Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Web 2.0 & eHealth

eHealth is an emerging field in the intersection of medical informatics, public health and business. The market was recently forecasted to grow from $7.5-billion in 2008 to $11.3 billion in 2013. While politicians have made significant announcements of their support of this innovation, their commitment needs to translate into pragmatic deliverables.

Understanding that we could save billions of dollars by transmitting all Medicare prescriptions electronically is one thing, implementing it is another. Across the globe, politicians are concerned about high security, accuracy and privacy demands. Yes, there is a need for standardization of eHealth practices, but these are not insurmountable. Consider another industry with similar pressures that has successfully overcome these challenges -- finance and banking. The banking system network, including regional boundaries & security controls, is a great example of what can be done when private enterprise understands a need.

The term, eHealth, characterizes not only a technical development, but also a state-of-the-mind, a way of thinking, an attitude, and a commitment for networked, global thinking, to improve health care logically, regionally, and worldwide by using information and communication technology. (Source: G. Eysenback for the Journal of Medical Internet Research)

“The high tech industry is a strong supporter of eHealth initiatives such as ePrescribing that lower healthcare costs and improve the safety and delivery of care,” said Matthew Kazmierczak, Vice President, Research and Industry Analysis, AeA. “Now we need to ensure that policymakers at the state level help promote ePerscribing and that medical practices across the country embrace the technology.”

As more IT vendors comply with government regulation, the systems integrate better and customers and clients receive more efficient products. eHealth developments are improving the right of access to quality healthcare across the globe – regardless of the patient’s personal condition or geographic location.

The AeA just released its third Competitiveness Series report endorsing eHealth, arguing that it will lower costs and enhance the safety, reliability, convenience, and delivery of healthcare. The report, entitled eHealth 301: Electronic Prescriptions, builds on two earlier reports analyzing electronic medical records and telemedicine.

As a result of these findings, the AeA anticipates that healthcare will continue to surface as a public policy issue, driven not only by the large number of people uninsured, but also by businesses whose healthcare costs continue to rise.

The AeA currently has 20 lobbyists working in top technology states, providing intelligence about legislation, and the capability to communicate with key legislators. The AeA is actively supporting, promoting and impacting legislation to spur the deployment of Health IT initiatives – such as electronic medical records – to reduce costs, improve quality and save lives. Specifically, the AeA wants to see legislation that would:

  • Stimulate the deployment of universal broadband by promoting municipal broadband initiatives and by targeting incentives toward rural areas that currently are without broadband access;

  • Support the Federal Communication Commission’s plan to invest in broadband infrastructure to enable telemedicine in rural and impoverished areas;

  • Increase funding for the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth within the Department of Health and Human Services;

  • Enact financial incentives to help small- and medium-sized healthcare providers implement EMR and telemedicine systems, including grants, loans, and tax credits for the initial investment in the necessary equipment, software, training, and support;

  • Adjust the reimbursement rates for Medicaid and Medicare to include costs associated with EMRs and telemedicine;

  • Encourage states to enact cross-licensing agreements that permit medical practitioners to provide services across state lines; and

  • Leverage federal and state purchasing power to push for widespread adoption and utilization of EMRs and telemedicine using nationwide interoperable standards.

All installments of the AeA Competitiveness Series can be downloaded for free at: www.aeanet.org/cs.

We’ve already seen how Web 2.0 technologies have transformed the ways people and businesses organize themselves and interact with each other. Once we put these technologies to work in health care – and address the need for added privacy and security protections that health care information requires -- we will be able to improve the quality, safety, and affordability of care in as many ways as our imaginations will allow.

Monday, July 7, 2008

INNOVATION - A Scientist's Perspective

Approximately 50 executives from the worlds of technology & venture capital piled into the dining hall on June 30th to listen to Dr. Mark Drapeau speak about "innovation" and its sister topic, "STEM education."

