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Entertainment Innovation leader to speak at Entrepreneur Summit

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Entrepreneur Summit

Friday, July 29

11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dee Kelly Alumni Center – TCU campus

Fort Worth Business Press is teaming up with IDEA Works FW and TCU Neeley School of Business for the First Annual Entrepreneur Summit

To register go to www.FortWorthBusiness.com/summit

Jim Stikeleather doesn’t get back to Texas Christian University often, but when he does, it reminds him of the beginning of a long and successful career in technology.

The Fort Worth Business Press Entrepreneur Summit will include a discussion led by Stikeleather, currently chief innovation officer for Dell Inc., the Round Rock-based technology company that grew up innovating and transforming the personal computer industry in the 1980s.

The event takes place at the Dee Kelly Center at TCU, where Stikeleather graduated in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.

“It was basically a math degree at the time,” he said, but noted that it was a good time to get into the industry because things were changing.

“It was the time of the mini-computers and companies like Digital, Prime, Wang, Data General,” he said. “I got to do things few people got to do.”

Since that time, Stikeleather has applied some of his engineering skills to the business world. Key among his talents is helping business use technology strategies that increase business capabilities. At Dell, Stikeleather leads a team of information technology and business experts who identify and assess the future potential of new technologies, business models and processes. And he requires his team to read at least one science fiction book a year – because those authors are very good at imagining the future, he said.

Many companies are adding chief innovation officers, usually using the CNO moniker, said Stikeleather, as companies work to make innovation part of the culture. It is not always easy, he notes, as management has to become “comfortable with failure,” which is part of the innovation process.

In many cases, these new innovative components can result in a company producing apps that help customers service products they purchase – automobiles, for example – but they can range to more complex innovations such as helping IT become a critical component of the Internet of things (IoT). The IoT is a plan to install networked sensors in many everyday items so consumers and companies can monitor their performance and apply that data to improve future products.

One company with local ties, General Electric, has a platform called Predix that monitors and analyzes the company’s industrial machines and sites. Although a manufacturing and engineering powerhouse, GE is looking to remake itself into a more innovative company.

“IT is obviously a critical component of the Internet of Things,” said Stikeleather.

For his talk at the Entrepreneur Summit, Stikeleather said he plans to discuss with attendees ways they can better prepare their organizations for the future.

“You’ve got to set yourself up for what may be coming up down the road,” he said.

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