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Four Inspiring Stories From Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2018

Image courtesy of Fortune

Last week Fortune hosted the Fortune Brainstorm TECH conference, the publication’s annual invite-only “summer retreat for leaders from Fortune 500 companies, the top emerging entrepreneurs of the tech world, and the most important investors who finance them.”

Brainstorm TECH is one of the conferences that sets a tone by highlighting and explaining current and potentially upcoming business and technology trends. Every year I am impressed with the lineup, and every year I enjoy reading the articles about conference topics that industry reporters and influencers write.  Fortune’s editorial team and Adam Lashinsky, executive editor and editorial director of the Fortune Brainstorm Tech Conference, truly deliver rich content.

I was especially impressed by the amount of powerhouse women attending the conference — Chief Executive Officers, Chief Product Officers, partners from VC firms, cybersecurity experts. The list goes on. As the #MeToo movement uncovers the difficulties women have had and continue to have building their careers, it’s important that women are able to rise to leadership positions and offer their insights regularly.

I can’t provide commentary on each and every topic I found educational, but there are a few pieces that stood out and which I personally really enjoyed reading.

I am going to start with Beth Kowitt’s article about Slack and WeWork. At BOCA Communications, we use both of those services and love them.  We’ve deployed Slack as our internal BOCA Communications chat platform. As a bit of a relic myself, I had a hard time transitioning to it from email, but the transition is happening.  Thank you to April Underwood, Slack’s chief product officer, for helping guide the product. Our team here loves the Google Drive integration, among other features.

We also have a WeWork space in Nashville. Our Vice President of Client Service Alissa Vasilevskis works from that WeWork space regularly and appreciates the flexibility it providers her, along with the like-minded community of companies and people that surround her. She regularly shares stories about her cubemates and truly enjoys the experience WeWork provides. Customer engagement is an important part of any company’s strategy, whether you are delivering a product or a service, and Alissa can attest to the excellent customer experience that WeWork provides.

At Fortune Brainstorm, Shiva Rajaraman, WeWork’s chief product officer, discussed the importance of analytics and data, saying that “taking data that’s been disparate, collect it, and use machine learning to analyze what’s most effective” which resonates with me because we have so many great clients such as Arcadia Data, FigureEight and SteamSets that are aiming to solve analytics / big data problems through machine learning.

Finally, when I read Clay Chandler’s article “Digital Transformations: What It Takes to Overhaul Established Organizations,” I felt drawn to the premise. We work in tech PR, where there are a lot of buzz words and cliches but digital transformation is not one of them. It represents a completely new way of building a company.

As a veteran of Silicon Valley, I believe we truly are in a technology renaissance. Cisco, Oracle, SalesForce, SAP and VMWare are mature and officially legacy companies. There is a reason they buy up our clients such as Altiscale (SAP), CliQr (Cisco), Gigya (SAP), Plexxi (HPE), Shipwire (IngramMicro), to name a few. They need the new technology to transform digitally and help their customers transform. Digital transformation, however overused the phrase might be, is a real story in the technology world right now. Successful transformation journeys have led to tangible results, and we should celebrate the changes our clients are catalyzing.

As we read about tech companies, it’s important to step back and understand the climate in which they operate. I appreciated Polina Marinova’s story, “Uber CEO on Gender Discrimination Investigation: ‘I take Sole Responsibility.’” It’s important to recognize when a company has done something wrong and own up to it and try to make changes. Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi demonstrates  authenticity and honesty with his quote:

“Sometimes it takes a punch in the face to see things clearly This was one of the moments for me. This was a rough week, but it was incredibly motivating.”

I wish him tremendous success on his new journey as a leader of a company that is in the middle of a cultural crisis even as it transforms transportation.  

On a personal note, I hope to go to Fortune Brainstorm (#invitemepleaseadam) but for now I will live vicariously through the articles that folks from the Fortune Editorial Team have been writing.

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