With Dr. Drapeau's permission, the AeA Los Angeles Council is furnishing this insightful speech below:

I'm sure that all of you understand that what I'm going to talk about today is my own informed opinion, and not the official position nor policy of the U.S. government. And with that disclaimer, I want to tell you – that I really hate working in Washington, DC.

Washington is run by a CEO reporting to a 535-member Board of Directors. The worker bees of the city are an army of well-meaning 25 year olds often with little or no subject-matter expertise. The government is a Byzantine, reactive organization plagued by its self-imposed hierarchy. And because the federal government is itself not innovative, it may therefore not be very good at understanding the topic of innovation, or guiding it.

Innovation – and its sister topic, STEM education, is a topic that easily falls through the cracks. The Defense Department certainly innovated, but does relatively little to educate children in STEM topics; nor perhaps should it. The National Science Foundation mainly funds professors to do research. The National Institutes of Health in total represent effectively the largest teaching hospital in the country; their research is innovative, but little trickles down to children in their community. And what is the Department of Education doing? Honestly, I never hear a thing about them.

Is there a knowledge gap within the federal government about how innovation really happens? Maybe. But this is everyone's fault, in some sense. Innovation in the end is about creating products, but largely the federal government doesn't make products; it buys them. The military-industrial complex of which I am a part is a great example of this. So it may be fair to posit that after most of the research and discovery happens, people in the government wonder why it takes so long – and costs so much – to get a prototype or a finished product.

My colleague at National Defense University, Dr. Tim Coffey, head of the Naval Research Laboratory for many years, called these two parts of discovery the "prospecting" and "mining" phases in a 2005 paper (
http://is.gd/MWM), where prospecting is largely the responsibility of the government and mining that of industry. Even the Defense Department's primary research arm, DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – can seem at times oblivious to this so-called "Valley of Death" between the prospecting and mining phases. Dr. Coffey suggests that we have perhaps gotten so caught up in the last 30 years of mining – including such inventions as RADAR, cell phones, and DNA fingerprinting – that we've forgotten about the prospecting for these things that happened in the 1950's and 60's. This 15-20 year prospecting, as a general rule, requires a long-term investment strategy by the government.

As I earlier suggested, part of the problem is due to the organization of Washington, DC, right down to fiscal years and annual budgets. A colleague working at the National Science Foundation said to me, "The lag time between fundamental idea and marketable product is usually longer than policymakers are willing to consider." While this is not slated to change anytime soon, one possible way to bridge this gap is through federal venture capital. Government-owned venture capital funds, like the intelligence community's In-Q-Tel (
http://www.iqt.org/) or the USDA's former AARC may be a great hybrid strategy (government-owned, private appearance).

The official federal government strategy regarding innovation and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education comes from two places. One, the Executive Office of the President (EOP) has an office called the Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP, which heads up the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) (

Second, Congress has passed the related America COMPETES Act of 2007, where COMPETES is (believe it or not) an acronym for Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science. The ACI concentrates on two things: One, education, and two, doubling basic research in the physical sciences. It proposes to strengthen science education and research, improve technological expertise, attract the world's best and brightest, and provide 21st century job training.

Doubling basic research in the physical sciences is largely an NSF, Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and Department of Commerce (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) matter. In fiscal year 2009 (FY09) the proposed effort will amount to a roughly 15% increase of $12 billion.

While innovation is indeed listed as a top priority of OSTP, this "investment in innovation-enabling research" will not necessarily help STEM education, nor do anything to inspire America's youth. What it will definitely do is fill the coffers of U.S. academic scientists, which is necessary to a point, of course. But I can say firmly that in my experience these professors care very little about pre-college STEM education, about capturing young children's minds with the excitement and wonderment of science and the natural world. However, we might consider whether some of this tremendous amount of money could be better spent.

Other parts of the ACI touch on this. One, "Math Now and Advanced Placement" involves better teacher training. Two, an "Adjunct Teacher Corps" proposes 30,000 new STEM teachers in America over eight years (about 75/state/year, or very roughly one per city). Three, "Attract the Best and Brightest" aims to reform immigration and maintain national security.

