2021 TAG Summit: Larry Williams on How Atlanta’s Tech Companies Have Accelerated Digital Innovation

Recently, the ASBN team was on-location at the 2021 Georgia Technology Summit where anchor Jim Fitzpatrick spoke with Larry Williams, President and CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia. TAG serves more than 30,000 members statewide through regional chapters and provides networking and educational programs for tech entrepreneurs. 

Stay tuned for more coverage from the 2021 Georgia Technology Summit.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
We are here with the man himself, Mr. Larry Williams, who is the president and CEO of TAG. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule here during this incredible event. Tell us what’s going on. Thanks

Larry Williams:
Jim. And welcome to the Georgia Technology Summit 2021.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow.

Larry Williams:
You’re a staple.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
We’re a staple. That’s right. And we always will be here.

Larry Williams:
We appreciate.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Well thank you for inviting us.

Larry Williams:
Thank you for coming out for this whole studio experience that we have.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. This is great. This is great.

Larry Williams:
So we’re focusing on all the areas and I talked to you about it before. It’s really about how do we innovate, how do we impact and how do we inspire a technology community and how is our technology community doing all of those things and following those themes and living up to them? So we’re super excited to talk about all of the aspects of what TAG represents in this community and what our broader technology and innovation community are doing. So several things that are going on-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s great. That’s great So it’s a full event today with incredible speakers. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Larry Williams:
Well, today we are doing a lot of things. We had a great kickoff, first with the governor really helped kick us off. And then the Lieutenant governor came in and talked about his partnership for inclusive innovation and I’m proud to serve on that advisory board with him and really thinking about how we make sure that we have a reach throughout the State to continue to drive our inclusive innovation agenda throughout the State. Very important to all of us. So we’ve done everything. I was able to get up this morning and really outline TAG’s agenda about what we’re doing. We really think about membership first and then continue to add value to our membership and the community.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Larry Williams:
Very proud. We’ve shifted in the world. The theme before going into this with technology was about digital transformation that quickly pivoted to digital acceleration. All of those CIO’s that have been putting plans in for their bosses, all of a sudden their bosses coming back saying, “Go, go, go. Get all this done.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right.

Larry Williams:
And so they really took center stage, like never before. And then we’re really proud about the initiatives that we’re taking around social justice and equity and making sure that we are providing great access to the prosperity and all of the opportunities throughout the State. And we’ve got a lot of work to do there as a State and TAG, we think that we can play a role there.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Larry Williams:
So coming up this afternoon, we’ve got Robyn Benincasa.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Great speaker.

Larry Williams:
Isn’t she a great speaker?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Really is.

Larry Williams:
That’s right.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Her stories are amazing.

Larry Williams:
Amazing.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah.

Larry Williams:
Right there breaking into a man’s world, venture sports, talking about teamwork and how we get there. We’ve got Muhammad Masequa with several things, a challenge he lost his arm, NFL player, cut his career first, but he loves talking about teams as well.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Larry Williams:
So he talks about, you think about individual players, you think about a football team, you think about the team that’s on the field, but he talks about the trainers. He talks about the coaches.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right.

Larry Williams:
He talks about the people that maintain the turf on the field are all a part of the team and all part of the success.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Larry Williams:
So we’re super excited about that. Yesterday we were able to introduce a lot of our other staples, such as our top 40 innovators, going forward with our top 10, we talked about some of the impact that we have in our impact awards. So we’re glad to have recognized a lot of our society leaders. And then we introduced our technology awards, which is something new that we’re going… So this was the inaugural event of our technology award and something that’ll continue forward.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Oh, wow. That’s great.

Larry Williams:
So there’s a whole lot going. You asked me what’s going on.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
No, you got a lot going on. There’s no question about it. And let me ask you if I can, what kind of an impact has COVID 19 played in the technology space in Georgia? Did things come to a screeching halt or did these entrepreneurs say, “Let’s get going now is the time.”

