By Nan Palmero and Kyle McInnes
Jim Balsillie was the first keynote presenter and he was introducing the speakers more than giving a presentation himself. It was good to see Jim Dog but the man of the hour was definitely Malcolm Gladwell.
Shane Robinson executive vice president, chief strategy officer at HP was at WES to talk about their latest cloud-based initiatives. The cloud is an innovative platform that is going to lead to some incredible applications for mobile and desktop alike. Shane put it best when he described the innovation following the birth of PC. When PC was developed, there was two decades of growth in applications and users. The cloud is the next platform to provide another two decades of growth.
HP thinks that the cloud has changed the model of almost everything. This is demonstrated with their latest cloud based initiatives CloudPrint and Logoworks.
Crowd-sourcing, is a tool that allows you to outsource your ideas to communities where you have a wide variety of options and a diversity of creativity. HP is buying into this with HP Logoworks. With Logoworks, you can outsource your logo’s graphic design to a community who will then provide you with a host of potential logos. All you have to do is set your budget, select the best one and that designer gets paid.
WIth Cloudprint, you don’t need drivers or a physical connection to a printer. What HP did was they took a look at their existing verticals in printing and imaging and implemented the cloud technology. Cloudprint works seamlessly with the BlackBerry by allowing you to send a file to the cloud where it is processed and then shipped to the printer.
Malcolm Gladwell was the final keynote presenter and by far the best speaker. Gladwell came on stage and immediately said he’s not going to talk technology. The reason was that he enjoys doing presentations about topics where the crowd doesn’t specialize.
In the spirit of a good presentation, Malcolm used anecdotes to illustrate his points. The first story was about a man named Vivek from Mumbai. Vivek had a 12 year old daughter that wanted to play basketball on a team. Vivek decided that he wanted her team to win, but he realized that these girls just want to play and aren’t necessarily athletically inclined. He set the ground rule that he wouldn’t yell at the girls, and he wanted them to play full court press. Full court press, as you may know, is a basketball strategy that involves playing defense across the entire court. The idea was that they couldn’t win by traditional methods, so the full court press was a means of changing the nature of the game. It is a great example of how society’s norms exist to keep the underdog in its place, and changing those rules gives you a competitive advantage. This was the message he wanted companies to hear.
The next anecdote was about Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence of Arabia wanted to attack the Turks at Medina but his army was filled with men who were passionate but untrained. In order to beat the Turks, Lawrence of Arabia found their weakness which was their railway system. The idea was to not concentrate the battle in one place, but to spread out their efforts. The passion was more important than the training. Gladwell wants companies to put the effort in and to substitute effort for ability. He also believes that to be successful in something, you need to invest 10,000 hours or, 4 hours a day for 10 years. Skill is a commodity that Gladwell believes is less valuable than hard work. If you can get an employee to commit effort on a daily basis, you will get more than one who is more skilled, but less passionate.
All in all these were great speeches and it’s the kind of content that keeps us coming back to WES.
Make sure to check out the Best of WES 2009 Posterous account where we’ll be posting highlights from the show. At the end of WES, we’ll vote on what should be awarded the “Best of WES 2009.”