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Tampa Bay Technology Forum 2016 – A Recap

Earlier today I attended the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, in downtown St. Petersburg.

It was put on by Tampa Bay Tech, the organization founded to put Tampa Bay on the map as a center for technology and innovation.

The day started at 8:30 with a back-to-back series of 16 “Lightning Talks” given by technology executives from around Tampa Bay.

The talks were held simultaneously, two at a time, in different rooms. Which means that even if you were there, you missed something.

Fortunately, RIDG was brought in to create graphic recordings, which I’ve photographed and included below…because I know you all want to see them.

Here’s a brief of what went down.

The Lightning Talks

1. Tampa Bay’s Technology Workforce

Jill Pearson and Daniel James Scott, both with the TBTF, kicked off the day with an update on the current state of Tampa Bay’s Technology workforce. Tampa Bay is the 19th largest tech region in the United States, employing 1 out of every 89 US tech workers.

Over the last five years Tampa Bay grew tech jobs at almost twice the national average! Read more about the workforce study here.

What can we do to help? Tell the story of tech in our region – and if you use Twitter….hashtag it #VoiceofTech.

Tampa Bay's Technology Workforce

2. Creating a Culture of Innovation

Meanwhile, in the next room, Pete Slade talked about how Nitro Solutions creates a culture of innovation…and it’s all about the people. I couldn’t agree more with his advice to #neversettle when recruiting (and don’t hire assholes).

Creating a Culture of Innovation

3. User Behavior Analytics

Next up was Harrison Midkiff, and a talk about User Behavior Analytics. I missed this one…but have the graphic recording captured.

User Behavior Analytics

4. Enterprise Cloud

Kris  Pento from Nutanix gave attendees an overview of Nutanix Enterprise Cloud and the benefits of cloud technology.

Cloud providers enable your enterprise to scale up as needed – only paying for what you need, when you need it.

Enterprise Cloud

5. Success with Corporate Content Marketing

Victoria Edwards was with us from GuideWell Connect, educating on what corporations need to know about content marketing. In particular…show your C-Suite where the money is. Content generates 54% more leads than traditional marketing, this matters.

What else matters? Getting buy-in from employees, who will often be the ones helping to generate content. She shared a host of practical tips and advice…highlighted in the graphic recording.

Success with Corporate Content Marketing

6. Loyalty Marketing Technology

John Lescarbeau represented Kobie Marketing with his lightning talk on Loyalty Marketing Technology.

Loyalty Marketing Technology

7. Managing a Large Number of Database Servers, With a Small Number of DBAs

Jeff Garbus, CEO of Soaring Eagle Consulting (a well-respected database managed services company in Tampa Bay), was with us to share his expertise about database management.

Managing a Large Number of Database Servers, With a Small Number of DBAs

8. The Story of Agility Within the Financial Industry

JPMorganChase presented on their Corporate Quick Pay product and how their organization takes an agile approach to software development.

A few points that, based on the Q&A afterwards, seemed to stand out in the minds of the audience… their teams are self-created, self-selected and self-guided.

The Story of Agility Within the Financial Industry

9. IT 2.0

IT 2.0
Forsythe represented with a team of three, discussing the road to IT Revolution within their organization.

As a company that was founded in 1971, Forsythe has adapted to keep up with modern changes in technology, culture and work.

Yep, they lived through the Y2K crisis…and Jason Sango was there to be sure we knew it. 🙂

Tampa Bay Technology Forum - Standing Room Only


10. Getting More Out of Your Red Team Exercises

I was in the room next door when Joe Partlow, CISO at ReliaQuest, gave his lightning talk. Here’s what was captured in the recording.

Getting More Out of Your Red Team Exercises

11. From Zero to Mobile in 60 Seconds

Am I allowed to have favorites? If so, I’ll give my vote to Will Cohen, VP of Mobile at Triad Retail Marketing.

Maybe I’m biased, he had me at “mobile”.

