Category Archives: Current Events

Future Midwest

In response to a horrible piece by Dateline last night regarding Detroit, I wanted to share a positive look into our city, via a very well-made video: http://vimeo.com/11021663 put together by FutureMidwest.

I attended FutureMidwest last week (a 2 day conference held in Royal Oak) which is helping to raise awareness, educate and push innovation in our area.

For those looking for new opportunities, another site you might want to check out is: http://detroit.startupweekend.org/

If you have an idea, or desire to contribute to your own “startup” I highly encourage you to check them out – it’s an [aggressive] process that has been growing nationally, and this is the Detroit flavor.

Naturally, there are more traditional ways to starting your own business, but this could be a fun way for you to get exposure, experiment and maybe even learn something??

Hope to see you there!?

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TEDxDetroit Invitation

Just received confirmation for attendance to TEDxDetroit – the area’s leading creators, catalysts, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, designers, scientists, thinkers and doers which will gather on Wednesday, October 21st to share what they are most passionate about — positive ideas for the world from Detroit.

If you haven’t applied, better hurry up – this invitation only event is filling up fast!  More details can be found:

Much thanks the @Charlie, Curve Detroit and the whole crew for helping to bring this awesome event to Detroit!

Detroit CIO Executive Summit Recap

Whew!  Where to begin?  I spent the day out in Dearborn, MI attending a CIO Executive Summit  organized by Evanta and the CIO Leadership Network and I must admit, I was very impressed.  As the CIO of Billhighway.com I tend to participate in a number of local and national events, conferences, workshops, you name it – but the quality of content today was just superb.

The opening keynote by Ed Ruggero, Former U.S. Army Office, Author and Military Historian re: A Winning Culture: Leadership as Competitive Advantage set the stage for a very productive day.  Mr. Ruggero is a great story teller and excellent speaker – making countless comparisons between the military and IT leadership.  The CIO Leadership Network will be publishing videos of each presentation soon, and I’ll be sure to post a link once its available.

After a short break, Phillip Bertolini, Deputy County Executive & CIO of Oakland County along with L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive had a unique presentation about the “marriage” between the CEO and CIO, which was very well done.  They touched on the typical stages leading up to and into a successful marriage; courting, building trust, communication and partnership.  A couple noteworthy highlights:

  • CEO Vision + CIO Tools = ROI
  • CEO must have some understanding of Technology
  • CIO must have some understanding of Business
  • To gain the trust of the CEO, the CIO must build and delivery dependable, predictable, repeatable strategic technology solutions

At 11am there were several break out sessions, in which I attended “Achieving Higher Performance in your Current Role and How to Successfully Transition into Your Next Role.”  A couple of the takeways I found here were:

  • Have executive/leadership presence (this is something I’ve been hearing alot lately)
  • Be inspirational, captivate, motivate and lead by example
  • Handle touch situations with confidence
  • Build Relationships
  • Enhance Collaboration
  • Integration your Personal Values

Lastly, a couple book recommendations: Why CEOs Fail & What got you here, won’t get you there.

At lunch, Andre Mendes, SVP, Strategic Planning & Global CIO of the Special Olympics International gave a talk on Crisis-Driven Innovation: The Ultimate Change Agent, which I found very uplifting.  Not only is Mr Mendes extremely intelligent, but a great speaker – very TED esq. touching on a broad spectrum of topics, where we’ve been, where we’re going and the speed of change, often unrealized by industry that’s so closely engaged in the day-to-day business affairs.  This will be another great talk to catch online, once it’s available.  A few takeaways here, for a CIO’s to-do list:

  • Build abstraction layers
  • Consolidate – streamline line of business applications, investigate SaaS
  • Virtualize – reduce hardware footprint, increase manageability
  • Co-locate – ping, power, pipe are commodities, leave this to the pro’s
  • Cloud IT – have the applications you want, without any of the headaches

Lastly, Mr. Mendes challenged CIOs to get out of your comfort zone, expose yourself to the unknown and take [managed] risks.  Abstract technology, focus on the business.  Scalability, availability and security all have their place – in the abstraction layer; don’t let them choke innovation.  To me, this means if you’re spending any respectable amount of time here, GET OUT OF THE WEEDS – you, as the CIO are not allowing your business to realize the value of your role.  Oh yea, and don’t be a “NO” man, as we get older and more experienced, it’s natural to become complacent – not embracing “change”, however if/when opportunities get presented to improve X, you might be better served by giving it a try.

The day closed out for me with a session about eight simple rules for Survival, by Greg Schwem, president of Comedy with a Byte who was very entertaining, keeping things on the lighter side and some pointing out some (often overlooked) examples of Do’s & Don’ts.  Closing keynote was by Kevin Summers, Corporate VP & Global CIO of Whirlpool Corporation who shared some rare insight into the operational aspects of overhauling a nearly 100 year old, multinational organization.  His 10 Transformational best-practices were:

  1. Create a strategic roadmap
  2. Implement a formal change management program (and team)
  3. Adopt (and standardize) an Enterprise Architecture early
  4. Invest time/energy into Value Chain Integration (it works)
  5. Align vision/strategy with business partners
  6. Leverage strategic partners (reduce key vendors where possible)
  7. Manage IT like a business
  8. Talent management is key (yet more about Top-Grading, if you’re not familiar with it, take time to read up!)
  9. Ensure stable operational practices exist
  10. Markets (and opportunities) will return – so be ready!

