Kevin Turner, CEO of Citadel Securities and former chief operating officer of Microsoft Corp., spoke on the significance of artificial intelligence, including digital personal assistants and machines that can “outthink humans,” in addition to augmented reality, which he touted as the “holy grail.”
Turner discussed such influential technologies during his keynote speech at the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit on Friday (Oct. 7) at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers.
He spoke on cloud capability as the “great enabler” to modern technology, allowing for the “Internet of Things” (IoT) and “enabling mobility to explode.” However, the true influence of technology on people’s lives lies not in the innovations themselves, Turner said, but in the way those technologies are used.
“When you think about all that technology, it’s really the application of it that I think is where the magic comes from,” said Turner, pointing to numerous companies, including Airbnb, Tesla, Uber, Bitcoin, SpaceX, Netflix and Amazon, that have used tech to disrupt their industries.
Small companies are able to find equal footing to larger ones through technology, Turner said.
“It’s the great equalizer,” he said. “It enables you to punch above your weight and gives you the ability to convey a business front that is much larger than your footprint.” And with mobile apps and other online platforms, “a small, local coffee shop can look and feel like a Starbucks,” Turner said.
He also credited the world’s largest retailer for its innovativeness.
“Walmart has been first on a lot of the technology fronts, because they truly got the ROI and the value of integrating them into the business,” said Turner, who worked 20 years at Wal-Mart, landing a leadership role at age 29 and subsequently serving as chief information officer and then CEO of Sam’s Club.
The challenge for businesses in embracing technology, Turner said, is that the expectation is for them to do two things at once. While companies are expected to change with the times, they must also keep up earnings.
“No one’s giving anyone a pass,” he said.
That means businesses are expected to be “transforming while performing.”
“It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s not hard if learning is at the heart of what you’re doing,” Turner said. “It’s important that companies move from being the know-it-all company, to aspiring to be the learn-it-all company.”
Businesses also simultaneously innovate and perform well by striving for balance in regard to the time dedicated to each.
“I have a thick line of separation between the two, and that’s helped me become better at both,” Turner said, adding that he lets his team know when he is shifting gears from focusing on innovation to tending to day-to-day business.
Turner is vice chairman of Citadel, a global investment firm, in addition to serving as CEO of Citadel Securities, which “seeks to transform the way investors interact with global markets through predictive analytics and high-performance computing,” according to its website. He is based in Chicago.
At Microsoft, Turner led the company’s worldwide sales, field marketing and services organization, managing more than 60,000 employees in more than 190 countries, according to a NWA Tech Summit press release.