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Technology symposium keeps an eye toward the future

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POTSDAM — New technology emerges so quickly, it is not surprising that north country businesses have difficulty keeping up with the changes. However, an annual symposium at Clarkson University is helping them to stay abreast — and to think ahead.

Approximately 200 visitors spent Wednesday in Clarkson’s Student Center listening to presenters and speaking to exhibitors — and each other, said Laura J. Perry, an event organizer.

“This is a real business-to-business opportunity,” she said. “It is an opportunity for businesses offering information technology services to meet with customers, and it is the only forum in the area that is a fit for both providers of IT and buyers.”

The event kicked-off with a welcome from Anthony G. Collins, president of Clarkson University, and continued with a keynote address from futurist Simon J. Anderson.

“He focused on how things are changing at such a fast pace,” said Ms. Perry. “For example, in the past year the cost of solar energy dropped by 50 percent — things are changing exponentially.”

Part of that change is also taking place within the workforce, as a generation of “digital natives” goes to work. Digital natives, born after 1980, grew up with computers in their homes, their classrooms and their workplaces.

“They really don’t know any other way,” said Ms. Perry. “As opposed to the older generation of digital immigrants, who are having difficulty adjusting to how pervasive technology has become.”

Ms. Perry said that she hoped events like the symposium could help with that adjustment.

In the late morning and afternoon, participants split up to attend workshops and presentations dealing with social media, mobile devices, digital records storage and three-dimensional printing.

“There are so many medical and entrepreneurial applications,” said Ms. Perry. “If you have schematics, you can make a prototype and it is so low cost.”

Matthew Turcotte, founder of North Shore Solutions of Clayton, led a workshop titled “The World Wide Web For Municipalities.”

“We do a lot of work with municipalities,” he said. “That is somebody we try to cater to. When people are hiring a web developer, they should know what type of clients the developer works with.”

Mr. Turcotte, who launched his company in 2007 at the age of 16, acknowledged the difficulty of working with a generation gap.

“One of the big things that clients might not understand is that developing a website is a process,” he said. “It doesn’t build itself overnight, and there is trial and error involved.”

Elsewhere, Tom Gardner, vice president of NeuEon, a Plattsburgh technology consulting firm, discussed how cloud computing is changing — even eliminating — physical offices.

“The landscape is far more competitive, and that requires ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking,” he said. “Customers, vendors and employees are no longer individuals or organizations that are in the neighborhood. They are global.”

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