Cyberposium 2004:

On January 16th – 17th, the HBS campus came alive with over 500 participants from all over the world, who arrived to attend the Ninth Annual Cyberposium Conference focused on “harnessing technology’s promise at Harvard Business School”.

Howard Charney of Cisco Systems opened the conference by speaking on “From Optimal to Integral, the Global Build-Out of the Internet”, where he impressed the audience with his multimedia presentation on the technology of the past world and his predictions for the technology of the future.

Following the keynote, Mr. J. R. Lowry of McKinsey did a beautiful job of moderating the Connectivity Visionary Roundtable. Six speakers covered a diverse spectrum, including Berit Svendsen of Telenor, who flew in from Norway especially for the panel. Speakers from Avaya, Convergys, IDC, Motive and Texas Instruments were challenged to tell us about which areas in their space were under-hyped and over-hyped.

On Saturday morning, Eric Kim of Samsung woke us all up with his address on “Convergence and the New Paradigm for Ubiquitous Communications”. His case study of Korea enlightened us on the market opportunities in that country. After this, Professor Alan MacCormack, HBS, moderated the Open Source Visionary Roundtable. He excited the debate between Jason Matusow, Microsoft, and other speakers from Greylock, HP, IBM, Red Hat and Sun.

The conference audience then split up for the concurrent panel sessions.

In each of the four time slots, the audience chose between six panels. For example, there was the “Network Security” panel, organized by Ned Varnica, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University.

A recurring theme in the questions the audience posed was that in the face of events like 9/11 and financial scandals, security issues are becoming of increasing importance in the technology arena and are not just a “cost center”. The panelists told us that there is a chronic shortage of people who understand “security and [its] business implications”.

Another speaker of note was Linda Sanford of IBM, who is one of the Ten Most Influential Women in Technology according to Working Women magazine. She gave a passionate keynote on “Creating the on Demand Enterprise”, where she focused on the issue of collaboration.

To end the conference, Tony Scott from GM, delivered the Capstone Dinner keynote. After a cozy buffet with 200 participants in Spangler, we heard Tony discuss “Technology as a Strategic Advantage”. GM’s IT function is 100% outsourced, and has achieved one of the lowest costs in the automotive industry. His vision of where technology is going showed us that our interest in it is not misplaced!

The conference was organized very efficiently and effectively by Lee Rand (OB) and Jeremy Pee (OB). Charlie Hansell (OB) ran operations with military precision and Jed Kay (OD) masterminded the marketing. Many others contributed to the effort, without whom Cyberposium wouldn’t have been the success that it turned out to be.