Bold Technologies, Colorado Springs, Colo., held its annual Users Conference Aug. 24-26. Attendance was up 45 percent from last year’s conference as more than 125 people congregated at the historic La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, N.M., coming from other U.S. states, Canada and the United Kingdom.

With a client base spread as widely as Bold’s, the need for effective communication is very present in the minds of the company’s staff. Rod Coles, president at Bold Technologies, commented that establishing strong communications paths for education has really improved the conference experience and made it customer-centric. This year, Bold ran four education tracks simultaneously.

Some of the most popular sessions discussed mobile applications and development for different platforms including iPhone, Android and BlackBerry; CSAA’s automated operator-to-operator protocol — ASAP to the PSAP; and Manitou Infinity, a new high availability system the company is developing.

Steven Susman, IT director and engineered systems manager at Supreme Security Systems, Union, N.J. believes the breadth and variety of educational sessions at the conference were its greatest strengths. “They’ve had strong education tracks where they’ve talked about the greater perspective of our industry, such as communications, methodologies, the discussion on ASAP to the PSAP, the eventual [end] of POTs, and new architecture in terms of alarm monitoring software,” Susman said. “Whether it’s an executive track, IT, operations, or central station, there are a lot of different areas their software touches.”

As Luke Auger, assistant central station manager at Price’s Alarms, Victoria, B.C., and first-time Bold Users Conference attendant described it, this type of conference is a great opportunity to get out of one’s usual environment and learn from other users’ experiences.

“It’s not just about educating the customer, but getting that feedback. It makes a big difference for us,” Coles noted.

Mark Schramm, management information system manager, Alarm Detection Systems, Aurora, Ill., commented that he and his colleagues have referred to the Users Conference as “Manitou Fest” for years. The nickname seems appropriate, as for three days, it’s all about Manitou and learning more about it — successes, issues, improvements, and how to leverage industry trends that will give users the illusive “edge” over the competition. Bold has worked hard on the “fest” aspect to create an environment conducive to the learning that must take place, organizing several events that included a tour of downtown Santa Fe and a murder mystery dinner.

One of the big announcements this year was the introduction of BoldTalk, a members-only list server to bolster communication between users. Susman commented that shows willingness on Bold’s part to be open and transparent. “Recently, [Bold] set up a totally non-moderated list server that allows for sharing of information among customers. That transparency and sharing of information doesn’t come without a bit of risk and vulnerability. By encouraging the discourse, Bold really shows its strength and doing so furthers the sharing of ideas, best practices and unique solutions. They’re a company that’s always been willing to tear off the scabs even though it might be painful to expose them.”

To complement its annual conference, Bold organizes monthly webinars, called Coffee with Manitou, to help users stay up to date with training and new initiatives.