Tech Summits Galore — An Embarrassment of Riches in Salt Lake

Are you ready for the Qualtrics’ X4 Summit this week? We’re still recovering from the Silicone Slopes Tech Summit in January, which served as the launching pad for the convention arms race that will see Qualtrics and Domo host nearly back to back Summit party paloozas.

To get you ready for X4, here’s a summary of what we learned at the Tech Summit. A little late to the party, yes, but here we are.

The most anticipated news leading up to the event was SAP’s purchase of Qualtrics, SAP CEO Bill McDermott and his sunglasses joined Qualtrics’ CEO Ryan Smith for a behind-the-scenes chat about an eight-billion-dollar handshake.

The highlight of the general session was Banjo’s CEO Damien Patton, who’s story is incredible. He grew up homeless. He had family member overdose on opioids before there was a conversation about the epidemic. He served two tours in Iraq and worked eight years on a pit crew in NASCAR. Then, he decided to start a company. Here is the shocking part – Banjo isn’t focused on profits, it’s focused on helping humanity.

Banjo’s mobile solution is like the sonar machine from The Dark Knight that Morgan Freeman, at first, refuses to use. Patton spoke of the looming dangers of artificial intelligence. He warned us that the world got the internet all wrong and if we mess up with AI, it’s going to be so much worse. The example Patton gave as a worthwhile way to use Banjo technology was stopping child abduction. Government officials in Utah tested the software during a child-abduction demonstration exercise. The standard way of finding a child would take all day. The Banjo technology would have the child home in minutes.

On the second day of the summit, we listened to Lauren Leader, author of Crossing the Thinnest Line. She spoke about the validity of a new national holiday – Election Day. The idea to give people a day dedicated to voting was appropriate as it came one day after a similar speech in the Senate about it. Leaders encouraged civic participation and took an economic angle toward promoting women in government offices and leadership positions.

We loved what Microsoft General Manager, Jeff Sandquist, said about the culture change needed at Microsoft. He remarked, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast. The Microsoft campus is five miles long. In our dark days, we stayed on campus and were arrogant. We needed to get out and listen and learn from our customers. When you remain humble you can grow. When you become arrogant you shrink.

And what tech summit would be complete without Major League Baseball legend, Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez? Some of our attendees’ intense dislike for all things Yankees quickly disappeared as he actually came off as a humble, likable and a whip-smart guy. When the moderator brought up that he is fourth all-time in MLB home runs, A-Rod brought up the fact that he is also fifth all-time in strikeouts.

“I have a PhD in failing but a Masters’ degree in getting back up.”  

You took the words right out of our mouths, A-Rod.

We’ll also be at the Qualtrics X4 Summit this week, so stay tuned for our reactions, comments, quotes and more in the days to follow.