Techweek 2017 Takeaways

Last week Chicago’s thriving technology scene was ignited with the annual Techweek conference that took place over the course of several days all over the city and culminated in the Techweek Gives fundraising competition ending ceremony.

Before getting into the new learnings and themes we took away from this year, we want to take a moment to reflect on the expansion the Chicago tech community has seen. There is something to be said about the strong community network that has developed out of the tech scene in Chicago and successful events like Techweek make that base thrive even more. Year over year, we’ve been able to ingrain ourselves in the lively tech culture and network and for that, we are thankful.

From this year’s summit, here are a few of the sessions Walker Sands employees attended and the points they gleamed from discussions in Data, AI and Enterprise Technology:

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Data Intelligence Presented by Atidiv This session was lead by a panel of CEOs from YCharts, Narrative Science, LQD Business Finance and Civis Analytics. Here are a few major takeaways from the discussion:

  • For data intelligence apps to thrive, full integration is the future.
  • Companies should be mindful of AI and the hype behind it.
  • Companies will need to adapt infrastructure before fully integrating AI.

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Customer Acquisitions for Enterprise – Jeff Ellman of UrbanBound & Hireology, Kevin Kent of ReviewTrackers, Erik Severinghaus of SpringCM and Kristi Zuhlke of KnowledgeHound joined this Techweek panel to discuss their perspectives on acquiring B2B customers. Here’s what we learned:

  • Don’t underestimate the process of qualifying leads.
  • Customer acquisitions have a long pipeline and it can be expensive.
  • Don’t waste time with leads that don’t care and aren’t qualified.
  • In the sales pitch, don’t be afraid to make clients vouch for you via logos and use cases

Picture3Taking time to participate in these events always leads to a regeneration of excitement for our team. This was most obvious by the group who participated in the discussion with Mayor Rahm Emanuel who shared plans for integrating technology into the infrastructural future plans of our city. So many years later and we still find ourselves getting giddy over these kinds of advancements.

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to pull off a dynamic event that continues to bring together the tech minded community. As a team, we took away great new learnings and are looking forward to what the rest of this year has in store for the Chicago Tech community

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Admin Appreciation Week at Walker Sands

There’s no doubt Walker Sands has THE BEST admin under the sun. Trish Kalchbrenner, our executive assistant, has been with Walker Sands for two and a half years, and let’s just say it’s a miracle we survived the times before her.

In honor of admin appreciation week, we asked our employees to share what they love about Trish. This post would go on for days if we included all the responses! So, here are the top five reasons why we are lucky to have Trish in our lives.

1. She gets the job done no matter what

“Not only is she the most organized person I’ve ever met, but she’s scrappy — if you need something done, she’ll find a way.” A

Trish constantly goes above and beyond for every person at Walker Sands. Whether it’s coming up with creative solutions to mundane office problems or working her magic to make the impossible seem like a breeze, there’s no problem too big or small for Trish to handle. And not only that, but she is killing the working mom game.

2. She always has a positive vibe

“I’ve never seen Trish with anything but a positive attitude.”

We all know the stereotype of the grouchy admin who is just there just to punch the clock. Lucky for us, Trish is the complete opposite. It can’t always be easy (or fun) managing an office of 80 employees, half of which are millennials, but Trish comes to work every day and radiates positivity. If you’re having a bad day, she’ll lend an ear and know just how to make it better (probably by showing you an adorable picture of her son or recommending the best spot to grab a donut).

3. She knows how to have fun

“She is literally a ray of sunshine and goes out of her way to cultivate our office culture, whether it’s through the company-wide scavenger hunt or simply grabbing a beer in the kitchen on Friday at 5.”  

On top of keeping Walker Sands running, Trish goes out of her way to make sure we all have a little fun throughout the work week. Trish reminds us enjoy the little things in life by organizing our weekly Game of Cones or helping us celebrate holidays like National Pancake Day. Oh, and she is the queen of GIFS (no email from Trish is complete with the perfect GIF).

