Industry Watch

The Minnesota Women of MobCon

Local tech leaders give a preview of their upcoming presentations at MobCon U.S.


We all know technology is a hot and growing field right now. In fact, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics data released this past August, Minnesota is the No. 1 fastest-growing state for tech jobs. This year’s MobCon U.S. conference, to be held in Minneapolis November 17-18, is focusing on mobile technology. Almost half of the speakers at this year’s conference are women, and they have a lot to say on the topic. Minnesota Business caught up with five women who are speaking at MobCon later this month — here’s what they had to say about mobile technology, and more.

Karla Lemmon
Founder & President, Little Peanut on the Go & 2014 MobDemo Winner

What’s one point you’d like to get across at MobCon?
Gratitude for the audience’s belief in me and my idea.  Winning MobDemo 2014 gave me the confidence boost I needed to continue to pursue my idea.  Anything is possible!

What are upcoming trends in the mobile technology industry?
I’m not a good futurist, but a few things come to mind: wearables, continued advancement in the connected home, mobile integration to personal vehicles, and continued changes in shopping, particularly the in-store experience, via mobile.

To what extent is the technology field open to women as leaders?
I’ve been in the technology field for many years.  While I’ve found that the field is often open to women as leaders, the tough part is being in a field where you don’t see people who look like yourself.  There’s a shortage of women as well as women leaders in technology so we need more young women to choose technology as their career path. But then it can be a vicious cycle — young women don’t see leaders and can’t find mentors who look like themselves, so they don’t choose the field and the lack of women leaders continues. We need to keep encouraging young women to pursue technology.

Do you think the market for mobile apps is/ever will be saturated?
I don’t think the market for mobile apps will necessarily become saturated, but a variable to consider is what the next technology is after apps. Mobile technology will continue to change, allowing our devices to do new and different things, which will in turn allow for continuous innovation, whether in apps or the next big thing after apps. Plus, people will always think of better ways to do things, and new problems will lead to the need for new solutions.

Amy Ludwig
Director of Product Management, Carlson Wagonlit Travel

What’s one point you’d like to get across at MobCon?
The world of business travel is continuing to change rapidly, and the influence of consumer-facing trends such as digital and personalization are at the very heart of it. I’m going to take attendees on a whistle-stop tour of how the corporate travel industry is embracing the hyper-connected traveler on-the-go (who wants access to their information anytime, anywhere).

What are upcoming trends in the mobile technology industry?
Key developments in the mobile arena include multichannel technology, “power apps”, near-field communication and beacon and wearable technologies. These trends are not only dominating the mobile industry but the managed travel discussions we’re having too. Travelers are not only better equipped but better connected and able to take advantage of constantly evolving mobile travel services.

To what extent is the technology field open to women as leaders?
I think it’s wide open and full of opportunities, especially in the business travel technology arena. CWT is actually one of the founding members of Women in the Travel Industry (WINiT) and at the annual WINiT summit this year, many of the discussions touched on technology and its uses. It was great to hear the range of new advances, apps and entrepreneurial businesses being created by women — all of whom are passionate about technology.

How has technology revolutionized travel? And what’s next?
Over the past decade, travel management companies (TMCs) have shifted from simply providing travel options to developing personalized travel solutions. This demand has come from a new generation of tech-savvy travelers. “What’s next” is the big question, and we see a number of themes that are important to the future of business travel, from omnichannel bookings, to on-point personalization, digital wallets with virtual credit cards, embedded biotech and invisible security. But bigger than all of these is how our home/work-life worlds will merge seamlessly together.

Hannah Meium
Director of Branded Content, Mashable

What’s one point you’d like to get across at MobCon?
Brands should trust their partners; content marketing is in an exciting stage of transformation where we now have visual tools, with platforms like Instagram, Vine and others. [At Mashable] we work together to create compelling brand stories that we know will resonate with our audience and amplify our partners’ messages.

What are upcoming trends in the mobile technology industry?
Visual storytelling on mobile platforms is a space we’re watching very closely at Mashable. I think that places like Snapchat and Instagram are amazing platforms that are changing how people consume content and how brands can reach influential audiences.

How do you define content marketing?
Content marketing, branded content, native advertising — these are all terms that mean one simple thing: brands telling stories through the new tools of the digital revolution. Those stories…need to a way to connect with their audience to their brand by informing, inspiring or entertaining in new and creative ways.

Katie Pennel
Senior Content Marketing Specialist, Nina Hale

What’s one point you’d like to get across at MobCon?
Keyword integration into well-optimized content has changed over the years, moving from the dreaded “keyword stuffing” technique to the much more user-friendly “keyword theme integration.” This sophisticated style of optimizing with the user in mind is the future of quality, optimized, high-ranking content.

What are upcoming trends in the mobile technology industry?
From an SEO content marketer’s perspective, mobile is still new territory. Google continues to try to determine what makes quality mobile content, and we’ve seen that trial and error in fluctuating mobile rankings. In the next year or two we’ll see Google settle into definitive ranking factors for mobile content, much like they’ve done with desktop content.

To what extent is the technology field open to women as leaders?
I am lucky enough to work at a certified Woman Owned Business, so I see examples of women leaders in technology every day. However, this atmosphere remains an anomaly in the technology field.

How do you maintain creativity in the digital world?
Working at a digital marketing agency helps tremendously in retaining creativity. But even at an agency things can get a little stagnant. When that happens, I like to turn to my whip-smart coworkers for brainstorming sessions or spend some quality time researching my clients’ online competitors.

Jen Swanson
Director of Digital Marketing, Children’s Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota

What’s one point you’d like to get across at MobCon?
The process of gathering insights is time-intensive, but doesn’t need to be expensive; you can invest in projects that enhance the customer experience.

What are upcoming trends in the mobile technology industry?
I’m thrilled to see the field of content aggregation and mobile delivery platforms grow more sophisticated and competitive, giving digital marketers like me more options to find and grow an audience. I’m also fascinated with the way the consumer plays a role in the creation and distribution of that content; you can see the centrality of the consumer as an active part of how your brand comes to life.

To what extent is the technology field open to women as leaders?
Some past limitations are related to the talent pipeline (and the lack of women in it), but the focus on encouraging more women to enter STEM careers is starting to shift that balance. Yet there is also a cultural issue at play at many firms and start-ups. Leaders may have good intentions, but they need to look at how the internal dynamics of a company may be stunting their efforts at greater diversity.

How can you use technology to improve the experience of hospital patients?
Ultimately, technology can extend the reach and influence of the hospital and caregivers into the patient’s daily life. Technology has the potential to drive improved health outcomes through patient monitoring or compliance to medication or healthy behaviors.