Last weekend I attended the Women in Cloud Summit (WIC), a truly inspiring event in Seattle, which TidWiT helped sponsor for the second year in a row.
What I found most fascinating at WIC 2019 was the high level of positive energy throughout the keynotes and breakouts. The event focussed on gender empowerment and boosting the mediocre results we find in our IT industry when it comes to gender participation and pay gaps. Making the case were influential women from the industry as well as representatives from government and NGOs. Aside from the many issues I learned about and the poignant stories I heard, one thing that struck me was the emerging power of the WIC ecosystem: specifically, what I would term the power of the WIC ecosystem’s pull and push.
Let’s start by looking at the ecosystem’s pull. The WIC event showcased a great example of an organic and growing ecosystem. The power of the WIC ecosystem pull was evident in the growth in attendee numbers: last year’s event attracted an audience of a few hundred people. This time there were more than a thousand participants! Female business leaders are pulling others into this network, growing the Women in Cloud ecosystem. The impact of this should not be underestimated. Ecosystems thrive on this pull mechanism. WIC excitement and influence are positively contagious. As word proliferated, more individuals wanted in. My guess is that next year the event will have doubled if not tripled in size.
This growing pull provides the ecosystem with plenty of momentum to start pushing for transformation. Influential WIC speakers talked about the importance of gender policy change at all levels of government and industry. Speakers included a self-made female billionaire, a senator, and senior VPs. While a handful of men also spoke in support, the true voice of change came from women pushing for it and feeling empowered by the ecosystem they had joined. Their words were powerful representations of their experiences and deeds. They had walked the walk and now were sharing the talk with everyone else in the WIC ecosystem. This ecosystem push is a key benefit and growth driver. Everyone learns from everyone. United and on the same wavelength, everyone moves confidently to effectuate change. If this ecosystem remains intact, I would be quite surprised if WIC didn’t attain its goals of gender empowerment in the IT industry over the next few years.
The power of the emerging WIC ecosystem is a perfect example of how ecosystems are formed, grow, and become influential. It is about sharing ideas, fostering trusted relationships, and communicating and coordinating change. This is the essence of ecosystems; and digital ecosystems are no different. They are designed to complement existing ecosystems by strengthening relationships, amplifying reach and perpetuating influence. Digital ecosystems can also help speed growth as the world becomes increasingly complex and interconnected.
As I walked away, I felt proud to have been a participant at WIC and reflected on the role TidWiT could have in helping this emerging ecosystem. I wondered how this invaluable conference could be amplified by a digital ecosystem that not only made it ubiquitous, but also on-demand for WIC inspired organizations all over the world to join in, participate and benefit from on a global scale. Go WIC!