Posted by: Ann Treacy | April 26, 2012

Minnesota High Tech Association Spring Conference: Notes

Yesterday I attended the Minnesota High Tech Association Spring Conference. Margaret Anderson Kelliher, current chair of the Minnesota Broadband Task Force hosted the event (as President of the MHTA) and former Task Force chair Rick King gave the keynote presentation. So it seemed as if there was a lot of broadband in the air.

The buzz about the conference was the announced relocation of the MHTA. They will be moving downtown to the Grain Exchange Building. In the sessions, folks were talking very specifically about how to use technology to improve business. Social Media, Cloud Computing and Security were hot topics.

Talking to attendees, it was good to hear that most folks feel business is good. From Involta to the Eagan Data Center, folks were talking about growth and building capacity – broadband, workforce and knowledge. Folks were telling stories of how technology has worked for them and what they are doing to make sure that it continues to work.

I took notes from the sessions I attended. They aren’t full notes – but I offer them for folks who weren’t able to attend….

Margaret Anderson Kelliher

Recent jobs report indicates that the computer sectors is reaching levels we haven’t seen in 10 years. The question is – are we producing enough quality people to meet that need? We will be looking into that with listening sessions with MNSCU today.

MHTA is moving this summer to downtown Mpls – the Grain Exchange Building

Gov Dayton

Rick King – what sets you apart matters

Will talk about how to work with and create a community & culture in a global company. Branding comes down to image – and those who control the image control the brand.

Do you want to define your brand or do you want someone else to define your brand personally and professionally? You don’t want to leave yourself with nothing.

If you don’t know anything about something – you will define it yourself and generally less complementary terms than a product would want.

Thompson Reuters focuses on: Authentic – Transparent – Courageous

My job is to make the company and the brand better than you found it. You need to be able to walk the talk. The Brand Becomes the Verb

How do you share what you want people to do? People get more involved if they make connection to leadership. It makes sense to define the brand and then use that to start conversations. How do you start conversations when you’re spread over 11 countries? Technology tools can help you put the goals and brand out there.

How do I use tools to communicate with people about what I want them to know about the business or me?

TR uses LinkedIn and Twitter as a tool to communicate in and out of the company. Rick started a blog internally. The goal was 3-4 posts a week, mostly on business. But the most interesting posts to readers were the personal posts. Personal posts start a conversation that professional posts can’t. They build a conversations; they build relationships.

7000 person office. We don’t know everyone. Mostly people don’t say hello if you’re the executive – unless you speak first. Now people start a conversation based on past blog posts. That’s a program that starts engagement with the folks we want to reach.

Social media can raise engagement.

Shared Drive is a video – we focus on product launch or other event to highlight individual and team achievement. It’s a great way to recognize and reward people. Surveys showed that people thought reward and recognition were low.

Webcasts of technology leaders like talk shows. We get 1000-12000 live viewers (and twice that view the archive). People can post questions in advance and/or send questions during the session. The feedback on this programs has been great.

You have to make sure these things are authentic and transparent. So people can ask anything they want – and we will answer every question.

Tell Me Something Good – send Rick an email if you see something good happen. He will call and talk to the do-gooder. Doesn’t cost anything aside from a little time. Get great stories. Make someone’s day. It’s nice to get the call – but it’s also nice to know that someone thought enough about what you’ve done to share the story.

Sometimes it’s important to recognize people who do the right things – but where they don’t work. We were going to call it Hit Me with Your Best Shot. The problem is that people don’t want to admit that something has failed. If we want innovation – we have to find a way to allow people to fail.

PUBLIC CLOUD STRATEGY

Sponsored by: Perficient

You can’t read a publication that doesn’t mention the Cloud as the most strategic platform that our industry is embracing. Come hear our panel of experts provide their perspectives on how they are incorporating the Cloud into their strategic plans. The lessons-learned and business results will surprise you — from new opportunities, competitive offerings, Service Level Agreements and deployment challenges to feeding the bottom-line, our experts will help guide you through this new and challenging landscape.

