Highlights of 2015 TiECon Grand Keynotes


A photo of Hussain Aamir of CenturyLink.
CenturyLink’s Hussain Aamir

Over 4,300 delegates attended 2015 TiECon¹ –the largest global conference on entrepreneurship. The conference was held May 15th and 16th in Santa Clara, CA.

In this first TiECon article, we summarize the two Grand Keynote conversations from the first day (Friday May 15th of the conference. Future articles will cover keynotes and panel sessions from various tracks, such as Cloud, Security, IoT, and Breakthrough Thinkers.

Note 1. The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), which creates the event, has its headquarters in Silicon Valley and has chapters in 61 cities in 20 different countries. It is the world’s largest non-profit organization for entrepreneurs.

Highlights of Grand Keynote 1. – Jack Welch (ex CEO-GE) and Suzy Welch (co-author of “Real Life MBA”):

Jack: Since the 2008-2009 recession ended, companies are trying to do more with less and the pace of change has accelerated. An employee shouldn’t wait over one month in a non-creative company environment if he or she is an innovator.

Suzy: Corporate America has thousands of different ways to say NO, while entrepreneurs are YES people who must get out and start their own companies.

Jack (about his experiences in India): I couldn’t believe the intellectual capacity of India. The people are smart, aggressive, courteous, and always searching. I’m basically an Indian salesman.

Suzy: There seems to be herds of unicorns (startups valued in excess of $1B) galloping between San Francisco and Santa Clara. At the SF Four Seasons bar, we overheard tech startup talk that made our heads spin.

Jack: Startups today are different from the DOTCOM era (1998-2001) in that they have real cash flow, cause disruption (of industries and products/services), and are entering large markets. They are not “follies” or “just apps companies.”

Jack: A PhD in tech is a ticket to the moon (this author STRONGLY DISAGREES), but it’s also nice to have an MBA.

Avoiding “career pergatory:” The status quo is dangerous. Set a time-table for how long you (the employee) is going to stay with a company if stuck with a bad boss or an indifferent organization/bureaucracy. Don’t be negative during your stay at the company you may soon leave.

Suzy: Over the past few years, only about 10% of employees generally know where they stand within their company and have a sense of a career trajectory. At Google, it’s 60%. Most employees feel disillusioned and disengaged. Many hate come to work each day hating their job.

Leaders need to be turned on by the success of their people. The key is to build great product teams. Get smart people, energize and excite them, then let them go (and progress their agendas/initiatives).

Jack: There’s much quicker speed in the workplace today, because “everyone knows everything.” [Presumably that’s because of lightning quick information flow due to the Internet, social networking, mobile apps, instant messaging, texting, etc]. Companies need to be more transparent than ever before due to global competition. It’s imperative to get bureaucracy out of the company. Flatter (organizations), faster (decision-making) is needed to compete today in all types of companies.

Lessons learned: Act faster, fail fast, if it doesn’t work  – fix it. There’s no room for caution in any business today.

When asked about his life and noteworthy accomplishments, Jack said he can’t address his legacy, because “legacy is a bore.”

Suzy said Jack has an incredible curiosity about what’s happening and why. She gave an example of Jack interrogating a taxi driver in a 3rd world country everything about the place.  When they arrived at their destination, the taxi driver was completely overwhelmed by Jack’s close questioning.

Jack’s closing remark: “India is all about brain power. We went there for (lower) cost, but found intellect.”

Grand Keynote 2. – Aamir Hussain (EVP & CTO, CenturyLink), Tom Reilly (CEO Cloudera) Gary Gauba (Founder & CEO CenturyLink Cognilytics) –Transformational Journey Towards New Data Economy:

CenturyLink is the 3rd largest telco in the U.S.and operates in 5 continents. That despite only having a wireline footprint. In recent years they’ve acquired Qwest/US West, Embarq (formerly Sprint Local), Savvis, and CenturyLink Cognilytics. CenturyLink’s serves 98% of Fortune 500 companies and 20% of the world’s internet traffic flows through its network.

Cloudera is revolutionizing enterprise data management by offering the first unified platform for Big Data. It uses (Apache Open Source) Hadoop, which enables distributed parallel processing of huge amounts of data across inexpensive, industry-standard servers that both store and process the data, and can scale without limits.

Cogniltyics (now part of CenturyLink) is a Big Data/Analytics as a Service company.

The lobby of CenturyLink's technology center in Monroe, LA.
CenturyLink’s Technology Center of Excellence

Century Link (CTL) recently opened a huge “Technology Center of Excellence” in Monroe, Louisiana. It includes a technology research and development lab, a network operations center and collaborative office and meeting space. In the Center, employees with network, cloud, information technology and other skills will work together to create innovative products and services for CenturyLink’s customers.

Aamir, who hold 11 telecom related patents, said CTL has transformed itself from a traditional telco (providing only network connectivity) to an IT services company (with a full range of managed services). There are thousands of applications running on the CTL network (we suspect most of these came from the Savvis acquisition in 2011).

