Will Startups or Big Companies Rule Tech? Find Out on Dec. 2

When we gather next week to talk about the future of technology, Actifio CEO Ash Ashutosh will kick things off by addressing what he calls the elephant in the room: that IT infrastructure is dead, and applications rule.

A corollary to that is that the big tech companies that have dominated for decades could be facing an extinction event—and startups are poised to take their place. It’s a powerful way to frame what’s happening in the enterprise tech landscape, and set the stage for what will come next.

“Enterprise tech” means software and hardware for big companies—everyone from banks to retailers to healthcare providers to Internet firms. What they all have in common is they’re increasingly relying on digital assets and data. What that means is the market for managing those assets and making those companies more efficient digitally is expanding.

Traditionally, big companies have sold products to big companies. Microsoft sold operating systems and office software. Oracle sold database software. EMC sold data-storage hardware and software. Hewlett-Packard sold server systems (and a whole lot of printers).

Now the world is changing. The established vendors have struggled to keep up with things like cloud computing, mobile apps, software as a service—indeed, almost everything as a service. Business models and pricing have evolved. The new world favors startups in a way it never has before. Not that it’s easy out there—and the big vendors are adjusting.

That’s what New England tech leaders are convening to talk about on the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 2, in Boston. At our Enterprise Tech Strikes Back conference, we’ll hear from CEOs and investors with billion-dollar exits under their belts, as well as up-and-coming founders and executives looking to challenge the powers that be. It’s all happening at the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology, near South Station in Boston.

Here’s a preview of the sessions (see agenda here):

—Carbonite CEO Mohamad Ali will chat with DataGravity CEO Paula Long, in a conversation moderated by Avalon Ventures partner Rich Levandov. Ali was previously with HP and IBM, while Long sold her previous company, EqualLogic to Dell (yes, that Dell).

Steve Papa, founder of Endeca (bought by Oracle) and now CEO of Parallel Wireless, will talk about why we need innovators in the enterprise. He has fascinating perspective on how entrepreneurs think, and how that kind of thinking often gets quashed in big companies.

—The need for security, both digital and physical, is front and center. We’re convening four top experts in cybersecurity to discuss the threat landscape, as well as technology and business strategy: Christopher Ahlberg from Recorded Future, Michael Daly from Raytheon, Tas Giakouminakis from Rapid7, and Scott Montgomery from Intel.

Yuchun Lee, CEO of Allego, will talk about the future of enterprise sales. He previously founded Unica (bought by IBM), and in an earlier life he played on the famed MIT Blackjack Team.

—How to build the next great enterprise IT company: Andy Ory, CEO of 128 Technology, will chat with Rich Napolitano, CEO of Plexxi, and Ellen Rubin, CEO of ClearSky Data. Our moderator will be Jody Rose, the new head of the New England Venture Capital Association. The panelists have experience with Acme Packet, EMC, Netezza, Verizon, and more—this will be fun.

Susie Kim Riley, CEO of Aquto, will talk about new models in wireless and telecom. That is a traditional-sounding sector that’s seeing a huge amount of activity now, thanks to advances in data plans and infrastructure.

Hardi Meybaum from Matrix Partners (formerly of GrabCAD), Dan Phillips, CEO of CloudHealth Technologies, and Charlie Gero, Akamai’s CTO of Cloud Networking, will chat about the future of the cloud and enterprise. First question: are enterprise companies actually moving their IT to the cloud? The whole process is slower and messier than a lot of people thought it would be.

We’re looking forward to a stellar day of ideas, discussion, and networking with an elite group of New England tech leaders. Hope you can join us on Dec. 2.

 

Enterprise Tech Strikes Back (Dec. 2, 2015)

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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