Knowing Tech in South Dakota

Yesterday, I spent my time at the Techknowlogy Summit in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We don't get too many technology or geek conventions in the state of South Dakota, so I didn't want this one go to by without a mention here at CMS Report.

Keynote Speaker

The Techknowlogy Summit is a trade show with presentations by both national and regional leaders in technology. The keynote speaker for the show was Kodak Company's Bill Lloyd, CTO, discussing his company's transformation for meeting the demands of the digital age. It was an interesting discussion on the challenges a century old company faces when needing to shift their primary products (film) over to new digital products. Kodak's current modernization efforts began around 2001 and is expected to be near completion in 2007. It was an interesting story, a story that looks likely to have a happy ending for the company and its investors.

Breakout Sessions

The show also had some breakout sessions. I attended a couple Web oriented sessions as well as a session on project management (well done). Regarding the Internet focused sessions, all the speakers were knowledgeable but I'm not convinced all the speakers fully understood who was in their audience. The make-up of the audience was made up by about half developers and half small business people (many of them small retail owners). Naturally, a business technology show should have made sure those talks had the small business owners in mind.

However, the talks were more geared toward the CEO crowd. When the speakers found that the audience didn't contain the companies with the huge IT budgets, the speakers then shifted their talk toward the more comfortable IT people. From my perspective, the small business people were squirming in their chairs and suddenly felt out of place. Oh, how often we IT people spend so much time talking about what we know and so little time listening to the needs of potential customers!

After the talks, I met someone from the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce who said it best, "I know this is all suppose to be good things to know, but it's all way over my head". I had a nice private conversation with that Chamber of Commerce guy. He left me with an impression that he was going away frustrated with the difficulty small retailers have in getting their business on the Internet. You're just not going to impress the small business guy with talk of AJAX, XML, RSS, etc. Talk about his business and how he can move it online...then you've got his attention.

In no way is this meant to be criticism to the speakers or their companies and I'm thankful for their time. I'm just pointing out that while Web designers, consulting companies, and other IT providers look toward the big Fortune 500 companies for business...I think they're missing a potentially huge customer base. Unfortunately, the talks drifted away from the needs of small business. In my opinion the moderators should have done a better job.

South Dakota IT companies providing world-wide service

Some of the regional companies and local IT leaders I came across the show included:

  • Electric Pulp, Sioux Falls, SD
  • e-Venture, Inc, Rapid City, SD
  • Scott Petersen, Modern Internet, Sioux Falls, SD
  • Deane Barker, Blend Interactive and Gadgetopia, Sioux Falls, SD
  • Darin Namken, Commission Soup, Madison, SD
  • Brian Price, Price Consulting Group, Sioux Falls, SD and Minneapolis, MN
  • Eric McDonald, DocuTap, Sioux Falls, SD

I'm not affiliated with any of the names or companies mentioned above and to be honest, I know very little about the quality of their work. These are just names and companies at the show that caught my attention. If you're in the market needing some IT work I just think they would be a good place to start.