Spark Growth conference returns to Bradenton for tech conversation

cschelle@bradenton.comApril 9, 2014 

BRADENTON -- For the tech community, it's a 3.0 world and everyone's just living in it.

Cell phones ping information about GPS locations, web browsers log history information to send to Facebook when logged in, and your cable company knows what movies you're watching.

"Now we're in a world where technology gathers information from us even when we're not participating," said Sara Hand, co-founder of SP Hand and Associates.

Hand is heading up the second annual Spark Growth Regional Leadership Conference this week that aims to answer what 3.0 could mean to workers in business, education, technology industry and entrepreneurs to inspire them to find solutions to their challenges by using technology.

"It's a catalytic event," said Stan Schultes, co-founder of SP Hand and Associates, which produces the event. "It will cause people to want to embrace the kind of change that is happening to them."

The Leadership Conference will be held Thursday and Friday at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave W. Tickets are available for either Thursday, Friday or both days, ranging in price from $199 to $499. Tickets and more information can be found at sparkgrowth.net. The event also includes a dinner reception Thursday at the DaVinci Machines exhibit at the Municipal Auditorium.

The conference is being held in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Partnership, which is a consortium of the largest businesses in the region.

Before tech companies were smart enough to develop the power to collect data without users click

ing a button, the Web was all about blogging, interaction and engagement, often considered Web 2.0. Now the Web is headed to efficiency and reducing duplication of services.

Three keynote speakers aim to explain how communities can prepare to operate in a 3.0 world to collaborate, innovate and educate. Speakers include Jim Stikeleather, executive strategist/chief innovation officer for Dell, who spoke at last year's conference; Ed Morrison of the Purdue University Center for Regional Development and Jeff Borden, academic strategist at textbook publishing company Pearson will also speak.

Among the concepts Morrison will explore is strategic doing. Morrison worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm that allowed him to work with clients Ford Motor Company and General Electric.

"There's a purposefulness to it to get things done as opposed to strategic planning where people plan but never do," Hand said.

Spark Growth is working with Morrison to consider having a strategic doing certification course in Florida.

"We'll work with people to help them have a common language," Hand said. "Strategic doing gives people a playbook, a rule book to work from and have a common result. Right now there's lots of people working on doing great things and often they're duplicating effort."

Some of that work is being done in Florida. Brevard County and job agency CareerSource Brevard has used strategic doing to figure out the future of that region's economy following the NASA shuttle shutdown and the result was the Space Coast Energy Consortium that focuses on targeting clean energy companies for the region.

Following the Spark Growth event, Hand and Schultes will also help put on DaVinci's Faire, serving as the spring conference for Barcamp Sarasota-Bradenton where people interested in technology can sign up and talk about the topic of their choosing. The conference will be held at 8:15 a.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Manatee Technical Institute, 6305 State Route 70, and free with pre-registration at bcsrq.com/conference or $10 at the door.

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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