What's Tech Got to Do with It?

The first session of the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Half Moon Bay, California is underway on the topic of "What's Tech Got to Do with It?."

The room is crowded and I found a good spot on the back row at the top. I'm still cooling down from a good 45 minute Segway ride along the ocean and cliffs. Ideas are on fire and so is this fountain outside the front lobby of the hotel here. Interesting comments from the session are as follows:

SalesForce's Mark Benioff: Their product managers used to have to go up to the mountain to get new product ideas, but now they're just prioritizing things that customers request... they have "their big ears on." Web 3.0 is here.

Dell's Michael Dell: Dell will have and will learn from (using Mark's software, salesforce.com) over 2 billion conversations with their customers this year. What we think of as broadband in the US is nothing compared to what Japan and some other parts of the world have.

Management Lab's Gary Hamel: These days most ideas will be from irregular people doing irregular things with irregular thoughts. Most companies are better at using their customers' imagination than their own imagination. The question today is "What is your platform advantage? Where are you creating something that is attracting builders?"

Fourth Speaker (she's not listed in the program): German culture isn't really into taking risk, risk associated with innovation doesn't exist. But they will always be fine because of the size of their economy.

Question from the Crowd: Where is the platform strategy for the automotive world? Why isn't a company building out the infrastructure for building a hundred Tesla cars? Michael Dell responds that the infrastructure for cars has been built, it's called the roads.