Under the theme of “Innovate to Evolve,” the technology summit focused on education and connection.
Above: Chicago’s Navy Pier was the perfect setting for Impact Optimize and just the right size to accommodate 1,000 attendees and more than 40 speakers.
After a COVID-19 hiatus following its second show three years ago, Impact Optimize 2022 was back in force on August 11, convening on Chicago’s expansive Navy Pier. The tech summit’s third edition drew more than 40 insightful speakers and 1,000 attendees, eager to mingle in person and soak up sunbeams along Lake Michigan’s southern shoreline.
Above: More than 1,000 business professionals attended this year’s summit.
With northeastern Illinois roots planted in copier machines, the Impact Networking dealership dates back to 1999. Now a “tech firm,” it is focused less on hardware, and more on managed IT (information technology) and cloud computing services. Today, the company’s reach extends across the Midwest and West Coast, with annual revenues exceeding $100 million, more than 700 employees, and some 14,000 clients.
Above: Attendees at the Impact Optimize Summit were eager to learn how to innovate and evolve.
“To evolve, we need new ideas,” proclaimed Frank DeGeorge, summit co-founder and Impact Networking’s CTO and partner. “Innovation will help us fill the gap between tech and business. It [innovating] will get us to the next level.”
OEM Konica Minolta and info tech/software firm ConnectWise were among 20 exhibitors and sponsors of Impact Optimize, which featured interactive experiences and 20 breakout sessions. Thought leaders covered numerous topics, including a deep dive into the gap between security and IT. “Threats are always evolving,” warned Dave MacKinnon, vice president, chief security officer at N-able, adding that cybercrime is a multi-billion-dollar illicit enterprise. “Be proactive!” he urged attendees.
Above: One of the event’s sponsors was Konica Minolta. That’s Konica Minolta’s Kay Fernandez above left who also served as a presenter.
Additional educational workshops and breakouts concentrated on the following tracks: IT & Cloud, Managing Technology Initiatives, Cybersecurity & Compliance, Digital Evolution, and Marketing & Brand Growth.
In the opening keynote, visionary Daniel Pink discussed post-pandemic experimenting versus knowing. “We are entering the ‘great sorting,'” said Pink, the four-time New York Times bestselling author who writes about business and success. Three fundamental considerations: a.) When to collaborate vs. going solo, b.) Evaluate synchronous vs. asynchronous work, and c.) What is an office for? “This is a time for leaders to suggest, not command,” he added.
Above: New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink delivers the opening keynote.
Pink also stressed the mental-health benefits of integrating 15-minute walking breaks into the workday to foster creativity and productivity (see point four below), which is one of his five ways to navigate what’s next.
- Default to autonomy on the job as opposed to control. Don’t put employees in comply-or-defy mode, he said. “Five percent may disappoint, but most people will step up!”
- Explore the psychology of ‘why’ vs. ‘how.’ “Say, ‘here’s why instead of ‘here’s how,'” he urged.
- Make progress in meaningful work. “This is the biggest motivator for employees,” he noted, but it requires metrics and tools for feedback and information. Also, “memorialize” daily progress: “Take 30 seconds at the end of each workday and list three ways in which you made progress,” he advised. “Make it a ritual.”
- Take work breaks seriously (see above)! “Breaks are part of performance, not deviations from performance,” Pink emphasized. “They are a sign of strength, not weakness!” In addition, he encourages people to move around and be social: “Being outside is best – and be fully attached; not on your phone the whole break!”
- Take chances! “Try stuff. Do stuff! ‘Shoot your shot,'” Pink encouraged. Career research confirms that inaction is the most potent regret among workers, many wishing they could go back in time and do things differently. In other words, “don’t play it safe,” he concluded.
Two other morning keynote presentations discussed the blockchain disruption and cybersecurity. The cost of a single security breach has skyrocketed from $100,000 to nearly $3 million, according to cybersecurity guru-turned-YouTuber Wes Spencer. “Average ransomware downtime is up to 16 days, which translates to cutting monthly revenue in half,” he stressed.
In terms of business vulnerabilities, Spencer echoed ConnectWise’s five-pronged pathway to building a more resilient security strategy:
- Identify Protect
“The key is discovering where your gaps are,” Spencer noted. In an afternoon breakout session, ConnectWise VP Global Security Sales Jay Ryerse discussed the advantages of a layered approach to cybersecurity. Laura Schwartzwald, cybersecurity manager at DOT Security, distinguished between different layers of security and compliance.
Above: Various breakout sessions and panel discussions provided attendees with insights into an array of compelling topics critical to their businesses.
Later in the day, a four-person panel shared success stories from the front lines of digital marketing. Some takeaways:
- Firms have succeeded with social media, blogs, and “even content on LinkedIn,” said Peter Janus, president of Janus Title Agency.
- Smart marketing is educational, especially in the case of B2C (business-to-consumer) websites. Some refer to this strategy as “smarketing.”
- Landon Williams, director of marketing and communications at Safer Foundation, fielded a question about podcasts. “They can work well,” he replied. “Our audience has been receptive to long-form, in-depth podcasts!”
- Although some email campaigns receive reasonable open rates, Brett Apold, vice president of sales at ARCOA Group, believes directing prospects to events your company will be at, such as conventions, is more effective overall for qualified leads.