It’s been amazing to watch the change in Detroit the past four years. In late 2011 when we started thinking about organizing a conference in Detroit, even Detroiters thought we were a little nuts. Eventually people responded with enthusiasm, especially those from out of town who were fascinated by the provocative location. Four years later, the entrepreneurial energy is going full force. Startups are burgeoning, cultural institutions are arising, and in general Detroit is a place to be. And we’re still going strong. Our speaker line up for Techonomy Detroit on Sept. 15 includes Mayor Mike Duggan, Carl Bass of Autodesk, Mark Bertolini of Aetna, McKinsey’s Michael Chui, Jennifer Crozier of IBM, Esther Dyson, Jim Fallows, Andrew Keen and Charlene Li.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks as we continue to fine-tune the program for September’s Techonomy Detroit.
If you’re in Detroit September 15 you should stop by—we’ll be interviewing Mark Bertolini, the refreshing, bead wearing, yogi-like CEO of Aetna. We’ll also be interviewing Carl Bass, the wood carving, boat- and furniture-making CEO of Autodesk. Tiana Epps-Johnson, Executive Director of The Center for Technology and Civic Life, will present on “Civic Tech and the New Digital Divide,” longtime tech entrepreneur and thinker Peter Hirshberg will present on “A Maker City Is a Jazz City,” and “Edge” theorist John Hagel will talk about how companies and cities are successfully “Learning from Movements.”
Techonomy, a New York-based media and event company, hosts its fifth annual Techonomy conference November 9-11 at The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California. Techonomy will convene leaders from diverse industries and social sectors to discuss technology as a driver of productivity and social progress. The invite-only conference provides a meeting ground for technologists, innovators, business leaders, government officials and academics to explore the ongoing societal transformation driven by technology, as well as the challenges and opportunities that creates.
Big and venerable companies around the world are increasingly confronting a vexing problem: They’re too big and venerable.
The ironic truth: To get even bigger, they have to learn to act small. Executives increasingly believe that new ideas and innovations that can generate growth are most likely to emerge in organizations like small start-ups. So the mandate for large companies is to find ways to replicate the culture and practices of smaller companies inside their walls.
Why has our rat-maze approach to coordinating care continued largely unchanged for more than 60 years? For all but the simplest of healthcare needs, we all find ourselves at some point trying to navigate a maze of health care facilities, doctors, pharmacies, insurance companies, and government programs, with all the associated conversations, paperwork, forms, bills, and files they all require. According to the Institute of Medicine, the U.S. healthcare system wastes more than $765 billion each year—about 30 percent of our healthcare spending. If we eliminated this waste, over 10 years we could reduce nearly 50 percent of our national debt.
We hope you enjoy this digital version of our 2014 Techonomy magazine. It includes four exclusive feature articles plus shorter techonomic items, along with content from our 2013 conferences. You’ll find Jack Dorsey’s original drawings for Square, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini’s grim diagnosis and aggressive course of treatment for American health care, David Kirkpatrick’s assessment of Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, and much more.
As 2013 winds down, Techonomy takes a moment to look back on highlights from the year, especially those that portend—we think—the future. Our Top Ten list recognizes the people, companies, and ideas that embodied how technology is catalyzing change in business and society. Some of the individuals and organizations here were represented at our 2013 conferences, labs, and dinners, where we convene leaders to explore the biggest tech-driven challenges and opportunities. Some were featured in our expanding online editorial content.
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini surprised many Techonomists at our conference in Tucson last month with his frank talk about alternative therapies and the need for the current health system to be “creatively destroyed.” Who would have thought the top man at one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies would be an advocate for craniosacral therapy and meditative chanting? Bertolini’s onstage interview with David Kirkpatrick focused mostly on his innovative approaches to apps and technology at the company. But in a later on-camera conversation, Bertolini described how his progressive personal health practices jibe with his company’s mission.
At Techonomy, we’ve argued from the beginning that there is no real difference between a “tech” company and a “company.” We held a session entitled “Every Company is a Software Company” at our 2011 conference, and aim to be a central meeting point for traditional companies and startups. This interesting piece from TechCrunch points to the stunning number of acquisitions being made by established, supposedly “non-tech” companies in a wide variety of industries. And the article’s list is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Saguaros were vibrating outside the hall in Tucson during Techonomy 2013 last week, such were the energy waves emanating from the stage. Or perhaps the foundation of business was shaking. I don’t know. One thing that is clear is that the giants of old industry are really starting to think differently about how to conduct their business, organize their companies, and evolve their products.