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Technology is an implementation detail


By Paul Chapman, Chief Information Officer of HP Software


This blog post originally appeared on LinkedIn.


IT professionals, by definition, look for technology solutions to the business challenges we face. It’s not surprising given that technology is right there in the name of our chosen profession. I've been working on a set of blog posts on this topic, and I hope to invite active discussion around the idea that “technology is an implementation detail” and encourage IT leaders to take an outside in view and focus on business outcomes over technology.


In the meantime, I’m heading to Spain for HP Discover Barcelona and it occurs to me that these thoughts and experiences also apply to “tech conferences”.


If you attend any technology conference, whether it’s one of HP’s two annual Discover events or another hosted by our partners or an industry or media group, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by technology products and solutions. At Discover, we’ll have HP products and solutions rolled out, lots of discussion about technology innovation, and a host of our sessions around specific technologies and their capabilities.


That’s all good, of course, but it’s also important to step back and consider the overall value you can gain from a conference like this. The level of expertise, insight, and experience you’ll encounter from our customers, partners, and HP team members is very powerful. Many people know that I am a big believer in the wisdom of the crowds and at events like this it is a great opportunity to harness that wisdom.


So, if you've taken the time from your work schedule, and ducked out on your family for a few days, you need to come away with something more than solution brochures product information and technology education.


How do you get the most out of your participation? In my experience, there are a few tips that will make a difference:

  • Look for the leaders: Who’s speaking in executive sessions? Organize your event experience not around technologies, but around the ideas and experts you want to share ideas with.
  • Connect with the experts: We’re all experts in our own areas, and we’re often dealing with the same complexities and facing many of the same challenges. There are many things we can learn from one another and a whole lot of information we can gain from the collective knowledge of our industry. Take advantage of both the structured and unstructured time at meetings to connect with other attendees. You may find that the people you meet today will be able to help you tomorrow.
  • Discuss business outcomes: Come to events armed not just with an awareness of your own IT environment and plans, but also the vision for where your business is headed, and how you’re able—or not yet able—to help it get there. When you ask, “How can your technology advance my business goals?” you’re more likely to get the response, “What are you trying to do?” That’s the direction you want to go with the conversation. Start with the “what” and back into the “how”.
  • Understand the challenges: As you discuss business outcomes, remember that technology is not the hardest part of achieving success. Often, the transformation and aligned incentives of our people and organizations are the key to success. Broaden your conversations to include the other elements of the story. Seek out not just what others have done and why, but also how they have addressed the challenges we’re all facing.

I spend a lot of time at business events, and I find that I get out of them what I put in. I also find that colleagues at the same event often surprise me by observing that an event I found OK is fantastic, or shrugging off a show that has me excited over the new possibilities it presents.


As noted - technology is not the hardest part, and even at a tech show, it shouldn't be your only focus. With Discover Barcelona only days away, what other advice do you have to share? Please post a comment about how you get the most out of technology conferences, and I look forward to seeing you in Barcelona!

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