Infotec 2020 virtual conference connects tech talent and companies this Friday

In an era of remote work and major uncertainty, it’s time for the Silicon Prairie tech community to reconnect. But how? Attend Infotec 2020, for one. The AIM Institute’s longtime annual business technology conference is known for its ability to cultivate a sense of community between tech talent and companies with IT needs. “It’s a…

Infotec Banners-08

In an era of remote work and major uncertainty, it’s time for the Silicon Prairie tech community to reconnect. But how?

Attend Infotec 2020, for one.

The AIM Institute’s longtime annual business technology conference is known for its ability to cultivate a sense of community between tech talent and companies with IT needs.

“It’s a really comfortable environment,” said Justin Trowbridge, business development specialist for the predictive analytics firm Contemporary Analysis and the Omaha Data Science Academy. “I’ve been to other conferences where you feel kind of like an outsider, but at Infotec everybody’s pretty welcoming and pretty warm.”

Now, after being postponed from April to November, Infotec 2020 will take place on the Hopin virtual venue platform this Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Featuring two keynote presentations, 19 breakout sessions, one-on-one networking sessions and a virtual expo hall, Infotec offers attendees the opportunity to explore a variety of subject areas: AI and machine learning, recruitment and retention, leadership and innovation, data and cybersecurity, and cloud technology. 

Tickets are still available for the conference, including free tickets for students. (Don’t have a ticket yet? Register for a free “Infotec Insider” ticket here.

Keynote speeches this year will be given by Paul Jarrett, CEO and co-founder of Bulu Group—a private label gift box subscription service—and Pamela J. Boyers, MA, PhD, associate vice chancellor for clinical simulation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dr. Boyers heads UNMC’s Interprofessional Experiential Center for Enduring Learning, or iEXCEL, which employs visualization and simulation to help students and healthcare professionals repeatedly rehearse and troubleshoot medical procedures—from dressing a wound to removing a gallbladder—before ever seeing a patient. She will speak about iEXCEL, the newly opened Davis Global Center state-of-the-art clinical simulation facility, and UNMC’s role in getting medical professionals pandemic-ready through virtual content addressing safety and best practices in the care of coronavirus patients.

Geared toward business leadership and the tech workforce alike, Infotec will address social considerations and hard technical concerns of technology, such as unconscious bias, H-1B visa sponsorship, the building of internal data science teams, and the use of Kubernetes to create microservices with Azure. Infotec also offers multiple opportunities to inspire attendees with valuable new approaches, such as Bulu Group’s Paul Jarrett’s morning keynote on the necessity of failure as a prerequisite to innovation. 

As seasoned entrepreneurs who left advertising careers to found Bulu Group as a husband and wife duo, Paul and Stephanie Jarrett have had to adjust their business model multiple times to meet market needs and keep pace with the ever-shifting tech landscape. 

From these experiences, they’ve learned a thing or two about not only about what it takes to succeed, but how to talk about that success. 

“You have to leave out the hundred times that you failed, and you kind of focus on the times you succeeded,” Paul Jarrett said. “But if you got the scoreboard out and you looked at the amount of failures versus wins, honestly, it would probably be like 100 fails to one win. But you gotta win when it matters.”

On the recruitment and retention front, a panel of influential women in technology will discuss the opportunities, challenges and realities for women in the field.

Maria Brady, recruitment and retention coordinator for AIM, a not-for-profit that grows, connects and inspires the tech talent community through tech education and career development, will moderate the panel.

“We are going to discuss ways corporate leadership can make a more welcoming workplace for women and encourage the next generation of young women to enter into a technology career,” Brady said.

Panelists include Vonda Page of PayPal, Michelle Wingard of Dynamo, Addison Parker of Union Pacific, and Jessica Barry of Conagra Brands

In response to the increase in companies working remotely during COVID-19, as well as the growth in data generated by pandemic-weary consumers spending more time online, Infotec offers several breakout sessions on data science and cybersecurity, two areas of growing importance to corporate IT strategies.

Helping companies embrace a data culture has been an exciting challenge for Justin Trowbridge. In his morning breakout session, he will discuss ways to cultivate a data science team internally while avoiding common pitfalls.

“A lot of companies just pick whoever the most techie person is in the company and say, ‘You’re running our data team.’ And that is a recipe for disaster,” Trowbridge said. “Being a tech person does not equate to being a data person.”

On the other hand, Trowbridge said, companies might make the mistake of hiring the most highly pedigreed data scientist they can find, pay them a solidly six-figure salary, then wait at least a year for ROI as the new hire learns their way around the company’s datasets, its organizational culture and political atmosphere. 

Trowbridge and colleagues at the Omaha Data Science Academy have found a middle way. By promoting from within and cultivating a data person through a mentorship model, organizations can decrease time to ROI and help the fledgling data scientist develop competency, comfort and company buy-in.  

Trowbridge also reiterated the value of attending Infotec, stressing the event’s power for connecting people to new ideas and new industry contacts.

“A lot of the people in our industry and the tech community kind of get stuck in silos inside their companies, and Infotec lets you get out and interact and experience things that you may not if you’d just stayed put,” he said. “The collaborations and ideas and partnerships and all those things that come out of an event like Infotec are really what it’s all about.”

A limited number of free “Infotec Insider” tickets can be secured through Hopin. Readers can find the full conference schedule on the Infotec website.

Conference content will be made available on AIM’s YouTube page after the event.

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