Staying Ahead: Katie Linendoll wraps up Innovate 2013
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Today's guest post is from Katie Linendoll, tech journalist, who shares her experience at Innovate 2013: The IBM Technical Summit. Thanks to Katie and to all who participated in this year's Innovate!
As I return to NYC from sunny Orlando, I leave behind IBM’s Innovate 2013, where I played the roles of social host and resident tech expert.
As with every IBM conference, I bring with me many takeaways, including lessons fitting of the conference’s “Stay Ahead” theme.
Stay ahead of: trends, tech curve, marketplace and competitors. Stay ahead in your career and stay ahead with clients. Nowadays, big components and big tech disrupter themes that allow us to stay ahead include the buzzwords mobile, social, big data and cloud. All of these were also key pillars of Innovate 2013. But as the social host, the area I really want to focus on is, well, social.
The concept of social has been buzzing around my head since the conference began June 2. Why, I asked myself, did this word stand out among more powerful words? Does it really have the clout to live as a pillar among mobile big data and the cloud? I didn’t have to look far for my answers.
As I listened via Livestream to Gina Poole, VP of Rational Marketing and Developer Relations with IBM, it became clear that social is becoming a key part of IT. Consumers are relying on social media to inform their purchases, and businesses that aren’t on board are going to take a hit, said Poole.
“When you think of the social and digital revolution, for anybody in any business, whether you’re selling software or you’re selling hammers and nails, customers, before they contact you or show up in your store, they’re already 80 percent through the purchase process just from what they’ve learned in the social spaces, on the web. They’ve already kind of made their decision,” said Poole. “So if you’re not visible there, you’re not even considered.” (For more on this watch http
In short, customers want to be instantly connected to businesses, from customer service reps all the way up to the C-level. You might be surprised how many people make themselves accessible through social media. Through Twitter, I’m still amazed at the wide range of execs and athletes. In just the last few months, a few standouts that I've interviewed show the vast scope of accessibility, including Frank Supovitz (the director of NFL events), Sarah Robb O’Hagan (the president of Equinox and formerly Gatorade) and RG3. Using a platform like Twitter to answer questions about yourself and your business is how you stay current and relevant.
We have all come to expect instant gratification, whether it’s receiving a response on Twitter or through IT customer service. Think about it: how annoyed are you when you sit on the phone going through automated responses or long hold times waiting for answers when purchasing a flight or having a problem with a product? It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, right? Ten years ago, it sure seems like we had more patience. But technology has changed so quickly, it’s altered our expectations.
Years ago, when I was earning my degree in IT, I recall a professor adamantly saying you have chosen a profession in which you are going to have to constantly freshen your skills and learn new ones. If you can’t do that, better to try something else. And he was right. Staying ahead means adapting and saying “Yes” to social—and all the other tech advances.
Kristof Kloeckner, GM of Rational software with IBM, was the one who really brought it all together for me and put all of the buzz worthy arenas in perspective. Kloeckner referred to cloud, mobile, analytics and big data as “the main technology and business disrupters,” all of which work in tandem. He summed up the relationships among those systems beautifully when he said, “It’s very important that all of them are, in a sense, reinforcing each other. It’s in a sense a perfect storm situation, and it’s driven by empowered people. You want services at your fingertips, that’s mobile. You want them at any time in any size that you imagine, that’s cloud. It’s about delivery of services. You want to interact with your peers and your clients directly, without middlemen and get instant feedback, and your clients expect the instant feedback, that’s social business. And in everything that we do, we gather a lot of data that we have to turn into insights so that we can be more successful. That’s, if you wish, a smarter planet.”
And who doesn’t want a smarter planet? (To hear more of Kloeckner’s thoughts go to http
Speaking of an intelligent planet—one last note—having dinner with Woz wasn’t anything short of magical.