  • Moderator – Matt Russell, Perficient
  • Jeff Kubacki, Chief Information Officer, ATK
  • Casey Niemann, Microsoft
  • Narinder Singh, Chief Strategy Officer, Appirio

Cloud brings agility, virtualization, scalability, redundancy.

Need to work on compliance and security.

How is Aerospace approaching cloud computing given security concerns?

We have a hybrid approach. We have people trying to get into our system every day. We want to keep them out. We chose solutions based on that need. Only 6 percent of our inbound email gets through. Our biggest concern is malware.

On the inside – we’re Windows. We have 90% virtualization. That puts us in good shape.

Now we ask when we can take the next step. We’re trying to reduce costs. The cloud is a good fit. I belong to a council of CIOs. The feds are trying to move their infrastructure to the cloud. One other company in the council has move entirely to gmail.

We are waiting to see this work with other aerospace/defense companies before we go too far.

The government is pushing as aggressively in a pragmatic way to cloud computing. If the government can move – what’s everyone else’s excuse?

Businesses should be moving faster. Compare Instagram to Kodak. (Or Netflix and Blockbuster.)

You need to ask about what your competitors are doing – even the competitors they don’t know about. We’ve seen several companies lose traction as they held onto an all of nothing attitude.

Also have to look at core competency and what you need to do stay on track. Stick with those – but maybe there are other functions that you can look to do on the cloud. Portfolio rationalization.

Systems were used deal with customers for years – or maybe they were used to not deal directly with customers – but rise of social media has forced businesses to go back to customer.

Think about how to use the cloud to deal with customers.

How to you get CEOs and others on board?

I get to present to the board a couple times a years. I have been talking about the cloud. I tell them that we use it for selective tasks but due to security concerns we’re holding off on other – but we are getting ready for action.

I told our vendors that we were interested in moving to the cloud.

It’s important to set expectations. The CEO is reading about the cloud but not necessarily thinking of business strategy in terms of cloud computing.

Facebook IT is about 70% in the cloud. That approach will apply. Without a forward looking CEO the company can’t get full ROI on cloud computing.

Patterns in Cloud Computing?

Small companies can act big; yet big companies can act small. People in the company can feel as if they have the tools they need when they need them.

Small companies can afford the larger solutions / Large companies can become more nimble.

Some folks (even at Dept of Defense) seem to think that the Cloud Computing may be more secure than other options eventually. There are difficult issues; but also dumb perceptions.

How are you prepping for the Cloud?

We are simplifying the departments. We have shared services. We moved to more virtualization. We talk to our vendors about what we need.

Most people are not cloud providers. You need to figure out what piece you can have it that.

Why are people going to the cloud?

The biggest draw to Cloud Computing is SAS applications – especially SalesForce, Google…

Customer related functions is drawing people in because it’s often a point of pain for a business.

Anything that is social or mobile by nature

Any net-new project

Cloud storage has a great ROI

SEO MEETS SOCIAL MEDIA

Presenters – GiveMN, Webranking, SpiderTrap, Padilla Speer Beardsley

Sponsored by: Padilla Speer Beardsley

Social media now plays a big role in search engine results. You not only need to create great content online, it needs to be sharable, even “likeable”. How can you make your organization more socially active and visible online? What does it all mean for traditional search engine optimization? Do you need a presence on Google+ to be a player? Join us for a lively discussion!

  • Moderator – Bob Brin, Padilla Speer Beardsley
  • Jeff Achen, GiveMN

How have recent Google tweaks changed SEO & SM?

• Google+ is a growing factor in SEO.
• Google focuses on fresh content. In the social realm – having a blog is a big part of any social media campaign. And you need to produce fresh content on a regular basis.
• Google rewards sharing (via Twitter, AddThis & other)
• Yesterday Google made changes to de-emphasize over optimization of sites.
• Search engines are trying to pull in more content from social media tools faster. In some way to combat immediacy of Twitter.

