FutureMidwest Packs Eastern Market With Techie Goodness

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No rutabagas here, only quality tech content.

No rutabagas here, only quality tech content.

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You won’t be getting fruits and vegetables at Detroit’s Eastern Market at the FutureMidwest 2011 conference this week.

But there’s nourishment aplenty — for the questioning tech mind, that is.

Depending on walk-in traffic, as many as 1,000 people could attend the conference, held in temporary auditoriums and display booths built inside the famous market’s enclosed “sheds.”

Josh Linkner, former CEO of Pleasant Ridge-based ePrize LLC, kicked off the conference with a paean to creativity, apropos of his recent, best-selling business book, “Disciplined Dreaming.”

Linkner’s first example was the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, which ruled the reference roost for upwards of 200 years, until Microsoft Corp. came along in the 1990s with its Encarta computerized encyclopedia. But Encarta’s reign would be far briefer, done in in less than 15 years by the free, crowdsourced Wikipedia.com.

“Who will dislodge Wikipedia? We can hardly imagine,” Linkner said. “When will the hurricane come? We don’t know, but we know it’s going to come.”

Linkner said very few companies are preparing for any competitive hurricanes because they’re too busy doing what they’ve always done.

“Most companies are so busy being heads down on the problems of today that they don’t look heads up at the opportunities of the future,” Linkner said.

Overall, Linkner said, “creativity has been the currency of success,” and the questions for all businesses to ask are “Why? What If? and Why Not?”

The eclectic group of speakers continued with Jason Schmitt, Detroit correspondent for the Huffington Post, who said Detroit’s defiant rock’n’roll culture from Ted Nugent through Iggy and the Stooges, the MC5, Alice Cooper, Kid Rock, Eminem and the White Stripes is a good metaphor for its overall business atmosphere.

Schmitt noted that Detroit has more square miles of land than Manhattan, Boston and San Francisco combined — but only 800,000 people, vs. three million for those three cities (well, one’s a borough) combined. That’s led Detroiters to be inventive and ingenious, he said — the city has more patents than any other city in Michigan, which has more patents than any other state.

Detroit’s edge, its defiance of prevailing social norms, is coming in increasingly handy in the global economy — in fact, Schmitt said the No. 1 trait CIOs and CEOs need, according to an article this week in the Harvard Business Review, is not following the herd.

Schmitt also pointed out that metro Detroit is a collection of isolated subregions — there’s no mass transit to mix them.

FutureMidwest continued with presentations on how large corporations are using social media marketing, new Web frontiers and more. And startup company ideas competed for venture capital money Thursday night in an event called “Funded by Night.”

FutureMidwest continues Friday with sessions on tech privacy, the digital divide and more. We’ll have more coverage over the weekend online and in Monday’s GLITR.

Also,  ePrize is optimizing the 2011 FutureMidwest conference for maximized attendee engagement through a mobile-optimized Website and location-based check-in.

The ePrize team built and sponsored FutureMidwest’s mobile-optimized site and location-based check-in via Foursquare and Facebook Places to provide an additional interactive experience for attendees.

“It is a great opportunity for ePrize to participate in the FutureMidwest conference and offer our location-based services for the event,” said Sara Kowal, vice president of innovation at ePrize. “Location-based mobile features are a great way to engage with consumers for small and large brands alike. Larger brands can develop specific applications to meet their objectives, while small brands can leverage the concept through sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and other location-aware marketing services.”

More at www.futuremidwest.com.

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