IT Day speaker suggests more risk-taking

Adaptability is the key to survival in a fast-changing world, said the keynote speaker at the Lockheed Martin-sponsored annual IT Day on Wednesday.

And taking chances will help businesses become successful in the face of technological and demographic changes, said Robert Safian, editor and managing director of Fast Company magazine in New York.

Businesses need to adopt a "growth mindset" instead of being resistant to new ideas, he told the more than 700 luncheon guests at Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick. He said businesses need to think about future customers and future employees, and to learn to tap into new social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

Small businesses can be innovative and creative without spending large amounts of money, Safian said. They must understand that the current economic downturn is temporary, and if they simply follow their passion they'll see opportunities, he said.

His presentation epitomized the theme of this year's IT Day, "Seize Change." The daylong program, which attracted more than 2,000 people, featured presentations by a number of experts on the trends and future of information technology, including cyber security and Green IT.

The event, now in its ninth year, has grown larger each year, said Frank Armijo, director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services in Richland. And it's adapting to the changing face of business.

A presentation in Spanish by Jose Piero, director of diversity and multicultural marketing at Microsoft Corp., was the highpoint this year, Armijo said. "Technology is as diverse as it gets." A bilingual expert like Piero, who also gave a program in English at IT Day, adds to the event's diversity, Armijo said.

The annual gathering of people interested in learning more about new IT technologies has been beneficial to the Tri-Cities, Armijo said. Businesses have been able to learn from one another, and many others have been encouraged to choose IT as a possible career choice, he said.

Chris Schaeffer and Marcus Breshears, seniors at Southridge High, have attended IT Day for the past three years. "We get to learn about other technologies and have fun," both said.

The Southridge High group, which also included classmate Jared Perry, showcased "Sumo robots" that students built from scratch. Even the circuit boards and codes were done by students, said Perry, a four-year IT Day veteran, and Schaeffer.

The three seniors said more kids are becoming interested in science. And a lot of elementary and middle schools have invited them to give presentations about what they do, Schaeffer said.

* Pratik Joshi: 509-582-1541; pjoshi@tricityherald.com; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com