To me, this list seems incomplete and out of proportion with the relatively larger increase in research spending. In any case, right now (generally) Congress is debating funding for programs authorized in the COMPETES Act. There is a huge difference between authorization and appropriation in Washington (among other things, this leads to the notion of an "unfunded mandate"). You can affect this process.

One example I found was H.R. 4151 introduced by Rep. Sylvester Reyes (D-TX), which is the STEM Promotion Act of 2007. It proposed to fund advertising to encourage young Americans to enter the science and technology workforce. It was referred to the Labor/Education Committee and was there left for dead. I don't pretend to know everything there is to know about the workings of Congress, and perhaps the key points of this bill got folded into another one. But the point is that these are the kinds of bills that would greatly benefit folks like you who work in the high-tech industry.

This year on August 18-19, there will be a summit(
http://www.ornl.gov/sci/natlscitechsummit/index.shtml) at Oak Ridge in Tennessee about the ACI run by OSTP. The theme of the summit will be, "Science, Technology, and American Competitiveness: Progress and Direction Forward" (which seems so vague as to hardly be a theme). In general this will be a high-level meeting with numerous member of Congress and the Secretary of Education among the attendees.

About half the summit will be spent on STEM education:

  1. Women and minorities in STEM education – review of models of attracting and policy proposals
  2. K-12; Sparking student interest + teacher training – Gaps between states, races, and socioeconomic status; new models? New ideas?
  3. STEM post-secondary education – Are US universities graduating the right mix of skills and degrees in S&E?

What's wrong with this? In my opinion, more emphasis should be placed on efforts that get children excited about science at an early age. Frankly, the military and NASA have many "cool things" that can attract children to related careers, but there is very little publicity about this. But there are indeed encouraging government programs about STEM education "down in the trenches" if you will.

On my plane flight from Washington, DC to California, I sat next to a teacher from northern Virginia who had successfully applied to make her school one of about 150 NASA Explorer Schools (nationally). This is a great three-year plan that provides funds to allow schools to purchase research tools, interact with NASA (including a trip to Houston), and provide advanced training for teachers. The Department of Defense has similar programs; in fact, one of the offices I interviewed with when I came to Washington runs exactly these kinds of programs.

One very encouraging note these organizations are trying to use "Web 2.0" and "new media" to connect with audiences. Press conferences are given and military recruiting is done in virtual, online worlds. Just yesterday, I had a great talk with a Los Angeles-based computer game designer who has worked with the U.S. Army, for example. I hope that these trends carry over into STEM education.

An interesting anecdote about use of Web 2.0 social software tools involves the NASA Phoenix Mars Lander – which is Twittering live from Mars, so to speak. More people "follow" what the Phoenix says than almost anyone else on the system – currently over 26,000. For those of you not familiar with Twitter, it's like a cross between Instant Messaging and Blogging >>> or Micro-blogging. There are now even two Congressmen doing this: Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Rep. John Culberson (R-TX). Related to this, one of my personal initiatives at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) is called Social Software for Security, or S3.

(Update: Now the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter – destined for the moon and still being constructed at NASA Goddard Space Center, is also Twittering in the first person @LRO_NASA. There are numerous other examples.)

Getting back to innovation, competitiveness, and STEM education, there is a recent report out of the prestigious Brookings Institution in Washington that puts forth the idea of a National Innovation Foundation, or NIF. This NIF would in theory do for innovation what the NSF did for science and engineering research. The report suggests that an NIF would boost productivity, innovation, and growth. But what is perhaps disappointing about this well-intended proposal is that is focuses on universities, grants, and companies, with no serious mention of STEM education or the workforce (
http://is.gd/N0Q). In my opinion, as far as you the audience are concerned, this is a poor "Blueprint for American Prosperity".

