Another year, another IRMS conference, by the sea in Brighton and whilst the weather couldn’t oblige as it had done in 2012, it was a thoroughly entertaining event all round and one worthy of marking the Society’s 30th birthday. This review will cover off everything except the conference sessions none of which I attended this year – this had nothing to do with the quality of the programme but was more down to the fact that I had given myself a hectic schedule of one-to-one meetings with the other exhibitors throughout most of the two days and the best time to do that was when you, lovely delegates, were in conference sessions. So this will be a review of what happened outside of those sessions on the exhibition floor, in the social events and in the bars!

First a nod to Revolution Events, organising the event for the first time and doing a mighty fine job in my view. As an exhibitor and sponsor we felt very well looked after and everything seemed to run as smoothly as it had done in the lead-up. Big thanks to Deborah Puxty-Ward and the rest of the team at Revolution.

Secondly, an equally big nod to Emily Overton for putting together an excellent programme of social events such as the one which kicked off conference in fine style on Sunday evening – a drinks reception and games for the early arrivals followed by a curry, a pub quiz and a bit of a sing song. The food was excellent, the beers on each table started to diminish and we waited for the quiz with smartphones at the ready. Alas, they were to prove of no use as we were given fifty quick-fire cryptic clues to identify London Underground stations – and we were given all the possible answers as well in the form of a printed copy of the tube map. A fabulous idea which sounds easy but proved quite tricky in parts (Make them Sick = Turnham Green) although I am delighted to report that the combined Oyster IMS / HP / Atomic Weapons Establishment team just managed to pip the IRMS executive to the title via a tie-breaker. Big thanks to Craig Adams and Arthur Leclerc-Chalvet from HP and the very wonderful Tracey Patterson and Francesca Crossland from AWE.

Outgoing chair Matt Stephenson then kicked off an extremely high-quality karaoke session with his stirring Delilah. Highlights were Meic Pierce Owen’s Cruel to be Kind (complete with air guitar and which, according to Mrs Pierce Owen, was “a bit better than usual”), the aforementioned Craig and Tracey’s wonderful Don’t Go Breaking my Heart and the rip roaring voice of Oyster IMS’ very own Dominic Johnstone whose Try a Little Tenderness received a well-deserved standing ovation. However, for sheer shock, awe and entertainment value, Edith Pringault-Adam’s astonishing rendition of Plastic Bertrand’s Belgian punk classic Ca Plane Pour Moi was the one that did it for me. Enormous thanks also to Simon Ellis from Box-it for sponsoring the whole evening – and please rest assured, Simon, that your Simon & Garfunkel karaoke went down equally as well as, if not better than, your DropBox joke.

The party then moved into the hotel bar (which is as reassuringly expensive as ever) for lively conversations with friends old and new. Having adjourned around midnight, I regret to say that I managed to miss what sounds like a conference highlight – the late arrival of two clerics (was one really a bishop?) who, I understand, were both tired and emotional. Not only that, it turned out they were also friends of Dorothy – the very lovely Dorothy Quinn of DeeQue Consulting that is. You don’t get that anywhere else.

So on to Monday and from an Oyster IMS point of view, we were glad to see the timely arrival of our conference giveaway this year – 250 cupcakes freshly baked and delivered by Cakey Cakey Cakey of Crawley. We were equally glad to see the arrival of a mighty fine body of delegates to eat them – and very nice they were too, both the delegates and the cupcakes. A hard day’s chatting and networking flew by on Monday and before we knew it, the Gala Dinner was upon us. The wine flowed, Jack Straw did his best to offend as many as possible, and the organisation created 30 Fellows to mark the 30th anniversary. Congratulations to you all and I’m pleased to say that good friend of Oyster IMS James Lappin was a well-deserved recipient.

We also have a new chair of the Society, Nick Cooper, who I am sure will do a fine job despite having big boots to fill after Matt Stephenson’s very successful and always entertaining time at the helm – the Society is most definitely a better place thanks to you, Matt.

I hear that many of the delegates turned in for a mug of cocoa and an early night after the speeches and awards but there were rumours that some of the drinking may have gone on past midnight in the hotel bar. If that was indeed the case, it would explain the lack of personnel on many of the exhibition stands and the slightly bleary-eyed look of many of the delegates the following morning. You will have to look to other accounts of conference for those stories, I’m afraid. The Oyster IMS team enjoyed a short pub crawl back to the Queen’s Hotel in the delightful company of Arthur from HP and Julie McGregor and Ronan Child from Active Navigation. My recollection is that the night passed off without incident but if there are any photographs which suggest anything to the contrary, please delete them immediately.

More delegates, more cupcakes and more interesting chats during what always seems like too short a session on the Tuesday and then it was time to break down and leave – although I understand a couple of people may have done that in the bar the night before. A mention too for Heather Jack’s session on the psychology of change, mainly because I was reliably informed by a number of delegates that it was the stand-out session of conference and one I feel sorry to have missed. Indeed the difficulties of change, especially changing the culture were the most frequent issues I heard discussed on the Oyster IMS stand, along with growing problem of dealing with legacy data and the increasing requirement to produce electronic records for legislative, regulatory and litigation purposes.

So an excellent conference all round means a big thank you to the Society, to Revolution and to all the delegates. I’d particularly like to thank all the delegates who made an effort to come and talk to us and took an interest in the Oyster IMS offering. We’d like to think that you were interested in the high quality people, process and technology products and services around all aspects of information management that we offer to clients across all sectors…..but maybe it was just for the cupcakes. See you all next year if not before.


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