That about summarizes it, overall GREAT day, packed with invaluable content, excellent speakers and thought-provoking subjects.  I literally took pages of notes, but this should suffice for those that couldn’t make it.  If you get the opportunity to attend this event next year, or in another city, I highly recommend it!  For more information visit: http://www.bycios.com/

2009 Detroit CIO Executive Summit

September 10, 2009 | The Ritz-Carlton, Dearborn

The CIO Executive Summit is driven by a Governing Body of leading CIOs who play a vital role in the development of this conference. These CIOs create an agenda that addresses today’s opportunities and challenges faced by their peers, thus delivering on the event promise: “by CIOs, for CIOsSM.”

The CIO Executive Summit also enhances the power and reach of your professional relationships by providing a seat at the table with hundreds of other IT leaders.

Nationally recognized as the most respected IT Leadership conference in North America, the conference is without question, the networking event of the year for CIOs.

Qualifications:

The 2009 Detroit CIO Executive Summit is a private conference designed by CIOs, for CIOs. Attendance is by invitation only. All qualified registrants will be considered and will be granted confirmation based upon qualifications and space availability. Access to the conference is open to individuals that meet the following criteria:

Enterprise Corporations:
  • CIOs, VPs of IT and Direct Reports from $1B+ organizations
  • CIOs & Direct Reports from $500M-$1B organizations
  • CIOs (or equivalent) from $250-$500M organizations
Government, Education and Not-for-Profit Organizations:
  • CIOs (or equivalent) of agencies or organizations with greater than 1,000 employees
Information Technology Corporations:
  • CIOs (or equivalent) from $1B+ organizations

More information can be found here: http://www.bycios.com/event_cio_es/agenda/id/119

Microsoft Pays Users to Search with Bing

Starting today, Microsoft plans to actually pay users to search via Bing. Yes, you read that correctly – they will PAY you, in cash, to use Bing rather than some other search engine such as Yahoo, or more likely Google. How will they do this? When you shop online through the Bing search engine, Microsoft will refund you a portion of your purchase price at its own expense. Okay, they have actually been doing this for a while, but starting today they will double that amount to up to 50% of your purchase price. That’s worth taking notice.

In practice, this concept isn’t entirely new. Many e-commerce sites have affiliate programs which will pay a third party site (like Bing) for referring customers to them. Microsoft’s search engine has taken advantage of this by combining its search engine capabilities with various affiliate programs. When a buyer searches for an item on Bing and then purchases it, Microsoft gets paid a commission for the referral. There are many sites that do this, but Microsoft is the only one that refunds 100% of this commission back to its users.  Previously, they have offered similar promotional discounts to specific stores like eBay. In that instance, users received up to 30-35% cashback for making their eBay purchases through Bing. But with this promotion, they will double the cashback on ALL affiliate stores, up to 50%!

IPhone Upgrade from 3G to 3GS?

Planning on upgrading from an iPhone 3G to the new 3G S? You’d better have deep pockets, as AT&T and Apple may charge you $499 to upgrade.  That’s for the 32GB model; if you want to save a few bucks and go for the cheaper 16GB model, it will cost $399. These figures come from Apple’s own site, where you can now pre-order an iPhone 3G S ready for delivery on the 19th of June. Although Apple mentioned a $199 and $299 price for the new iPhone, the cost for upgraders is significantly higher; when we applied for an upgrade from a iPhone 3G purchased in 2008, the system quoted us a price of $399 for the 16GB version or $499 for the 32GB, plus an $18 upgrade fee.

The more expensive upgrade is because the account I tried this with had the 2-year term of the contract renewed when I upgraded to an iPhone 3G in 2008; AT&T does not offer reduced upgrade pricing until the initial 2 years are up. The only people who qualify for the advertised $199/$299 pricing are new customers, or those who have not upgraded their phone for more than 2 years.So, those who upgraded when the iPhone 3G was released last year will either have to wait until 2010, or pay through the nose to be on the cutting edge.

UPDATE: it seems that there may be some leniancy in the 2-year rule: when applied for the upgrade with a 1st Generation iPhone where the contract had a couple of months still to run, Apple offered the $199/$299 price. So, it looks like 1st Gen iPhones may get a break, but 3G users will have to pay the full cost.

Midwest Technology Leaders Symposium

The 2009 #MTL is June 3rd, at the MGM Grand Detroit from 7:30am to 6:30 pm, with an MTL awards cocktail reception (open to the public) from 5:30 to 9pm. More information can be found at the MTL website: http://www.midwesttechnologyleaders.com/ and an agenda for the event here: http://www.midwesttechnologyleaders.com/agenda.html – I’m planning to attend the event in full tomorrow, and will try to post some updates throughout the day via Twitter with a blog recap to follow.

I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the 2009 Midwest Technology Leadership mentorship program earlier this year, and have been paired with Mike Thibideau, CIO of Webasto Roof Systems, Inc.  Special thanks to Barry Demp, Danielle DeLonge, Michelle Pallas and Tracy-Ann Palmer for all their hard work making the program such a success!

About Midwest Technology Leaders (MTL)

Midwest Technology Leaders (MTL) 2009 is an exclusive gathering of the Great Lakes Region’s top Information Executives who are committed to innovation, excellence and results. Unrivaled in its quality content and strategic focus, MTL 2009 will provide all delegates the opportunity to challenge conventional wisdom through engaging in highly-interactive executive sessions with their senior peers. Through a compilation of keynote presentations, panel discussions, roundtables and executive networking assemblages, the delegation will address the critical issues impacting the local/regional IT industry, including economic policies and business developments, in addition to an in-depth analysis of the future outlook of the national/international IT industry.

MTL is comprised exclusively of the information leaders driving the Great Lakes economies. It is a non-political, cross-industry sponsored, annual event providing a platform to celebrate the achievements of this technology community.

Together, this group will discover innovative approaches for surmounting considerable IT challenges.