AQUARIUS Insider 2012 – The Perpetual Motion Machine

Water monitoring, Hydrology, Water data management software, Rating curve, Stage discharge curve

We held the 2012 AQUARIUS Insider user group meeting in October.

It was by all accounts a great success, with over 200 participants from almost 50 organizations and 10 countries.  The meeting was live in Vancouver as well as webcast on the internet.  Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy day to join us!

Meetings like this are a good example of what economists refer to as a virtuous circle: a set of self-reinforcing behaviours that produce progressively better outcomes.  In the case of the AQUARIUS user group, this is happening at several levels.

Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, open communication is a good idea plain and simple.  We get the opportunity to be candid about the current status of the product and our goals for the future, we have the opportunity to learn some of the fascinating things our users are doing in the field, and we open ourselves up to direct feedback.  It helps foster a community of trust, it allows for mid-course corrections if necessary, and it ensures that essential concerns are being addressed.  It is self-validating and self-reinforcing.

Water Data Management, hydrological data, hydrological methods, hydrology, hydrology blog, hydrology corner, water data, Rating Curves, MonitoringPrior to the meeting we also ran a THOUGHTstream survey in which participants were asked to answer three simple questions:

1) What should AQUARIUS do that it currently cannot?
2) What do you value most?
3) How can we support you better?

The questions were vague and open-ended by choice, and we were thrilled by the breadth and depth of responses we received.  Over 200 thoughts were entered into the system during phase one, which were then converged into about 25 main ideas and sent back out for prioritization during phase two.

The advantage of the two phase approach is that:

a) it forces everyone to think of their own ideas, but then
b) exposes everyones’ ideas for prioritization

Many people come up with the same ideas, but even if a particular idea is only entered by a single participant, the prioritization process allows it to float to the top of the list if is a genuinely good idea.  And sometimes the results are surprising.

Among the top five ideas for extending AQUARIUS functionality, there were four that were somewhat predictable.  However, the second most popular idea (out of 25) was unexpected.  As a top priority users are seeking continued advances in workflow management, time-saving efficiencies, and location setup optimization.  They see this as more important than most other things, including a list of features and enhancements.  This was unexpected because previous surveys have indicated that AQUARIUS provides up to 8X efficiency gains, meaning that what used to take 8 hours before AQUARIUS now only takes 1 hour with AQUARIUS.  We therefore interpret this as users appreciating the time-saving benefits that AQUARIUS brings to an organization and thinking to themselves “more please!”

Among the top five things that users value most about AQUARIUS there were also a few interesting results.

For example we learned that users value the fact that AQUARIUS adheres to current methodologies, standards and best practices.  While we always mention this as a major advantage, it was great to see that message gaining traction and validity in the field.  Likewise we discovered that users greatly value the database underpinnings of AQUARIUS, which is something that not all products in our field have.  This kind of feedback is invaluable.  It validates previous efforts, it helps shape development objectives, it helps focus testing efforts, and it benefits everyone.  A virtuous circle indeed.

Videos of the meeting will be posted to the AQUARIUS 360º Support Portal – we invite customers to have a look there if they missed the user group or want to share recorded sessions with peers.  There are already many ideas for how to develop on the success of this year’s user group meeting for 2013.

Be sure to share your thoughts, and stay tuned for details.

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