Phoenix in August

For those of you not intimately familiar with the events “game”, no one really does much over the summer months, the biggest reason being that the delegates are all on vacation. Not for the whole summer obviously, but you can pretty much guarantee that at some point over the course of July and August, anyone that is anyone is going to be unavailable. So we use the time to plan and prepare (and take vacations ourselves), and to get ready for the fall.

While Labor Day (or Labour Day for the Brits and Canucks) generally marks the end of summer, and therefore the end of the quiet period for most events companies, here at CDM we don’t think like most and so we used this week to get the jump on a packed fall program, with four back-to-back-to-back-to-back events that kicked off last Sunday, and concluded on Friday.

Holy Hannah, what a week!

We got things rolling with our CIO Retail Summit, at which we hosted over 40 IT executives from such leading companies as Costco, CVS, eBay, and Neiman Marcus. We had grocers, and office suppliers, clothiers and restaurateurs. It was, I have to say, a great crowd. In terms of the key topics for the event, not surprisingly Big Data and data analytics surged to the fore. For retailers of all sizes the challenge is to be able to better identify and appeal to the optimal customer. Naturally to do that these retailers have to collect sufficient pertinent information to know who the optimal customer is, and understand just exactly what appeals to him or her. It doesn’t seem so long ago that Big Data was described by many as a solution looking for a problem, but that certainly no longer seems to be the case. Secondary issues all stemmed from that need to better relate to the end customer and we explored the “Privacy/Personalization Paradox” and looked at the impact of third party mobile usage (so clients, not employees). And of course, what IT discussion wouldn’t be complete without a dive into Agility, Innovation, and Transformation.

As the Retail Summit wrapped, the CIO Manufacturing Summit kicked off and so we were saying goodbye to one set of friends as we were simultaneously welcoming another. Again, our list of attendees read like a who’s who – CVS stuck around for the second conference and were joined by Halliburton, Boeing, Goodyear, and Whirlpool. It was the Chief Data Scientist for Halliburton, Dr. Satyam Priyadarshy in fact that delivered out opening keynote, and if you think you’ve got Big Data needs, you should see those of a multi-national drilling and mining company. Suffice it say that his presentation moved the dial in terms of what an analytics program could look like for all the attendees. Big Data, clearly, was an issue for the manufacturers, though the focus was a little different. Many of them were implementing programs focused internally, on finding efficiencies within their production facilities as more and more shop floor systems become IT enabled. Naturally this lead to many conversations about IT/OT integration, which of course, is just another flavor of the IT and business alignment conversation that all CIOs have been having over the last few years.

The Manufacturing Summit brought us to the end of day Thursday, and we celebrated two great conferences in the bag with dinner and drinks with the outgoing delegation. We packed them off to bed for their early morning flights home, and ourselves off to bed because we still had two conferences to go. Both CIO Utilities and CIO Government would be starting the next morning and between the two we’d be welcoming over 80 executives.

For our Utilities event we drew speakers from Duke Energy, Exelon Corporation, AES, and E.ON. Our topics ran the gamut – no hyper focusing on data here (though it was certainly one of the topics) and if any one seemed to be pre-eminent is was risk management. Whether it was IT security, physical security, disaster preparedness, or regulatory compliance, managing organizational risk seemed to be the biggest concern. Utilities face many of the same challenges as Manufacturers (since they “manufacture the electrical and gas supply) and Retailers (since we’re all their customer in the end) and so many of the issues from the earlier conferences bled into this one.

With representatives from Federal, State, County, and Municipal governments, it’s safe to say that we covered all levels of public administration in our CIO Government Summit. We had coast-to-coast coverage, though the other sunshine states (California and Florida – we hosted in Arizona) were the ones most heavily in attendance. For these attendees their challenges mirrored what we saw in the private sector 18-24 months ago with a heavier focus on Cloud, Mobile, and the early phases of Innovation and Transformation programs. The unique financial constraints placed on public administration necessitate this slower more methodical approach, the benefit being our government agencies get to benefit from all of the learnings of the private sector.

So there you have it. Four great conferences. Over one hundred and fifty senior IT executives from various different industries. A variety of themes, challenges, and issues and just as many insights, lessons, and new relationships. As a kick-off to the fall program, I don’t think the week could have gone better, and I look forward to meeting all of you reading this at one of our many upcoming events. To see the list, and determine which one makes the most sense for you simply click here.

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