Georgia Technology Summit Speakers Envision Innovation on Land, at Sea and in the Air

John Tabellione

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

At the recent 12th Annual Georgia Technology Summit held in Atlanta by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), three keynote speakers envisioned their respective spheres of influence where future technological innovation will flourish: within the growth of cities (such as Atlanta); in the air (The Weather Company); and, at sea (the U.S. Navy).

In addition, during the conference, Atlanta Falcons owner and co-founder of The Home Depot, Arthur Blank, received the association’s Captain of Innovation Award, while the Chairman of Cox Enterprises, James C. Kennedy, was honored as a Georgia inductee into the Technology Hall of Fame. 


British-born, visionary technologist, Kevin Ashton, is credited with coining the term, “The Internet of Things,” i.e., a network or relationship of the world’s 26 billion devices, machines, watches, coffee makers, cars, etc., and the humans who own or run them, which then can all connect to one another and exchange data. 

Given this framework, he said, “Predicting the future is easy. Believing it is hard.” For example, he asked the audience, 15 years ago, who would have dreamed of a pocket device being able to create videos that could instantly be sent around the world through cyberspace?  

Ashton then peppered his speech with bold predictions of the future: within 20 years computers will power themselves; by the 22nd century the majority of the world’s population will be vegetarians; we will discover some form or DNA of extra-terrestrial life in this century; during the next 100 years, a human will be born on another planet; and, we will survive climate change.

Emphasizing that humans, because of their evolutionary brain development and instincts, “need” technology to solve problems, Ashton proceeded to overlay the arc of technology from the first stone axe to today’s iPhone and Android, covering the 2,000 generations of humans over a 50,000-year span. He went on to add that during these millennia, the world had become less agrarian and populations had shifted significantly toward cities, thus allowing better prediction of economic success.  

It is in these cities, he maintained, where a more robust collaborative environment exists, that such centers become fertile ground for innovation. In particular, Atlanta and Georgia’s other recently burgeoning cities, which all used to lag behind national averages in population density and urbanization, are now trending ahead of the rest of the country. Ashton concluded, therefore, “Prospects for technological development here are incredibly exciting and ever moving in your favor.”


According to Cameron Clayton, CEO and General Manager of The Weather Company, around one half trillion dollars of missed opportunities occur annually due to weather. To dispel the notion that everyone talks about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it, Clayton went on to speak of the creative destruction that will lead to innovation in this new cognitive era. “Insight is the new currency,” he said. “Eighty-eight percent of data insight is unstructured, dark data, and that’s growing. It’s really what humans create: it’s language, it’s photos, it’s Tweets.” 

Now that the Weather Company has recently become an IBM business, Clayton noted that the firm’s Watson computer has the cognitive ability to create a partnership between people and technology, such as a doctor might do when treating a patient. However, whereas the doctor’s brainpower is incapable of reading and absorbing all of the articles and data available, a computer can process 23 million medical journal articles and thousands of cases similar to the patient’s, and then recommend even more precise and appropriate treatment for the condition.

Clayton stated that this type of technology makes us “rethink how business gets done and how to make better decisions. All of this requires an incredible platform, an incredible amount of technology behind it, one that can put predictive and descriptive results and insights together.” In particular, with regard to weather forecasting, he elaborated how the Weather Company is now able each day to process 100 terabytes from third party sources (such as from 200,000 private citizen weather stations); distribute forecasts to 2.2 billion locations; and, also, handle 15-26 billion API requests. “The Weather Company app is the fourth most used mobile app in the world.” 

He concluded by stating that CIO roles have changed. “CIOs are now seen as advisors rather than being enablers. It really is about humans and machines. When we interact together in ways that can yield greater learning, in ways that help humans to make better decisions, that’s the sweet spot.” 


Vice-Admiral Ted N. “Twig” Branch is not only the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance, and the Director of Naval Intelligence, he also serves as the Navy’s CIO, as well as the Director of Navy Cybersecurity.  

“It’s all about war fighting,” said the Admiral. The information warfare domain “is analogous to undersea warfare, surface warfare or air warfare. If we don’t get it right in the information domain, the things that we do in the others really don’t particularly matter because the battle might be lost before it’s ever joined, if we don’t get it right in this space.”  

Three interrelated global forces influence the Navy’s actions: maritime domain superiority; tracking of the information world; and, the rapid advancement of technology, in general.  To the question of what the Navy needs to do to meet these demands, Admiral Branch said, “We start with people and the core attributes: integrity, accountability, initiative, toughness and resiliency.” 

The number one priority for his command is to keep the lines of communication open. The Navy, according to Admiral Branch, must be a rapid learning organization that needs to try new things and learn how to compete with the business world for the best personnel. His focus on informational warfare relies on data, and, also, how to cyber secure networks, systems, ships and weapons.  

Lastly, he emphasized the importance for the Navy and the civilian IT communities to be partners in technology. Each year the Navy participates in two expositions where businesses can promote their technologies: West 2016, sponsored by AFCEA and the U.S. Naval Institute; and The Navy League’s Sea, Air and Space Global Maritime Exposition.


During the Georgia Technology Summit, the key findings of the annual State of the Industry report were released to over 1,500 attendees. Details may be found at .


The Technology Association of Georgia announced the Top 10 Innovative Technology Companies in Georgia for showing the highest degree of innovation, the broadest scope and financial impact of their innovations, and the greatest effect of such innovation in promoting Georgia’s technology industry throughout the U.S. and globally. The following link contains the complete list: .

About John Tabellione

John Tabellione is an award-winning, professional business writer, complemented by over twenty-five years of strategic communication responsibilities as a Marketing, New Business Development and National Account Sales Executive in consumer goods and commercial industries. 

Experience with Fortune 500 companies, as well as with smaller firms and non-profits, encompassing a variety of products, including those of Georgia-Pacific, Kimberly-Clark and Stanley Works. 

John has a B.A. in English from Fairfield University and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Hartford. In addition, he has studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute at Syracuse University, and Italian language and culture at Kennesaw State University.