GAVS’ annual client event enGAge was held at The Westin Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL, from 4 – 6 Oct. We had excellent participation from industry leaders across the US and India.

The two hour keynote was themed on Creativity driving Innovation, delivered by Duncan Wardle, ex-VP – Innovation & Creativity, The Walt Disney Company, and Founder, Id8 & Innov8. Duncan’s session offered great insights on how to promote creativity and engage employees the best way to get them contribute their best. He addressed very important factors that hinder progress and creativity in our lives - how to work around fear of failure, the importance of balancing purpose vs profit for optimum results, about spending enough time with our consumers (which we usually miss in the pull and push of delivering), encouraging the right culture, breaking rules to innovate, various learning styles, the art of provocative questioning, the importance of knowing exactly what you want to create; the market focus, pricing, packaging and the entire nitty-gritty of business.

Duncan disclosed that all through his public speaking, he found it fascinating to note that most people said their best ideas came to them 'not while at work'!! He urged - 'innovation happens when you look outside the industry; break some habits and chart one's 'river of value' to get more focused and more successful.

Stefan Haves, Comedic Director - Cirque de Soleil, in his session spoke about how Cirque de Soleil took the world by storm and created a blue ocean of market space by moving away from conventions which was thus far showing declining revenues, dwindling profits and was cruel to animals. Stefan again touched on the pervasive fear of failure amongst us as individuals which reflects in business decisions and strategies. He stressed on the importance of communication, getting rid of our fears and how technology sometimes plays a part in dissuading interpersonal relationships in person; the current generations are so used to interacting through social media that when there is an opportunity to come face to face, research actually shows that there is a reluctance to meet in person! Stefan concluded by saying that creativity, empowerment of workforce, humanity in the environment would help drive innovation better.

The CIO Panel discussion was on “AI, Automation, Predictive – Hype or Reality? Can it enable digital transformation?”. The panelists consisted of Uday Madasu, CIO - The Jewish Board, Joe Schweitzer, VP Infrastructure & Operations - Healthfirst, Bhavya Desai, Sr. VP, IT Global Retail - E-Commerce & Infrastructure - Ashley Furniture, Dr. Shafiq Rab, Sr. VP & CIO - Rush University Medical Center, James Song, VP, Technology Infrastructure - Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, and moderated by Sumit Ganguli. It was very interesting to note that there was an almost unanimous vote for AI. AI, Automation and Predictive have arrived and is here to stay, our lives and businesses need to be powered by them if we are to stay in the business. Sumit spoke about frictionless work and the brilliant examples from GE, Uber, Sankara Nethralaya, a not for profit largest eye hospital in India that does 400,000 eye surgeries a month and the work google is collaborating with them for Retinotherapy.

The discussions referred to several examples of AI – When Watson was asked to name largest airport in the US named for a World War II hero, and the city named for a world war II battle, Watson answered Toronto! Why Watson said that instead of Chicago and O Hare Airport? it seems Toronto has stronger evidence than Chicago as Toronto has been more frequently associated with the string match - string match is a collection of evidence based on more traditional types of search that do not consider what the question actually means but all it does is try to match the words in the question to words in a document. There are articles about Toronto that mention "largest airport", and 'second largest', and 'battle'

Technology has helped improve Healthcare exponentially, predictive capabilities has helped patients take better charge of their health and averted emergencies which were once accepted as inevitable. We need to train it – “if humans are programming computers, we are not fully aware of the impact or repercussions’’. AI got the vote save the lack of faith in certain aspects of AI when our lives are at stake. Autonomous Cars took a back-seat - put them on the roads because they cause fewer deaths than human drivers vs the moral and ethical choices of an autonomous car; the decision it makes when it comes to humans versus animals, things become probabilistic, who do you hit - the dog, the human or do you get killed!, but everyone agreed that AI has a bright sunny side to it. As Dr. Rab said ‘AI is the game changer because of digitalization, and with AI we have the opportunity to kill the giants, we will become the disruptor!’

The event was a wonderful interactive time where discussions went beyond businesses and strategies with participants relaxing at the welcome dinner and cruise to let their hair down – Dom and Rakesh took on the dance floor, Uday played the drums, Bouchra, Silvia, Kerrie danced and the other ladies followed, keeping the floor alive till the end.