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Welcome To The 5G Revolution

Thousands filled the main auditorium of the spacious, awe-inspiring Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, a bedroom community roughly 22 miles outside of downtown Dallas. On a stage bathed in blue light, a solo violinist masterfully performs the opening sonata and is then joined by another violinist. The trill of a flute from a flautist complements the succession of strings, serving as the prelude to the full symphony orchestra that captivates the audience with its stirring composition.

With each crescendo, the event host provides offstage narration, offering thematic context through his commentary. “Data is music. It has a voice. When we add a second voice, we have connectivity. We have harmony. “From here the many complex elements of our business come together to form one simple movement of people…technology…and possibilities. It is this orchestrated movement of capabilities that seamlessly blends influence, networks, clouds… an entire ecosystem wrapped in security.

That was the opening act of the AT&T Business Summit. And with it, the introduction of the next phase of the continuum of commercial disruption. The introduction was fitting in communicating that the elements of the classical business model—one true to an emphasis on customer service and collaborative creativity married with a focus on the top line and bottom line—will adapt to the new rhythms of competitiveness, productivity, and performance demanded by an increasingly fast-paced, interconnected world. AT&T Business CEO Thaddeus Arroyo told the audience of roughly 3,900 business leaders that represented more than 800 companies from 22 countries— or what he calls “the bleeding edge of the rapidly growing digital economy”—in his opening session: “The game is now about how to get the right data where and when you need it and using it to power amazing new experiences. At this year’s AT&T Business Summit, we’re going to focus on uncovering the smartest ways to tap into this power of everything connected around us. The pace of change has only accelerated—therefore, we must be more integrative in our thinking and more agile in our actions.”

Accelerating Innovation: Discovering The Best Tools

To achieve that end, the event’s coordinators, led by its Executive Producer Trevor Laurence, designed an expansive program that included the following:

  • More than 150 sessions with topics ranging from cybersecurity and data analytics to the future of work and machine-to-human collaboration.
  • The Innovative Showcase, its “immersive exhibit floor” where attendees gained the opportunity to engage with the best and brightest minds in tech; gained updates on the industrial transformation of healthcare, finance, and the like; and experienced the latest tech innovations, including interacting with a humanoid robot called “Pepper.”
  • “Deep dive” consultations and demos on the latest developments in AI (artificial intelligence), cybersecurity, blockchain solutions, VR (virtual reality), and the Internet of Things (IoT), among other technologies.
  • Private briefings for C-suite executives on the latest trends and strategies during a special CXO Summit.
  • Success strategies, industry insights, and leadership lessons from a star-studded list of speakers including author Malcolm Gladwell, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, entrepreneur Chris Gardner, and actress-entrepreneur Queen Latifah.

In developing the program, Laurence was also mindful of ensuring that diversity was reflected in the array of speakers as well as subject matter. In fact, AT&T teamed with The Female Quotient, an organization that promotes the expansion of female senior managers in the workplace, to set up The Equality Lounge, a venue showcasing intimate discussions on gender diversity and inclusion within corporate America. The session on “Women of Color in Business” during the first day included Bozoma Saint John, the high-profile chief marketing officer for talent agency Endeavor, and Anne Chow, AT&T president for National Business, as panelists who shared experiences about the trials and triumphs in white, male-dominated corporate environments.

“What is impressive about our event is that it has the right audience of decision makers and influencers. We are engaging those that can drive change,” Laurence says of the participants at this year’s event, citing that 37% of attendees hold the position of VP or higher within their organization and 96% of last year’s attendees recommended the event to colleagues. “The Summit has given us a platform for thought diversity.”

Laurence admits the event has also provided AT&T with the opportunity to demonstrate its own corporate transformation, changing the perception that it’s a telecom company and “opening the aperture that it has pivoted” as a leader in technology and innovation and “an enabler for edge-to-edge intelligent networking.” Moreover, its recent acquisition of mammoth Time Warner with assets such as Warner Bros., CNN, and Turner Broadcasting positions the renamed Warner Media unit to be among the world’s content leaders, complementing AT&T’s DIRECTV NOW unit and serving as a competitor in the streaming space occupied by Netflix and Hulu. – Black Enterprise


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