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Sculley keynoting sixth-annual high-tech conference

In the five years since it has presented the annual Governor’s Conference on High Technology, the Mississippi Technology Alliance (MTA) has lured high-powered speakers to address hundreds of technology professionals from Mississippi and neighboring states.

Last year, Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor challenged the roomful of power suits to take off a shoe while he made the point that adaptability is required to ensure continued success. The year before, Travelocity.com founder Terry Jones addressed branding, marketing, e-commerce, technology and customer relationship management in his keynote address.
In 2001, the featured guest was Harvard University professor Michael Porter, who wrote “The Porter Study” that laid the groundwork for the inaugural Governor’s Conference on High Technology.

This year, technology wizard John Sculley will headline the sixth annual Conference on High Technology November 8-9 at the Marriott in downtown Jackson. MTA, Mississippi Research Consortium and CIT.ms will present the program.

“After Hurricane Katrina, we asked Mr. Sculley to speak about the value of technology and how it could help us rebuild our economy on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said MTA spokesperson Heath Hall. “I’m sure he also has a couple of other points he’d like to discuss with the crowd.”

In 1983, Apple founder Steve Jobs recruited Sculley to bring big-brand marketing to the high-tech industry. Together, they successfully launched Macintosh and desktop publishing. During Sculley’s decade as Apple CEO, Macintosh became the top-selling personal computer in the world.
As Pepsi CEO, Sculley successfully guided the “Pepsi Generation” and “Pepsi Challenge” marketing campaigns to propel Pepsi into the top spot as the largest-selling packaged goods in America.

A venture partner at the Rho Capital Partners in New York City, Sculley has been involved with early stage companies that went public or were sold: Professional SportsCare, Select Comfort, NFO Research, Intralinks, Hotwire and InPhonic.

Sculley believes “the next big thing” lies in high-definition television and multichannel VPNs (virtual private networks). “I think we’re going to see a lot of innovation in the areas of television being reinvented, a huge opportunity with mobile wireless,” he told CNET News. “In fact, I think wireless is the biggest landscape for innovation and business creation. I am personally involved in two mobile wireless companies, and I can see that while we are successful in what we are doing, we’re at the very beginning of the possibilities.”

Despite his successes, he regrets missed opportunities, especially with the Hypercard, created in 1987 by Bill Atkinson, Apple’s first software programmer. “It was on my watch, so I feel responsible and disappointed that we didn’t do more with it,” he said. “We could never figure out exactly what it was. We thought it was a prototyping tool. We thought it was a database tool. It was actually used by people as a front-end communications device for TCP/IP to connect the Internet to large Cray computers.

“We weren’t insightful enough to recognize that what we had inside of Hypercard, essentially, was everything that later was developed so successfully by Tim Berners-Lee with HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). We didn’t call it that. But essentially, we had all that hypertext, radio buttons and linking capability architected in the original Hypercard. In hindsight, I wish Apple had recognized that we had a huge opportunity to go take our user interface culture, and our know-how, and apply it to the Internet. I think we would have had a very different story for Apple during the 1990s. But that, of course, is hindsight.”

A sponsor’s reception and set-up of 35 exhibitors will take place the evening of November 8. The daylong conference November 9 will begin with a morning session featuring John Kneuer, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information. Also on the agenda: panel discussions on homeland security, technology law and finance, commercialization programs at Mississippi research universities, entrepreneurs and business development, The Next Big Thing and rebuilding Mississippi.

The event will also focus on how technology may facilitate “rebuilding better, faster and more effectively.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.

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About Lynne W. Jeter

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