Idaho Business Review: Software conference focuses on the people behind the tech


The Idaho Technology Council’s fourth develop.Idaho conference featured some technical discussion on computer software, harnessing big data and using cloud solutions, but many of the speakers also focused on supporting the people that make software, and increasing the number of such people in Idaho.

Leaders in the tech industry say they’re working to increase the size and workforce of the technology industry. ITC President Rich Stuppy, the vice president of operations at Kount, said at the conference April 23 that the council’s goal is to make technology the top producers of new jobs and economic output by 2030. Stuppy said the ITC can’t do that alone, though it could get some help from the state government.

"Nurturing this industry is one of the single most important things we must do. Period," said Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer. Sayer commended the ITC's recent legislative efforts earlier this year in changing the state's cloud computing exemption and limiting patent trolls.

"You have a lot of fans, a lot of people that are supporting this, and a lot of people supporting the growth," Sayer said.

Idaho universities are also looking to increase the number of potential tech workers. Tim Andersen, chair of the Boise State University Computer Science Department, said the university is poised to have more computer science graduates. Boise State has added new computer science professors in the past few years. That will raise the number of graduates, which has hovered at around 20 to 25 graduates per year.

"Within the next 1-2 years, we’ll see 50-plus students graduate from Boise State," Andersen said.

The ITC is also looking to increase the number of high school students taking computer science classes and Advanced Placement tests, and is seeking to help develop curriculum and find teachers in junior highs and high school that can "champion" computer science, according to Jim Gasaway, vice president of information technology at Keynetics.

Once people enter the software industry, company leaders said they take steps to make their companies appealing to the tech workforce. Keynote speaker Ryan DeLuca, CEO of, said having a mission-based company and strong company culture is important, and that one bad executive can ruin a company's culture. Jared Sund, senior product line manager for Autodesk, also said that a company's work environment and mission are key factors in getting people to work for your company.

The conference also saw the launch of a new smartphone application, Salmon Social, which lets users discover nearby people places based on users' demographics and interests.

The event ended with Brad Wiskirchen, CEO of Kount, discussing fraud issues for online and brick-and-mortar retailers. Kount is a fraud and risk management company based in Boise.

Wiskirchen said data breaches like those at Target and Michaels will likely continue for more than a year, until new "chip and PIN" systems replace credit and debit cards. He said fraud is becoming a big business, with the people who commit the fraud able to share information quickly.

"The challenge right now is there are so many ways we transfer data and so many ways we transfer money. The fraudsters have so many options," he said.

Wiskirchen said changes to payment systems, and a likely increase in mobile payment systems, will just change how fraud happens. He said individuals and businesses should take basic precautions, like changing passwords and checking their payment procedures, to make them less susceptible to fraud.

"The fraudsters are like teenagers. They're lazy. They'll do what they have to do," he said. "There's too many good targets out there for fraudsters to waste their time on someone who has their act together."

Originally published at the Idaho Business Review.