Tom Petrocelli isn't afraid of ruffling a few feathers. 

This year alone he took on agile development hype, annoying e-commerce practices, problems with collaboration software adoption and more. 

Petrocelli combines an indefatigable curiosity about the information technology space with an equal dash of skepticism of the promises vendors make. He counts machine learning, augmented reality, mobile business applications, social collaboration, data storage and more among his many areas of interest. 

What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2016? 

That the difference between theory and practice is much bigger than most of us realize. We promote technology and methodologies as if they are all easy and immediately useful but, in fact, many are hard to implement and of dubious value.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction at work? 

When I can help overcome a major stumbling block or solve a big problem. That is real business value. No technology can replace human effort and ingenuity.

Name one (work-related) moment that surprised or gave you an a-ha moment in 2016. 

Just one? It was the moment I realized that some problems are so complicated that only the corporate equivalent of a moonshot can solve them. That understanding broadened my view of technology and business in an instant.

Learning Opportunities

Did you ever take on a job you thought you couldn't do? 

Sure. How else does one grow?

If you had to get rid of your computer or your phone, which would it be and why? 

Phone. I can do almost everything with a computer that I can with my phone but not the other way around. That said, if someone comes for my phone, there will be an altercation.

When you were seven years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

A cardiac surgeon. I read Gray’s Anatomy at age 9, not that I remember much of it. I still have it though.

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