What It Takes to Lead

April 25, 2016 by

Group of woman

I’m one of those people who gets out there and meets a lot of people, whether it’s for the events that I run monthly or with the execs I coach or the start-ups I advise, or just at social and neighborhood gatherings, networking is part of my DNA – I like connecting people with each other, and connecting disparate ideas into something new.

So when I’m asked ‘What does it take to lead?’ I think about it from the context of meeting and knowing a wide range of leaders – at all levels of the hierarchy, representing all roles, from start-ups with a seed-of-an-idea to Fortune 10 companies. Below is my view of what the best leaders have in common.

What It Takes from the Inside – Your HEART

They say that every great leader has a vision of what’s possible, a vision she/he is passionate about.

  1. I would agree, and also add that this vision may not be specific to a business. It may be a social and community vision implemented by a Mother Theresa or a social vision implemented by a business icon through their foundation.
  2. But I would add that having that vision isn’t enough, for one must also have the energyand ability to make it happen, the attitude to persevere and succeed despite insurmountable odds, and the wisdom and patience to manage the inevitable stress which always arises when big things happen, when many people are involved.

What it takes to Execute – Your HANDS

A vision is only a dream, unless a leader knows how to make it a reality. There are four elements of execution:

  1. Financial execution which focuses on the P&L and efficient, scalable operations.
  2. Cultural execution which ensures that the right people join and grow and stay within the organization.
  3. Product execution which works with product, development and sales/marketing/customer/ops teams to ensure that customers are happy with the product or service.
  4. Growth execution which engages the right staff, customers and alliances to proactively grow the product or offering.

What It Takes to Be Smart and Strategic: Your HEAD

Assuming that you have the vision to make things happen, and the ability to execute on that vision, you will need to be strategic and smart enough to weave the pieces together.

  1. Every great leader embraces technology as a great enabler, as a great tool for serving ever more demanding customers.
  2. Every great leader is a transparent, clear, proactive communicator with the ability to influence others to make things happen. 
  3. Every great leader chooses opportunities for continuous learning, and continually raises the bar for herself/himself. No great leader does things the way it has always been done, even if they do that same thing exceptionally well.
  4. Every great leader seeks the win-for-all collaborative solution which engages all stakeholders in delivering results.

So based, on this criteria, who do you know that’s great? And what criteria would you use to define greatness?

Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand

April 25, 2016 by

AprilPanelFountainBlue’s April 22 When She Speaks in SF, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand. 

We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives who so graciously shared their wisdom and experience on the topic of Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand. Below is their collective advice and recommendations.

First and foremost, our panelists encouraged us to be courageous enough to first know and then speak your mind with clarity, to be strong and open enough to learn from how others are responding to you and to coach and support others around you to do the same. This leads to meaty, authentic, transparent conversations which are healthy for the organization, for the team, and for everyone in it.

Taking the time to know yourself and how you’d like to be perceived, and also the strength and curiosity to understand how you’re showing up, how you’re perceived by others are fundamental to successfully accomplishing that goal. From there, you can manage the delta between what-you-want-your-brand-to-be and how-you-are-perceived, so that you can manage your brand, and leverage your brand to get to where-you-want-to-go.

Our panelists all encouraged us to mindfully target a position, role and company which best fits your interests and your values. Finding a culture that works for you will help you stay true to yourself, and holding the bar high in terms of culture and purpose will help you land in that right company and role.

Our panelists all talked about the power and learnings from failures and ‘bad management experiences’, remarking that there were more learnings from the negative than the positive experiences – if we have the courage and curiosity and perspective to learn and grow at each juncture.   

Our panelists recommended that we surround ourselves with a support network, a ‘board of directors’ that would help us succeed – ranging from mentors, friends and colleagues, who will support us unconditionally and help us keep true to ourselves, to advisers who can support us with specific challenges and solutions to executive sponsors who are our internal champions.

Each of our customers reflected these admirable brand traits:

  • A customer and results orientation  
  • A strong, centered, perseverance that can and have moved mountains
  • An authentic, trustworthy, passionate communicator
  • A courageous, curious, learning-agile, and humble leader-under-development
  • An other-centric mentality which makes them great listeners and communicators 



Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 22 When She Speaks in SF, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand and our gracious hosts at AppDynamics!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Coach, Adviser and Consultant
  • Panelist Steph Douglass, Vice President, People & Culture, OpenTable
  • Panelist Shannon Eis, VP Corporate Communications, Yelp
  • Panelist Nandini Ramani, VP Engineering, Twitter
  • Panelist Gwen Tillman, Head of People Development, AppDynamics

Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand

April 10, 2016 by


FountainBlue’s April 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand.  We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives who so graciously shared their wisdom and experience on the topic of Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand. Below is their collective advice and recommendations.

  • Know yourself – who you are, what you like, what your values are and find work and personal pursuits which are in alignment with same.
  • Do well at what you choose to do and communicate your brand based on what you do well.
  • With that said, intentionally decide what you will do, and only do what is in alignment with who you are, what you stand for, what you want to accomplish in life and work.
  • Do regular assessments to make sure that you’re in alignment, so that you don’t keep doing things that aren’t important to you, even if you do them well!
  • Know how you’d like to be perceived and how you actually are perceived with tools like 360s. Figure out how to close the gap between desired and actual perception.
  • Be curious when something doesn’t seem to feel or fit well and find a fix to get back in alignment.
  • Having a network of trusted others who are invested in your success will help you stay grounded in this regard.
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone – embrace those continuous learning opportunities and learn from your mistakes. Applying your transferable skills in new ways will help you stretch and grow yourself and your brand.
  • Doing things well and right is almost always good, but treating people well and right is always the right thing. People will remember how you made them feel more and longer than whether you were the one who got it right.
  • Develop your emotional intelligence so that you can better handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically as it will help your brand.
  • How you got here isn’t necessarily what will bring you to the next level. In other words, checking off boxes of achievements, from tackling projects and writing programs to getting your MBA and completing integrations, may not be sufficient to get that promotion or that juicy new project. Bringing out your authentic self, investing in people, and developing your soft skills will help you leave people better off, will help you be perceived and considered as a better leader.
  • Develop a reputation for being trustworthy, especially when a company is going through a lot of change.
  • To intentionally build your brand in the industry, gain expertise and perform well, then go beyond your own company. Publish and present papers, participate in panel discussions, volunteer, stand up for causes you care about, all in alignment with the bigger message you’d like to communicate.


  • Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Daniel Goldman
  • “Emotional intelligence, more than any other factor, more than IQ or expertise, accounts for 85% to 90% of success at work . . . IQ is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional intelligence can.” Warren Bennis
  • The Complete Guide to Running 360 Reviews by Christian Vanek 


FountainBlue’s April 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Sandisk and our panelists!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Deepika Bajaj, Head of Marketing and Growth, Redlink Inc.
  • Panelist Hillary Barnhart, Senior Director, Business Operations, Applied Materials
  • Panelist Amy Rubin Friel, Head of Marketing and Product Management, Exciting New Stealth Business, Nokia Technologies
  • Panelist Michelle Ravn Appelqvist, Senior Director – Sales, Marketing, Product & Technology Legal, SanDisk Corporation

IT Trends and Predictions

April 1, 2016 by

Information Technology
FountainBlue’s April 1 VIP roundtable was on the topic of IT Trends and Predictions! Below are notes from the conversation.

With the decades of advances in technology – from consumer to enterprise solutions, from infrastructure and network set-up to databases and big data, from networks to cloud, from mobile apps to IoT solutions, we’re continuing to push the technology development and adoption angle. 

