A first (or thirst?) taste of AMCIS
I want to start by setting the scene and asking the question; how did I end up travelling from the Cotswolds back home dressed like this?
Great question, but let me rewind the clock a little. I recently joined Ubiq as the new Creative Director and in my first month attended a meeting to discuss how we would set out our stall (literally) at the upcoming AMCIS conference hosted in the beautiful Cotswolds.
As a company we are always pushed by our byline: “Daring to be different” which left no room to plan a standard information kiosk, you know the type; big backdrop graphic, a desk and a couple of chairs, maybe a video screen (whoah, steady on!), how would this be daring, or different?
We went back to our desire to disrupt, to change people’s perspective on what digital tools they need right now and why the kit they currently have is not serving them, it is dead, or at the very least moribund!
So naturally, a consensus was formed around zombies, what else? We wanted to portray the lumbering, lack of direction of our deceased bipeds as a metaphor for the technology currently deployed in education around the world, thus drawing attention to the Ubiq vision of the future (more on this later). Eager to please, I volunteered to cover myself in fake (and rather tasty) blood and also find another
We designed graphics and ordered furniture and equipment. We found a really good makeup artist who had worked on a vast range of TV and films. We discovered a thematically appropriate range of cocktails we could hand out to the parched visitors at AMCIS, we booked train tickets, and we were set.
Fast forward to a sunny Sunday in May and my fellow zombie (Chris) and I boarded a train to Swindon. After an unremarkable tube journey across London, a connecting service out west and a long wait for a taxi we arrived at the venue to set up the stand ahead of Monday’s opening. After some minor swearing and help from a few colleagues arriving directly from COBIS in London we had constructed our stand and now was the time to get some sleep ahead of an early makeup call.
This was one of the few times a bad night’s sleep (very quiet in the Cotswolds!) didn’t really matter and would, in fact, help our makeup artist a little.
The wonderful Chloe arrived at 6 am and we headed out to the garden, not wanting to redecorate the lovely B&B where we had our accommodation.
After just over 2 hours we were in costume and now needed to walk the mile and a half to the venue (we were far too wet and sticky to go by car!).
We reassured some early morning dog walkers and joggers that we were fine, it was makeup and we hadn’t been involved in an accident, or anything more sinister.
Just time to shock and delight a few colleagues before we settled into our day’s work. We had our instructions not to be scary but let the clothes and makeup pique the delegate’s interest, it certainly did that, a typical interaction went along the lines of:
“So, what’s with the zombies?”
“I’m glad you asked, much like a zombie, your CMS is dead!”
“But our CMS underpins everything we do, this is quite shocking news to hear on a Monday morning. What do you offer that allows me to escape from this?”
“A complete digital ecosystem which brings all your assets to a centralised location, allowing for personalisation for your visitors and uses artificial intelligence to map visitor paths through your website and suggest strategies to maximise the experience”
Ok, so I’m paraphrasing a little! But that is our USP, that is why Ubiq and our digital experience ecosystem (DEE) exist. Our team has decades of experience in the education sector. Our founder saw the need for school marketing and admissions teams to work smarter, the pressures on them are relentless. The tools they have were either off-the-shelf systems, bent to near breaking to accommodate the features a school needs (WordPress et al) or, worse still, a proprietary system developed once, rarely updated and lacking the functionality enjoyed in the commercial sector.
At this point, we offered a cocktail to settle the nerves and delved deeper into how our platform can meet the needs of the forward-facing school and start to include functionality that their parents expect and demand, at the same time extending the tools the school marketing teams have, reducing their frustration at the time consuming and dumb CMS they currently have in place. Find out more about AMAIS, our digital experience ecosystem (DEE).
Monday was a long but incredibly rewarding day, where we spoke with a lot of people and plans were made for follow up calls and visits by our founder, Daniel Clarke, whilst sporting ripped jeans, convincing head wounds and blood, lots and lots of blood.
The day had frequent talks and seminars for Ubiq to attend, but we decided zombies attending these talks might be a little off-putting and we didn’t want to appear disrespectful to the speakers, this meant some downtime and even a chance to enjoy some giant chess.
Ahead of the conference dinner we posed for selfies and handed out more cocktails and then wearily headed back to the B&B (we heard brains were not on the menu at the dinner).
Tuesday was a half-day for the conference but the makeup call was every bit as early. We spoke with a lot more delegates, some of whom had slightly sore heads and were more zombies thanks to the previous night. There were more selfies, more attempts to hand out cocktails and then thoughts turned to home. Us zombies decided the best thing would be to stay in makeup and head home as early as possible, attempting to get through London before rush hour on the trains. We booked a cab, reassuring the driver the blood was dry and wouldn’t ruin his taxi, got to Swindon and had a brief wait ahead of the express into Paddington.
We again reassured fellow travellers that it was merely makeup, got asked for some selfies from some braver folks and arrived back at a very sensible hour, sensible enough for one more trip to our local pub to scare some old boys with their half-pint of mild.
A great conference that will keep the boss on the road for a bit following up on the amazing level of interest. We look forward to seeing you all again soon, who knows what I’ll be dressed as next time.
If your school is reviewing its website, then please do get in touch to arrange a demo of our platform, and to learn how Ubiq is changing the industry – one school website at a time.