Friday, October 25, 2013

Leading in Tomorrowland

“Somoclobat, Social Mobile Cloud Big Analytical Data—it’s the word that describes everything going on in IT today.”

Not every day do you get to hear one of the biggest players in IT (information technology) share his excitement about upcoming tech trends. Typically, it’s the kind of talk we expect from the friend we go to for all our computer needs, or during the conversations reserved for that one time of year when the next iPhone, with all its thumb-scanning tricks, is announced.

But recently during Convocation, President D. Michael Lindsay invited Pat Gelsinger onstage for his latest Conversation with the President. Gelsinger is CEO of VMware, a world famous cloud-computing and virtualization company based in Palo Alto, California. Gelsinger was previously President and CEO of Boston-based EMC, which recently bought VMware. Gelsinger’s three-decade tech career took off right after college when he received a call and free plane ticket to California from Intel, where he was offered a job as a technician. Before he knew it, Gelsinger had risen through the ranks to become the first Chief Technology Officer in the industry and the youngest VP in Intel’s history.

This year, Forbes named VMware one of the most innovative companies. They are on route to become one of the key players in cloud-computingthe next step after the information revolution that will allow us to finally use our online info across a plethora of up-and-coming platforms (e.g. Google glass) and virtual software.

Gelsinger entered the tech industry 30 years ago, a time when computer science was not even a discipline. “We had mathematics and we had engineering, and out of that through this emergence of the computer came the entire new discipline of computer science.” He expects there may be another discipline waiting to be revealed, “I see very much over the next 20, 30 years the area of data science will emerge as this entire new curriculum, a combination of mathematics, statistics, and probabilities, etc.”

As Gelsinger was keen to explain, data is becoming the much-sought prize in the tech industry treasure hunt. He shared his vision for an emerging trend, Big Data. “10 years from now, imagine the following: You wake up in the morning and your biometric sensor will have noticed a heart irregularity while you were sleeping. By the time you get out of bed, it  will have communicated with your cell phone, uploaded the information to your doctor, rescheduled your morning, made a doctor’s appointment so you could get an exam, and loaded the routing to your car to get to you doctors appointment.” In fact, on his wrist that Friday, Gelsinger wore a biometric sensor similar to what he described. The device allows him to use his iPhone to record everything from sleeping patterns to water intake. But, as he noted, this is just the beginning, “Not only will the device record your info, but by the time you get to your appointment, your doctor will have already taken your biometrics for your DNA patterns and tested it against every body of your demographic group with similar DNA patterns and already recommended a set of actions for you to take. That’s the world of Big Data that we’re moving into.”

Big Data is the thread that stitches everything else—cloud, social, mobile—together. These three different elements, drawn together by Big Data, make up what Gelsinger calls “Somoclobat”—Social Mobile Cloud Big Analytical Data.

The big question regarding Somoclobat: What are the implications for privacy?

“I think every aspect of technology, as it advances, opens up new questions around privacy, around ethics and so on.” Gelsinger responded, “Should we individually be concerned? As individuals, probably not; but collectively, a whole lot.”

In answering these questions about emerging technologies and speaking about his leadership roles, Gelsinger also noted how his faith has been essential. As he described to President Lindsay, “You have, as president of Gordon College, this school as your congregation, and I at VMware have a 15,000 person congregation to take care of. With this congregation, I think one of the most powerful things as a leader is to have an intentional relationship with people, and looking for opportunities to pray with them.” For over 16 years, Gelsinger led a Bible Study at his home church at Singing Hills, and still is involved as a Sunday school teacher where he is witness to what it means to prioritize career, family and spiritual demands. 

He entreated students to follow through with the call of Christians to be the best possible employees on the market, because God expects nothing short of excellence in all that we do. With the coming revolution in Big Data, Gelsinger noted the need for more Christian men and women to enter the workplace and use their witness for good. “I think the genetic aspects of DNA mapping, etc. will probably be some of the biggest socio-political issues of the next decade.” Gelsinger is being used in the tech industry to bring about tremendous change through his Christian leadership. Gordon College, we too can be the faithful men and women leading in tomorrowland. We begin today, by bringing the greatest impact possible in the community God has placed us.

Photo: President D. Michael Lindsay and Pat Gelsinger discuss the implications of cloud-computing. The entire conversation can be found here.

John Buckley ’15 is a junior business administration and communication arts double major at Gordon College and the Presidential Fellow for Rick Sweeney, Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communications. Depending on the weather, his interests are theology, photography, a good read of Sherlock Holmes, or wiping out on his longboard. 

No comments: