Last year I cataloged my major sources of innovation stories. We all have our favorites. Valley watchers focus on local startups. Apple and SAP fanboys hype up every burp in each of their cafeterias. Others like to scan academic papers and work at campus labs. I myself like to see what non-tech companies are doing to embed technology in their products and services.
While all those sources will continue to be a substantive stream for New Florence and my books, I am struck by how much more reliable the “calendar” is. January brings CES, the Detroit Auto Show, Davos, the President's State of the Union speech, many years the Super Bowl. It brings the local Gasparilla festival, and every few years the Presidential Inauguration. Each of these events allows a chance to catalog innovative persons, places and products.
Other months of the year are just as full – over the last 6 years, I have built my own calendar to keep an eye for events as they approach. Even days like St. Patrick’s viewed over a few years allow you to see how tech evolves our social life, life in Ireland etc.
The other nice thing : In a world of predictable IT overruns and severely delayed vendor product releases, many of these events reflect fiendishly complex projects with thousands of moving parts which somehow come together and impress. The fact that many depend on volunteers rather than expensive consultants and contractors makes them even more impressive.
I like to sit down with event organizers like Scott Schenker of SAP even with his nervous eye that something – a security breach, a misconfigured wi-fi router, a drunk attendee – may cause an incident. There is a certain pride in the exhaustion you see in Jennifer Donner Smith of NetSuite, as she comes home from a 2-3 week global events tour.
Sprint hit home with me when it ran commercials about Roadies running the world