With that said, the obstacles to adoption are not necessarily the effectiveness and impact of the technology solutions themselves, but more process, people, access, and operational challenges. There may be traditionally slow-moving industries, companies or countries who are resistant to change, and afraid that new technologies will create more problems than they can solve. There may be operational, technology and cultural hurdles which make the adoption of IT solutions more problematic – from the difficulty of integrating with legacy systems to the difficulty of integrating established processes, to the change-resistant mind-set of leaders and staff who are so used to doing it the-way-it’s-always-been done and those who are fearful of the implications of technology adoption and the resultant change.

The challenge then is a communication and management issue – how do you articulate the value proposition to teams/ companies/partners/customers and other stakeholders so that we can all reap the rewards? Suggested strategies are below:

  • As IT leaders, pivot away from the internal/supply-chain perspective and more into the customer point of view. Understand what the customers are looking for and develop customized solutions based on their requirements. 
  • Thinking about IT solutions as case studies for industries and customers will help IT leaders and companies understand and deliver on their value-add. 
  • Think about the technology and the data as secondary to the needs and requests of your stakeholders. Frame IT and big data solutions as ‘real-world’ problems.
  • Consider how your IT solution fits within the overall ecosystem and create partnerships and alliances based on what would add the best end-to-end value for the customer.
  • Strategically and plan-fully approach integrations so that they complement current offerings and meet and anticipate the needs of current and expected customers. Make sure that the leadership team and staff on both sides of M&As are/would be receptive to an integration and have the skills to do so effectively and efficiently.

Thoughts on trends and opportunities are highlighted below.

  • There are huge opportunities around the Internet of Everything (not just things) which goes far beyond the data and beyond things and focuses on outcomes.
  • Adapting technologies and processes for existing solutions to solve current problems creates opportunities for leaders to serve new customers and markets. 
  • Leveraging existing technologies to save the waste will provide opportunities for many, and has the potential to transform industries.
  • There are huge opportunities as there will be an amplified proliferation of sensors, including Edge-of-the-Network low-cost sensors, leveraging existing technologies including BlueTooth, radio, power lines. 
  • All these sensors will continue to generate huge volumes of data, which needs to be managed and processed real-time, perhaps leveraging machine learning rather than traditional formulaic calculations. Opportunities here are immense.
  • 3D imaging and printing solutions open up a real opportunity in many industries – from customized tailoring to customized medical treatments, from rapid prototyping to construction.
  • Many industries, most notably financial services are open to sophisticated, real-time, security-oriented IT solutions personalized to the needs of their customers.
  • Healthcare is ripe for change. There are opportunities around infrastructure, from security to hospital management, around big data and analytics, from wearables to disease management, around diagnostics with imaging supporting everything from radiology to pathology for example.
  • Independent of industry, IT solutions generally include real-world, consumer-facing technologies from sensors to apps to ingestibles, cloud infrastructure to support the gathering and reporting of the data generated, analytics and reports which may trigger decisions and actions, aggregated reports based on volumes of users, etc., 
  • With that said, there will be standardization and specialization as we reach critical mass for solutions in each industry, for each problem, so there are opportunities for companies to support other companies in serving the customer – much like what IBM’s Watson is doing for the analytics side of cancer research or what RuntimeIO does to support the back-end collection of data. 

Resources, information and studies  

Please join us in thanking execs present at the roundtable as well as our gracious hosts at Dell.

Agility: The Key to a Successful Career!

March 11, 2016 by

FountainBlue’s March 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Agility: The Key to a Successful Career!


We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives who so graciously shared their wisdom and experience on the topic of career agility. They had many things in common:

  • Their self-awareness helped them to contemplate what they are doing professionally and their proactiveness helped them to forge a new path when it was time to do so.
  • Their courage, curiosity and burning desire to grow and evolve drove them to become increasingly better at what they do, and to diversify into new areas of need to companies and their customers.
  • They made false steps on occasion, and always learned from their experiences, without regrets.
  • They brought their learnings and perspectives into a new and richer role which was more right for them.
  • They ever focused on developing relationships with the broad spectrum of stakeholders around each role.
  • They worked and grew their brand as competent tech leaders who knew how to solve important problems in collaboration with others.

