5 Feb 2010
This week I had the pleasure to be the luncheon speaker during the Ignite Entrepreneurship course put on by Guelph Partnership for Innovation, aimed at University of Guelph graduate students from various technical fields including biology, life sciences, materials, agribusiness, etc.
It’s always a thrill to get into a room with 40 or so energetic and bright grad students who are considering going into business. And, kudos to GPI for hosting this.
As an experiment, I broadcast the 3 questions out into social …
1 Jan 2010
“It is sobering to reflect on the extent to which the structure of our business processes has been dictated by the limitations of the file folder.”
-Michael Hammer and James Champy, Reengineering Your Business
Recently, I unearthed a 10 year old book by Bill Gates, Business @ the Speed of Thought and took a bit of time to re-scan that 1999 book. On the first day of 2010, it seems appropriate to study technology trends to help give perspective to the future of the digital revolution.
Far from being an overtly partisan paen to Microsoft, the passion and enthusiam for change reflective both Bill Gates personality and the thinking of that era, shine through.
What is being presented is a prescription for a world, focused primarily on business, where mass adoption of networked computing unleashes a digital, knowledge-based revolution.
In the 1990’s, Information Technology (“IT”) was considered a “necessary evil” in business, being viewed largely as a cost centre, and consigned to report to the CFO with a major focus on cost control. Although we’ve made some progress in the last decade, there is still …
13 Dec 2009
Published by Penguin Books WorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder
Clay Shirky does a fantastic job of explaining why lowered transaction costs from recent inventions like computing, internet and mobility have led to a new world order in which individuals can collectively achieve what organizations used to have a stranglehold on. Specifically, this is a great way to look at how these changes, often labelled social networking or social media, are transforming business, government and nonprofits. Thanks to Bill Pase for recommending this.
9 Nov 2009
“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” – Francis Fukuyama, 1989
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Was it the “end of history” that Francisc Fukayama suggested? Although perhaps that’s an exaggeration, it was probably the most transformational event in our lifetimes. Certainly, it ended a cycle of tyranny and brutality under totalatarian ideologies like Naziism, Stalinism, Fascism, Communism, etc., that characterized much of the Twentieth Century. In some ways, the Iron Curtain, of which the Berlin Wall was the most visible manifestation, froze half a continent in time, almost as if the World War II didn’t really end until 1989.
While our world today is by no means perfect, the events of 1989 delivered greater democratic and economic rights to hundreds of millions of central …
11 Oct 2009
Published by Little, Brown and Co. WorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder
Malcolm Gladwell’s counter intuitive take on success. He downplays virtuosic brilliance in favour of timing and sheer hard work. Less research driven than some of his words, like all Gladwell books, a fast and easy read. It was almost spooky to read the birth years of people creating the first generation of software companies given that the range includes mine. Also, Malcolm’s discussion of his own background was moving and very personal storytelling at its best connecting his mixed racial origins with British colonial structures.
2 Oct 2009
Through the 1960’s, 1970’s and into the early 1980’s, Canada leveraged many of its best minds to develop technology solutions that span the great distances and empty spaces in our vast country to position Canada as a world leader in Telecommunications. Today, numerous examples from world leading companies like Blackberry to startups like Viigo or Iotum continue to show world leadership.
Notwithstanding these points of strength, in the early 21st Century, there are surprising gaps in our global ability to compete, given our early leadership. The causes are many from regulation, standards, finance and even investment decisions of major carrier players. While there are individual success stories, like the Blackberry, there are also numerous structural issues that dampen our natural competitive position in this all important industry.
We’ve assembled a diverse team of some of the top players shaping our mobile futureo help us understand Canada’s position in the global mobile industry, where the opportunities lie and changes in policy and investment that might allow us to maximize our footprint in the future mobile industry:Bob Ferchat – a Canadian mobile pioneer at …
23 Sep 2009
“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Mahatma Ghandi
Recently I received a cheque as part of the Maplesoft acquisition and was led to reflect how this was definitely not “How To Get Rich Quick with a Startup“. Last night a Maplesoft co-founder reminded me that this strategic exit was “only 23 years in the making.” (See Cybernet Systems Co., Ltd to acquire Maplesoft in early September 2009)
Why did it take so long?
Way back in the early 1990’s, I had the pleasure to be Maplesoft’s first independent, outside Director. At the time, I agreed to join that Board and committed to invest my time based on the strength of the team and the great product opportunity. Their intellectual property was embodied in a breakthrough symbolic computation engine, spun out of University of Waterloo, that had the potential to revolutionize, through automation, many mathematical, scientific and engineering activities.
Sadly, I had the chance to experience first hand how one of the most promising Waterloo technology companies could become embroiled in, and ultimately paralyzed by, a bad case of founderitis. Put simply, otherwise …
22 Aug 2009
Published by Warner Books WorldCat • Read Online • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder
The late 1990’s was a heady time for visionaries. Before the Dot Com Meltdown, it seems that every senior executive, myself included, spent lots of time prognasticating on how technology was transforming the world. From the perspective of the twenty-first century and the passage of over a decade, it’s interesting to read one of these. In the book, Bill Gates provides a lucid, and surprisingly impartial (ie. non-Microsoft) view about how business is being transformed and can benefit from what he calls a digital nervous system.
By providing a high level roadmap and vision for corporate CIOs, Bill is really defining a multi-year plan for digital transformation. While the details and trends have moved on (ie. no mention of cloud computing here), the roadmap is surprisingly au courant. So much so, in fact, that I’d encourage anyone aspiring to be an IT visionary today to go back and read this book (or similar one from other software visionary CEOs). It also …
15 Aug 2009
I am extremely pleased to share today’s announcement from Gore Mutual Insurance Company that I have been appointed to their Board of Directors. I was officially appointed at the July 28, 2009 Board meeting and initially, I will serve on the Audit, Pension and Conduct Review & Governance Committees.
Because people may see this diferent from other activities I’m engaged in, I thought I would provide some perspective on what this appointment means for me personally.
Founded in 1839, this venerable Waterloo Region financial services institution is Canada’s oldest insurance company. Such a long and magnificent heritage and time scale is obviously very different from that of the technology startup scene. That said, this company is an object lesson to all in the nature of innovation in a long term business, and that intrigued me. The Gore, as it is affectionately known by most, has survived and thrived, not by resting on its legacy, but through a constant process of change and innovation, to stay ahead of the many curve balls that time throws at any business.
And yet, as a …
20 Jul 2009
Bunny: Don’t you think you’d better go? The tortoise has the lead.Max Hare: Say, I’ve lots of time to play. My middle name is speed.SOURCE: Tortoise and the Hare, Walt Disney/United Artists, 1935
While I typically leave reviews of even major new products to others, my personal experience in the much heralded Windows 7 Beta to launch process provides some interesting observations on the difference between large and small companhies in early adopter customer engagement.
Having bought an early Asus eeePC netbook almost 2 years ago and finding that early product both intriguing yet frustrating, I purchased the newly launched HP 2140 HD netbook when it launched in late June. This is a well engineering product that has clearly crossed the useability threshhold for uber mobility.
Like most netbooks, it comes standard with Windows XP Home. This was just fine because I, like the majority of Windows desktop users, wisely passed on the miasma that is also known as Windows Vista.
However, having heard some reports that the Windows 7 Beta was showing some promise and recognizing that running an operating system originally launched …