More than 700 tech leaders shared a sense of camaraderie and optimism at Trace3’s eighth annual Evolve Conference, held at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas on Jan. 27-29. Trace3 CEO Tyler Beecher kicked things off with an inspiring keynote speech in which he declared that CIOs must act or be acted upon.
The main stage featured a celebrity appearance by legendary Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, who reflected on his early days designing the original Apple computers with Steve Jobs. When asked how important is maintaining an innovative posture for a business, the Woz responds all companies should have a Chief Disruption Officer (CDO). As an isolated independent thinker, the CDO’s sole purpose is to study trends coming in the future which could disrupt the business. And he noted a possible benefit of the CDO role is the potential to create a product the business can use to be a disruptor in the market. When it comes to innovation and success, Woz said you cannot guarantee your success but you can guarantee you do your best work.
The Woz was joined onstage by NetApp co-founder Dave Hitz, who urged the audience to speak with Trace3 to get a better handle on the latest emerging technologies. Hitz also hosted an interactive session on Wednesday afternoon discussing his views and opinions related to the Future of Cloud. The room was packed and Dave (and NetApp) raffled two Super Bowl tickets to a member of the audience.
Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers sent a video acceptance speech for his Lifetime Achievement Award from Trace3, based on his lasting impact on the tech industry. “When you talk about the role technology will play in terms of changing the world, to be the first lifetime achievement award recipient is an honor for me and for all of Cisco ” Mr. Chambers said.
IT consultant and author Greg McKeown discussed his latest book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” which challenges people to spend 80% of their time on the vital few necessary things, rather than focusing on the many trivial things that bombard us daily. “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will,” Greg said.
CIO Magazine Editor-in-Chief Maryfran Johnson and Trace3 President Chad Cardenas hosted the annual Outlier Awards presentation for IT innovators. Six deserving Outlier Finalists were honored for their IT leadership at the gala party, but in the end the 2016 Outlier Award went to Bill Schlough, CIO of the San Francisco Giants. Bill is credited with enhancing the Giants’ fan experience by implementing lots of cutting-edge technologies at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, the first 100% wireless venue in pro sports. Upon winning the Outlier trophy, Bill gave a rousing, Grammy-like acceptance speech that quoted from Jackie Robinson (“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”), cited his love of Fatburger, and showed off his three championship rings from the Giants’ World Series victories in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
Hayes Drumwright, the founder and Executive Chairman of Trace3, spoke eloquently about his latest startup business POPin, a mobile crowdsourcing app that enables leaders to align teams and set priorities for initiative success management. Hayes’ talk emphasized the importance of getting at the underlying truth from the common voice, not just listening to the most vocal people who always tell you what you want to hear.
Trace3 EVP Tony Bushell highlighted Trace3’s incomparable 7:1 ratio of seven engineers for every one sales or marketing person on staff. Frank Palase, DirecTV SVP of IT Strategy, gave a stirring speech about the unexpected parallels between engineers and professional artists. Both types must rely on creative insights to realize their vision and solve tough problems, according to Frank, an Outlier judge and the 2015 Outlier Awardee himself.
Trace3 President Chad Cardenas reminded us that the collective success of customers, the venture capital firms, and start-ups was born out of a collective mutual investment. That theme was carried on when Greylock Partners COO Tom Frangione gave his expert overview on the inner workings of the VC community in Silicon Valley. Tom cautioned that the tech sector is not in a current bubble, but we should expect fewer IPOs in 2016 due to continued volatility in the public markets.
Julie Ekstrom of IDG Enterprise gave a high-level summary of current IT market trends, and 451 Research Director Dr. Katy Ring explained how the cloud is becoming the most crucial change agent for digital business transformation. Katy said the real roadblocks to cloud evolution involve people problems such as inadequate skills or resources, not the actual technology itself.
Trace3 Research Director Mark Campbell held a breakout session to explain his team’s role as a technical liaison between Trace3, Silicon Valley VCs, startup entrepreneurs, and corporate IT leaders. The Trace3 ecosystem is comparable to a collection of sensors that regularly gathers data from all of these diverse sources. Mark added that Trace3 vets more than 1,500 new companies each year with 100% independent internal research.
Chris Laping, the former CIO of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and the 2014 Outlier Award winner, spoke about his new consulting venture called People Before Things. In his new role, Chris works with IT leaders to improve organizational change management. “Change is not an end user problem,” he proclaimed, “Change is a leadership problem.”
In fact, change and leadership emerged as the central themes throughout Evolve 2016, where upbeat attendees were inspired to take positive actions and become true technology innovators.
View all our 2016 Evolve videos on our Vimeo channel