Below is their advice on how to make career-agile choices.

  • Know what you’re good at and what you want to do, as well as what you want to be known for.
  • Navigate the discrepancy between who you want to be and how you are perceived.
  • Develop relationships with all stakeholders and be in constant communication with those around you.
  • Incremental projects for the right team and leader may need to a larger, longer-term commitment.
  • Choose COOL work, COOL people, COOL company – as you see it. (It may not be just right for others for example.)
  • Choose to be with positive and supportive people who bring out the best in you.
  • With that said, also surround yourself with people who are not like you, but could complement you.
  • When starting something new, be curious, build relationships and understand expectations and stakeholders.
  • Accept your circumstances, change them, or leave. Don’t take the grouse path.
  • Choose to be learning-agile, hungry for knowledge and proactively plan your personal and professional development path.
  • Consider the opportunities which present themselves to you even if you don’t feel quite prepared for them, for you will learn as you go.

The bottom line is GO FOR IT, Don’t Settle. Contemplate what may be blocking you for being more than you are now, more even than you thought you could be. Embrace the learning opportunities which may appear as a result.



Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at eBay and our panelists:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant 
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Cisco Systems 
  • Panelist Sondra Bollar, Senior Director of Software Development and Release Management in the Oracle Public Cloud, Oracle

  • Panelist Sarah Brubacher McDonald, Senior Director B2C Engagement, eBay 
  • Panelist Laura DeBacker, Senior Director, Leadership and Talent Development, Synaptics
  • Panelist SK Lau, Product Line Engineering Operations, Texas Instruments 

Strategies for Serving a More Demanding, More Diversified Customer Base

March 4, 2016 by

The Customer Service Target Market Support Assistance ConceptFountainBlue’s March 4 VIP roundtable on the topic of Strategies for Serving a More Demanding, More Diversified Customer Base! Below are notes from the conversation.

  • Leaders from across industries, roles and sectors are impacted by a more empowered and informed customer base, and responding in many different ways. 
  • The pace of change has escalated, and the demands of the customers are elevated, which impacts the products and services offered and the processes and communications necessary to ensure smooth delivery and scale of growth and response.
  • Hardware will continue to get commoditized, and the value will be on the software and services side of the equation. 
  • Customers are becoming progressively more empowered because of their access to information, the immediacy of access to information, the wide and broad availability of mobile devices, the social online networks, etc., Hence we are evolving from an age of information to an age of the customer, and leaders and companies who acknowledge and work with this trend will be more likely to benefit from it.
  • Digitizing front end functions has gotten more standardized, but there’s still a great need to digitize the middle and back end processes, especially for non-tech industries. We need to support customers in being more agile, more flexible, and more scalable. See CBInsights March 3, 2016 report on digitization opportunities for start-ups.  DigitizationOpportunity.pngCBI Digitization Opportunities, March 3, 2016

Below is advice on how to better serve a demanding customer base.

  • Look at the data and focus on not just what the loudest customers are saying, but what the suffering majority are saying or not saying.
  • In this Age of the Customer, know what is nice-to-have, and what they need-to-have. It’s easier to sell one than the other.
  • When customers are deciding whether to engage, they are considering is it easier and cheaper to solve the problem or live with the problem, so plan your offerings and pricing accordingly.
  • The consumer is demanding quality products and services which area tailored to their needs. These customers are also in general more mindful of the earth and humanity, so organic and sustainable products and processes will be favored progressively more.
  • Technologists need to work hand-in-hand with experts in non-technical fields in collaboration to meet the personalized needs of the consumer.
  • Whereas before, business units and teams might have been isolated and siloed in working with customers, a more collaborative, coordinated communication and strategy is now necessary to better understand the current and future needs of the customer.
  • There’s a trend toward selling to business unit managers and users more, even if the product is for an extremely technical audience. In other words, the user may not be the decision-maker, and the sales person needs to talk to both the decision-maker and the user to complete a sale.
  • Data will remain important, of course. Be the type of leader who can translate what the data is saying to create a strategy and plan on how to better serve customers, better expand offerings.
  • We will continue to progress toward pay-as-you-go functionality for a wide range of functions. Communicating clearly to customers and walking them through the adoption curve will help them help themselves in maintaining, supporting and tailoring their own solutions. 

