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Inside Kendall

Business Students Attend The Executives’ Club of Chicago Technology Conference

This fall, The Executives’ Club of Chicago sponsored a Technology Conference on October 26 at the Blackstone Renaissance Hotel. Their speakers were from the City of Chicago—the chief data, information, and technology officers, who discussed how Chicago is using technology to make better decisions, reduce costs and drive innovation. They shared their stories of service and collaboration and the projects which have made Chicago a resource to cities around the country.  Five Kendall College School of Business students accompanied Dean Coussens to this event:  Ireneusz Luczak, Lucero Dominguez, Carol McHugh, Kamaria Moir, and Michael Rooney. Kamaria coordinated the following blog submission on behalf of herself and some of the student attendees, Lucero Dominguez and Michael Rooney.

Reflections from Lucero Dominguez
I appreciate the opportunity the Dean gave us to be there. The subject was so interesting. I haven´t seen other offices in any other city who really take care of citizens, to make the daily life easy. I was really impressed with the way they work day by day with technology—these officers really do research for the best service to be delivered to citizens, such as the process that it takes for us to have the bus schedule on the web or how those at the police station are being trained to even identify fake emergency calls. They explained how use of technology has been making Chicagoans lives easier.

It was great to see these technology officers weren’t working in a boring environment. I saw human beings who love their jobs and city who were open to talking about their job. Lastly, the networking that can be done an event like this is awesome!

Reflections from Kamaria Moir
If you’re anything like me, as an undergraduate student, the thought of representing your school at an award ceremony and conference on technology is somewhat intimidating. Add to that the fact that the event is essentially hosted by and for Chicago’s successful “C-suites” (to quote a Kendall professor’s term for the executives officers of a company), and chances are you will find my hand on the mouse, wavering indecisively over the RSVP button. Students in any Business major here at Kendall are constantly encouraged to utilize their opportunities for networking. As many of us have been told, networking is an opportunity to introduce yourself to other peers and professionals and (often quickly) identify how you might be able to bolster one another’s professional goals.  But just like any other skill set, it’s difficult to become good at networking without actually doing it. The Executives’ Club Technology Conference & CIO of 2011 Award ceremony not only got me feeling better about what the City of Chicago is doing to keep this city great, it also gave me an opportunity to remember that networking is all in the wrist (lots of handshaking here) and can actually open up the opportunities for information sharing and the contact building that it’s purported to open.

This conference was all about recognizing excellence in the IT or Information Technology field. IT professionals gather information about many facets of how people and services function. They track, record and interpret data or raw information about anything from our daily habits and our complaints through 311 to how we use goods and services and through those interpretations, goods and services can be improved. The Chief Technology, Chief Information and Chief Data Officers for the City of Chicago sat on a panel after the 2011 CIO (Chief Information Technology Officer)  of the year, Stuart McCutcheon of Nalco Company, was named. These four gentlemen had a lot of information to share about how businesses and the City of Chicago use data to make the city run and they communicated it so that a layman like me could follow every detail. That by itself was a stupendous feat. There were many “aha” moments and important suggestions that connected the dots for me about how technology can be used to improve quality of services and everyday life for Chicagoans.

Here are a few of them:
1.    If you win CIO of the year, thank your wife- it’s classy.
2.    If you want to know where crimes occur in the city or where to find a good restaurant, See Chief Data Officer, Brett Goldstein, and his predictive analytics (forecasting where crimes may happen in the future based on patterns) for the Chicago Police Department and the website (which he created).
3.    Open Data is the raw numbers about how people and services operate, and it’s available (online) for anyone to look up and interpret for themselves.
4.    An example of open data includes an app. (application) for when street sweeping happens around the city ( Avoid parking tickets those days!
5.    When it comes to making the most of computers and smart devices, Chief Technology Officer John Tolva says the digital divide has changed: “it’s more about literacy now than connectivity.”

So use your favorite search engine or check out the City of Chicago’s website and see what kinds of maps, apps and just plain useful information you have access to about how your city works.

As if I needed any further proof that this event was informative, not as intimidating as I thought, and downright useful, I got the chance to talk with the CIO of the year himself, Mr. Stewart McCutcheon. He was very kind, and I found a direct link between what he does, using technology to improve the operations of foodservice companies, and my career path, Foodservice Management. This is the kind of experience Kendall is opening up for students. So keep your eyes trained on the announcements on, campus email, and suggestions from the faculty and remember, it’s all in the wrist.

Reflections from Michael Rooney
While the Executives Club’s conference was officially on technology the things discussed are easily interchangeable with every area of business. In what felt like a Chicago State of the Union address for technology, John Tolva, Jason DeHaan, and Brett Goldstein discussed everything from street sweeping apps to data mining. For the three speakers it all starts with a love for the city of Chicago and focusing on what can be done to make lives better for its inhabitants.

In my time at Kendall there has been such an emphasis on technology and connectivity that it was very encouraging to hear that those are the foundations for improving the city. For example, it is the goal of the city to have a unified data platform. This will lead to a better understanding of the neighborhoods and hopefully, within the next four years, IT can become an operational norm. The city wants to put to an end to just collecting piles of information and then storing it as a PDF file where nobody can make effective use of it. From that point, the city can become- through collaboration- proactive instead of reactive. Waiting for a problem to happen will not benefit anyone.

One of the more rewarding parts of the Technology Conference was getting to meet professionals and discuss real world ideas. Through countless classes I have been encouraged to perfect my “elevator speech.” This came in handy as I was introducing myself to multiple people. One technology consultant was astonished to hear I was a student and was very happy to see that students coming out of school were able to carry themselves like seasoned vets. The opportunity to hear this from professionals and have real world discussions certainly made this event worthwhile.

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