Rhys Kirk

User Conferences are a waste of time...said nobody ever!

Blog Post created by Rhys Kirk Champion on Apr 15, 2016

I wonder how many people clicked on the blog post without reading the full title?


When each User Conference comes around people are faced with frantically trying to justify their attendance to their management. This is a real shame because for me the OSIsoft User Conferences are invaluable and it is a pity that not everyone gets to be there in attendance.

Luckily for me I have started out on a new venture which means I am my own management so the decision to attend was a quick one.


Firstly, my new venture - The Genius Group aka TGG.

I have spent a long time working with OSIsoft and the PI System (~15 years), using it across multiple industries solving some simple problems and some super complex problems. I know of some other super talented professionals who know PI inside out too, and are masters of various technologies or industries. After talking with each other informally for a long time we decided that we wanted to form a super group of professionals who have the highest quality PI skills as well as varied industry experience. Since the turn of the year those talks got formal and we saw the birth of "The Genius Group" (TGG). I am truly excited by this group not just because of the wealth of talent but because of some of the amazing solutions based around the PI System that we will now be able to deliver.

I encourage you to send me a message on PI Square, email me at rhys@thegeniusgroup.co.uk, or send a homing pigeon with a hand written message to my home address if you want to talk to us about problems you are facing.


Anyway, enough about that, on to the OSIsoft User Conference 2016...


OSIsoft User Conference 2016.

Excited to arrive in San Francisco for the User Conference because I have a couple of talks to give and I get to show OSIsoft, Customers, Partners ... what TGG is all about. For anyone there wondering why there were people wearing bright orange T-Shirts, well that was TGG! I did bring some of our youngest members of TGG along to the conference too...


Okay, so clearly those are my 3 kids wearing a TGG T-Shirt.

We even managed to get OSIsoft All-Star Stephen Kwan in a TGG T-Shirt...

(Left to Right: Me, Steve Kwan, Rob King - TGG Co-Founder)


There was a lot of people I wanted to meet at the User Conference because I spend so much time (too much?) on PI Square so I am used to seeing Names of people without their faces. Luckily I managed to get round and meet a lot of people that I intended to but some I didn't so maybe we can cross paths at the OSIsoft User Conference in Berlin in September.


Programming Hackathon

I missed last years programming hackathon so I was eager to participate this year. The theme was data from the San Diego airport focused around the use of Energy. Some details of the data we will get to work with was drip fed to us over the days leading up to the User Conference as well as some possible themes to build an application for. The team I was part of was with some people that I had met at previous User Conferences, plus someone new who happened to be an awesome UI developer. After some of the introductions to the hackathon and we got settled on our VMs for development we got started on building our application.

We came up with the theme of our application at the User Conference, it was a spur of the moment discussion about harvesting energy from passengers of the San Diego airport that was the basis of our application. Our idea was to sneak into the airport and install some new innovative technology that uses passengers steps on floor tiles to generate very small amounts of energy that would be stored, or used by low powered devices. The technology is new so we had to do some rapid research and come up with some loose numbers - the technology providers are obviously keeping their cards close to their chests.

Anyway, we quickly divided up some tasks and set about our development. We hit one or two bumps in the road (managing to kill our AF Analyses somehow) but were pretty settled with what we developed in the end. The next day we had to give a 5 minute presentation to a judging panel and then we got to pitch our application to a panel of business leaders that included Pat Kennedy. That was fun and I personally enjoyed delivering the presentation to those leaders from which we got some great feedback.



We came 3rd overall which we were pleased with. Obviously we would have liked 1st placed but the others did a great job in developing their applications. You can find more information on the applications over on Marcos's blog post: Winners of the Programming Hackathon at TechCon 2016 in San Francisco


User Conference Presentations

There were quite a few good presentations this year, some that are branching out from the traditional presentations of past User Conferences of the years. This is a great indication that the PI System really has become the key binding piece of infrastructure between systems.

One such example, which I am going to shamelessly plug, was a Distributed Energy concept that TGG was involved in building for a client. I even got a few minutes cameo with the client during Ray Hall's Keynote engineering presentation.12957691_10153047957839229_751476091596842278_o.jpg

It was a great experience to talk about the rapid solution we built using the entire PI System - all built in a matter of weeks.

Generally I think the standard of presentations improved over previous years so it is only going to get harder to get a presentation slot, we (the community) are going to have to raise our game to deliver even better solutions that we can showcase with a customer/partner.

You can see the talks here: http://www.osisoft.com/Templates/item-abstract.aspx?id=13143  (I enjoyed Don Morrison's talk about drilling data in the PI System.)

For the list of all presentations have a look here: http://www.osisoft.com/templates/presentations-by-event.aspx?year=2016&industry=All&event=1569


One comment on the frustration side is that have 9 separate tracks meant I had to miss out on some content that I wanted to see. I can watch those recorded events but you don't get chance to go ask the presenter some questions.

Also, some presentations were not finished...I mean there was a presentation about using Cortana but the results weren't known yet if the analysis highlighted anything, it seemed a bit pointless to me to present that story - or I missed something crucial.



I have real mixed emotions about TechCon. On one hand I got to give a talk about my experience with OSIsoft Qi (more on that shortly) but on the other hand it felt as though it was a secondary, poorer event. I won't labor the point because I conveyed this opinion verbally to various people, but I miss the good old vCampus Live events which were their own event where we really talked details - instead of scratching the surface of products or solutions. It would be great to see a "PI DevClub Live" separate from the main User Conference. Get the right OSIsoft developers deep in the trenches to give some talks, leave the sales guys in their offices, and make superhero T-Shirts mandatory.

There was a good presentations on PI Coresight 2016 here: http://www.osisoft.com/Templates/item-abstract.aspx?id=13211



I was pleased to find out that I am once again an All-Star! Even though I have won this a few times before I am still equally passionate about my work & knowledge, but also about helping others so that they embrace the PI System as much as I have.

Also, I want to congratulate the other 2 community All-Stars Roger Palmen and Asle Frantzen who both contribute a lot to the community in terms of helping others but also their perspective of issues & offering their knowledge to help others too. I would like to thank the PI Square team too for providing such a great community and platform to be able to collaborate with.

One day I may have to take early retirement from PI Square so that I can get some work done. For now I just can't shake the PI Square addiction so you will all have to put up with me for a little while yet.


OSIsoft Qi

Well what can I say here...I am REALLY excited by Qi for numerous reasons. I have been working (playing?) with it in a closed preview program that I was able to join and it has me creating so many ideas in my head all the time. A couple of aspects that really have my focus is the fact that it is a managed system where I don't have to be concerned with looking after it, plus it is fairly simple to use yet you can do some complex things without getting too deep into the data storage.

The Qi team were kind enough to ask if I could give my perspective on Qi during the User Conference which I was more than happy to do. So here is the recording (and yes I did get the audience to bow like in a martial arts lesson ): http://www.osisoft.com/Templates/item-abstract.aspx?id=13219 It is called "The Tao of Qi". Hope you enjoy it.

If you have any questions on Qi then feel free to get in touch with me, or of course the OSIsoft Qi team.



Another great user conference that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The programming hackathon was great fun. In fact even if you're not a programmer you could have entered and had fun.

I really enjoyed presenting, both the keynote and the OSIsoft Qi talk.

Super, super excited about OSIsoft Qi going forward. Lots more fun (and lack of sleep) to be had with Qi.

Enjoyed making some new connections with customers, other partners and OSIsoft.

Will be making the trip to the EMEA UC in Berlin for sure!