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Community Rockstar: Kathy Fahy, New IBM Champion and User Group Advocate

By DAVID Jenness posted Thu April 22, 2021 03:18 PM


Kathy Fahy is a Senior Account Executive with enChoice, one of IBM’s longstanding Business Partners. She was recently named an IBM Champion for her devoted advocacy of IBM user groups and technology associations, like ARMA (the Association for Records Management) and AIIM (the Association for Intelligent Information Management).  She understands that succeeding in Automation is 85% dependent on people embracing and engaging the solutions. She began her technology career with IBM a few decades ago, working in imaging and content management when it was first blowing up. She joined enChoice soon after and operates out of her home base in Syracuse, New York.

DJ: Hello Kathy, congratulations on becoming an IBM Champion. Why did you decide to join the program?

Kathy: I felt that it would be a good opportunity for me to participate in a bigger community than the local groups that I work with. As I’m learning, the IBM Champion program provides a lot of valuable information. I didn't know that business partners could be part of that bigger Community, so I welcome the opportunity to offer a different view, a different voice, and maybe provide a different type of insight to the Champions community.

DJ: I know you from the great work you have done to support the ECM Metropolitan User Group (EMUG) in New York City.

Kathy: That User Group has been a real bastion for a long time and, probably about 12 years ago, they nominated and appointed business partners to participate as members of the team. And I've stayed with it ever since. I've seen a lot of people come and go and the dynamics of the organization have changed over the course of years, which is normal. But this User Group has definitely been affected by the pandemic, especially the ability for us to get together in person.  I think everyone's trying to figure out how to maintain community spirit without physically being together. How do we continue that education and that informal learning process that we've all appreciated - and quite frankly - taken for granted?  So we're looking at different avenues on how to maintain the momentum and how to expand the presence and the involvement. We're starting some different thoughts still in the incubation stage, but I think it's important now more than ever.

DJ: Like what kinds of ideas are you considering?

Kathy: I'm becoming active in Upstate NY groups as well, like the local ARMA group. The group got creative and is hosting its  first face-to-face event since early 2020 in June? We're going to meet at a park in a pavilion and we're going to do box lunches. The thought of being outside is appealing, and we're going to be under a protective roof, so if we have inclement weather, we can still proceed.  We're going to respect social distancing but be close enough that we can have a good conversation, an informal conversation, which sometimes, I think facilitates different ideas that you wouldn't necessarily get if you had a strict meeting structure. We can recreate something like that for EMUG. Perhaps the days of having a thousand people in a room are over, but bringing together like minds at an outside venue. I think that can work.

DJ: As someone who’s been in the industry for a while now, can you comment on why Communities are so important?

Kathy: When I was with IBM 20 years ago, we were introducing some incredible technology that is the foundation of today’s Automation and Content platforms. I started to see how much these solutions were changing the way people were doing business and I really got hooked. What was interesting to me is how people designed and deployed these technologies was different for every client. Not one was the same. I saw an opportunity to learn and grow and help develop and adopt best practices to share and help users get value out of their investments. It was clear to me then that developing relationships is the foundation of trust and success. I became deeply entrenched in the technology in a delivery capacity, helping people see these solutions not just as a project, but rather  an ongoing program that continues to evolve to meet the customer growth and requirements.  It’s not a once and done effort.  It’s like how many of us in the pandemic, in this last year of lockdown, cleaned out our garage or closet and took the time to get organized.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay that way and in the future we will be doing that exercise again. It's no different in business. Think of all the data and all the content that you collect in a business. How you organize it and how you find it and how you make sure that it's purposeful and that you get rid of the stuff that you don't need anymore. And every company looks at it differently. They have different disciplines and different governance that they have to adhere to. So, it's a very shifting dynamic discipline around business automation.  The pandemic is driving a new normal and the participation in Communities helps to gain insight into what works and what doesn’t.

DJ: What do you think of the IBM Automation portfolio today?

Kathy:  I gotta tell you, I'm probably as enthused as I could be about the introductions that IBM has brought to market especially over the last year. I see some huge changes. I think it's going to shift the way our clients benefit from the technology.  When I started at IBM, I had a manager who told me, “Don't focus on bits and pieces, focus on the solution.” What he was saying is eliminate the noise. It’s the same today. Don’t worry about artificial intelligence or workflow or RPA etc.   Look at the problem you are trying to solve and just use the package of solutions that is the IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation. The licensing model means you don’t have to make a unilateral commitment, just use the components that you need and build the solution.  

DJ: So do you consider your role is a solutions consultant?

Kathy: I think that term is very applicable, especially these days. The volume of information, of technology and solutions right now that are being thrown into the marketplace is daunting. Absolutely daunting. And our clients are asking us to help filter through and focus in on what's going to solve their problem, how are we going to help them with their Digital Transformation as it relates to content, especially with the new hybrid workforce. They say, “I can’t watch webcasts or read white papers all day and never do my day job.” They don't have time to be specialists, so they are asking me to help them understand what makes sense and what doesn't, as it relates to their unique environment.. They’re relying on us to help them get to a solution faster.  This is our higher education right now. This is our learning continuum. And it has to be mixed with practical experience. You can't replace that. So, the sense of community, I think is the area where we can really accelerate our career paths, accelerate our opportunities for customers to understand and use technology more effectively and efficiently, rather than,  programmatically if you will and find nuances that maybe somebody didn't think about before. So, I think it's really the basis of education for many of us more so than a traditional classroom.

DJ: That's really well said, thank you. And lastly, what do you do for fun?

Kathy: This past year has been a reality check, where it’s caused me to look at things a little bit differently.  Reconnecting with people that maybe I haven't connected with in a long time became really important. It's amazing the people that you lose touch with but you can pick up where you left off.  Connections we kind of lost because of life and its way. It's all about that family unit and the sense of community in my personal life. I’m actively working at that with a new sense of importance.

1 comment



Fri April 23, 2021 12:47 PM

These are such great points! Particularly the note about not having time to read every whitepaper and still be able to effectively accomplish other responsibilities. One way we've been working to combat this for our clients is by enhancing and better promoting our assessment services. So instead of expecting customers and prospects to learn everything about what we do, we're creating avenues for them to have us dig in and develop solutions, which was another part of Kathy's interview that resonated with me. 

Thanks for sharing this, David! Great content.