2012 Fusion CEO CIO Symposium Madison Wrap Up

CEO’s, CIO’s, VP’s, Directors, Managers of information technology converged upon the Fluno Center in Madison, Wisconsin, to talk to each other about technology trends, strategies, challenges and experiences. It’s the Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium. It kicked off on Wednesday and wrapped up Thursday, March 8th. I attended the full day session on Thursday and attempted to live tweet the event.

It has been a successful event in years past and while this was the first one that I attended, I’d have to say that I did not have a hard time understanding why it’s been successful and the feedback positive. It’s the contacts, the speakers and the information that is shared that brings the value. How many days in a year can other CIO’s talk about what’s going on in the industry and know what other peers are handling the common challenges?  Each speaker addressed a particular experience, trend or technology, and presented it with their own approach. While this may be elementary, CTO Sears Holdings-Phil Shelley’s demonstration of Hadoop‘s parallel processing of using ‘smart’ audience member (representing a RDBMS) and ‘dumb’ members (nodes on a Hadoop cluster) provided amusement while also providing a live analogy that many attendees will not forget. Mark McDonald, PhD, from Gartner Executive Programs and author was intense and passionate about Technology being greater than IT. If you can go to an event where Mark is speaking, go. You won’t be disappointed. Put Tom Koulopoulos, CEO, Delphi Group in the same room and you won’t have people nodding off at all. The energy of Tom and Mark could power an Enterprise for a year.

Not to be overshadowed, Steve Schlect-CEO, Duluth Trading, gave us insight into the challenges of going from mail order/print to online e-commerce (eventually brick and mortar retail) that many CEO’s would not openly share.  There was the talk from IBM’s Dr. William LaFontaine, VP Tech Strategy & Worldwide Ops, Research, about the future of  IBM’s Watson. Ken Jennings wasn’t around, but he’ll sleep better knowing that Watson will be venturing into healthcare and not the trivia show circuit. There were many others to consider, so my apologies to not elaborating on each of them. The short of it is that each one brought value. The board for the symposium was diligent enough, and should be credited for ensuring talks from vendors were more topic-oriented and not a mere sales pitch.  As a potential attendee, this is important to know.

There were a lot of smart people in the room, many of them decision makers that need to not only consider the ever-evolving world of technology, but how to adapt new treands into the enterprise.

A symposium certainly worth attending.  It will get you thinking about the power of social, the quest to make sense of all the data, and how peers in the industry are trying, failing, and succeeding. It was good to be a part of it.