Will touched on a variety of topics relevant to retailers, in particular:

  • The mobile wallet, everything you need contained in your smartphone, rather than carrying around cards, cash and paper coupons.
  • Virtual reality shopping…just put on a VR headset and go to the grocery store without getting off the couch. Wink at the items you want in your cart and it’s all delivered to your door. Yep, that’s the future…and 69% of millennials want it now (a number sure to grow!).
  • Beacons, and how they’re used by retailers, in combination with smartphone apps to trigger notifications on your phone while you’re shopping.  Beacons are new to the scene and something I’m going to blog about in the near future to bring more awareness to the technology.

From Zero to Mobile in 60 Seconds

12. The State of Encryption

Steve Hasselbach from Peak 10 gave a talk about encryption. I missed it, but for you – here is the graphic recording by RIDG.

The State of Encryption

13. Evolving Technology in Digital Advertising

Following a quick ten minute break, Nicole Hampton at Cox Target Media took to the floor. I missed Nicole’s talk, but have included the graphic recording below.

Evolving Technology in Digital Advertising

14. BI in an SMB Environment

Does your organization use any type of Business Intelligence (BI)?

Do you use Excel?

Did you hear that Microsoft will be discontinuing support of Excel in 2018?

Nope, neither did I, it was a joke.

According to Matthew McNulty, Excel is not Business Intelligence.

BI in an SMS Environment

15. The Benefits of Hosted Voice Communications

John Jennewein from Bright House Networks (one of the event sponsors) gave a talk about a topic he is very familiar with….

The Benefits of Hosted Voice Communications

16. How Cloud Changes the Face of Distribution

One of the final lightning talks of the day saw David Tomasello from Tech Data take the floor. I missed it, but here is the graphic recording.

How Cloud Changes the Face of Distribution

Panel Discussion: Agile in Tampa Bay

Agile in Tampa Bay PanelThe Technology Forum finished with a (very excellent) panel discussion over lunch. The panel included well-known agile enthusiasts, advocates and educators from the Tampa Bay area…

Ryan Dorrell, of AgileThought; Stephanie Davis (Cox Target Media/Valpak); Steven Granese (AgileThought); Becky Hartman (AgileThought) and Eric-Paul van Woerkom (Healthesystems).

The opinion was asserted that if you create software and aren’t all-in with agile, you’re like a dinosaur, trying to get by in modern society. You should step down from your position right away, and hire an agile consultant to transform your organization.

OK, that’s an exaggeration, no one used those exact words.

Here are a few takeaways from the panel:

Agile is no longer just applicable to software development, ‘agile thinking’ can be applied to all areas of a business. But, not just business…pregnancy and little league baseball.

When you make the agile transformation it’s important to go all-in. The problem of saying ‘let’s try agile with this one team over here’ was discussed, and not recommended as an approach.

Is this how your company looks now….a group of developers who all report to a development manager; QA reporting to a QA lead, and all the business folks down the hall, doing their own thing? These silos create bottlenecks and slow down decisions. One team depends on another team in order to get things done.

The ‘agile way’ would switch to fully self-sufficient teams that have every skill needed to deliver value.

This enables the team to move quickly and it keeps everyone more closely aligned to their purpose. Steven talked about developers who pull tickets all day, but are completely removed from the business case and who they are building software for.

The panel talked about the thrill of seeing teams arguing, in a good way, about the best approach to take to solve their client’s problem.

Another benefit of creating dedicated teams around a product, as pointed out by Stephanie – this eliminates the need for time tracking, which is a big moral booster. Management knows what product each team is working on 100% of the time. Team members are not bouncing from one product to another.


So there you have it, a quick run down of what you missed at the Tampa Bay Technology Forum.

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Sara @ Big Fish

Sara @ Big Fish

Sara MacQueen is the Founder and President of Big Fish - a custom software design and development studio in Tampa Florida and Raleigh North Carolina. She was named one of "25 Mobile Women to Watch" and has been interviewed by local and national media for her expertise in mobile technology and business.