TechVision 2013 Brings Technology Thought Leaders and Enthusiasts Together
By Anadi Misra '14 | november, 2013, Issue 2
Adam Caplan of Salesforce discusses futuristic technology at TechVision.
The Booth Technology Group (BTG) organized TechVision 2013 on the evening of Nov. 5, at the Hard Rock Hotel downtown. The well-attended dinner event, made possible by the enterprising BTG co-chairs and volunteers, consisted of three speakers from the technology space followed by a panel discussion.
After opening remarks, the stage was set for Adam Caplan, SVP at Salesforce, who leads the global consulting organization that builds custom applications on the platform. Adam talked about various futuristic technologies, one of which is in use in a new shopping mall, Nebraska Crossing Outlets, in Omaha. The store has installed physical sensors, called beacons, at various locations and aisles inside individual stores, which allow a smartphone to use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to relay location data. Therefore, retailers can now determine the precise location of shoppers within the store and get an idea of what product they are looking at or which department they are in. This can have a myriad of applications for optimizing sales in brick-and-mortar stores.
Lauren Cappell, Senior Director of Technology Strategy and Planning at Thomson Reuters followed Caplan. According to Cappell, big data, mobile and cloud are the three critical technologies for the future, and firms like Amazon are taking advantage of them through services like Amazon Web Services (AWS). She also talked about a number of cool applications that use a combination of these three technologies to provide innovative solutions. Some of the key applications include:
- IBM Watson, an artificially intelligent computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language
- Oblong, a next generation user interface based on touches and gestures, something similar to what was featured in the movie The Minority Report
- Numenta/Grok, generates actionable predictions by analyzing real-time data streams as data scientists have done in the past
The third speaker was Mr. William Forrest, a partner in McKinsey Chicago's Business Technology practice. He provided the interesting and somewhat contrarian viewpoint that technology itself cannot change or disrupt businesses, but the fundamentals of how the business is done need to change in order to gain significant benefits from use of technology. He cited Amazon as a great example of a disruptive innovator and its use of a "push strategy" for cross-selling related products. He noted that Amazon Prime has facilitated cross-selling by taking shipping costs out of the equation and that Amazon is able to price "Prime Eligible" products precisely up to the nearest penny by using a data-driven approach to identify their customers' willingness to pay.
The evening ended with a panel discussion on product development and marketing, led by panelists from Coyote Logistics, GrubHub, Microsoft, Motorola and Razorfish. The evening's events offered an interesting overview of how well-known technology can be used in novel ways as well as a glimpse of some completely new ideas that may be in store.