IT Media Productions
|This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P.,
has an exclusive interview with Ronait Tynan,
project manager with SmartForce’s e-Media group.
Ronait is an international authority on IT and media
productions for SmartForce, the world’s largest
e-learning/training services company.
Q: First of all, thank you Ronait for agreeing to
this interview. Your experiences as a respected and
widely known project manager would be of benefit to
many veterans. What personally prompted you to enter
the computing field? What led you to become a
project manager in e-Media?
A: Growing up we always had access to computers in
the house and in school, so I was quite comfortable
using them. However, it wasn’t until I was doing a
dissertation for my master’s that I really became
aware of the Internet and how it was going to
influence the way we learn, do business, and see the
world. My research topic was how translators and
terminologists could use the Internet to learn and
do business more effectively. Needless to say, I
came to the conclusion that this new tool was going
to be a great resource for them in the future.
I liked SmartForce because they combined computers
and learning. New types of learning are something I
remember talking about with my dad; he is a lecturer
and researcher and has influenced me in a lot of
The opportunity to work for the newly established
e-Media group came up about two years ago, and I
jumped at the opportunity to do something new.
SmartForce had never done online seminars or
workshops before, this meant we had quite a bit of
freedom in the group to experiment, do research, and
shape the product we were offering. Naturally, the
group expanded opening up management roles and
allowing me to further my career.
Q: With your world leading position, what are the
hottest of the upcoming topics of your seminars?
A: The e-Media group is working on seminars that
will be part of several new learning paths to be
released next year, for example JAVA2, Commerce
Server, and CSA.
In December of 2001, we also intend to broadcast a
seminar on Microsoft .NET My Services, which
Microsoft intends to release in spring next year. By
broadcasting a SmartSeminar this early, we plan to
give our audience a head start on what to expect in
the line of Microsoft products next year. We are
also planning a seminar on the new wireless
networking standards, and another hot topic next
year will be cyber crimes and what you can do to
protect your enterprise.
On the business skills side, we have several
seminars in the pipeline with an LA based company
that specializes in sales, team building, and
project management training.
We do research and plan ahead as much as we can, but
IT trends and software advances are quick to change.
Our group can turn around high quality seminars at a
very fast rate so we do have the freedom and
capacity to adapt very quickly to meet those
Q Ronait, you are a consummate professional
providing a much valued service to the IT, business,
and health communities worldwide. What ten tips
would you provide to professionals to have the
success that you have experienced?
A: Here is a list of thoughts that come to mind
right now. They are in no particular order and I’m
sure they are not that original!
- Take the initiative, it allows you to be
creative and keeps your mind active.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your
ideas with the members of your team and
- Listen to your customers. They use your
product so they can tell you what you can do
- Change is the nature of business. Take
advantage of it because it always brings
- Think ahead, a successful project is fruit
of an organized and well-prepared mind.
- Mistakes are sometimes inevitable but you
can often learn more from them than from
- Have fun at work with your colleagues, even
for just 10 minutes a day. It keeps the team
spirit going and makes you look forward to going
to the office every morning.
- Listen to everyone in your team and keep
them well informed, that way they will do their
- Patience is definitely a virtue, and
diplomacy a definite must.
- Move to California!
Q: SmartForce is well known and very much respected
for their high quality services. What processes do
you implement in the e-Media department on a daily
basis to continue to produce such high quality
A: In e-Media, we have a highly qualified team of
individuals who care about how their products are
perceived and used by SmartForce’s customers and by
the organization itself. We are constantly
reassessing our development cycle, our training
needs, and our efficiency in order to improve
events. The trick here is to view your product
through the eyes of your customers without
jeopardizing the team’s development processes and
the company’s standards. For example, after each
broadcast we collect feedback from individual
viewers and study each suggestion very carefully.
Team members are encouraged to participate and help
make decisions based on the customers’ comments.
Throughout the past two short years of our existence
as a group, e-Media has successfully built and
maintained multiple partnerships with key companies.
We value our partners, seek feedback from them, and
try to make their daily working experience with us
as pleasant as possible.
In SmartForce, the e-Media department has earned a
good reputation for being creative, innovative, hard
working, and dynamic. We have developed numerous
seminars for internal use by different parts of the
organization, such as HR and Sales. This
contribution not only enhances our position within
the organization, it has also opened channels for
communication and collaboration between e-Media and
Q: Can you share some tips for those thinking of
getting into the computing field? Can you describe
your role with your company and how you plan to
shape the company one year and two years into the
future, and in the long term?
A: The computing, software, and Internet world has
been put to the test the past year with the downturn
in the U.S. economy. It has been really noticeable
in the Silicon Valley; however, I don’t think it has
been quite so drastic in other parts of the world.
