Silicon Valley Keynote Speakers Address State of Georgia Technology at TAG Summit

John Tabellione

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Over 1,200 technology professionals interactively participated in the 2019 Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Summit at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta last week. They heard from two keynote speakers—gurus from Silicon Valley: Guy Kawasaki and Tifini Bova—as well as from leaders within the Georgia tech market describe the most prominent and relevant trends that are sparking, disrupting and driving innovation. 

Furthermore, the agenda allowed attendees to interrelate with vendors; participate in any of 30 breakout sessions; and, learn what the current state of Georgia technology portends for the future. Larry Williams, President and CEO of TAG (one of the country’s largest such organizations with over 34,000 members) presented an overview of:


Williams highlighted several of the key findings of the report, noting, “The state of technology in Georgia is strong, as is TAG.” For example, the state ranks 10th nationally in technology employment, and wages in 2018 increased by 2.6%, which equates to an overall contribution of $6.44 billion to the statewide economy. Specifically, the 290,000 private sector tech personnel are spread in five key geographic clusters: Atlanta serves as the key hub employing 66 per cent of the state’s tech workforce, while Athens, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah represent the remaining number of professionals. Software & IT Services, Healthcare, and Communications were the leading industry sectors that spearheaded growth last year. 

“Technology changes people’s lives,” said Williams. “Think about that in context of how we’ve been touched by technology as consumers and how it’s changed our lives. But also, for me, technology enables innovation, and, if we think about innovation as really our ability to create new businesses, to look at new products, new services, that’s what technology and innovation is really all about. And new businesses create jobs, and not just any jobs. It’s the high quality jobs that allow people to have great futures, to support their families and to look to the future of where their career is and where it’s going….it’s about how we change people’s lives, how we touch people’s lives. So, I think today we’ve really worked hard and we’re in a great position in Georgia, especially when it comes to technology and innovation.”

Nevertheless, challenges remain noted Williams, such as continuing to keep Georgia the number one place to do business, and supporting legislation that helps relieve tax and regulatory burdens. Moreover, new and expanding companies will need access to capital. Georgia must also educate and create the most global competitive workforce.

Complete details of the annual State of the Industry report, conducted by Atlanta-based market research and strategic planning firm, Porter Research, are available at The Porter firm conducts custom market research in technology trends and market dynamics in the fields of healthcare technology, life sciences, software, and general technology sectors.


Governor Brian Kemp via a video presentation stated, “The Summit is an important event for our technology community that shines a spotlight on all that you are doing. I want to congratulate the Technology Association of Georgia on their twentieth anniversary this year.” The Governor added, “I want to also congratulate all of the award winners. You make us proud. Thank you for all that you do.” 


Keynote speaker, Tifini Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, and the best-selling author of Growth IQ, focused on “how ‘customer experience’ is becoming the new battleground.” Her research, travel and meetings over the past several years on this subject means “customers will remember the experience much longer than they remember the price they paid” whether it’s a B-to-B (business to Business) or a B-to-C (business to consumer) transaction. 

Companies that use the customer experience path tend to grow faster, according to Bova. A key element is to ensure that employees are happy because “your customers will only be as happy as your employees.” She further noted that 57% of buyers of a brand stopped purchasing from that entity when a competitor offered a better experience; and, about half of the time most companies fall short of the customers’ anticipated encounter. Relevant, consistent marketing and technology are mandatory in order to deliver “moments of ‘wow.’” 

She added that this “Fourth Industrial Revolution” of speed and technology is changing everything, but companies have to take advantage of it by using AI (artificial intelligence) in order to become proactive and predictive with accounts and to personalize communications and relationships. The future, she says, is “contextual and data driven,” so high performance firms have to develop a customer-centric culture internally and externally.

Referring again to the B-to-B and B-to-C analogy, Bova stated the bottom line is organizations need to operate as a “B-to-E” model, with the “E” standing for:

“everything and everyone, every experience.” She concluded, “Removing the “consumer” or “business” comment out of it frees you from what you think you should be expected to have as a business.”


Renowned innovation guru, entrepreneur, technology marketing legend, and author of 13 books, Guy Kawasaki spoke to the attendees on the subject of the “Art of Innovation.” He broke down his speech into 10 elements, starting with the point that founders of companies should make “meaning,” that is, make the world a better place rather than trying to start a business simply with the purpose to make money. “If you make the world a better place, one of the natural consequences is that you will also make money,” proclaimed Kawasaki.

