Keeping pace with the swift disruption of artificial intelligence (AI) and other trends in tech has proven to be a challenge across industries. Cornell Tech product and technology experts Keith Cowing and Josh Hartmann know firsthand how emerging technologies and attitude shifts can prompt radical changes in the world of product development.
The Product and Tech Leadership Summit, which will take place this September at Cornell Tech in New York City, is an immersive learning and networking experience for professionals who lead product teams. They will learn from industry leaders, AI researchers and expert Cornell faculty how to leverage transformation techniques to build high-performing products and tech teams. Cowing and Hartmann recently shared a preview of the Summit’s topics:
Use Available Tools and Understand New Opportunities
While the rapid pace of change in the product development space can feel overwhelming, Cowing and Hartmann suggest using existing tools rather than shying away from them. According to Hartmann, it is unlikely that ChatGPT represents the full reality of the AI-integrated future, but professionals should be familiar with it and other current tools. Familiarity can empower executives to create plans of action: “You can’t shift the entire enterprise all at once, but what are the pieces of the enterprise that you can start to move over?” asked Hartmann, chief practice officer for Cornell Tech.
Hartmann and Cowing agree that companies must continue the work to understand and harness the power of AI. Generative AI can perform data analysis and write code, potentially allowing the automation of complex processes such as optimizing web pages for mobile.
“Some companies are building as their product – they’re AI companies. Some will put AI in their product and augment what they do. And then some will just be more efficient with it, and that’s going to affect everybody,” said Cowing, a visiting lecturer at Cornell Tech.
Breakthroughs in spatial computing technology, led by Apple’s recently announced Vision Pro, also present a range of critical product development opportunities and obstacles. “It’s too early to know if the vision – pun intended – is going to stand up. If it does, then we’re also going to see major reskilling required in our teams,” Hartmann said.
Focus on the Customer
A shift toward customer-focused strategy is driving change in the product development industry. Airbnb, for example, has made sweeping changes to its product with the intent of improving the customer experience. For Cowing and Hartmann, AI carries the potential to accelerate such processes.
“How do we implement AI and build a tooling around it that will help our customers get the job done? And that’s the key … the sweet spot comes when you can integrate AI and build value and context around AI on behalf of your customer. You can use and apply your deep understanding of your customers’ needs and use AI as an accelerant, a force multiplier,” Hartmann said.
Make a Positive Impact
While recent advancements in AI and spatial computing create many new possibilities, they also prompt serious ethical questions. Hartmann and Cowing contend that the difference that these technologies create in the world will depend on the people who implement them.
“Somehow [we must create] the incentives in the system so that people want to do the right thing and are encouraged to do the right thing,” said Cowing.
To influence positive change through new tech, Hartmann encourages professionals to pursue careers with mission-driven companies and leaders: “Be intentional about where you work. It really does come from the top,” he said.
Cowing and Hartmann look forward to welcoming professionals to the apply early.
Want to learn more before applying?
- Watch Cowing and Hartmann’s webcast “The Future of Product Development is Here.”
- Listen to Cowing’s podcast episode “How to Navigate Transformation in Tech.”
This story was drafted by eCornell marketing intern Justin Heitzman.