Below are some predictions for opportunities ahead.

  • There’s a push pull between the need for security, access and privacy, and there’s an opportunity for organizations to provide innovative solutions for a broad and wide audience in this space.
  • There will be a continued trend toward ‘freemium’ services as the new normal.
  • Interactive solutions which allow customers to learn by doing through simulations provides a huge opportunity to train and educate workers.
  • There will be a trend toward more collaborative, consultative selling by experienced enterprise professionals working with engaged customers to build and iterate use cases.
  • There will be a trend toward paying customers for their aggregated usage data.

Recommended Resources:

  • Pretotype Labs is a PDF ebook which helps entrepreneurs and execs really understand and focus on what the customers want http://www.pretotypelabs.com
  • AYTM (Ask Your Target Market http://www.aytm.com) allows entrepreneurs and execs to send tailored surveys to specific target audiences for small amounts of money.

Please join us in thanking our execs for their participation in our roundtable discussion and to our gracious hosts at Verifone. If you are a tech VP and interested in joining future VIP roundtables, e-mail us at info@fountainblue.biz.

Thoughts on the Future of Work

March 1, 2016 by

FutureOfWorkThere’s  been so much change in the way companies, leaders and businesses work with each other and together, so it’s difficult to plan your future, whether you’re new to the workforce, returning to the workforce or planning how to remain gainfully employed in later years. Here are my thoughts on the type of work that’s available and how to embrace these opportunities and and prepare for the challenges to come.

  1. The tech-philic worker will be favored, and those who reject or deny this fact will be much less employable. Technology will help workers to gather and interpret data and information so that they can be more productive and better serve the customer, both of which are critical to the performance of any company.
  2. The learning-agile worker will be favored. Those who are resistant to learning new ways of doing things will be left behind, especially as automation will replace the need of workers-who-perform-repetitive-tasks.
  3. The communicative worker will more likely succeed as it would be easier for them to work with all the internal and external stakeholders involved in any job – from colleague to teammate, from partner to customer.
  4. The patient, helpful, service-oriented worker will be better positioned to serve demanding customers. There will always be jobs for people who know how to make even the pickiest of customers happy.
  5. Collaboration between people and companies will more likely succeed. Leaders will be those who can envision the benefits of collaborating across roles, companies and industries, and create and facilitate those successful partnerships.
  6. If you combine the 5 traits above, you will find a worker who may be able to tailor products and services to the needs of the customer. There will always be a role for people who can succeed in doing this well.
  7. Company leaders will be more focused on data and analytics, and there will be more meritocracy-based cultures and less politics.
  8. Along those same lines, productivity of people and product/service lines will be based more on data and information, and less on politics and agendas.
  9. Company leaders will help make it easy for a diverse population of workers to succeed – whether it’s making remote work possible or providing tech tools to support an aging or disabled or other non-standard worker.
  10. The bottom line is that companies and leaders will acknowledge that they are only as good as their people, and think, speak and act accordingly.

Those are my thoughts on the Future of Work. How will these things impact YOU? What can we do to support you in planfully remaining well employed? How can we support your company in attracting, developing and retaining the best and brightest?  Your comments are welcome.

Secrets for Leveling Up

February 17, 2016 by

LevelingUpThese are not really secrets, nor do they work for everyone, nor do I claim that below is an exhaustive list of strategies. However, the advice below in aggregate can help you rise to a higher level within your organization, if you have reasonable leaders in a growing and successful company.