Larry Williams:
With challenge becomes opportunities, right? And I think most of the people here are really thought about the opportunities of it. And so they continued with their companies, they continued to grow. We still had great opportunities with capital and capital investment. And then we’ve seen some great growth with companies coming here. You’ve seen it in the news, Microsoft, Airbnb, Apple-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Larry Williams:
-all expanding and really making Atlanta and Georgia a center place for all of their innovation. And so we talk a lot about the software side of it, but also we think about the battery plants that are going to be driving, I should say driving, but really are going to be part of our electric vehicle fabric as we move forward. All of these are important things and we continue to see those grow and people really see Georgia as not only the capital, the technology capital of the east coast, but really this global hub of innovation.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. And in large part, I think you get a lot of kudos for bringing a lot of this together and encouraging this and again, bringing all of these phenomenal entrepreneurs to Georgia. And I know that you didn’t do it yourself, but to have an association like TAG means a lot. It really does to not just the state, but also the entrepreneurs. Right?

Larry Williams:
Yeah. Whenever our people are recruiting something for them to be able to promote that whenever you get to Georgia, you’ve got a place that you can get plugged in and connected to this great technology and innovation ecosystem. It really is a great selling point. So we are glad to support the State and others as they’re out there really promoting the State and whenever they get here, we’re ready to get them engaged.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
We have a governor and a Lieutenant governor. That’s very pro-business right? Talk to us about the importance of having that heading up the State because I know that they’re both small business owners themselves at one time and we’ve had conversations with them here at the show as well. And they’re very pro business.

Larry Williams:
Yeah. Well you think about it. What is it, six years in a row, number one place to do business.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Incredible.

Larry Williams:
No other state has ever done that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow. That’s huge.

Larry Williams:
It’s a great achievement. And it is about having a friendly environment where not only large companies can grow, but small businesses can thrive here.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Larry Williams:
You can grow it up. So think about the next generation of ingenuity, the people that are really growing new, great ideas. When we think about what AirWatch did and how we transformed mobile technology, mobile security.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Larry Williams:
So that’s good. What ISS did security, what we do in supply chain and logistics, all of these things are growing up here. And small companies grow up to be large companies.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Larry Williams:
And that’s very important for all of our businesses. It’s absolutely incredible.

Larry Williams:
And I would just also give a shout out it is a good business climate, but part of that is making sure that we have the right infrastructure. So the emphasis that the governor and Lieutenant governor are putting on rural broadband and also getting broadband to underserved areas, whether it be urban, suburban, or rural, that is transformational because that’s the way we’re all connecting today.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Larry Williams:
Whether it be for our personal interactions, whether it’s how we’re accessing education.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yep, yep.

Larry Williams:
Healthcare, but also starting new businesses or connecting in great careers. We can do it from so many different geographies now we don’t always have to be in one same place.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. So do you foresee this event, always having a virtual element to it?

Larry Williams:
Yeah, I think there is. And I think there’s going to be a combination if we think about live and in-person, as we do live streaming that we’re doing a lot of today or even access on demand after the event. All of this is going to be part of our fabric.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s huge. And I know that for the people that sometimes can’t make it, to have that on demand element is huge, right? Because there’s so many people out there that may want to attend a conference, they don’t have the time, or they can’t get there, or they’ve got to be running their business. They’re a click away now. Right?

Larry Williams:
That’s right. And also, if you think about concurrent sessions, when you had to choose, now you go to one live and then you can access the rest of them online. So very important. And also the opportunity to extend our reach and what Georgia is when it comes to technology. Right? So more people from around the region, around the Southeast, around the country, and even outside the country to access our great content and be a part of this great community.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s great. So the state of technology in Georgia is running strong.

Larry Williams:
Oh, it is so strong.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah.

Larry Williams:
We’re estimating that there are about 600,000 employees right now in, in Georgia, directly related to the technology community.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow.

Larry Williams:
We continue to grow. It was very important for us in our broader, impact is absolutely phenomenal.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Fantastic. Well, you heard it here, folks, right from the man himself, Mr. Larry Williams, president of TAG, Technology Association of Georgia. Thank you for inviting us out once again. We’re happy to be here and we’re here any way that you need us to help.

Larry Williams:
Thanks Jim.


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