Meet the #ATM Insiders: John Welsh

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I sat down with John Welsh, a solutions architect and pre-sales engineer, to get the skinny on what he does, what he's looking forward to at the conference, and the future of technology. Follow John on Twitter at @SampleFive. Don't miss his blog

JohnWelsh_Headshot.pngPK: When you're not hanging out at ATM18, what's your day job? 

JW: I'm a solutions architect and a presales engineer for a large systems integrator. I go out to customer appointments with sales reps and make sure they tell the truth. I build solutions for companies that have technical problems.

PK: What motivates you to do what you do?

JW: I really like the learning aspect. With technology, you always have to learn something new, because it never stays the same. Another big part is helping people solve problems. When I go and talk to someone, it's typically not because everything is rosy. Someone has an issue they're trying to solve.

PK: What is the first thing you'll do when you get to Vegas for ATM?

JW: I'll grab something to eat. I'm not a big gambler.

PK: What's the coolest part about ATM?

JW: I haven't been to Atmosphere before, but I have heard a lot about it on social media. What I'm looking forward to first is learning new technology that I may not know about.

Next is the networking component, as a lot of people are active online, but I haven't met them in person. The network aspect is huge. I want to talk to people I consider super knowledgeable in this field.

PK: What part of ATM do you dread the most?

JW: Always a lack of sleep. The conference doesn't stop at 5 p.m. or when the sessions stop. There's always some event going on afterward, such as a meet-and-greet or party. Then you get back to your hotel, get up early, and do it all over again. I'll be exhausted by the end of the week.

PK: What technology are you wearing right now?

JW: I have a Fitbit Blaze watch that I probably don't use as much as I should. I wear it, but it hasn't been behavior-altering like I had hoped. Honestly, I use it mostly for time. I also carry my iPhone.

PK: If you weren't in technology, what would your life be like?

JW: In the perfect world, I would be a crazy game show host. Not a modern game show where they're really sophisticated, but a cheesy 80s game show, like "Let's Make a Deal" or "Press Your Luck." Maybe a Japanese-style game show with slippery stairs, or one where contestants are sitting on boxes and have to wait until they're knocked over.

PK: Who do you see as the undisputed guru of technology innovation?

JW: I approach it a little differently, thinking not so much about people who are innovating, but those who are also getting people excited about the technology. It's one thing to innovate and bring cool features to market, but if no one is excited and inspired to become an innovator themselves, they're only getting half of the puzzle.

So, I go with Elon Musk, because people got excited about space travel in the five years before SpaceX started launching rockets. From the perspective of getting people excited about innovation, hands down it's Elon.

PK: Who would you want to have dinner with?

JW: It might be interesting to have dinner with Elon, but it might be weird. He seems a little socially awkward when you hear him talk.

That being said, Jeff Bezos would be cool because of all his innovation. The technology is something everyone uses. He has a whole portion of his business with AWS. I would be interested in having that conversation about having one business type and adding something completely different that ends up becoming a significant part of why the company is making money.

PK: What will be the most life-changing technology in our lifetime?

JW: Our lifetime is the tricky part. I would want to say the self-driving car, but I honestly don't know if that will be a true reality before I'm dead. It will be close, but there are a lot of ethical questions to be answered.

The generic, cheesy answer is the Internet, because it has really changed people's lives more than anything. There are negative aspects, especially if you look at the discourse on social media. But the Internet has been the most significant life-changing thing in my lifetime.

PK: In what market segment will we see the next big disruption?

JW: Healthcare. Analytics and big data are coming to fruition right now. With new technology, healthcare providers can more quickly come to a solution for what ails you, so to speak. That's huge. We will also see things such as remote patient care for areas without doctors. You can parachute into a video endpoint and have telemedicine.

PK: What is your current favorite meme/GIF?

JW: I made one meme: "I didn't know clouds were this heavy."


John is a delegate at the Mobility Field Day on Wed, March 28 at ATM18. Watch the live stream here: