3 Aug 2010
“How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm” (excerpt) by Andrew Bird
Oh, how ya gonna keep ’em down? Oh no, oh noOh, how ya gonna keep ’em down?How ya gonna keep ’em away from Broadway?Jazzin’ around and painting the town?How ya gonna keep ’em away from harm?That’s the mystery
This week, my 18 month old Blackberry finally bit the dust. Out of this came a realization that led me to the challenge I issue at the end of this post.
Please don’t view my device failure to be a reflection on the reliability, or lack thereof, of Blackberry handsets. Rather, as a heavy user, I’ve found that the half life of my handsets is typically 18 to 24 months before things start to degrade – indeed, mobile devices do take a beating.
The obsolescence of one device is, however, a great opportunity to reflect on the age-old question: What do I acquire next? That is the subject of this posting, which focuses on the quantum changes in the mobile and smartphone market over the last couple of years.…
10 Apr 2010
“Nature is by and large to be found out of doors, a location where, it cannot be argued, there are never enough comfortable chairs.”– Fran Lebowitz
I’m a believer that Location Based Services (LBS), coupled with the latest smartphones, will evolve a number of indispensible, and unexpected, killer applications.
That said, it’s pretty clear that those mission critical applications remain to be found. Essentially, the whole LBS opportunity, is a social experiment that early adopters are collaboratively helping to clarify.
It was with those thoughts in mind when I decided to start using some of the popular LBS social media applications, or should I say social games? These included FourSquare, Yelp and Gowalla.
Let me put this in context of other social media applications with which I’ve experimented. Back in 2007, I decided to try microblogging service Twitter, that was then in its infancy, I had low expectations. In fact, I expected to hate it, but mentally committed to give it a two week trial just for the purposes of self education. Over 3 years later, I’m still using it, love it and have …
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 media-verse (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) …
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 …