Innovation is the heart of national competitiveness. But people in Washington can barely define what it is. And in many cases it is better to fight over something than get it off the table. But you have to be involved as well. You have to be in it to win it, as they say. Lobby your Congress and your President for more ways to influence STEM education in America. Attend OSTP's upcoming August summit at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Talk to people like me, scientists working on your behalf in Washington. Whether you fight for traditional things like school funding, or unconventional ideas like incorporating STEM knowledge into television and movies, business leaders like you can make a difference. Your difference can be local, or national – and both are important. Luckily you live in one of the most wonderful and progressive states in the country, California.

Thank you for your attention, and for allowing me to speak to you today.

About Dr. Mark Drapeau:

Dr. Drapeau is a fellow at the Department of Defense with expertise in the following:
  1. biotech influencing future militaries
  2. biology models/metaphors to defense problems
  3. strategic connections between the DoD and the interactive media/social networking community to benefit humanitarian operations.

Dr. Drapeau's broad background in life sciences helps with analysis of defense strategy. He has published research on many topics including genomics, neuroscience, ecology, and animal behavior. He has also penned many opinion/commentary articles on scientific research, science policy, and the intersection between life sciences and national security.

After the completion of his fellowship in September 2008, Dr. Drapeau plans to land a challenging strategy position in the business world (consulting, finance), drawing on his quantitative and technical skills as a scientist, his recent work as a defense strategist, and excellent communication skills.

Dr. Drapeau can be contacted at DrapeauM@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Are we creating a vibrant future for California?

“California is the birthplace of the information technology revolution and the home of the companies that are creating the future course of our information rich society. Great California companies like Google, Hewlett Packard, Apple, Sun Microsystems and hundreds more like them are transforming the way people live, work and communicate.
They are creating a vibrant future for California.”

(excerpt from a Teri Takai speech, 2008)

California -- if it broke off from the United States and became its own country, would be the "sixth-largest economy" in the world, according to an oft-repeated phrase. Not true so much anymore, but from a standpoint of innovation in the technology sector, California continues to flourish.

Our state fosters a climate for progressive, innovative businesses that create jobs, stimulate our state's economy and lead the way for a better, cleaner and healthier world. While the growth of Web 2.0 technology companies have been emerging at a rapid pace, there are three other sectors worth mentioning:

Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger was quoted saying, “California’s economy stands to greatly benefit from the wave of new businesses and jobs created by the emerging technologies and different approaches to fighting climate change.” The state’s emphasis on promoting cleantech has opened a wide array of opportunities for companies with the technical expertise to tackle the challenges of “going green,” and interest in cleantech by venture capitalists continues to grow as a result.

The AeA Los Angeles Council is proud to announce a FREE EVENT on July 11th, 2008, to provide our local technology community with the opportunity to meet the newly-appointed State of California Cabinet-level Chief Information Officer (CIO), Teresa (Teri) Takai. (Click to register)

Ms. Taki was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on December 6, 2007. This position was created by a bill sponsored by AeA after feedback by technologists that they did not have enough access to work with the State of California.

California's state government is one of the largest potential purchasers of technology in the world. Currently California has nearly 120 projects under development valued at $6.8 billion dollars over 11 years. These projects span a wide variety of technology activities including improving service delivery, providing customer services over the Internet, meeting Federal requirements for services, maintaining and improving our infrastructure, and reengineering California’s administrative functions to increase efficiencies in government operations and avoid the high costs of redundant systems. AeA members have for years sought a California Chief Information Officer (CIO) with real statutory, enterprise-wide authority to facilitate and promote technology solutions, bring about a unified technology program throughout state agencies, and provide accountability for the direction of technology.
"I appreciate AeA welcoming me,” said Ms. Takai. “I am looking forward to working with AeA to advance the business of technology in California. I share Governor Schwarzenegger's commitment to making state government more accessible to Californians through information technology, and I will work closely with the Governor, the legislature and other California state officials to create more efficiency and accessibility in state government."

