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9/10/2012
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InformationWeek 500 To-Do List

It's all well and good to have an agenda when you go to a conference, but don't forget the bigger lessons that serendipity brings.

I'm taking some time off to attend this year's InformationWeek 500, an InformationWeek conference that serves both as an award venue for innovative companies and government agencies, and as a gathering place for hundreds of IT leaders to learn from each other and from the conference's special guests.

I'll admit it: I struggle a little bit with my OCD side, a leftover from my days in the data center, where the details really, really matter. In my leadership role, I sometimes have to let go a bit and let others worry about the details, but when I'm at a conference, I can indulge my check-the-box, schedule-it, wallow-in-the-details side. So here's my OCD checklist about what I'm hoping to check out at the conference, and what I'm hoping to get out of it.

1. A keynote from MIT's Erik Brynjolfsson. His book Race Against The Machine implies that our conventional ways of implementing, using, and managing IT aren't going to work in the near future. The premise that we'll hear about Monday is that technology is evolving far faster than people can adapt. I'm not sure whether he means customers, or IT itself. Sounds a lot like consumerization to me. I'm married to one of those MIT geniuses, so you can bet I'll be listening--I'm sort of conditioned to.

2. A keynote interview with Proctor and Gamble's Filippo Passerini. While this year's InformationWeek 500 theme is "throw out the old IT rulebook," I would humbly submit that one of the subthemes is that it's all about the data: big data, open data, data collaboration. Our own Chris Murphy will be interviewing Passerini and discussing how P&G allows employees to choose the data that they want to see. I'm personally interested in this because I'm intrigued by the notion. Metrics and data are powerful medicine. I have seen more than one organization mired down in tracking 150 performance metrics, when they simply could have been tracking the five that really mattered.

[ See Startup Weekend Made Me A Better IT Leader. ]

3. Five hot startups. If I had to name the top five issues facing me, I'd probably name mobility, social networking, security, cloud computing, and big data. I'd bet that most of you would too. So it's going to be very cool on Tuesday when colleague John Foley and I will be hosting senior leadership of five up-and-coming startups that address these hot button CIO issues, in a format very much resembling Ignite or lightning talks. Panelists James Staten and Chenxi Wang of Forrester Research will be asking some tough questions, as will the audience of several hundred IT leaders. It should be awesome.

My colleagues Charlie "Cloud" Babcock, Doug "Big Data" Henschen, and Laurie "Technology Translator" McLaughlin will be covering many of these events, so if you couldn't make it to the conference, stay tuned to #iw500 on Twitter, and the InformationWeek 500 page on Facebook.

But, as usual, my biggest to-do list item is to have some off-the-record and very candid discussions about life as a provider of IT services, whether it's in the CIO or service provider role. On Sunday night during the opening reception, I had a fantastic conversation with the CEO of an outsourced IT firm and the CIO of a large private sector company about the difficulties surrounding security awareness at an organization. We all related stories that we never would have had, never COULD have had in a meeting room and less intimate setting. So, although it goes against my natural OCD tendency, to be honest, these unscheduled moments are very much on my agenda for the next couple of days.

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