“More data is being created today then companies can process,” Mr. Hussain said. And that trend will only accelerate with IoT devices sending massive amounts of collected/monitored data to the cloud. While old data was said to have “gravity,” new data (from sensors, mobile/wearable/IoT devices) will be processed by cloud resident compute servers

Hussain believes there’s a huge market for hybrid (private + on premises) cloud.  His very credible thesis is that the older IBM mainframe applications will continue to run in premises  customer data centers, while new applications will be developed and invoked from a hosted private  cloud.  That makes for a “static” hybrid cloud solution, which doesn’t have to deal with the thorny (and unresolved) problem of bursting from private to  public cloud with data results being stored back in the private cloud for security, safety, and governance/compliance.”

“Cyber security is seen as a huge opportunity for CTL. It’s on top of every customers mind who ask: How to protect my business? “ As 20% of global data traffic passes through the CTL network, the company strongly believes they have a responsibility to protect it, Hussain said.

[Tom Reilly said that Cloudera was using on chip encryption from Intel and cyber security intelligence in Hadoop to protect their customers’ data.]

Summing up, Hussain provided this advice to service provider companies: “Be agile, nimble, listen to customers. Big data has and will continue to change (disrupt?) many business models.”

Gary Gauba gave this advice for entrepreneurs: “Dream big and go make it happen. Take the ups and downs of your entrepreneurial journey in stride. Believe in yourself.” Gary suggested that CenturyLink and Cloudera were good companies for entrepreneurs to partner with.

In a post conference email to this author, Gary expressed his thoughts on the TiECon session and its relevance for the “new data economy.”:

The transformational journey for the new data economy is a common theme and has sparking a lot of interest.  The thesis behind this topic is big data, the evolution of technology and serving the omni-channel customer. At TiECon, Aamir Hussain, Tom Reilly and I presented at a grand key note discussing the implications of the cloud, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The question on everyone’s mind is: How does my organization embark on the journey of the new data economy?  Organizations are hoarding terabytes of data — only a small fraction is actually being monetized, and the rest gets lost.

As technology leaders, Cloudera and CenturyLink Cognilytics are looking at ways to transform processes and interactions with customers to ultimately reduce costs and improve efficiency. CenturyLink Cognilytics and Cloudera are working together on a mission to help businesses of all sizes monetize this data as a strategic asset, transforming raw data into actionable and valuable insights that help them leap-frog their competition.

CenturyLink showcased itself as an 80+ year old, entrepreneur-like company that has built grand-scale technology centers of excellence and is leading the charge on enterprise-grade technology solutions

On TiECon 2015:

It was a great turnout at TiECon. Thousands of budding entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, executives and inquisitive minds listened to keynotes, participated in breakout sessions and engaged with start-ups.   


Video of the 2nd Grand Keynote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6hdyCxFTVE

Interview with Aamir Hussain of CenturyLinkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4noR3WuswP4

CenturyLink’s gigabit fiber expansion in 17 states targets SMBs:


On May 19th CTL announced it has been identified by industry analyst firm Gartner, Inc. as a visionary in the 2015 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service- Worldwide, report.

“In the fast-moving cloud market, CenturyLink continues to differentiate in hybrid IT innovation with our advanced cloud services and complementary agile infrastructure, network and managed services,” said Jared Wray, senior vice president, platforms, at CenturyLink. “The velocity of our cloud innovation continues to intensify, with our agile DevOps approach delivering new features and functionality that delight our customers.”

With the recent acquisitions of Orchestrate, Cognilytics and DataGardens, as well as global expansions of its cloud node locations and data center footprint, CenturyLink continues to advance its managed services, cloud and collocation offerings for enterprises.

Gartner analysts Lydia Leong, Douglas Toombs and Bob Gill authored the Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide, report, published on May 18, 2015. Evaluation for the report was based on vendors’ completeness of vision and ability to execute.


0 thoughts on “Highlights of 2015 TiECon Grand Keynotes

  1. Thanks Alan for writing this and for your observations of the TieCon. Your reporting of the event has to be the most comprehensive out there; makes me wish I could have been there.

    CenturyLink has done an amazing job of repositioning itself and creating a strong position in cloud by leveraging its wired network. I remember visiting Monroe and Century last century and it was certainly a different company. What a boon for Monroe, LA to be home to CenturyLink and its Technology for Excellence Center.

    1. Ken, Thanks for your comment. Interesting CenturyLink follow up today:
      CEO Glen Post is pleased with the progress the telecom has made in the past year but believes more needs to be done to keep up with changes in technology. “We have to do more transformation,” Post said in a speech to shareholders. “Technology is changing so rapidly. Customers’ expectations are changing. They want anytime, anywhere information. They want it now and they want it simple and easy. And they’re looking for value.”
      “We have to do more transformation,” he said. “Technology is changing so rapidly. Customers expectations are changing. They want anytime, anywhere information. They want it now and they want it simple and easy. And they’re looking for value.”

      Post said he feels confident in the progress the company made over the past year.

      “We made a lot of progress this last year,” he told The News-Star. “We’ve made some key acquisitions for our company. We advanced and expanded our sales force. We rolled out a number of new products that are really driving a lot of interest from our … customers.

      “We expanded our high-speed Internet abilities significantly this year. We expanded our video abilities and our cloud and hosting business. We are excited for our future. We believe we have a lot of potential to drive value for our customers in months and years ahead.”



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