AWS re:Invent Recap and Reflections

Conference Summary

November 29 — December 1, Venetian, Las Vegas, NV

  • Relationship building with colleagues from different teams (Cornerstone sent ~30 people this year, most of whom work in different departments or teams)
  • Stay current on emerging technology trends
  • Explore Data & Analytics track to help Cornerstone become more data driven (note: As VP of IT at my company, I’m responsible for Enterprise Analytics and unlocking value from our data is one of my top goals)
  • Network and meet people with expertise in: a.) Corp IT cloud migration, b.) getting value from a datalake, c.) SaaS Lead to Cash domain/M&A, d.) women/non-binary tech leaders
  • Cloud trends in 2022: 6 ways to advance cloud modernization (sponsored by Cloudreach) ENT219-S
  • Data-driven enterprise: Going from vision to value ENT204
  • Self-service analytics for everyone with ML-powered Amazon QuickSight Q BSI201
  • Adam Selipsky Keynote KYN002
  • Of course all the Cornerstone social events, seeing old colleagues and friends for the first time in 2 years, and meeting new people for the first time.
  • The Data & Analytics sessions, I left feeling more confident in what we need to do to unlock more value from our data.

Common Themes

Culture. Every single session I attended stressed the importance of people and culture for a successful digital transformation. The ideal culture is explained but very few went into details for how to actually create it. Computers are easy, people are complex.


Amazon uses the concept of “two way doors” which is similar to what we’ve been calling “safe to fail experiments” — the idea is to look for 2 way doors (decisions) that you can walk back through if you make a mistake. With 2 way doors, you just need 70% of the information you need to start moving because you can always come back. This helps companies move fast and innovate.

After the Conference/Next Steps

Invite AWS CxOs to Present to our ELT. My favorite session was ENT204: Data Driven Enterprise: Going from vision to value today, presented by 2 CxOs who talked about what it actually takes to create a data driven organization — using culture, organization and mechanisms. Not surprisingly, specific technology was not discussed. The session was excellent though mostly confirming fundamentals I am already familiar with. This would be an excellent session to bring to our ELT. It’s one thing for Tech folks to understand data, but the more we can increase data literacy and get to a common vision across the whole company, the faster we can unlock value from data.

  1. Clarity. Find out board level goals and expectations on analytics.
  2. Unlock Value. Get fly wheel spinning with current data team and early adopters — continuing to add to data lake and driving adoption of dashboards.
  3. Influence. Organize a Data Community of Practice to get early adopters and evangelists together to maximize collective input and increase data literacy throughout the company. Schedule a free 2 day Data Driven Everything (D2E) workshop with AWS in Q1.



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IT Executive, Engineer, Enterprise B2B SaaS. Interested in innovation, cloud, devops, agility. Passionate about making tech more inclusive.