Develop.idaho brings IT, education, R&D together

via Idaho Technology Council column

April 23 marked the day for this year’s develop.idaho conference. Held at BSU’s Stueckle Sky Center, the annual conference showcases Idaho’s software companies and the role their high-paying jobs play in our economy. Each year, the conference brings together software professionals and students to listen to thought leaders from Idaho and beyond and learn what is driving the industry. This year focused on the growth of our software companies and their employees, and in particular, the growth of computer science education in Idaho. A portion of the proceeds from the conference help fund computer science scholarships.

The develop.idaho conference showcased the depth of Idaho’s desire to strengthen the state’s economy through knowledge and education in the software and technology sectors. This year, the event drew over 500 attendees from throughout the state representing backgrounds in IT, education, policymaking, research and development and much more.

The conference featured Hadi Partovi, CEO and co-founder of Code.org, as the keynote speaker. Partovi emphasized the importance of exposing children to coding and STEM related courses at an early age in an effort to grow the talent pool with students that are technologically savvy. Improving the computer science educational standards through Code.org’s curriculum will assist Idaho in retaining CS graduates in the state. Idaho is currently one of only two states in the nation looking to implement Code.org curriculum into every school in the state.

In addition to the keynote address, develop.idaho featured a motivational presentation from Ryan Woodings, CEO of Boise company MetaGeek. Getting back to the basics, Woodings asked audience members to identify their “why.” “Why does your company exist,” he asked. Identifying the answer to this question and checking the alignment of your organization can be instrumental to your success or failure. If a business is run in a manner that is aligned with an organization’s “why,” then it can be done in a purposeful, productive way.

Following the speakers, the conference featured six breakout panels that covered a wide range of technical and business topics. During panel breakout sessions, audience members interacted with experts in the industry, asked questions, and engaged with peers during networking breaks. This year’s breakout panels included:

• Continuous Deployment (CD): Adopting CD in software deployments.

• Surviving the Valley of Death: Working through financial hardships in startups.

• Engineering Processes We Skip, and Why: Tech leads tell what they don’t do.

• We Are a Data Company!: Non-tech companies developing high-tech solutions.

• What Differentiates Top Engineers?: CTOs explain what they want in a top engineer.

• Learning to Lean? Asking the Right Questions: How two startups used Lean.

Dave Boren, CEO of Clearwater Analytics, was our ending keynote. He spoke about how Idaho companies can effectively balance change and risk.

Idaho is in a state of growth in software development and technology. As the educational and business standards evolve in the state, so will the benefits that Idahoans reap in the 208.

Learn more at developidaho.org and stay tuned for details about next year’s conference.