MHTA Spring Conference: innovation, cloud computing and mobile technology

Yesterday I attended the Minnesota High Tech Association Spring Conference. It’s always a good opportunity to see folks and hear about what’s happening in the high tech industries and what folks are thinking about. It seems they are thinking about innovation, cloud computing and mobile technology.

I heard a lot of speakers talk about the need to open up their technology and their ideas –in terms of getting feedback from customers, getting customers to help spread the word (generally via social media), listening to what others are doing. Technology projects can no longer be done in a vacuum – because the technology outside of that vacuum changes so quickly.

I tried to take notes during the sessions I attended. Also I have a video of my colleague Bill Coleman talking about the MIRC project. All of the Tekne Award recipients from 2012were invited to speak at the conference – and the MIRC project was a recipient.

The morning keynote was Scott Durschlag Best Buy

Where is Best Buy going?

Case for Change

  • Market Landscape – channel shifting
  • Competitive Environment – need for strong brand differentiation
  • Consumer Dynamics – connected lifestyles
  • Digital Context – role of social media

Renew Blue

–          Reinvent CE retail by delivering delight anytime, anywhere on any device

–          Optimize digital customer experience

–          Build open & adaptive web 3.0 platform

–          Enable deep personalized relationships with customers

–          Orchestrate & monetize partner & vendor ecosystems

–          Integrate & accelerate value of loyalty

We support thee-Fair Marketplace legislation. Folks like Best Buy have been playing on an unleveled playing field when Internet-only businesses don’t have to charge tax.

We’ve been working on Data Center Legislation.

Breakout Session: The Spectrum of Innovation

Dana Lonn, Managing Director CATT, Toro

–          Any problem is solvable – key to innovation.

Paul Mattia, VP, RD&E, Foodservice, Ecolab

–          Innovation Metrics

–          Be Public about recognizing innovation

–          “Connect people with values (make people love their job) – inspires innovation”

–          Recognize the importance of the first follower

Mike Schaefer, Vice President, CTO, Global Research and Development, Tennant Company

–          Innovation is not optional

–          Innovation must be part of your strategy

–          Diversity and talent are important – getting different points of view

–          Don’t believe your own press releases


How do you incorporate social media into innovation strategies?

At Ecolab it’s easy. Our customers are restaurants. The pressure of TripAdvisor has made people want to be cleaner.

Toro – we’re just starting. We watch for comments on our products. We don’t tap into open innovation and asking the world for ideas. We’re working on how that applies to us.

Tennant – We’re early stages too

How do you approach failure?

Ecolab – We tell them that we don’t expect them to succeed every time. We share stories of failures. Sometimes it’s a matter of being ahead of your time. We try to learn from failure.

Toro – Wharton Business school professor talks about the need for performance originations and learning organizations – the question you ask relates to that tension.

Tennant – We have a review process, which helps people get on board.

How do you see mobility play in?

Toro – One challenge – we think of products and projects. We were educated to define everything then freeze specs and come out with a perfect product years later. That’s not the world we live in today.

In a large company, how do you work with innovation outside of your company?

Tennant – Must ask what’s happening in adjacent spaces.

Ecolab – We host events that lets people experience what the customers experience.

Session 2B: IT | The Changing Role of the CIO (Room L100 I/J) 

Today’s IT organizations are facing a barrage of changes; Cloud Computing, Social Networks, Mobility, SaaS, etc.. World class IT organizations are adapting by taking on a Service Orientation for their departments. Through IT-as-a-Service initiatives, our panel of leading CIOs is able to provide their stakeholders a greater return on investment – but it isn’t always so easy. Come hear what challenges and strategic approaches have been used and how they have led to greater success.

  • § Moderator – Todd Hauschildt, CEO, SWAT Solutions, Inc.

Patrick Joyce, CIO, Medtronic

It’s all about change. Always looking at what’s the next change.

Disruptive technology – means we now work as a broker of technology and as an educator.

IT is the business.

Tim Thull, CIO, Medica

Establishing a more adaptive IT staff. We have needed to be faster. We’re having to react in real time.

We decide where to get involved and where to stay away. We focus on control, cost-effective and security.

Alan Abramson, CIO, Health Partners

The role has moved from being a one-stop –shop to more of a business partnership. Service is also playing a larger role.

I have two rules with technology innovation:

Any technology that is sufficiently developed will be adopted despite opposition. The question  is – when it is sufficiently developed?

As adoption takes place, there’s a lag between start of use and value of meaningful use.

We talk about mobile phone as if it’s a new things – it’s been around for 40 years.

Final Keynote: Jim Link, Author The New Creativity

When skill meets will magic happens – the same is true with creativity.

We are getting worse at creativity – probably because we’re thinking and teaching it the wrong way.

People who are creative are:

Curious: People who are creative are observant, studious, thoughtful. They work to know more about their field. They are always noticing things and filing them away until later.

Inquisitive: they dig to get more info. They pursue things until they find their answers.

The more collect – they more you connect.

Creativity comes from

Curiosity -> drive analysis -> created idea-links materials -> making connections

Or even shorter…

Notice – Analyze – Store

This entry was posted in Broadband Applications, Conferences, economic development, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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