2024 Knowledge ∞ Continuum at UVA

May 10, 2024


The 2024 Knowledge ∞ Continuum at UVA, hosted by the Center for the Management of Information Technology (CMIT), took place at the McIntire School of Commerce in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday, May 10, 2024. This premier executive event offers a full day for technology leaders and UVA alumni to connect, network, and gain insights from experts, authors, and researchers. The program is designed for business leaders with a focus on contemporary IT topics, including project and product managers, consultants, and C-suite executives.

Eric Siegel Ph.D., Founder of Machine Learning Week, opened the day’s program by describing the power of AI to address micro-risks and presenting machine learning (ML) as an effective solution for handling information overload and numerous small problems. His talk centered largely on the playbook for getting machine learning deployed at an organization. Siegel emphasized that the real value of AI lies in the slight advantages it provides to businesses in solving a series of minor issues. He insisted on the importance of using both technical and business metrics for evaluating models and applying them to AI deployment goals. Seigel’s six-step practice called bizML ushers machine learning projects from conception to deployment and is the topic of his new book The AI Playbook: Mastering the Rare Art of Machine Learning Deployment.


Marty Cagan, Founder & Partner – Product, of the Silicon Valley Product Group, joined us virtually to discuss his latest book, TRANSFORMED: Moving to the Product Operating Model, after having previously spoken to the Knowledge ∞ Continuum and MS MIT about his prior books EMPOWERED and INSPIRED.  Cagan described the product operating model, explaining that it’s not a process but a set of guiding principles used by top firms. He advocated for a shift from focusing on outputs to outcomes and for a more collaborative relationship with customers. Cagan also highlighted the importance of product vision and the alignment of business objectives and strategy. He emphasized the role of the CIO in leading transformation and the need for firms to build product teams that consistently deliver results. After his fireside chat with Professor Nelson about the product operating model, Cagan engaged in an interactive Q&A with the audience.

The Knowledge ∞ Continuum luncheon featured interactive demos with WillowTree, a Charlottesville based company that provides digital consulting, product development and design, digital marketing, cloud-based infrastructure, and other consulting services for their customers. Attendees were able to enjoy interactive demos of two recently launched generative AI assistants — Fuel iX and Vocable for Vision Pro.

Following lunch, the program reconvened with a talk from Nick van der Meulen Ph.D., Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR), who focused on the challenge of bridging workforce skill gaps. While noting that employees value growth opportunities and are likely to stay longer with companies that offer continuous training, he also stressed the importance of integrating commercial and digital strategy and using AI to help employees develop “people skills” like critical thinking, communication, and problem solving. Van der Meulen also outlined the skills inference process, which includes defining desired skills for positions, measuring, and using AI to assess skills. He concluded by stating that organizations are seeking expert and empowered employees. He recently co-authored a MIT CISR research briefing on Resolving Workforce Skills Gaps with AI-Powered Insights.

Christopher Porter (A&S ’98, M.S. in MIT ’10), SVP & CISO at Fannie Mae, joined the event virtually to give a talk entitled “Gen AI – A CISO/Risk Executive’s Perspective” during which he delved into the realm of security and AI. Porter warned the audience about the next generation of AI threats, including AI-enhanced phishing, AI-powered malware, deepfakes in fraud and espionage, automated hacking, and intelligent surveillance. He emphasized the crucial role of data governance and the need for continuous employee education. Porter concluded with a reminder that social engineering remains the most significant threat to security.


Theresa Payton (M.S. in MIS ’90), CEO of Fortalice Solutions and newly announced CMIT Fellow, shared her concerns about disinformation and the ease of creating fake news sites. She warned the audience about “pig butchering scams,” where people progressively contribute more cryptocurrency to a conned project, and the rise of deepfakes. Payton touched on the potential role of the UN as an international watchdog in elections and the importance of developing critical thinking as a defense against misinformation. She concluded by suggesting that the business community will lead in security measures before the government catches up with legislation. We were thrilled to support and celebrate the paperback release of her book Manipulated: Inside the Cyberwar to Hijack Elections and Distort the Truth considering the importance of misinformation and systemic integrity, particularly during an election year.

Presented annually at the Knowledge ∞ Continuum in May, our Center’s IT Leadership Award recognizes eminent IT leaders who embody innovation, trailblazing, and effective problem-solving in the management of IT, while simultaneously demonstrating the core attributes of vision, innovation, and integrity.  At this year’s event, CMIT Director & Professor Ryan Nelson announced that Steve Cooper, devoted partner of the Center & MS MIT for 20+ years, is our 2024 award recipient. Steve’s illustrious career included serving as CIO at multiple organizations and agencies under several administrations, including the Department of Commerce, the Federal Aviation Administration, the American Red Cross, and the Department of Homeland Security, among many others.

The Center also bestows an annual award to one graduating fourth-year student who has demonstrated exceptional academic performance within the Commerce School while demonstrating the core attributes of an emerging leader. These attributes include excellent communication skills, quiet confidence, integrity, and respect for others.  During the Knowledge ∞ Continuum on May 10, Nelson announced that the 2024 recipient of the Emerging Leader in IT Award is Emma Mei Andreas. Emma Mei graduated with a BS in Commerce and a Minor in Computer Science, with achievements that extend well beyond the classroom: TA & Mentor in the UVA McIntire School of Commerce’s undergraduate ICE program, Resident Advisor to first-year dorm, executive board of the Chinese Student Association, Mixed-Race Student Coalition, Miniotas Communication Award, Chopa Creative Writing Contest, and invaluable leader of the McIntire events team. Post-graduation, Emma Mei will join Deloitte as an Analyst.

Finally, the Knowledge ∞ Continuum provides an incredible opportunity for alumni of the McIntire School’s Masters in the Management of IT (MSMIT) program, a specialized one-year graduate program recognized for developing savvy technology leaders and strategic decision makers, to gather and network with their former classmates and faculty. This spring, the MSMIT Class of 2015 was recognized for sending the most alumni to the spring event on Grounds, along with CapTech Consulting and CGI Federal, who supported the participation of the most employees of a single entity at this year’s event. Door prizes were given out to these attendees in appreciation of their ongoing support.

Every participant of the program received a copy of each of the three featured books linked above, as well as a special set of UVA CMIT-branded gifts. The day-long program requires a registration fee and provides up to 6 PDUs or .6 CEUs towards continuing educational programs and certifications.

Keep an eye on our Knowledge ∞ Continuum website for announcements and details on our upcoming program(s).  The Center traditionally hosts a winter Knowledge ∞ Continuum in Northern Virginia in either December or January.  Join our CMIT mailing list and ensure you never miss an announcement or invitation.

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