SHARE in San Francisco Journal: Technology Connected to Results

On the back wall of the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, a roughly 12-foot-by-12-foot SHARE logo was projected, complete with its tagline: Technology, Connections, Results. During the SHARE in San Francisco conference, the slogan was more than branding. By staging nearly 500 sessions and more than 300 speakers, SHARE – an independent, volunteer-run association providing IBM customers with user-focused education, professional networking and a forum to influence the information technology industry – delivered on the promise of those three words.

While SHARE in San Francisco supplied participants with ample opportunity to delve deeply into technical details of established, emerging and enhancing technologies for mainframe computing, the conference agenda also provided perspective on trends, techniques and tribulations affecting the industry.

Technology Connected to Leadership

Henry Givray, President & CEO of SmithBucklin Corporation, the world’s largest association management company, launched the conference with a keynote address on the Passion of Leadership that underlined the connection between technology and results. He stressed that leadership can't be taught – it must be learned through a process of personal, active engagement and self-discovery.

The message resonated for technologists in the audience who have endured more than a decade of claims that the “mainframe is dead.” Givray called all conference participants successful leaders of their industry, not by title or appointment but by invitation. By attending SHARE in San Francisco, an event designed to sharpen skills, build relationships and increase knowledge, “you are answering leadership’s invitation,” he said.

According to Givray, the most important of his “12 Distinguishing Qualities that Define True Leaders” is the last: A high degree of self-awareness. “Commit daily to self-reflection, self-exploration and self-learning,” he told the audience. “True leaders are masters of being self-aware,” which allows you to develop and hone the ability to self-manage. In turn, successful self-management enables you to “produce tangible outcomes through others.”

Technology Connected to Growth

Doug Balog, IBM’s General Manager for System z, connected technology with results for attendees when he said: “The mainframe is not going away. It’s been around for 50 years. And it will be for at least another 50.” As evidence of the results of mainframers’ efforts, Balog cited recent growth for the business line he leads: Revenue from System z server products increased 56% in the 4th quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

(Watch the President’s Corner for an in-depth interview with Balog from SHARE in San Francisco.)

During his keynote speech – Smarter Computing in the New Era of IT – Balog told mainframe success stories that connected technology to results, such as Marriott’s implementation that decreased operating costs while increasing transaction processing and capacity by 40%. As a non-corporate example, Balog offered the City and County of Honolulu, whose new platform helped to reduce database licensing costs by 68 percent, reduce time to deploy applications from one week to a few hours and increase property tax revenue by $1.4 million.

If you can use mainframe technology to reduce the processing of complex queries from hours to seconds, then “you’ve changed the world,” Balog said.

Technology Connected to Progress

In her session – Multiple Generation Gaps: Navigating the Multigenerational Workplace – Anne Caluori, Principal of ΣThinking and a past President of SHARE, connected technology to managing differences in perspectives effectively in today’s mainframe workplace.

Technologists are comfortable using modeling to solve complex problems, but with the dynamics of a multigenerational workforce “anytime we use a model we risk creating friction points” that can slow progress, Caluori said. Relying on models based on age, she advised, limits perspective and, in turn, innovation. In today’s environment, where at least four and, in some cases, five generations may work side by side, she suggested the pragmatic approach mainframers apply to emerging technologies such as Cloud and mobile computing.

(Watch SHARE in San Francisco Journal for upcoming features on Cloud and Mobile tracks.)

“Is workplace friction caused by a business requirement?” Or is this some sort of cross-generational issue?” she told attendees to ask of themselves. Each generation should heed Givray’s guidance and practice self-reflection as the key to self-management that enables results.

“Get your own wiring straight first,” Caluori counsels mainframers from the Boomer, GenX and GenY cohorts. Then, deliberately cross-mentor older and younger co-workers in the same way the latest mainframe technologies work across multiple platforms. Watch boundaries fall and creativity flourish.

(Tap more of Caluori’s multigenerational wisdom in the upcoming President’s Corner cross-gen Q&As.)

Technology Connected to the Real-World

Themes struck by Givray, Balog and Caluori reverberated through many conference sessions – from high-level functional discussions to deep-dive technical workshops. But the unifying arcs remained technology, connections and results, as we’ll see in the next installment of SHARE in San Francisco Journal: “The cloud before the Cloud.”

Communications strategist Bob Dirkes attended SHARE in San Francisco on special assignment. Follow him on Twitter @RCDirkes.  Follow SHARE on Twitter @SHAREhq.

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