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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Business for Breakfast: Technology remains key business driver

Technology – present and future – was the topic at the Fort Worth Business Press Business for Breakfast event April 4 at the Fort Worth Club,

The moderator, Hayden Blackburn of Tech Fort Worth, led a discussion with panelists James Womack of Cowtown Angels, Dr. Aditya Narayan Das of the University of Texas at Arlington and Shirley Peterson of CMIT Solutions, a provider of information technology professional services.

Presenting sponsors for the event were Pinnacle Bank and JTaylor. The Platinum sponsor was Consolidated Communications.

Here are some excerpts from the discussion:

How to best adopt new technologies into your business?

Shirley Peterson: One of the things is making sure you have the right technology. We understand software, we take care of that with them and the biggest thing that we’re all about is trying to keep them with no downtime, so we do everything proactively.

We don’t wait for a break/fix, so we’re there taking care of everything. If something goes wrong, we’re there a lot of times before the client even opens the door to make sure that things are going well. …

It used to be the brother-in-law that came over after work or maybe the administrator had a boyfriend and he came over and all of a sudden, your business gets to a critical point where you need somebody now, right now. And that’s what’s happening more and more and so for the early years I had to really go in and educate and interpret.

Now I don’t. People understand this and they’re just looking for the company that’s going to be able to do what they say they’re going to do.

What are some of those technologies that you feel are really starting to shape our lives that we maybe don’t even realize?

Jim Womack: One thing that you all have probably have noticed over the last several years is the increased mobility. The cloud computing, cloud storage, this has really enabled a lot of new technologies to come along. Being able to connect, process in a cloud and do things for you.

For me personally, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a term we all heard about and its starting to gain momentum. You put a sensor on a machine somewhere on a device and now with connectivity you can get it back to the cloud. You can process it, use machine learning, AI [artificial intelligence] and do all sorts of interesting things to help a business make its decisions.

In AI itself, I think y’all can probably come up with as many stories as I can. Just his morning I was reading an article about how Motorola Solutions is bringing facial recognition and AI to their body cameras to be able to determine what they need to do in a particular situation.

AI, it’s one of those things we’ve heard a lot about. Just to go back earlier in my career. It was considered dead. It was sort of a deserted research wasteland for about two or three decades but with recent advances in neural network technology and the additional computing power, these things have really starting to take off, really starting to flourish. The Googles and Facebooks of the world have dozens of engineers that are thrown at this and so the products that are coming out are really appealing.

What are some of your favorite new technologies?

Womack: I mentioned 5G. One thing about technology is and one thing that you’re seeing with the development of technology is there a lot of platforms that are made available. Facebook’s considered a platform. 5G will be considered – it will be a platform, and the way they’re developing it, it’s much easier for innovators to use the platform to do interesting things. …

As far as mainstream, what’s hitting us now and coming like a freight train it is AI. With the advancements in deep learning, a machine can now identify things in a picture better than a human can. So, there’s gonna be ways that you can use that, in ways that it helps with whatever you happen to be doing.

Dr. Aditya Narayan Das: I think the tactile has started [to make an impact]. You can use your touch screen phone to connect with different [devices] or you can use the voice commands to talk to Siri or other artificially intelligent assistants. So, I think it’s already progressing in that direction … when we use all our senses, all our capabilities, to put ourselves in a techno-human environment when we leverage all our resources in effective ways. That, I think, is a powerful concept that is picking up very rapidly.

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