Today, Omar Iftikhar, General Director of System Development at MBS and former IT Director at the Titan Shops, shares his past experience at Symposium and why he can’t wait for this year!
As we rapidly approach the 7th Annual MBS Systems Users Symposium, I can’t help thinking how different this one will be for me. Though I have attended all 6 previous years, I was then a customer of MBS. This will be the first event as an employee.
A little background here might help. My previous job was IT Director for Auxiliary Services at Cal State Fullerton. I managed the IT for all our businesses, including the campus bookstore.
My first introduction to MBS was back in 1995 when we were first looking for a retail management solution to replace our aging EIS system. At that time, I had been working at the bookstore for four years and was transitioning from an hourly employee in the computer retail department to my first full-time position as Systems Coordinator for Auxiliary Services.
We made our selection of MBS in 1996 and installed in the summer of 1997. I was part of the installation and conversion team and soon enough was the primary administrator and contact for all things MBS.
It was also around this time that our industry started changing significantly, and we worked closely with MBS to try to meet these new challenges. Features such as rentals, eBooks, gift cards, price comparison, registrar link and fully integrated e-commerce were implemented and helped keep our bookstore competitive and relevant in the face of increased competition.
I got to know the support and development staff at MBS very well and gained a better understanding of, and respect for, the value of the MBS Systems division.
These relationships were further developed during the annual trips we made to MBS to work one-on-one on some of our open issues and new ideas, mixed in with an element of fun.
These trips were in the pre-Symposium days and, to me, really illustrated the true value of an event like the Symposium. Having the opportunity to physically meet the people we worked with, mostly over the phone, over the years and have that collaborative interaction truly humanized the technology for all of us.
Meeting your fellow bookstore colleagues and listening to their experiences highlights the fact that you are not alone in facing the industry's challenges. Any technology is only as good as the people who develop and use it, and to have those two groups in the same room is invaluable. Understanding what challenges both the provider and user face makes for a better product experience.
So, I am looking forward to welcoming all of you in October to my new hometown of Columbia, Missouri. We hope to make this 7th Symposium as special for you as it will be for myself and I am really looking forward to it!