Using the example of the progression of ice harvesters to ice factories to refrigerators, he cautioned businesses to be ready to jump on the next curve, unlike these forerunners who missed the boat for the next best thing. Kodak actually made the first digital camera, but never took the ball and ran with it. The point is to better define what one’s company does and what benefits it provides, not just how its products are supposed to be used. Furthermore, he advised the audience to get to the next stage of the product line and improve it.

With regard to people skills, Kawasaki spoke of focusing on merit and diversity. He drew his loudest applause when he spoke of diversity, “It is so difficult to find great people, why would you limit the pool that you can pick from?” He also added not to be afraid to polarize people. “Great innovation polarizes people,” he said.

Continuing, he cautioned the audience to ignore “naysayers,” such as Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, who, in 1943 said, “I think there’s a world market for, maybe, five computers.” Yet, Kawasaki said not to be afraid to change your mind, as his former boss, Steve Jobs, did when he allowed open source apps to be part of the iPhone platform.

Kawasaki added that one should search for a niche in the marketplace, using the Breitling watch as an example. On the other hand, Kawasaki borrowed Mao Zedong’s saying: “Let 100 flowers blossom.” That is, “you take your best shot at positioning your brand, and then you shift…when reality sets in.” Macintosh was originally perceived as a spreadsheet data processing idea that really became successful eventually in the realm of desktop publishing. 

“Churn, baby, churn,” was the expression Kawasaki used to explain that innovation is not a single event, but rather a process, a marathon, but definitely, not a sprint.

As a bonus, the keynote speaker added an eleventh tip: “You have to learn how to pitch.” Start by customizing each introduction to a buyer, researching through LinkedIn to find a hook to relate to that person. Even more practically speaking, Kawasaki added the “10-20-30 rule”—ten slides; for twenty minutes; using a minimum 30 pt. font; and, he advised to always use a black background with white type face for the best visibility. 


Chris Klaus, CEO of Kaneva, became the newest inductee into the Technology Hall of Fame of Georgia. The serial entrepreneur (Internet Security Systems, Neuro Launch, and Cyber Launch VC) has been a major benefactor to Georgia Tech, i.e., the Christopher W. Klaus Advanced Computing Building, a three-story academic hall (over 400,000 square feet of space), which houses a portion of the College of Computing, the College of Engineering, and related areas of study.


The Summit offered attendees a selection of 30 breakout sessions featuring specialist speakers, as well as panels moderated by industry experts in the areas of FinTech (Financial Technology); AI (Artificial Intelligence), Cyber Security, Data and Analytics, Digital Health, Commerce, IOT (The Internet of Things), Talent, and other trending technologies.

Specific topics ranged from “The $1 billion Esports Industry Arrives in Georgia;” to “How Blockchain Will Become Ubiquitous,” as well as “Managing Your Data Supply Chain,” and “Rewiring Your Brain for Peak Performance.”


The Technology Association of Georgia recognized the 2019 Top 10 Innovative Technology Companies in Georgia for their innovation, financial impact, and efforts at spreading awareness of the state’s technological initiatives throughout the U.S. and globally. The exclusive list includes the following:

Compass Technology Group, Alpharetta – Compass Technology Group, LLC is a leading provider of innovative R&D and solutions in materials measurement and characteristics.

Mobilewalla, Buckhead – Mobilewalla accelerates enterprise growth through the delivery of deep customer knowledge leveraging our consumer intelligence platform.

MoQuality, Inc, Midtown – MoQuality, Inc. is building mobile app testing solutions using AI to help developers save time and improve their app’s user experience.

Motus Nova, LLC, Atlanta – Making robotic rehabilitation and recovery accessible in every home.

OneTrust, Sandy Springs – OneTrust is the largest and most widely used dedicated privacy management technology platform for compliance with global privacy laws.

ParkMobile, Midtown – ParkMobile provides over 11 million users with a smarter way to park. Easily find, reserve, and pay for parking from your mobile device.

Patientory Inc., Buckhead – Patientory is an easy way to securely store and manage health information in real time, giving patients control of their medical data.

Sideqik, Atlanta – Sideqik’s AI-driven influencer intelligence platform helps brands understand their market and engage with customers through influencers.

STORD, Midtown – STORD is world-class warehousing and distribution for modern shippers.

WorldWatch Plus®, Kennesaw – WorldWatch Plus is the nextgen KYC/Risk solution that leverages advanced AI techniques in a SaaS platform for customer due diligence


Attendees at the TAG Summit voted from among these Top 10 Innovative Companies for the “People’s Choice Awards:”

“Most Innovative” – Motus Nova, LLC

“Biggest Impact” – Patientory, Inc.

“Best Presentation” – Park Mobile

“Best Overall” – Park Mobile

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.