  1. Decide that you want to level up and rise within your organization, and consistently strive to do so. So many people apply bursts of initiative and effort here and there, which only serves to confuse others – at times you’re seen as motivated and brilliant, and at other times, you fly under the radar. Consciously deciding to level up means bringing your A game every time, all the time.
  2. This is assuming that your A game is good, that you perform well by everyone’s measure, that you are successful working on a diverse range of projects and a wide range of responsibilities, partners and staff.
  3. Clearly communicate your role in the success of projects, without taking credit for the work that others have done.
  4. Watch for people who take the credit for the work that you do and strategize on how to fix that directly or indirectly. In the wort case, the leaders and management will never give you the credit, role, resources, recognition and responsibility  you deserve, so if you’re deciding to level up, you are in the wrong company.
  5. There are more opportunities in companies that are doing well in growing markets of course. However, there are also many opportunities to help stagnating companies in declining markets make a pivot toward a more profitable product, service or market. The key is to understand the needs of the customer in your market and adjacent markets.
  6. But knowing the needs of the customers and the trends in the market is not enough. You need to know how your company can shift its products and offerings to better serve that customer.
  7. And knowing that isn’t enough either. You have to convince key stakeholders throughout the organization about this strategy and collaborate with all stakeholders with the objective of better serving the customer.
  8. Succeeding in the above will change your relationships with many people. Most will be surprised to see a new side of you. Some will not like it, and try to play games and revert the relationship to the way it used to be. Get the support you need to be strong and purposeful. Know who your friends are, and don’t trust those who are only pretending to be your friend.
  9. Doing the above well means that you will have a larger profile, a broader and deeper network, as well as more credibility, responsibility and resources. You may choose to stop ascending if the responsibilities, pressure and stress are too much, if it’s not what you want or need after all. If you decide to do that, make sure it’s the right choice for you. It would be hard to change your mind later and try again to level up, for there will be those who remember when you last tried to do so. But don’t judge yourself if you decide *not* to ‘swim with the sharks’. It’s definitely not for everyone!
  10. But if you do decide to continue leveling up, make sure that you’re emotionally, mentally, psychologically and physically up to that level of exposure and pressure, and get the support you need to stay fresh, centered and strong.

Best wishes on your journey up the corporate escalator. We welcome your comments on how *you* would level-up.

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

February 12, 2016 by


FountainBlue’s February 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence. We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives around what it takes to be influential and impactful within an organization. They agreed on the following:

  • Knowing who you are, what you’re passionate about, and being committed to delivering results and getting things done are the heart of every influential leader.
  • Communicating who you are and engaging and listing others in your web of influence to join in and support goals and objectives comes only after the first step, but is also critical.
  • Reaching for more breadth and experience, being open to new people and learnings helped make our panelists the successful and influential leaders they are.
  • Taking the high road, seeing the larger picture, and being open and accepting of others helps leaders navigate waters, which can be sometimes turbulent, especially when there’s a lot of change. And even when things are pretty stable, because of the nature of tech companies and the market changes overall, everyone needs to deal with a very diverse base of stakeholders. Learning the motivations of the audience, and communicating in a way they understand is also critical in order to be influential.

Below is advice from our panel for those who want to be more influential:

  • Don’t think that to be an influential you have to be a Dragon Lady. Be influential in a direct, positive, collaborative, win-for-all way.
  • In the same token, don’t hold back from trying to be influential because you want to be nice, because you don’t like conflict.
  • Get your facts straight and focus on the data to influence others on a course of action and decision.
  • Have a broad and deep network of connections, spinning a web across all those you touch. Use those connections to get the information, resources and connections you need to get work done!
  • Select a leadership team, company and culture that aligns well with your values, who you are, what you’re about.
  • Being trustworthy, authentic, goal-focused and direct will help make sure that you are worthy of the influence you wield.
  • Pick your battles. Know what you will focus on and change, work with what you can’t change. There will be those Dragon Ladies, those cows-in-the-road, but ignore and push forward to achieve that higher purpose. 

