My “Everyday Carry” – Solutions Architect Toolkit 2016 Edition

I’ve been intrigued by the concept of “everyday carry” for years now. If you’re not familiar, you may know it as simply “what’s in your bag“, but the idea is to get people to share a photo and a description of the contents of the bag/briefcase/fanny pack/backpack that you regularly bring with you to work/school/wherever. Today, I’m posting my solutions architect toolkit for 2016 to highlight some of the tools that help support the success I’ve had this year.

Solutions architect is one of the most generic-sounding titles, so here’s a little more context (and if you just want to get to the picture, scroll past this list):

  • I’m primarily a presales solutions architect, so many of my discussions have been with prospective clients who are early in their project (if they even have a formalized project at this point)
  • My company focuses on business software solutions that include some combination of customer relationship management, resourcing, project management, document collaboration, internal communication, sales/service/marketing management.
  • Our targets are typically using the Microsoft platform, especially Exchange for email and Office 365 for productivity software. That said, the audiences I have are a spectrum ranging from non-technical to overly-technical so I switch hats pretty regularly
  • I have discussions with our implementation team as well as our clients to see what worked (and what changed from the original plan) in order to have more productive conversations
  • I do a lot of presenting. Often this is to smaller teams within a company or the business decision makers (typically 5-15 people) but I also find myself in front of larger groups at conferences and on webinars (typically 15-300 people)
  • This year in particular, I tried to embrace “digital whiteboarding” but I will also say that it seems weird to have omitted whiteboard markers from my picture.

Enough preamble. What’s important is that we…

Get to the picture!: My solutions architect everyday carry

solutions architect everyday carry

This simultaneously looks to me like a lot of wires and actually not that many…

  1. 3-in-1 USB cord (Micro USB, Lightning, iPod) – For charging devices. While I haven’t used the iPod connection in quite some time, I’ve been able to loan it out to someone else who was amazed that someone else had one handy
  2. USB DriveFor exchanging files and easy printing to hotel printers. 64GB and the smallest form factor I’ve found that still has a metal cover (that won’t get lost)
  3. USB Multi-Device Power SplitterFor charging multiple devices at the same time. Shout out to Veeam for the conference tchotchke
  4. 6-foot Lightning CableFor charging the iPad. Also for loaning out to the many, many people with iPhones that always seem to need a charge but don’t have a cable for some reason
  5. Apple USB Power AdapterFor charging all the devices. Enough said
  6. HooToo TripMateFor redundant power, network freedom, and file sharing. I absolutely love this device. It’s an especially helpful safety net for when I’m on a guest wireless network (e.g. so I can still use AirPlay for iPad screen sharing)
  7. Microsoft Bluetooth MouseFor mouse-ing. Small, simple, and reliable for the last 3 years.
  8. Logitech Professional Presenter – For controlling slide shows and pointing at things with a green laser pointer. It’s a USB device and has been exceptionally reliable. The roughest part here is that laser pointers are less and less practical (anyone else agree?)
  9. iPad Air 2For showing tablet apps. This is my personal device, but I use it in over 90% of my presentations to demonstrate the Microsoft commitment to iOS devices.
  10. Mini-display to VGAFor connecting to projectors. I prefer the HDMI connection, if possible, but I still see more VGA when I go into conference rooms
  11. Mini-display to HDMIFor connecting to projectors. For the preferred HDMI connection when in conference rooms.
  12. Moto X Pure – For showing mobile phone apps. Like the iPad, this is my personal device but I include it here to highlight the Android ecosystem.
  13. Headphones (1/8″ wired) – While I went through several attempts at wireless headphones, this cheap wired set made it through the whole year.
  14. 10-foot VGA Extender (female to male) – For connecting to projectors (without getting stuck in a weird spot). Like I said, lots of conference rooms have a projector with VGA connector–but I hate getting stuck at the back of the room when the projector’s back there and there’s only a short VGA cable. This extension gives me the flexibility to sit in the right place around the table.
  15. 1/8″ audio to RCA (male to male) – For connecting to sound systems. It’s more often that I use this in my hotel room to connect my phone up to the TV when I don’t want to listen on my headphones while burning the midnight oil
  16. RCA to 1/8″ (female to male) – Used in conjunction with #15 when I need a male to male 1/8″ audio connection. It’s not going to be audiophile quality, but it’ll do in a pinch.
  17. 4-foot Micro USB – For charging my phone and having some slack to still use it
  18. 20-foot Cat-6 network cableFor live software demonstrations on a wired network. Wired connections almost always yield better performance vs. guest wireless networks, and this cable makes sure I’m not stuck at an awkward place around the table.
  19. (not pictured) 20 foot HDMI cable (male to male) – For those times when I need a longer HDMI cable. Very similar to #14 but for HDMI instead of VGA.
  20. (not pictured) Belkin 3-Outlet Travel Charger and 8-foot grounded extension cordFor sharing power when limited plugs are available. Especially useful in older conference rooms. It’s also great for making new friends at airports when there’s a limited number of public outlets.
  21. (not pictured) Laptop computer – Over the course of the year I changed computers 2 times, as folks in my role tend to do. All were Windows 10 machines with touchscreen capability.

So there you have it for my solutions architect everyday carry for 2016. Did any of this catch you by surprise? Have you posted your everyday carry somewhere? Let me know in the comments if you have any ideas.

Matthew C. Anderson
 

I'm an enthusiastic speaker, creator, and problem-solver.

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