Last week was Chicago’s turn to host Techweek, the nation wide event that aims to build a better world through tech entrepreneurship. We make a point to attend every year because we know achieving sustainable results requires leveraging the right tools — and that means embracing new technology and innovating from within.
On the expo floor you could find startups, app companies, recruiting firms, IT consultants, software developers/providers and marketing agencies competing for the attendees’ attention with interactive contests, giveaways, games and even champagne.
This year, FIRST, a mentor-based program for kids that builds science, engineering, technology and lifecycle skills, was granted a significant part of the expo floor to show off their robotics projects. It was inspirational to see these kids full of passion and promising futures. Many questions asked in the panels and sessions revolved around “how to do I get my kid interested in this stuff?”
Day one kicked off with the Women in Tech Breakfast and Capital One panel. Energy radiated throughout the atrium as we heard from some truly accomplished women in the technology space. Although competition between women in their careers was mentioned often throughout, what we witnessed that morning was the elevation and encouragement of other women. Here’s to progress for women in tech!
“In Chicago, we believe that the power of technology is driven by the people who use and benefit from it.” –City Chicago Tech CIO Brenna Berman
Cities all over the world are taking initiative in advancing IoT, but there’s more talking than actually doing at this point. Chicago is quickly becoming a central hub for the Internet of Things as its leaders are taking a giant step forward with the formation of the ITA (Illinois Technology Assn.) and the Internet of Things Council—a public/private partnership that aims to assure civic leadership in the Internet of Things.
Brenna Berman, CIO, City of Chicago and co-chair of the IoT Council says, “Focusing on the IoT to drive growth and responsiveness is the next step in Mayor Emanuel’s strategy to make Chicago the most data-driven, tech-centric city. We began with open data, are excelling with advanced analytics, and now we are building on those successes through the IoT Council to focus on the power of connected technologies.”
Chicago Tech Initiatives:
By the end of 2016, the city will have drastically cut paper processes. For example, all types of city permits will be available online.
Open Data Portal
Open APIs make data available for city residents and companies for research purposes. The city’s Open311 service makes communication between residents and the city easier, allowing tracking of service requests.
Chicago School of Data
A collaboration framework including all backgrounds, from corporate to non-profit, that come together to understand the ecosystem of data across the Chicagoland area to find areas for improvement.
Civic User Testing Group (CUTG)
Run by the Smart Chicago Collaborative, this user group tests applications by companies and developers to ensure the app is meeting a need.
Over the past year, the “customer experience” has permeated the digital transformation model as mobile becomes more dominant. TMobile sets a great example. They listened to common pain points heard from their customers and around the industry. TMobile then addressed overage fees, out of country calls, limited upgrade timeframes and poor service in rural/underground areas. CEO John Legere even takes time to respond to individual tweets from TMobile customers on a daily basis.
Netflix was essentially born from Blockbuster’s death, notorious for late fees and limited options. Netflix listened to the complaints coming from Blockbuster’s customers and as a result, they created an entirely new media consumption model based on streaming and convenience. When iTunes, Hulu, etc. started competing with Netflix, they began streaming their own unique content. Pay attention to how much these services change and rise over the next few years–big changes are headed our way.
If you want to provide a quality customer experience, you must innovate from within. Continually reinvent yourself and question your relevancy. Listen to your customers. What is still working from two years ago? What isn’t? Use data and analytics to learn about your company and make better decisions for the future. Our devices know more about us than anyone, tap into it!
Cyber hacking is a global, 445 billion dollar market. Last year, cyber hacking accounted for over 500,000 jobs lost. Currently, 300,000 people are hacked on a daily basis (that’s 4 people per second!). Passwords are usually the entry point for hackers, with 76% of breaches occurring due to weak passwords.
he cost of your information on the black market
$15.00 – User credentials (social security number)
$30.00 – Credit card number
$154.00 – Employee record
$300.00 – Medical records
$363.00 – Insurance record
Tips for keeping your company info secured:
- Implement a password management policy and threat detection
- Learn to recognize phishing scams
- Look into endpoint analysis software, firewalls are no longer effective
- Perform self-audits and engage security experts to identify risks
- Encrypt critical user data
Day two started with a CTO panel on recruiting and retaining top talent. We heard from Spot Hero CTO Larry Kiss, Polymatic CEO Marcy Capron , Raise CTO Milo Todorovich and Auto Auctions CTO John Krupnik.
Hiring engineers has a different process than what we’re used to. It’s no longer about job postings–it’s about referrals. Senior engineers are likely to have an established network of people they would one day want to work with, so tap into your top talent and ask them! The way to attract engineers is to give them a good problem to solve, sell them on your philosophy and give them an offer at the end of the closing interview. Engineers are a rare commodity and are often interviewing with several companies at a time.
If you’re considering hiring junior-level engineers and apprentices, there are a few important things to consider:
- Give them meaningful work that will provide mentorship and a lasting impression. Don’t make them do filing and intern-type jobs.
- Target specific universities and participate in their job fairs.
- You must pay! Many apprentices end up staying at that level for one to two years before getting hired by the company or going somewhere else.
Victor Mateevitsi, PhD Student at the UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory, went into how wearables are giving us more senses and essentially giving us super powers. He helped developed a wearable called SpiderSense for people with vision handicaps. With SpiderSense, you are able to sense your surroundings (if you’re about to walk into a wall or someone is following behind you). Intel has developed something similar from his design called RealSense. His focus is on using human augmentation to make life better for the disabled.