Lance Perry, vice president of IT Customer Strategy for Cisco, is my new productivity hero. A key theme of his keynote remarks at last week’s Midwest Technology Conference at the amazing MGM Grand Detroit Hotel was how to do more with less. He spoke of Cisco’s and his own personal commitment to manage the amount of time spent on and in meetings. How is Cisco going about this? It begins at the top: The CIO and CEO are asking employees to rely more on technology (Cisco technology that is) to spend less time in person and more time on line. According to Lance, more is getting done and travel costs are plummeting. Cisco took a first step in this mission to beat down the meeting by providing employees with computer-top cameras and technology that virtually connects them with their peers and customers.
Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer is on a similar meeting theme, according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, in which Ballmer describes his new meeting management style: gone are the long, drawn-out PowerPoint presentations; instead, he asks that PowerPoint decks be provided in advance of meetings, which are reserved for dialogue and feedback. The result: tighter meeting agendas, better decision making, and more productivity.
Speaking of productivity, it was a major theme across the conference. Specifically, how to use technology to promote productivity in a down economy. Here again, Perry had good common sense to offer as he described the five things Cisco is doing to prepare for the economic turnaround: 1. Save to invest. 2. Unlock employee potential (let employees have a voice in technology purchases and usage; top down IT decision making is a thing of the past). 3. Drive customer intimacy (Cisco managers are encouraged to visit customers in person at least quarterly). 4. Outpace the competition. 5. Transition to a borderless enterprise.
The attendance and quality of speakers/content at the Midwest Technology Leaders Conference helped to invigorate and refresh my interest and enthusiasm for technology innovation – right here in Detroit. Perhaps it is a sign of better things ahead.
— Lisa Vallee Smith