November 15, 2019 Day 2 at the Topcoder Open 2019: The Passion Effect

If one were to have walked into the Live Oak Ballroom Foyer of the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center Hotel on Thursday Morning November 14 for the 2019 Topcoder Innovation Summit, not knowing anything about the event beforehand, it would take a while to figure out what was up. Sometimes when people convene around a common cause or interest, the group as a whole skews toward a cohesive “look” (outdoor industry event — think people wearing tech gear; yoga conferences — think people glowing from within; Dead and Company concerts — think tie dye all the way).

Not so on this day at the TCO 2019. From immaculate suits to goth attire; elders to teens; Asia to the Bayou and every place in-between; this group was uncategorizable. Except for two significant common denominators: All present were of brilliant mind and passionate heart, gathered to take part in these history changing times. All present were there to convene around the common cause and interest in how work is changing, due to unprecedented digital access to talent.

Allow Passion to be the Fuel for Change

Keynote speakers, panel moderators and panelists, Topcoder C-suite emcees, community members and competitors—all shared their passion for the work they do, the problems they solve, the work models they’re transforming and the communities they are creating in the future of work and on-demand IT talent space.

The program was robust and valuable: John Winsor, Founder and CEO of Open Assembly, kicked off the conversation with the concept that passion drives innovation and that all of us, as we move into the future of work, will be disrupted. The key is to reframe what disruption is. To jump across the passion gap and define your purpose, grab the right tools, and turn the avalanche of disruption into the experience of surfing a wave. It’s imperative, said Winsor, that every company have a strategy in place for integrating open systems and tools into their overall business plan.

Winsor’s passion talk was matched by three additional keynotes. Keith Groom, Global Head of Partners for Microsoft Workloads on AWS shared key insider insights behind the success of Amazon (hint: it’s all about the customer). Dave Messinger, Chief Technologist at Topcoder, delighted with his humor by sharing “the depressing stuff” first, tied to the “rule of 20,” then landed with the beautiful thought that “you are only constrained by your imagination and your desire to get things done.”

The final keynote, from Shinobu Saito Distinguished Researcher in the Software Innovation Center at the NTT Corporation, Tokyo, Japan talked about how Japan is projecting a mass scarcity of IT engineering talent by the year 2025, and views hybrid sourcing —pairing talent from the crowd with talent inside companies—as the solution forward. (Hey, we know a great place to find more than 1.5 million talented IT folks who can support!)

The program was rounded out with several panel discussions.  Audience members heard from real-deal coders from the Topcoder community who shared their passion for coding and competing; a discussion with leaders at government organizations who shared how on-demand talent models are shaping and changing how they work; an insider look at how to nurture and create robust and effective business partnerships; and examples of how the gig economy offers access to the best talent out there to help solve your business problems.

Business partnership awards were given. Breakout education sessions schooled the audience on what is possible through on-demand IT talent. And here’s something cool: The actual talent itself, the best of the best, there from around the globe, competed in live design and coding competitions. Non-competitors—both coders and business executives—clustered around the computer screens to take in the results.

A History-Changing Announcement

And then there was more. Michael Morris, CEO of Topcoder capped the day’s program by announcing Topcoder’s new on-demand talent offering, the Talent as a Service (TaaS) workforce model, that can quickly provide access and scale a company with the exact mix of highly skilled technology talent it needs for whatever time period makes sense.

Could this get any better? It was clear, from an audience perspective, that what we call the future of work is no longer in the future. It’s now, it’s here. It’s ready for those who feel the passion—of course backed up with the necessary due diligence, safety measures, and thought-through strategy. But it’s here, for those who want to work more effectively, with better results.




Jean Weiss

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