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Glazed eyes

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

For the last few months I have been working on a startup project that could create some exciting fireworks in the telecom industry, enterprise mobility in particular. When we first met, Brian Keedwell, the inventor of Mobile Process Services, told me he expected to create a new market that would generate $5 billion in five years. Yeah, yeah, I know … that was my initial reaction too. But there were a couple of elements in his plan that grabbed my attention and my imagination – integrated education and smart business networks.

Keedwell, who has helmed some very significant companies, made a name for himself engineering marketing process systems – million dollar plus jobs for companies like Pharmacia, Detroit Edison, SAS, Sandvik and DeLaval. Now he wants to take the business to a new level by delivering such systems as services.

His elaborate and very detailed plan revolves around smart business networks – agile collaborations of vendors, R&D educators and customers – that will build each project. Basically the idea is that if you can motivate a group of tech vendors with the promise of capturing and dominating a niche market, add to that an integrated team of grad students keen to apply cutting edge ideas, and anchor the team with customer participation, then you will be able to create an over-achieving service that will delight everyone.

Well, I have a background in IT and telecom marketing but a lot of this stuff just made my head spin. So most of my time lately has been spent learning business process modelling, smart business networks, agility, and some very subtle stuff related to the nature of quality and productivity. My intention, once I mastered the knowledge, was to write and produce the marketing collateral needed to promote the plan.

Hah! The ideas are so complex and so unfamiliar to industry people that, faced with learning esoteric ideas from alien disciplines, the most common reaction is glazed eyes. Most of our sustained support is from academics, the only ones motivated to attempt the steep learning curve. Everyone else seems to find it really hard to do the homework that’s demanded by disruptive and systemic innovation of production processes.

Finally, after coming to terms with the realization that traditional marketing was not enough, I turned back to a subject that has long fascinated me – education transformation. Recently, I have been following the evolution of corporate learning, which is focusing more and more today on social and collaborative learning. This seems to me a perfect solution for the kind of agile networks that we`re working to create. So why not start using it now to promote the project itself?

So I called Keedwell and told him about these cutting edge ideas for business education. You know, you can actually hear eyes glazing over on the telephone.

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