After the Iowa Tech Summit, now what?

Brian Waller, President of the Technology Association of Iowa and Theresa Payton—keynote speaker during the Iowa Technology Summit—Tuesday morning at the Iowa Technology Summit inside the Iowa Events Center.

Members of Iowa’s tech community spent their Tuesday at the Iowa Technology Summit hearing from a former White House CIO and other Iowans on security, innovation and leadership in the tech industry.

It was the first time the Technology Association of Iowa put on an event of this kind with 16 panels in four tracks: leadership, innovation, security and the cloud. The day long event started with a 45 minute keynote and Q&A with Theresa Payton—former White House CIO and CEO of Fortalice Solutions—who told stories about the White House plus offered security tips.

But she asked that the conversation not stop after the day was over.

“This is an amazing group of people who came out on a rainy day, with an action packed agenda,” Payton said. “Don’t let it stop today.”

They want to be informed

Jason Thompson and Bryan Westphal are architects from Pioneer who came to the Iowa Technology Summit. They said they would be attending security and management panels.

“It’s always nice to see what others are doing in the same area,” Westphal said. “We can read online about companies doing things but it’s always interesting to hear what’s happening locally.”

Janelle McCreary—Vice President of Operations at JT Direct—said her company just recently joined the Technology Association of Iowa and went to one session from each of the four tracks.

“I’m looking to get more insight into current trends and how we can grow our business,” she said.

Over 150 students attended too

Along with over 100 local college students, another 10 high school students from the Des Moines School District attended the Iowa Technology Summit.

Sam Oppel is an Informational Technology Instructor with the Des Moines School District and the educator in residence for the Technology Association of Iowa. He said once students reach middle school, they can participate in a “hyperstream program” with clubs around the state who compete in robotics, cyber security and game design competitions.

He hopes to get young people excited about careers in IT.

“Keep feeding the work force with good, excited people,” Oppel says.

He assumed most of the students would go to security sessions.

“For young people it’s exciting,” Oppel explained. “They love the term hacker, and everything is vulnerable. It’s like a game for them to defend themselves from the bad guys.”

Disaster drills

Payton recommended companies identify their top two digital assets and practice digital disaster drills around those assets.

“You want to think about how you can be more creative on the back end,” Payton says. “Because the bad guys aren’t better than you or even smarter than you. They’re evil, lazy people with no day job other than to break into your company.

“Their thought process is do sophistacted spear fishing campaigns where they only need one person to click on a link.”