I attended the inaugural Cloud Wars Expo, held in San Francisco, CA last month. What a terrific experience it was to meet hundreds of cloud enthusiasts, insightful investors, innovative vendors, and CXOs looking to use cloud to win in today’s Acceleration Economy! And what an honor it was to take part as a panelist, speaker, and ‘track owner’ for Financial Services!
First, a word about the trip. I’ve not flown very much over the last two years — after racking up 3 million miles across two airlines — and I was dreading the experience. Maybe I’m just lucky, but my flights there and back were on time and flawless: It felt just like the ‘good old days’ of business travel.
On a technology note, the combination of memberships in TSA PreCheck and Clear sped me through security lines. Leaving Dallas, I was one of the first passengers to experience two new security database tools that simplified screening even more: Mobile ID with PreCheck eliminated the need for me to show my ID, and TSA Credential Authorization Technology eliminated the need for me to show my Boarding Pass. (Talk about being blindsided by unexpected market entrants: watch out, Clear — the TSA is now your competitor!)
I’d also heard many horror stories about the decline of San Francisco, so I was prepared for an unpleasant experience (I even downloaded a uniquely SF app just in case). Again I discovered that sensationalized media reports (‘If it poops it scoops’?) didn’t match my experience. Between the conference and some R&R, I spent a week in San Francisco and had a ball!
The Best Part of Cloud Wars Expo: In-Person Connections
I’ll talk about what I learned from speakers, vendors, and other Acceleration Economy analysts in a minute, but I need to start with the best part of the conference: Being around other people, having random conversations with them, and making new friends from around the world.
I’ve been preaching on Cloud Wars about the power of WFH/WFA for two years — and I’ve had a successful remote career for 10 years — and I still believe that routine office work doesn’t need an office. But today there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction when the goal is forming bonds and exchanging creative ideas. (When the Metaverse and virtual reality technology matures, I reserve the right to change this statement).
And that’s what happened at Moscone Center last month:
- I talked with investors looking for ‘the next big thing’ in cloud tech (the Innovation Path particularly interested that group).
- I listened to real-world CIOs & CTOs describe their journeys through the pandemic, which entailed everything from sudden layoffs and lockdowns to ongoing restarts and rebirths,.I spent time with non-tech CxOs who had heard lots of ‘cloud talk’ and came to get the straight scoop.
[Note to the non-tech CxOs who stayed home: NOBODY got more from the Expo than non-tech CxOs, because the ‘signal-to-noise ratio’ was incredibly high and the sales pressure was pretty low…come join us at the next expo for a great ROI!]
A Variety of Sessions and Opportunities
Let’s talk about the actual conference itself. I was involved in several types of events:
- Financial Services Battleground, which I hosted, was a chance for six vendors to showcase the skills and offerings for this tech-heavy, highly regulated industry. After spending 25 years in the industry as a CIO, CTO, and application vendor executive, I was expecting a lot from these vendors (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Workday, SAP, and Google). And they delivered.
I’ll dig deeper into the presentation in a separate article, but the general themes I heard were around high-velocity data management and analysis, security and compliance, hybrid cloud (which for some vendors included mainframes), and interoperability/APIs. My biggest surprise was learning about SAP’s new ‘Fioneer’ business unit, with its focus on building Financial Services applications and tools.
- Digital Transformation, where I was a panelist for the following sessions:
- ‘Accelerating Digital Transformation’ along with Tony Uphoff — great fun alternating Tony’s CEO view with my CIO view.
- ‘The Cultural Dynamic of Digital Transformation’ with Jarrad Berman from TZP — getting a PE executive’s perspective on Portfolio Company issues.
- ‘Getting Your Board Onboard’ with Gayle Keller, Tony Uphoff, and Scott Vaughan —how to sell DX to mostly non-tech Boomers),
- ‘Digital Transformation: Where to Start’ all by myself — why DX and Digital Optimization are different).
- Supply Chain, where I collaborated with the incomparable Bob Evans (until he was called away in the middle of a session: Over my long career I’ve had audience members walk out when I presented, but never a co-panelist!). These two sessions were great fun because the audience was especially lively and involved. The questions went on for so long that we were literally tossed out of the room to let the next talk start (but we regrouped in the hall and kept talking).
- Cloud Database Battleground, where I talked with Aaron Back, Ronak Mathur, and John Muehling about trends in cloud database technology to set the stage for the vendors who presented for the rest of the afternoon.
Another amazing aspect of the Expo was the lineup of ‘main stage’ events: keynotes from Industry executives from Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP; fireside chats led by Bob Evans that featured plain-spoken comments from Howard Boville from IBM, Venkat Ramaswamy from the University of Michigan, and SFDigital’s Christian Anschuetz and Christopher Lochhead (plus John Siefert on bar duty). These were opportunities to get everyone together in a big room to hear ‘big ideas’ from big thinkers and major vendors, and the conversations with my random tablemates were always stimulating.
I’ll be covering some of these topics in detail, but I hope you now have an idea why Cloud Wars Expo was an event worth attending!
Want to gain more insights and view more CXO and Industry Cloud Battleground content from Cloud Wars Expo? Starting on July 20th, more than 40 hours of on-demand cloud and CXO education content will be available for free to Acceleration Economy subscribers.