In the end, the heart of influence is a brand, a reputation for consistently and persistently delivering results, in a wide range of roles and settings.



Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s February 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence and our gracious hosts at Dell.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Coach, Adviser and Consultant
  • Panelist Megan Bozio, Sr. Director, Global Key Accounts Program Office, Oracle
  • Panelist Karen Randig, Director of Finance, Dell 
  • Panelist Nithya Ruff, Head of Open Source Strategy Office, SanDisk, President for Women’s Innovation Network (WIN) at SanDisk

Convergence of Industries and Technologies

February 5, 2016 by

AgePersonalizationFountainBlue’s February 5 VIP roundtable was on the topic of Convergence of Industries and Technologies! Below are notes from the conversation. Please join us in thanking our execs for sharing their insights and to our gracious hosts at Applied Materials.

  1. There are more similarities between ostensibly disparate industries within and outside tech than we think. Being open to conversations with leaders from other sectors will help build synergies, ideas and relationships.
  2. The leaders around the table represent a wide range of industries from telephony to semiconductor, from storage to software of many ilks. Their stories reflected the emergence and evolution of tech within Silicon Valley over the last 40 years, but the greatest convergence stories were from only the last five years – an indication of how quickly things are emerging and evolving, and how ripe the opportunities are right now.
  3. Tech companies from across the valley are generally involved in many industry sectors, leveraging the business process, IT, big data and others successes from tech and serving customers across the globe, across industries with services and products. 
  4. With the consolidations in the market and the commoditization of specific hardware and networks, and the sophistication of cloud-based services such as Amazon and Google, tech companies and their leaders need to look beyond the infrastructure level for the opportunities to provide consultations, services and customizations.  
  5. Social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC, see Geoffrey Moore’s article, with credit to Malcom Grant of Cognizant for the acronym) will be an integral element to creating opportunities as technologies converge. Companies need to leverage social communication patterns of today’s customers, provide solutions which work on the preferred devices of their customers, leverage big data to better understand and even predict preferences and behaviors, and provide solutions on the cloud which keep information and data secure, safe, scalable, and reliable. 
  6. Technology will affect every industry, every sector, every company. Adoption rates may be slower for some people/companies/countries, but it’s a question of when, not whether tech will be adopted.
  7. Technology solutions in one sector are interesting opportunities for those in other sectors.
  8. Leaders who are open to change, open to adopting new technologies through development and M&A will remain leaders.
  9. There are many levels of resistance around privacy. Some people are OK sharing aggregated information and some people are very private indeed. Wherever you sit on that spectrum, expect that it’s a given that many will know what you do/what you’ve done, others will want to do something you wouldn’t approve once they have that information, and still others will try to protect you from that second class of people.
  10. Leaders, companies, governments are all struggling with that privacy and security question, working hard to get what customers want – secure and broad yet private access.

Below are some predictions for opportunities ahead.

  1. There is a tremendous opportunity to bring tech into low-tech companies and industries – from updating and automating manufacturing processes to providing rapid-prototyping and design capabilities.
  2. Tech companies could help bring aging infrastructure up-to-date, working in partnership with local, state and federal governments. 
  3. IoT opportunities will continue to explode, and everyday objects in everyday industries will be ‘intelligent’, sharing usage and location data, and also touch almost everyone.
  4. Standardizations around platforms, protocols and interfaces will evolve, and once they do, IoT opportunities will further abound.
  5. Watch especially for consumer wearables, mobile apps in all areas, including telehealth and localization.
  6. Tech companies and Biopharma and medical device companies will partner with communities of patients to develop personalized diagnostics and treatments and even cures. 
  7. Hospitals will work with tech and healthcare IT and biopharma companies to better serve the needs of the patients and the community.

In the end, it’s about leaders with the vision to see what’s next in the industry, what would better serve the customer. Choose a company and a leader you can work with and for, and do your share to shape the future. Surround yourself with others with a similar mind set.


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