knowledge and discussed future opportunities and challenges all those active in this industry will face in the next years.

The Information Energy conference, moderated by program manager Wim Hooghwinkel, focused on how Industry 4.0 will change the creation and dissemination of technical information. A selected group of internationally renowned speakers, including Dave White, Rahel Anne Baillie, Marie Girard, Andrea Ames, Ray Gallon and Andy McDonald, presented the topic of Information 4.0 from multiple points of view.

Slogan: "Let’s Shape the Future of Information"

Before the future of technical communication can be actively shaped, it is fundamental to get to know and understand current working tools and conditions. One question the attendees were most interested in is "How do I apply this knowledge specifically to my job?" Digital transformation not only has an influence on our daily working life, but impacts business and human living conditions in all aspects. One does not come around asking the question of what role artificial intelligence can play and where we humans should intervene.

Themes of the event: Great themes were design thinking, content strategy and metadata. Without a strategy, it is difficult to generate targeted, user-friendly content, which is more and more essential for a successful business.
All topics were organized into 5 tracks:

Track 1: From structured content to intelligent information
Track 2: Design thinking and content automation
Track 3: Information 4.0 - the next steps
Track 4: Strategic information management
Track 5: Technical writing practices

Attendees Loved Exchanging Ideas and Gathering Knowledge from Each Other

The end of the conference on May 18 was planned for 5:00 PM. But the attendees were so motivated to evaluate and discuss all the new information that, one hour later than planned, they could barely restrain themselves from exchanging ideas. We noticed this interactive and open atmosphere from the beginning to the end of the conference.

The attendees got to know each other quickly and discussed challenges they faced in their field of technical communication. The premises offered a good opportunity to retreat in small groups and to discuss specific problems among peers – or fix these together on the PC. Also, all presentations were interactive, so participants were encouraged to get involved and share their ideas.

Rachel changed her final keynote at short notice after getting new input in a workshop she participated in beforehand. Anne, too, stayed active at the end of the first day and gave her presentation a new structure as a result of the discussion before.

Unfortunately, a speaker had to cancel, but instead of staying idle, the participants spontaneously formed an open discussion round moderated by Andy McDonald.

Some Quotes from the Event

From the moment the opening keynote started, attendees took their phones out of their pockets and followed and shared with the Information Energy Twitter hashtag: #ien2017. Even if you got caught up in a lecture, you could follow all the informative tweets and not miss too much of the other lectures.

We collected some key quotes from the event:

  • "Content has to be more human. We sell big content machines. We have to adapt to environment and change or we get hit by the bus."– Andrea Ames in her afternoon keynote "Getting hit by a bus or driving it."
  • "Digital transformation needs three things: robust IT, workforce, and security." – Jeannine Peek in her opening keynote
  • "The triad of design thinking, service design, and information design come together to create solutions for complex problems." – Rosário Durão in "Focusing on people will sail us smoothly into the future"
  • "Creativity, judgements, dealing with unexpected - we do these better than machines. Focus each on what they do best." – Ray Gallon in his lecture “Context and Contextuality”
  • "The most important prerequisite for a bot is structured content" – Attendee Bas Evers twittering in a lecture
  • "Knowledge management is still needed, but it moves from centralized systems to conversational and social "add-ons." – Andy McDonald in his lecture "Mapping conversational support in Information 4.0"


Recap Information Energy with Pictures