It's the week before a show, and the convention services team is preparing an exhibit hall of the Austin, Texas, Convention Center for the first arrivals. The team, which consists of everything from decorators to utility personnel to IT specialists, hurries about from one future booth location to the next to prepare each space for the exhibitor that will arrive in the next couple of days.
As they move to each booth location, team members consult work orders displayed on an Apple iPad. The work orders are presented according to the locations of the booths, so employees move quickly from one spot to the next.
Contrast this with the way things used to be. Workers went to the show office, where there was a huge binder of all required work orders. There, a physical copy of the work order was printed, and the worker would go off on that assignment. Each trip from the show floor to the office where the work orders were located could be as long as six city blocks.
"In the process of putting on a convention, we have exhibitors on the show floor, and clients that order services from us," said Joe Gonzales, IT services manager for the Austin Convention Center.
Those services could include power, big power-which means high-amperage electrical power-network, drainage and water.
"We used to track all those orders and put out paper work orders," said Gonzales. "That used to involve walking six city blocks just for a power strip. If they just ordered something, they'd go to a work desk, and get the work order.
"You never knew what was next because you were doing one thing at a time. We have different groups. The people who install Internet drops are one team, and the people who install electrical work are a different team," Gonzales added.
The way the work was being done was clearly not efficient, Gonzales notes. The solution: Extend the reach of IT to the workers themselves and remove the physical gap between the IT department and the people who needed to do the work.
"We looked at better ways to do this," said Gonzales. "How could we improve the amount of information we carried? How could we provide better diagrams? How could we get more information to the person deploying those services? We were already running a FileMaker order system that was already collecting orders online. We looked at the FileMaker Go system. We filtered out everything but information that was on the work order."