This slowdown may have put some people off the
computing field, but I think most of us realize that
this industry is a market that will continue to grow
in response to a global demand. At SmartForce, we
also see great potential for further growth and
expansion within the e-Learning industry.
For the future, I plan to contribute to the
company’s growth in the areas of innovation and
research and stay on top of customer and partner
demands. It’s very exciting to work on new learning
concepts, put them to the test, change them,
reassess them, and then see them through to
fruition. The best part of the job for me is to be a
part of a team that helps enhance people’s skills in
so many different industries. It’s like being a
teacher without having to repeat the same lectures
every year and in the same way.
Q: You have a reputation for being plugged into the
stream of computing consciousness about where it’s
going now and in the long term. You’ve also done a
lot of research. Can you comment on the studies that
you’ve performed, what you have learned, and your
A: In e-Media, we strive to produce the best online
event a customer can experience. We constantly seek
feedback from our users and try to improve events.
To this end we have researched and developed several
media types: SmartSeminars, workshops, roundtables,
and soapboxes. Each event type is designed to
satisfy the different learning needs of our
SmartSeminars are ideal if you are a visual learner,
soapboxes allow you to listen and chat with other
students, workshops walk you through how to code an
application, and roundtables bring several experts
together to discuss a particular topic and offer you
different points of view. Interactivity is the main
feature in all of the events, and our research shows
this to be of primary importance to our users.
The main lesson for me while doing this research and
actually developing the events was the realization
that there is always room for improvement. Just when
you think it is perfect, a new idea or suggestion
comes from either the team or the customers. For
example, we added flash introductions to the
seminars to make them more visually appealing. We
also moved our polls to the question-and-answer
session portion to avoid distracting our audience.
In addition, we designed e-vites to notify our
audience of upcoming events, etc. Room for
innovation and change are one of the reasons why our
work in e-Media is so dynamic and creative.
Q: What are your views on top four programming
environments and their future?
A: In this category, the main areas of interest for
SmartForce next year will include site development,
.NET, EJBs, J2EE, and web services.
As the year has progressed, Microsoft .NET has been
attracting more and more attention. It is clearly
one of the biggest changes in programming in the
past few years so it is impossible not to address
it. In fact, the interest it was generating prompted
us to begin a series of SmartForce workshops and
seminars about .NET way back in February.
Enterprise JavaBeans or EJBs, as they are commonly
known, have been around for a while, but they are
winning more and more supporters all the time.
Developers like them because they are scalable,
flexible, and increase their productivity. At the
enterprise level, J2EE is very important for the
development of multitier applications. It will be
crucial for transaction management and security. The
ability to architect enterprise applications and
integrate services using J2EE will one of the big
challenges for Java programmers in the future.
Web services are the new buzzword in the industry.
There will be plenty to talk about in the next year
about this new architecture and its impact on
e-business and e-commerce.
Q: For those relatively new in the computing field
and for seasoned veterans, which areas should they
target for future study, what are the high-growth
A: We have been talking about J2EE, EJBs, web
services, etc.; again, those are definitely areas of
interest for veterans and newbies alike. Some other
topics of interest are scripting languages, XML,
object oriented UML, and C#.
In addition to developing events that cover those
topics, we are planning webcast events on MPEG-4,
which is based on object-oriented technology, and
the Real-Time Transport Protocol, an Internet
protocol for transmitting real-time data such as
audio and video.
Q: What changes do you see for the future of
computing, conducting business, and the use of the
A: I think computing, business, and the Internet are
intrinsically linked and will be more so in the
future. The Internet has opened up a whole new world
for businesses and people in general. Once you are
used to the online world of shopping, learning,
business transactions, quick access to information
and communication, and so on, it’s very difficult to
give it up or to imagine life without it. There are
so many advantages associated with doing business on
the Internet that they outweigh any disadvantages.
For example, people don’t like traveling that much
anymore, with an Internet connection they have
access to a whole set of services from their home or
office. Clearly, people will take advantage of this
opportunity and the demand will grow. The market for
Internet businesses is still expanding, and it’s
exciting to think of their global reach. One of the
biggest challenges is to introduce the technologies
we have been talking about into less well-developed
countries. I believe it can only benefit everybody
in the end.
Q: What would be your recommended top references for
the serious developer, and the serious IT
A: Well obviously, one of the best places to look
for information on technology is the Internet. I
visit some web sites regularly to look for
information on upcoming developments in technology
and to get ideas for new events. Here is a short
Q: It’s a blank slate, what added comments would you
like to give to enterprise corporations and
A: It’s been great talking to you Stephen, and
thanks for the opportunity to tell the IT and
business community about SmartForce and its e-Media
We are always looking for speakers for our events.
SmartForce is a great way for them to gain exposure
and there are no costs to them or their companies.
If any of the readers would like to participate in
one of our SmartSeminars or workshops please feel
free to contact us at