• Bing is not going away
• Using Facebook is important

What’s up with Google+?

• They have 170 million users. Some of that is people recognizing how Google+ has impact on business
• Google+ is fastest growing social network
• Many marketing folks got online – now folks are trying to figure out what to do.
• They are trying to push video and having out space
• Google+ will grow

YouTube and social media may lead to conversions – and search is happening off the search engines themselves.

How can you use Google+ in a business realm?

• Build an audience
• Engage an audience – but slowly
• Post updates that are newsworthy, post links to content
• Don’t post too spammy
• Google+ might be the same people who follow you on Twitter and Facebook.
• Google is starting to crawl content that are symbols (such as hashtags)
• Strategy for Google+ Try and fail, try and fail – learn quickly and adjust

What do you do when another site (such as aggregator) does better with your content that you do? And how can thwart it?

• They could have better links; they probably have more fresh content
• They could have better domain name, volume of content or age of site
• You can check out Google Universal Search
• Try channels such as PRWire/Web, think about blogging, think link building
• Paid search

Can you talk about content?

• There are many types of content – words, video, infographic. It’s something people can interact with.
• Fresh content that’s related to your audience is a key.
• Google wants to provide the best search results. So they look for content that’s shared. They also look at volume of content you share.
• Don’t focus too much on keyword density – but recognize that it will make a difference – think about it when using social media.

What about Slideshare?

• We use it on GiveMN.
• Good for informational outreach.
• It’s like YouTube – can be a good tool
• Results are less about SEO but more about content creation

How can you get the word out?

• Use blog as your hub
• Social media tools can be PR channel
• When you do a PR Campaign – optimize for it and use PPC/sponsored search

What makes a good SEO/SM person?
• Passion for the topic (it requires a lot of attention)
• Like to write
• Understand the tech side
• Someone who is data driven

Search engine marketing isn’t a term we use – you need to look at the broader scope and set goals that relate to conversion of action versus search engine ranking.

60 percent of BtoB businesses are seeing SEO rise because of SM

What are the best hubs that work for Social media strategy?

• A blog
• Tumblr
Other tips:

• Having a corporate guide on social media use is helpful.
• Encouraging user-generated content can be a great resource
• Creating a content calendar is helpful
BIG DATA

Sponsored by: University of St. Thomas Graduate Programs in Software

In the new era of “Big data” organizations gain strong insight and advantage through a keen understanding of how markets and organizations work. gives According to McKinsey & Company, big data is “the next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity.” This session will introduce participants to big data and business analytics: what it is, how to get it, and how to use it to an organization’s advantage.

  • Moderator: Bonnie Holub, ArcLight, Inc.; UST Graduate Programs in Software
  • Bradley Rubin, PhD, UST Graduate Programs in Software
  • Carolyn Parnell, State of Minnesota
  • Mike Edwards, Thoson Reuters

What do we mean by Big Data?

• Cassandra
• Hadoop
• mongoDB
• Google
• Data.gov
• Amazon
• Netflix
• Watson

How do we characterize Big Data?

• Volume
• Velocity
• Variety
• Visualization
• Value

Big Data & the State of MN – Presentation from Carolyn Parnell (Thanks for sharing!)

View from UST

Moore’s Law in effect has made a difference in capacity.
Cluster computing has also increased capacity.

QUESTIONS

Concerns of social implications of predicting via big data?

We’re working on a new product for lawyers – it mines public sources (legal documents) and inferring connections between people. They were very uncomfortable. Geeks think more analytics are better analytics – but that may not always be the case.

State has geospatial data. There’s a lot of potential – but risk too. Need to approach with caution.

How do you ask the right question?

Ask the neuroscientist – or whoever the customer is. The technologist is not as good as making up questions.

Does the State of MN have something like Data.gov?

http://www.mn.gov/data/ 

We need to get a handle on what’s useful and a handle on what needs to be handled more securely.


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