Idaho Technology by Jim Gasaway: How develop.idaho 2013 helped our software sector

JIM GASAWAY, chairman of the Idaho Technology Council's Software Alliance and vice president of IT development at KeyneticsJune 18, 2013 

Jim Gasaway

Because technology evolves rapidly, Idaho software professionals need to stay on the cutting edge of new industry trends. The Idaho Technology Council wants Idaho tech companies to stay competitive in the global economy, which is why we recognize the importance of providing educational opportunities to Idaho technology professionals. That's why develop.idaho, our annual software conference, plays a crucial role in helping support the needs of our tech community.

At each develop.idaho conference, the council chooses a theme for the event that represents an important concept in the software industry. For develop.idaho 2013, we chose "Find Your Platform," because it reflected an important shift in how software companies have changed their software to integrate with other applications to create ecosystems of solutions. We wanted develop.idaho 2013 to help attendees learn how to create successful platforms to make Idaho's software industry prosper.

A great lineup of speakers taught valuable lessons at the conference, including several leading industry experts from outside the state who work at the biggest names in software companies today. Attendees walked away with great insights about how to jump-start their software platform and break into new markets. Here are a few of the takeaways from our speakers:

• Mikkel Svane, CEO of Zendesk, spoke about lessons learned from founding his company, a provider of cloud-based customer service. Since Zendesk's birth in 2007, the company has seen remarkable growth in only six years - Zendesk now services more than 25,000 customers worldwide. At develop.idaho, Svane shared how his team create a customer-focused platform and evolve to meet client needs.

• Grant Shirk, group product marketing manager at, spoke about the paradigm shift that has taken place because of CloudStack, which allows businesses to build software platforms that allow greater simplicity, power and cost reduction. Shirk explained how the convergence of cloud, social, mobile and information into a unified set of forces is shaping almost every IT-related decision. Shirk also shared resources to help local Idaho developers take advantage of this shift.

• Robert Schmid, a cloud and social evangelist who's worked for leading companies such as Activision Blizzard and Salesforce Foundation, spoke about key business issues that must be addressed when using cloud-computing platforms. Schmid discussed how key issues such as online security, system architecture and user design need to be addressed when designing those platforms. Schmid was responsible for helping transition Activision Blizzard, one of the world's largest gaming companies, from an in-house to a cloud-based system, so his insights were particularly relevant and insightful.

We heard from several local speakers who spoke on topics such as cloud computing taxation, creating a culture of innovation and leveraging the cloud for effective IT disaster recovery. By helping Idahoans learn about the software industry and its worldwide impacts, develop.idaho encouraged attendees to learn technical concepts, start a business or take their companies in different directions.

We had a great turnout of more than 300 tech pros and students who came from across Idaho to show their support of our state's growing software industry. The success of develop.idaho 2013 shows that we have an energized community of business leaders and developers eager to build Idaho's software community.

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