Harper Reed rocks Day 2 Plenary
By Matt Bungard
Day two of CeBIT Australia 2013 started with a strong line-up at the Opening Plenary, although the heavy fog around Sydney claimed a couple of speakers.
The main focus of the event was to discuss the future of Cloud Computing and services.
Things got underway with a speech by NSW Minister of Finance and Services, Greg Pearce. “We’re unlocking the value of public sector data,” said Mr Pearce, who highlighted the success of various transport, health and education apps.
He discussed the NSW Government’s open data policy and the strategic spending by the Government of $2bn on ICT in the coming year.
The development of an online marketplace would provide a location where businesses can work with the government in a centralised location, he said, conceding “there’s no doubt we still have a lot to do” in terms of ICT development.
International keynote speaker and member of the Obama for America 2012 team, Harper Reed was next. Hailed by chair Brad Howarth (author of “A Faster Future”) as “the man who organised the most sophisticated election campaign of all time” by chair Brad Howarth, the man in green sneakers took the stage to a raucous reception.
Mr. Reed’s keynote focussed on the value of openness in computing. After taking a job with T-shirt company Threadless, he and his co-workers inadvertently invented crowd sourcing.
“I did what you should do when you achieve your goals. I quit,” he said, explaining how his “vision quest” took him towards the Obama for America campaign. |
“We had 18 months to raise US$1bn [for the 2008 campaign],” he said, pressing the importance of focusing on the product. In this case, it was a multi-pronged attack of Call Tool, Dashboard, Mobile Apps and Social Media, which enabled people to volunteer, donate money and assist in the Obama campaign in whatever way they wanted, regardless of their location or situation.
“We invested in responsive design,” he said, so that all of the products worked across multiple devices.
The email campaign in 2008 was heavy on the use of email, and an amusing tweet from Dan Sinker revealed that the number of emails sent actually outnumbered people by a margin of 2:1.
The rise of Twitter enabled the team to target “influential people in their relative networks” through the mass sending of direct messages in 2012.
Mr Reed said the use of AWS (Amazon Web Services) was vital to the campaign: “We knew how our software was going to work, so election day was really calm”.
another piece of advice from the tech guru was: “Hire people who are smarter than you”. And also create diversity: “I wish we’d hired more women and minorities”.
Only one member of the audience raised a hand when Mr Reed asked who among them liked to fail. “Failing is the one reason that we are able to understand success,” he said.
He suggested that “fail safety” was one way to create a work environment that explored ideas, innovated and took risks – it also meant your end users would not encounter untested ‘dead ends” in your products.
“Community is the number one asset. They’re the power behind your success,” said Mr Reed, emphasising the importance of creating an environment worth trusting.
Next up was a panel discussion on the future of Cloud Computing, featuring David Yuile (CEO of AAPT), Patrick Maes (CTO of ANZ), Glenn Archer (AGCIO), Alan Perkins (Rackspace) and Alam Gill (CSG International). The panel was chaired by Dr. Steve Hodgkinson (Ovum).
Each member of the panel began by explaining how Cloud has been integrated into their business, before discussing the differences between using private Cloud technologies opposed to sourced. “The concept of trust is critical,” said Mr Yuile.
“CIOs are too focused on preventing leaks than seizing opportunities,” said Alan Perkins, who threw his support behind public technologies.
On infrastructure, Mr Archer explained that the 10% of government spending ws relatively insignificant; “What represents by far the most of our IT budget is application development, which takes up 39%.”
The plenary gave us over two hours of productive discussion and interesting anecdotes from a very diverse group of speakers.
Matt Bungard is a student at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and is a member of the CeBITAusLive tweeting team.