"AeA pursued this legislation because our members believe an empowered State CIO will provide consistency in technological solutions and procurements," said Roxanne Gould, Senior Vice President, California Public & Legislative Affairs. “Such a CIO will be able to drive the purchase of the enterprise-wide applications essential for improving government performance, reducing fraud, and leveraging existing programs to better serve the citizens of California, all the while promoting technology as an essential means to almost every public policy end."

Other speakers include:
> Will Semmes (Chief Deputy Director, DGS)
> P.K. Agarwal (Director of Technology Services)
> Adrian Farley (Deputy Director of Procurement, DGS)
Ms. Takai has served as director of the Michigan Department of Information Technology (MDIT) since 2003, where she also served as the state's chief information officer. In this position, she has restructured and consolidated Michigan's resources by merging the state's information technology into one centralized department to service 19 agencies and over 1,700 employees.
Additionally, during her tenure at the MDIT, Takai has led the state to being ranked number one four years in a row in digital government by the Center for Digital Government. Prior to going into state service, Ms. Takai worked for the Ford Motor Company for 30 years, where she led the development of the company's information technology strategic plan. Takai also held positions in technology at EDS and Federal-Mogul Corp.
She is past president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers and currently serves as practitioner chair of the Harvard Policy Group on Network-Enabled Services and Government. Ms. Takai was named "Public Official of the Year" by Governing magazine in 2005.

Friday, June 27, 2008

U.S. technology industry in jeopardy?

On June 24th, the AeA released their annual Cyberstates report, with a not-so-subtle warning. The AeA report cautions that if changes are not made in the U.S.’s education system and immigration policies, the supply of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) workers will continue to decrease, jeopardizing the technology industry in the United States.

The complexity and speed by which new technology is being introduced puts the United States in a position of leadership, but our competitive slide is a serious issue. We’re feeding off past success rather than investing in our future. Many high tech master’s degree programs are populated predominantly by foreign nationals. We either have to (i) streamline the visa process to encourage the next workforce to stay in the U.S. after graduation; or (ii) take the lead and create programs that provide quality education in primary & secondary schools.

AeA President & CEO Christopher Hansen says that the technology industry is on its way back to employment levels enjoyed in the "pre-bubble" levels of the late 1990's. And California has been ranked #1 in terms of quantity of workers, job gains and wages. The growth is outstanding, but the lack of talent is a problem we can’t ignore.

As a member of the technology community, I would like to personally encourage you to consider joining the AeA on Monday, June 30th for a day of golf in support of STEM education and other important AeA initiatives.

Golf For A Better Tomorrow, KEYNOTE: Dr. Mark Drapeau (Scientist) will address the state of US global competitiveness, how we measure up against the 30-top world economies and new innovations in converging technologies of the future -- cognition, biotechnology, nanotechnology and IT.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Corporate Social Responsibility

I was invited to speak to an elite Los Angeles group of high powered CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) about innovation and corporate social responsibility. Our discussion included case study examples to answer the following questions:

  • What are the different roles of innovation?
  • Does being ethical pay?
  • When do consumers reward a socially responsible company?
  • When does a great CSR initiative go bad?
  • Start-ups, SMEs, NGOs, Transnationals -- when to collaborate & when to walk away?
  • How to successfully share innovation stories?
  • How to leverage social media for social awareness?
  • What not to do in the "groundswell" (thanks Forrester!)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

STEM - How important do you think it is?

Of the 30 top world economies, 29 have common high-quality standards and common science & math curricula -- and one – the United States – does not. On an international scale, the U.S. typically scores towards the middle of the pack in math & science understanding.

I'm interested in how many readers of this blog believe that STEM education will make a difference to U.S. global competitveness? STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Math. Will STEM education and the fluency of these provide the foundation for 21st literacy & success?

A recent survey found that more than half of American teens (59 percent) do not believe their high school is preparing them adequately for a career in technology and engineering. Yet the vast majority of teens (79 percent) believe there is value in hands-on, project-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and learning in high school. The same percentage of teens also believes more funding is needed for these types of programs.

