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TalTech Alliance Hosts TechExpo

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By Gina Jordan

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-900517.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Tallahassee's technology community came together Thursday for a "Tech Expo" at TCC. It was hosted by the TalTech Alliance. Topics included the economy, social media, and security.

The not-for-profit Taltech has been around for ten years, striving to get organizations to work and grow together. It's made up of businesses, academic centers, and entrepreneurs. James Tillman is Taltech's Chair-elect and COO of Canopy Software. He is seeing more independent shops around town.

"They're taking their expertise that they've built up serving state government and local large businesses and they're turning it towards entrepreneurial efforts, which has been really interesting to see that happen."

The theme for this third annual expo was the Power of Ten. Tillman says it came out of a discussion about this being the year 2010.

"We were basically looking at the exponential effects that social media and the networking effects of internet technology have had on business in general and information technology specifically. The networking effects do sort of take things to the next power, to the next order of magnitude, and that's what we were really trying to emphasize."

A lot of tech organizations and companies in town started as one man bands. Chet Hall, Chief Information Officer for Fringe Benefits Management Company and Taltech's current chairman says the universities help feed the entrepreneurial culture in Tallahassee.

"With technology you can do that because you really just need yourself. I mean, technology is a service in a lot of cases so if you have yourself you can really do a lot with just a small group. For instance, Rick Kearney, who is the CEO and owner of Mainline, which is now a multi, I think it's an $800-million company here in Tallahassee, started out as a two or three person shop twenty years ago."

He is referring to Mainline Information Systems which is headquartered in Tallahassee with more offices overseas. Hall says Taltech is working on education programs to get middle school students interested in technology. High school and college students were among the two-hundred people attending the expo, including Hall's daughter. Rachel Hall is a sophomore in the Chiles High School Engineering Technology Academy. She doesn't have her driver's license yet, but she does know how to hack into a computer.

"Anybody can do it. I could teach a three-year-old to do it. It's simple, easy, you can do it in anywhere from one minute to ten minutes."

Rachel is interested in engineering and web design, and she is a minority in those classes.

"Well in web design there's only one girl to every three guys, and in engineering tech, we have about one girl to every fifteen guys."

One woman Rachel can look up to is Tanya Jackson, CEO of PinPoint Results, a management and technology consulting firm. Jackson gave a presentation on ethics and the economy, saying businesses need to be able to adjust, especially when handling clients in other countries.

"The other thing it truly means in our businesses right here in Tallahassee is how do we treat our customers. Are we honest? Do we do the things that we say we're going to do? Do we follow through? Do we keep our commitments so that it continues to be a true partnership?"

Much of Tallahassee's tech industry conducts business globally. Jackson hopes expo attendees will take away a desire to share what they've learned.

"Knowledge is power, and the more people who have that knowledge the more powerful we all are. Who would you rather debate, someone who's really smart and knows what they're talking about, or it's no fun to debate somebody who doesn't have that knowledge and that information. I'm also here to learn. I find that every time I do one of these, I actually learn more than I probably bring to the table."

Rachel Hall would encourage her peers to learn more about the world of technology because it is about their future.

"Even the simplest software or hardware development that we create can lead to other things, like the computer leads to the cell phone which leads to the high def television which leads to 3D. They all link together and who knows, they might cure cancer one day or have us live 500 more years. Who knows what this technology will lead to?"

For more information about the Taltech Alliance, visit http://www.taltech.org/ or call (850) 383-8237.