The TechMedia Club will host its eighteenth annual Cyberposium on Sunday, November 4th. The club’s flagship event, entirely student organized, is the largest MBA technology conference in the world and is one of the most attended conferences on Harvard Business School’s campus every year. This year, conference co-chairs Vinay Kashyup, Jason Sorger and Pallavi Kansal expect the conference will host its largest audience yet with students from 25+ universities attending from locations as far as California, France and even India, and professionals from leading tech companies coming to learn and network with students.
This year’s theme, “The Battle for Access,” is intended to encompass the always-on, always-connected, multi-device world that we now live in. Companies, devices and products are increasingly forced to fight for users as new gadgets, technologies and services flood both the consumer and business sectors. Furthermore, there is an ever increasing need for users to be always “on” and connected as mobile advances proliferate. “Technology has proliferated into every sector and its access has developed new opportunities and sparked a boom we have never seen before. These technology trends have had far reaching effects creating new metrics and higher benchmarks for industry. Companies have poured money into R&D and recognized innovation as critical engine for growth and competitiveness. Access has made technology relevant to everyone, industry leaders and students alike have come near and far to learn the what and the why of technology trends in the hopes of capturing them.” says Sorger. The conference co-chairs expect over 700 attendees at this year’s conference.
As Sorger references, the technology sector engages a wide range of companies, industries and academic and professional interests by the nature of its ubiquity. One of Cyberposium’s aims this year is to bring together leaders from diverse industries (Education, Healthcare, Design, Retail, etc) to explore and discuss the growing role and impact of technology in each industry’s evolving landscape.
The co-chairs also wanted to highlight the increasing trend of “disruption” in the technology sector. Panels are focused not only on traditionally technology-focused industries and ways of sustaining technology, but also on how technology is reinventing itself in historically less technology-focused industries and how “disruptors” are challenging traditional technology/innovation models. The conference’s Healthcare Technology panel brings Andrew Lee, the President of Aetna, the largest provider of health care benefits and insurance in the world, together with executives from newcomers Athena Health and Liazon, who risk disrupting the traditional healthcare/insurance model with new technology-based approaches. Similarly, the Mobile Payments panel brings the CEO of mobile payments start-up Venmo and the General Manager Paypal’s Media Network to discuss opportunities in the industry alongside executives from one of the largest credit card companies in the world.
The conference co-chairs are especially excited about a few events and some brand new additions to this year’s lineup:
First Ever Hardware Expo
Cyberposium’s first hardware expo will be showcasing the next generation in technology from Robotics to Nest to Samsung Gadgets. These not yet released products, including XXX, will be available for conference goers via hands-on demonstrations throughout the day.
12 Panels and 50+ Companies
With 12 panels with panelists from 50+ companies, the breadth and depth of topics is notable. Futhermore, heavy-hitting moderators including Paul Maeder (Founder of Highland Capital Partners; moderating Subscription Business Models panel), Michael Wolf (Yahoo board member and former COO of MTV Networks; moderating Mobile Advertising panel) and Michael Grinich (Founder of MIT Startup Bootcamp; moderating Hardware & User Interface Design Panel) will be asking the hard questions.
1) Entrepreneuship Hubs: Executives from Activate and Rob Go will be discussing the intersection of tech, entrepreneurship and policy as they explore the advent and growth of global entrepreneurship hubs. Panelists will shed light on why certain cities have become hubs for Entrepreneurship, how government and other advocates are supporting these communities and where and how new global hubs are emerging.
2) Omni-channel Retail: Speakers from Bain and Sephora will discuss the evolution of multi-channel and omni-channel retail through the lens of technology. Specifically, panelists will explore how store, web, social and mobile technology complement (or detract) from other and how retailers will be crafting strategies to use multiple channels to communicate real-time with customers in their brick and mortar stores.
3) Education Technology: An extremely hot topic on campus, Education Technology is seeing a flood of new initiatives in the industries from both start-ups and more mature, traditional education companies. Robert Hacker, CFO of One Laptop Per Child, and Nina Bilimoria, Head of Education Technology at Pearson, among others will discuss how technology is leading a paradigm shift in education.
4) Cultural Arts: The founders of UpriseArt, ArtStar, Artsicle and See.me will discuss how the time-honored, traditional world of the creative arts is being disrupted by technology. For example, what are the business models emerging in the creative arts and what are the unique challenges facing cultural entrepreneurs?
5) Big Data: Kent Bennett of Bessemer Capital Partners will be moderating a panel related to Big Data’s significant implications on the entire technology value chain, from infrastructure to end-consumer. In our debate, panelists will explore business models that have emerged to serve this space, whether or not it is being commoditized and where are potential areas of remaining opportunities.
Keynote speaker Drew Houston is the founder and CEO of DropBox and led Dropbox’s growth from a simple idea (conceived of after Houston repeatedly forgot his USB flash drive while a student MIT) to a service relied upon by millions of individuals and companies around the world. Drew has been named one of the top “Twentysomething Entrepreneurs” by BusinessWeek and was a 2010 Crunchies finalist for Top CEO.
Lee Hower, Co-Founder of LinkedIn, will be delivering the day’s second keynote speech. Lee has been building companies and investing in early stage Internet businesses his entire career. He is currently co-founder and general partner of NextView Ventures, a seed stage VC fund based in Boston.
Networking Lunch and Reception
Finally, the event promises ample time for networking with other tech-interested students and professionals across industries. Conference go-ers will have an opportunity to not just lunch with, but also to try out the latest and most innovative gadgets along side fellow students and industry professionals during the hardware expo and open lunch. And the day will end with more dedicated networking time at the closing reception.
With technology becoming more mainstream and increasingly impacting business professionals across all industries and sectors, Cyperposium promises to bring together an eclectic and diverse group of technophiles, prospective entrepreneurs, looking to connect with similar minds across industries. The program is a must-see for those considering an internship or full-time position in tech whether a at an early stage start-up or a more established large cap; in addition to the informational sessions, there will be plenty of time for networking. Tickets are already on sale for $30 for students ($25 for TechMedia Club members) and $35 general admission.