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What EdTech Stakeholders Are Talking About: Lessons from SXSWedu 20

As a former teacher, education PR professional and current learning and development manager at Walker Sands, I was ready to nerd out at SXSWedu 2017. Thousands of experts gathered for 4 days in Austin, Texas to address trends in edtech and have honest conversations about the challenges facing the education industry as a whole.

Between education celebrities such as Dr. Brene Brown and John Maeda wandering the halls, and one interesting session description after another, my FOMO was at an all-time high. I attended as many sessions as I could and walked away with solid insights into the current state of edtech.

What EdTech Stakeholders are Talking About Now

1. What can VR do for you?

VR, AI and MR (mixed reality, combining the first two) technologies are eliciting intrigue across all industries, education included. While some educators are embracing the possibilities for deeper engagement (major buzzword alert), others worry about the risk of losing touch with reality.

If we can transport students to anywhere in the world with one swipe of a finger and a cardboard box, what’s to become of physical field trips? Will students further lose themselves in a solitary, virtual vortex? Will VR have a significant enough impact in the classroom to warrant any of this?

Teachers who have begun implementing these technologies in the classroom have noticed students prefer to explore them in groups. The social component of education remains significant. Regarding impact, all signs point to VR/AI/MR transforming, specifically and certainly, the med school experience and many healthcare practices.

In the traditional classroom setting, the technologies will allow for deeper exploration by bringing more concepts to life in new, interactive ways. One thing most can agree on is that these technologies are often intuitive enough to make implementation and integration more accessible for educators.A

2. What does the future hold for higher education?

The notion of the 21st-century job, in which you choose a specific career path and then go to school for it, is fading. Companies are instead seeking employees with relevant skills, such as creative problem-solving and good communication.

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Walker Sands Wins Big with Second Annual Marketing Madness

IMG_1On Tuesday this week we gathered at Highline with Chicago’s top marketers for our second annual Marketing Madness event. Last year we tested this event as a new concept, blending networking and speed-dating, and it was so well received we had to bring it back for another round!

We tipped off the evening with our marketing MVPs to share in discussion on hot marketing topics and trends. The format ran much the same as last year: four tables, three topics, three rounds of 15 minute conversation.

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Host, Adam Beason, leads conversations on current trends.

Our five knowledgable hosts made up an all star team:

Before our hosts could throw their first passes, we reached out to our event attendees to crowdsource speaking topics for the night. Over bites and sips our guests and hosts discussed the following topics and industry questions:

  • Current Trends: Are you currently doing any Account Based Marketing? If so, what are your tips to success? If not, do you plan on implementing any ABM strategies this year?
  • Demand Generation: What are a few creative strategies and tactics you’ve used to drive leads to your website?
  • Social Media: How do you measure the success of your social media campaigns? Which social media tactics are generating the best results? What are tips for maintaining brand personality across different social media platforms?

IMG_6 Through open dialogue style discussions, our guests and speakers left with great takeaways and new connections! For more pictures from the event, take a look at the Facebook album we put together.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended and our hosts for facilitating an evening of smart conversations. If you’d like to join us at our next Walker Sands event, leave a comment below and we’ll add you to the list!

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The Storynomics Seminar takes a New Approach to Marketing: Storytelling

If there’s one thing we know that works when driving a brand message, it’s storytelling. Storytelling is something we talk a lot about in marketing, and are very aware that the right narrative can take your brand from ho-hum to resonating with an audience of thousands.

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In an effort to expand my storytelling skills and knowledge, I will be attending the Storynomics masterclass with acclaimed film and TV project consultant and author of Story, Robert McKee. After years of creative success, he’s taken his storytelling approach and adapted it to a set of teachings to help marketers transform their stories from interruption to entertainment. In addition to the hands on training McKee will provide, Tom Gerace, CEO of Skyword will also be presenting on how to use storified messaging to achieve marketing and brand goals.

I’m looking forward to attending the seminar and embracing the learn part of Walker Sands’ three pillars, learn, support, do. If you care to join me on March 29 in Chicago, register here using code WALKERSANDS.

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Can’t make the Chicago seminar? No worries. You can also find Storynomics in Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

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