Event Summary

St Anton, Austria 2019

From March 1-3, Insight IGNITE held its first Innovation Roundtable of 2019 and its first ski summit in the snow covered Alps of St. Anton, Austria, welcoming an intimate group of guests from around the world, who are all working to accelerate Digital transformation as providers of software solutions or IT leaders from the Global 2000 companies.

A Late Stage Investor’s View On Blockchain & AI 

Lonne Jaffe, Managing Director at Insight Partners, gave two in-depth presentations sharing the firm’s late stage investor view on blockchain and AI. He shared that while there’s an exorbitant amount of activity in the crypto and blockchain space, Insight Partners hasn’t found a fast-growing company to invest in. This left the audience wondering how much G2000 organizations should focus on blockchain at this time. 

Regarding AI, Lonne concluded that at the end of the day, AI is game-changing for G2000 companies when a machine can get its hands on important data, and when an AI platform is self-developing, or software engineering is done automatically. That being said, we’re still in the early days of this technology, and Insight Partners is now starting to find more uses for it. 

The Ethics of AI 

Expanding on the rapid growth of AI and the need for ethics on the creation and implementation of the technology, Manoj Saxena, founder CognitiveScale, and former GM of IBM Watson delivered a presentation on the importance of governance and compliance constraints. With technology as complex as AI advancing every day, governments and the private sector need support and collaboration with experts in the field. 

Leveraging Automation 

During a session on how large companies can leverage automation to transform enterprise IT, our Insight IGNITE founder, Emmet B. Keeffe III, led a discussion with John Ferron, CEO of Resolve Systems, Sandeep Johri, CEO of Tricentis, and Massimo Merlo, Vice President of Veeam. The panelists shared that RPA (Robotic Process Automation) has found a home in business, and highlighted three fast growers in that segment, including automation, AI Anywhere, and Blue Prism. 

Some of the most complex business processes are in IT. Thanks to Resolve Systems, Tricentis, and Veeam, for the first time, it will be possible to automate a number of processes that have been manually done by humans—changing the game for business. 

The Flywheel Effect 

Carl Ryden, CEO of PrecisionLender, shared insights on how his company is changing the game for commercial banks. His strategy is to get the flywheel working. In building a great company, there is no single, killer app that will do the trick. Instead, the process resembles a giant, heavy flywheel that builds momentum turn upon turn until a point of breakthrough occurs and turns on its own. That’s how he and his team built PrecisionLender and created Andi®, PrecisionLender’s virtual insights analyst that gathers data and delivers real-time advice to bankers to help them craft profitable deals.

Sometimes the fastest way to get there is to go slow. 

During an après ski gathering, we welcomed extreme ski mountaineer and skier, Benedikt Böhm, who works outside Digital transformation, but understands the importance of acceleration first-hand. During his presentation, he explored the concept of needing to go slow, in order to move fast, and how having a meditative state of mind helps when dealing with extreme situations.

The Insight IGNITE team couldn't agree more, and we encourage the exploration of mindfulness to accelerate Digital. When facing adversity, whether it’s climbing a mountain or disrupting your company with Digital transformation, sometimes you have to make brave decisions. This is where mindfulness is key. 

The State Of IoT 

While Insight Partners has made some investments in the IoT space, it’s still very early days for the technology. Chris Autry, CEO of Iothic, spoke about the need for IoT security issues to be addressed. With the plethora of end points that come with IoT, the potential for security threats within an enterprise becomes even higher. 

Insight agrees. Some of the firm’s first investments were in the IoT companies Augury and Amis, which both provide security-related solutions for IT. – this is misleading and reads like these were our first investments not just in IoT. 

Building A Culture Of Innovation 

In addition to exploring the tech side of Digital transformation, we discussed how companies can create a culture of innovation that supports change and innovation. – doesn’t make sense Stan Dotson, Vice President of Digital Transformation, Strategy and Governance at Bayer led a panel discussion on this topic, featuring Matthias Herzog, IT Executive at Mondelez International, Filippo Catalano, Group CIO at Nestlé, and Marianne De Muynck, Director of Digital Center of Excellence and IT EMEA at PPG. 

They uncovered that it’s extremely challenging for enterprises to innovate, and this could be due to multiple factors including legacy, management, industry applications, and legacy compensation. 

“When innovation works well, it comes top down.” 
– Matthias Herzog, IT Executive at Mondelez International 

The panel also highlighted the idea that there are two main kinds of Digital transformation. These include: 

  1. Digital projects designed to make business’ run more efficiently 
  2. New business models 

Case in point: Nestlé Nespresso has used Digital in a whole new way. By implementing Digital transformation in its business model, Nespresso enabled simple digital transactions, drove personalization and customization across channels, leveraged digital media to build the brand, and blended the digital and physical worlds for a meaningful omni-channel experience

Unlocking Creativity Through Cultural Diversity 

Improving the odds of unleashing creativity through cultural diversity was another aspect of company culture explored at the roundtable. A diverse group of panelists including Palestinian founder Tareq Maayah, CEO at EXALT Technologies, London-based American and UK citizen, Suki Fuller, CEO at Salaam Ventures, and young Moroccan entrepreneur Yasmine El Baggarri emphasized the importance of international, racial, and gender diversity when exploring business transformation. 

While the panel was able to discuss the importance of diversity with regard to company culture and open-mindedness and creating equal opportunities for people, clear methods for implementing diversity in a way that will drive the bottom line didn’t surface during the conversation. IGNITE is continuing to explore diversity in future roundtables.

Transformation Is About People 

Ultimately, transformation is about people, aka customers. Wrapping up the sessions, we heard two talks on the evolution of marketing to customers in the digital age. Quantum Metric CEO Mario Ciabarra and Yext CMO Wendi Sturgis talked about the importance of understanding your customer’s pain points and knowing where and how to target new customers. From implementing an effective marketing and SEO strategy for voice search and understanding the habits and behaviors of Generation Z, analyzing and creating new strategies for digital consumers is ever-evolving. 

Ultimately, it was the people of the St. Anton roundtable that made the experience unique and enriching for everyone.