Centric Consulting’s Brad Nellis interviews Modern Software Delivery leader Carmen Fontana about speaking at OHTec.
My 20 plus year involvement in the NEO tech industry covers various capacities with tech companies, running the local tech association, and OHTec. I even co-founded a tech firm many years ago. So, I have several perspectives on the industry.
Workforce and regional talent were a prominent part of our efforts with OHTec, and the common thread that ran through our efforts was the word: more.
More people. More minorities. More mature workers. More. More. More.
And yes, more women in technology, too.
Diversity in the tech industry is incredibly important. Not only because the industry is heavily male and heavy Caucasian, but because of the tremendous value in diversity of thought, experience, perspective, education, and so on for a tech firm or department, to their clients or end-users, to society even.
The folks who launched GetWITit recognize this fact and created their organization to address the declining number of women in tech by promoting awareness, addressing attrition, career transitions and leadership development. One aspect is an annual conference held in both Cleveland and Columbus; this year’s theme was The New Blueprint for Leadership.
Hey Carmen, tell me a little more about your topic, Improving the Hospice Experience with Virtual Reality.
I’ll be sharing about an innovation project that Centric has teamed up with Microsoft on – using Virtual Reality to improve the end-of-life experience. Innovation is never easy. Innovation involving a sensitive life stage is even harder.
Typical problems take on a new complexity, such as how to balance emotion and action. But despite those challenges, many of the innovation hurdles remain the same, like how to build organizational buy-in and leveraging design thinking to develop something both novel and useful.
Your role with Centric is centered on emerging tech as it’s applied to your clients, what two to three developing technologies look the most promising to you over the next few years?
Artificial Intelligence will continue to develop and broaden its impact. AI will keep getting smarter, particularly in the areas of Natural Language Processing and Image Recognition.
I’m also excited about the proliferation of Internet of Things, and particularly the intersection of Machine Learning and IoT. IoT devices generate insane amounts of data, which is ripe for analysis and prediction via machine learning.
What about over the next five-plus years (a lifetime in tech!)? What’s a cool tech we might see take off?
Quantum Computing is getting real and will cause us to rethink computing, security, and the possible.
Without going into the gory physics details, Quantum computers allow us to go beyond zeros and ones. Qubits can be both zero and one at the same time, allowing for substantially more processing power. Substantially more processing power means you can process much more complex algorithms in the fields of machine learning, physical sciences, and financial services.
Perhaps most importantly, it will have a major impact on how we approach security and encryption practices.
What advice would you give to a young Carmen Fontana who’s interested in exploring the tech industry as a career?
The tech industry is not all video games, Star Trek, and general nerdiness.
Technology can help bring us together to solve new problems to benefit humanity. Whether it’s Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things or Quantum Computing, we have an exciting opportunity to create positive change with technology.
And how about a bonus question. I know your perspective is national in scope, but you’ve lived and worked in technology in this region for quite a while. If I gave you a magic wand, what would you change about northeast Ohio?
I actually love winter, so it wouldn’t be the weather! (disclaimer: I live in the snow belt)
In all seriousness, I wish more technology companies would realize Cleveland is a wonderful place to have a footprint. We have great talent coming out of our local universities, world-class healthcare and manufacturing sectors, and a low cost of living. Nevertheless, Northeast Ohio often gets passed over by Silicon Valley.
This year’s conference took place at the Great Lakes Science Center. The topics were outstanding, presenters and their content were excellent, and the overall execution was first-rate. The content was valuable for anyone in technology, providing a foundation of information regardless of one’s demographic characteristics.