5 Takeaways from Gartner Tech Growth and Innovation Conference 2019

Our Leadership Team just got back from the Gartner Tech Growth and Innovation Conference in San Diego, CA. We all walked away with pages of notes, and our return trip was filled with discussions of ways we might further improve our strategy and processes based on our learnings.

Here are five of my takeaways from the conference that I hope you will find useful as you think about your strategic growth.

1. The future will be about anticipating people’s needs. 

Mike Walsh, futurist and author of The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Machines Are Smarter Than You, talked about what we can expect of the world in 2030. He challenged us to consider that if we want to understand what the future will look like we need to look no further than our children. Data shapes their life experiences. They are used to having technology around them that caters to them and will provide recommendations to them. As they get older, they will continue to expect companies to use data to further improve their interactions, using data to predict what they will need even before they do. Mike suggested that we ponder the idea of delivering something before it is even ordered. While it sounds ridiculous, AI is being used to predict what to stock in different Amazon warehouses based on what demand is anticipated. As machine learning further improves, what would it take to foretell what buyers will want before they know they want it?

2. Innovation isn’t about technology; it is about culture.

Mike Walsh pointed out that Michael Faraday invented the electric dynamo in 1831, but society didn’t have an electric assembly line until Henry Ford created it in 1913. The technology in and of itself is not enough.  We need to create environments that invite out-of-the-box thinking.  

As the CEO, I know the challenge that exists in encouraging out-of-the-box thinking. It can be a challenge when our profitability is tied to our billable hours. But I believe our value is increased by being more than just people who can do a specific technical task well. Yes, we are technically excellent in our work, but beyond our technical excellence, we are problem solvers. We think of questions you didn’t know to ask.  We provide ideas that inspire new opportunities within your business.  

At Brilliance, we give our team four hours a week to spend on activities that they find interesting that may be of value to the business but aren’t directly billable. At the end of every quarter, we have a day where we share what we were working on with each other. The work done during this time often results in ideas and recommendations we can offer to clients in the future and shapes our ability to serve clients better. 

3. Be about willful disruption.  

This came from a talk by Daryl Plummer on Seven Digital Disruptions You Might Not See Coming. People often think disruption means change, but it is more than that. Disruption is about creating a new value proposition. We need to be aware of what disruptions exist in our industry that will change it forever. We also need to be thinking about how we can disrupt our own business before someone else does. If we can create the disruption proactively, it provides a strategic advantage. 

4. Marketing and demand generation play a larger role.

Demand generation is not simply a strategy that is used to gain new prospects for sales. Even once a prospect has engaged with your sales team, provide buyers with appropriate content that they will find useful up until they sign your contract. Beyond new customers, demand generation campaigns should be planned to grow existing customer business, which often goes overlooked. 

In addition, the most effective marketing strategies are often not the least expensive. Christy Ferguson shared some great stats on the most effective marketing channels. Increasing the number of channels in your marketing strategy will improve your conversion rates. Paid search and direct mail are important channels to be in your overall mix.

5. Learn to be a better storyteller.

Check out this webinar from Gartner analyst Hank Barnes on Messaging Approaches to Create Buying Urgency. One of the key elements of creating urgency is effective storytelling that relates a customer’s need for your area of differentiation. Storytelling is a crucial part of demand generation strategies, but it is also useful for business leaders to use in internal communications and to gain buy-in for a project or internal change.

Your Strategic Growth

At Brilliance, we are passionate about providing a foundation for continued innovation in B2B digital commerce. That foundation is provided through our technical platforms, and also through our people. If you are looking for a technology partner who can help you strategically grow using digital commerce, we would love to talk.

Lori McDonald

President & CEO


Lori McDonald 

Lori graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer-Electrical Engineering and leads Brilliance Business Solutions with over 20 years of computer engineering and software development experience.  She is an Episerver EMVP, a Microsoft Certified Professional and a regular contributor on Practical eCommerce. Her status as a recognized industry expert has resulted in regular speaking engagements at business conferences.

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