Last week I had the privilege of representing WP Engine at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference. It was an outstanding event and truly exceeded my expectations in terms of provocative content and ideas shared. Although there was no stated theme of the conference, I would say the predominate theme throughout the sessions was “disrupt thyself.” I wanted to share just a few of my favorite memories and takeaways.
It was fascinating to hear Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, passionately share his vision for change and disruption right on heels of his “leaked letter to employees” that was subsequently published on their corporate website. He gave a rousing call for Microsoft to focus on personal, individual productivity + organizational productivity recognizing that while Microsoft has been dominating the office, outside of Xbox it’s been losing at home. Clearly reclaiming ground lost to Apple is a key focus for Nadella.
Intel President Renee James demonstrated strength and courage in her transparency about how Intel both was ahead of its time in things like data centers and behind in mobile innovation. It was refreshing to see global leader of her stature talks openly about failures and learning from them. I’m excited for the future of Intel with leaders like her at the helm.
The Internet of Things (IoT) movement was of course embedded throughout many of the discussions, but it was really interesting when John Chambers, CEO Cisco, asked the audience to raise their hands if they had any plans around IoT, most hands shot up. Then he asked, how many have had plans for 2 years, some hands dropped. Then for 3 years, no hands were up in the audience. He said Cisco has been investing in IoT enabling technologies for more than 7 years!
The huge data opportunities & challenges coming from the explosion of devices was another consistent theme. Cisco’s Chambers said that they are forecasting that there will be 500 billion connected devices worldwide by 2030. Much of this will be driven by IoT & wearables, but another big portion will be the opening up of connectivity to new generations of emerging market citizens. Most of whom will make less than $20K a year. This dynamic will cause more businesses to get creative with how they cost effectively they can make, distribute and monetize their products and services.
I came away from the conference energized by what I heard and the people I had the good fortune to meet. The #fortunetech Twitter stream is chock full of great gems and I would encourage you to take a firsthand look! It is very clear the pace of technology change is only getting faster and faster. New, previously unthinkable alliances will be formed. Technology leaders will face new exciting & perhaps daunting challenges with the acceleration of global connectivity. I know that at WP Engine we will striving to disrupt ourselves, learn from both our successes and failures, and better enable our customers to confidently get their brand, ideas, products and services to the world via our platform.