Do you have a cell phone that can block your drunk-dialing attempts? Or one that offers rescue rings — a feature that allows users to program a time the phone will call itself — for that tragic blind date?
Virgin mobile phones do.
These phones were among the many new technologies featured in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business FuturTech 2005 Conference on Thursday and Friday.
The FuturTech Conference is an annual event that is organized by Business and Engineering students. The event, sponsored in part by Ecolab, Citigroup, DaimlerChrysler and Microsoft, is designed to show the new and upcoming technologies that may soon transform both the business and science worlds.
There were numerous panels that provided information on some of the new technology, like radio frequency identification, small computer chips attached to shipments that communicate with wireless antennae. Other panels discussed nanotechnology and hydrogen-fueled technology.
Keynote speakers for the conference were Linda Dillman, executive vice president and chief information officer for Wal-Mart, who spoke on Friday evening, and Howard Handler, chief marketing officer of Virgin Mobile, who spoke Saturday afternoon.
Dillman was awarded the Women in Leadership Award by the Business School, an award that has recognized women leaders for the past 12 years.
Dillman said she achieved her success because she never allowed herself to stay in a job that would never amount to her receiving a promotion.
“There are no limitations placed on you other than the limitations you place on yourself,” she said.
The Indiana University alumnus is a 13-year veteran of Wal-Mart, where she oversees 2,400 employees from around the world.
As a young girl growing up, Dillman said she originally aspired to be a beautician or an assistant because saw women in her family in those careers. But she said she later found her calling in the business world, taking chances and risks that got her where she is today.
“I believe it is about a direction and not a single plan.” she said. “Take opportunities that arise — even those that feel risky,” she added.
The next day, Virgin Mobile CMO Howard Handler — whose resume includes marketing work with the National Football League, Saturday Night Live, MTV and Quaker Oats Company — discussed the many ways the Virgin cell phone company has used marketing strategies and packages to appeal to the youth, “unloved” by the other cell phone companies.
One feature of the new phones allows users more options for ring tones. A Virgin Mobile user could hold his phone up to a radio, and the phone would recognize the tune and download it as a ring tone.
Handler also discussed the anger many customers feel toward cell phone companies.
“The wireless industry was voted second-lowest ranking for customer satisfaction,” he said.
Despite his prior experience with increasing company revenues, Handler said his work for Virgin Mobile had a rough start.
“It was more like a herd of thundering turtles,” he said.