To see the AeA's position on STEM education, please visit their website for more information. AeA is a non-profit technology association that is highly active in supporting legislation that will improve the quality of education, especially in the areas of Math & Science.

Other Reading:

Monday, April 28, 2008

STEM - Building A Better Tomorrow

The AeA, along with 140+ other firms, signed a letter to our U.S. President on April 16th, with the hope of addressing our country’s competitive position in the world as it relates to Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM). Here are the contents of that plea:

Dear Mr. President:

As leaders of America’s business, academic and research communities, we are deeply concerned about the state of our country’s competitive position in the world. Though there are many issues relevant to protecting our interests in the global marketplace, none is more pressing than the need for additional funding for scientific research and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

As you work with Congress on a supplemental appropriations request for the current fiscal year, we ask that you remain open to the inclusion of funding for scientific research and STEM education in any legislation presented to you for signature. Such action will allow for the fulfillment of the commitments made in your American Competitiveness Initiative and in the America COMPETES Act signed into law last summer.

As our country struggles to stabilize our economy and build for the future, an immediate commitment to research and education funding is both timely and relevant. This is an urgent and necessary step that will enhance our country’s economic strength, our competitiveness and allow for continued innovation.

On June 30th, 2008, the AeA Los Angeles Council is putting on a golfing event and dedicating part of the proceeds to charities invested in furthering STEM education in our schools.

Please consider joining other senior executives of the high tech community for a fun & meaningful event. Click here to register.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Greening the Workplace with TELEWORK

Check this out:

  • We could save 1.35-billion gallons of fuel and $4.5-billion dollars (at the current price of $3.33) if everyone with the potential to telework did so just 1.6 days a week.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency calculates that the saved fuel would prevent 26 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from being released in the atmosphere.
  • Telecommuting is perceived as a significant benefit by employees. According to a survey performed by staffing consultant, Robert Half International 50% of 1,400 CFOs said telework is the second best way to attract talent after salary. One-third listed it as the best way.
  • The Telework Coalition estimates more than 45-million US workers telecommute at least once a week.
  • A study by the Telework Coaltion surveyed 13 organizations that collectively had more than 77,000 teleworkers. The report found that the organizations that successfully leveraged teleworking as a tool to downsize office space, saw an annual cost savings of $10,000 per employee.
  • With more than 300,000 employees worldwide, IBM is the 13th largest private employer in the world. On any given day, 40% of IBM employees are working remotely, saving the company an estimated $56-million annually in office space costs.
  • IBM’s retention rate for teleworkers is much higher than the non-teleworkers – and they are 10-20% more productive than their office-bound peers.
  • Telework creates a more optimal life-work balance.
  • Reports predict that telework budgets will grow over the next 2 years – approximately by 17% in the private sector.

(source: AeA Telework Report)

One clear benefit is that companies which embrace telework programs enjoy higher retention rates and can leverage this flexible work-style alternative as a powerful recruiting tool. Additionally, these same firms benefit from the clear potential they have to reduce greenhouse gases and traffic congestion. As gasoline prices skyrocket, and as greenhouse emissions threaten the environment, the potential in fuel consumption is further reason to strongly promote telework.

I know the drawbacks. I have employees that telework… and I am actually composing this blog from home! Here's the daunting list of challenges for business owners & managers:

  • Monitoring the dedication and productivity of an employee can be a concern.
    This concern is valid, but addressable. Numerous applications exist that allow co-workers to collaborate on projects, chat online, and see & speak to each other through web-cams and other real-time applications.
  • Teleworking is not an option for every employee.
    Many jobs require face-to-face interaction with co-workers or clients that no amount of technology can overcome.
  • The company culture can get lost without frequent interaction.
    That’s only true if your firm is not continuing to do on-site meetings, company functions with social outlets, and quarterly reviews.
  • Scalability can be a major problem.
    Initially, there will be broad repercussions for the IT department – being that the teleworkers will have to access information behind the firewall, and may not readily have the technology resources to do so.
  • Compliance needs to be considered.
    Increasingly, organizations are required to log all electronic correspondence. Centralized logging needs to be a consideration.

I love, and was very surprised by how IBM is addressing the possible drawbacks to teleworking. So enamored are they with finding innovative ways to allow its global workforce to collaborate, that IBM actually established dozens of “islands” on the internet-based virtual world of Second Life. They use their space on Second Life for new employee orientation, ongoing training, and staff meetings. IBM employees that are part of a global project team use the Metaverse to collaborate and produce actual work, unencumbered by the confines of physical geography.

IBM employees – including CEO Sam Palmisano – create avatars, or online virtual representations of themselves, and interact via instant messaging and other communication tools in a 3-D environment they call the Metaverse. IBM finds this virtual environment vastly superior to traditional teleconferencing or even web-conferencing. Earlier this month, IBM announced that it would be actively working on blending its Lotus assets into its Meaverse, adding VOIP, web conferencing & instant messaging from its Sametime application, as well as profile, wiki & community tools from its Connections suite. (see article)

Those of us who are interested in having telework become a widely accepted practice, must appeal to the Federal & State governments. As the largest employer in the country, the Federal government can set an example and provide best practices to the private sector – and the state, country & local governments should follow suit. By telecommuting, these entities would earn budgetary savings, which they in turn could leverage back in the form of tax-breaks.

Both the House & Senate have introduced bills that require federal agencies to establish telework programs for all eligible workers. This is motivated by the need to maintain continuity of operations in response to a natural disaster or terrorist attach that would otherwise shut down the government. Other legislation has proposed tax credits for employers that encourage telework. Additionally, numerous bills have been introduced that promote broadband internet access – a facilitator of telework.

AeA supports all of these approaches. (see AeA report )

Additional sources for the content of this blog:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Testimonials: Why Join The AeA?

The testimonials speak for themselves:
  • "We rely on AeA to lead the way on a wide variety of public policy challenges around the world" -- Xerox
  • "AeA's education series fills a local gap for Board of Directors. It allows them to continue to increase their knowledge to lead & govern more successfully. The AeA believes Good Governance Matters" -- TriQuint Seminconductor
  • "AeA continues to open doors and provide valuable insight that facilitates the growth of our firm into national & international markets" -- Bridge360
  • "The AeA is truly changing my perception of business. It is the only place I kow where leaders can meet in friendly, relaxed atmosphere, and do business as friends, not as vendors." -- @International Services
  • "With the number of analysts and institutional investors who have attended our presentations nearly every year since 1983, the AeA Classic has proven to be the most valuable financial conference we attend." --Richardson Electronics

AeA provides:
  • Access to investors
  • State, Federal & International Lobbying
  • Insurance Services
  • Government & Commercial Business Development
  • Business Networking
  • Foreign Market Access
  • Select Business Services
  • Executive Education

See the Membership Benefits Brochure

In-Box or Out? New Anti-Spam Law draws supporters & opposition

Over the last few years, the fight to curb the ever-increasing amount of unsolicited spam email has generated a lot of debate and just as much state & federal legislation. Had it not been for the 2003 federal law called CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing), which preempted many state anti-spam laws, California would have had one of the toughest in the country.

As it stands today, while individual states can elect to create large civil damages for spam without criminalizing the transmission of spam, they run the risk of wining cases where the damage awards are largely unenforceable and not effective deterrents to big-time spammers.

On the table in California, is a new bill co-written over the last two years by Dan Balsam (a 3rd-year Law Student at UC Hastings College) and Craig Kleffman (of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office) which attempts to leverage all "loopholes" in the federal law -- which they believe to have made the spam problem worse. (see how)

Opponents to the bill believe legitimate companies would be exposed to unnecessary lawsuits because so many spammers are outside the country. (see the bill in it's entirety)

At yesterday’s Assembly committee hearing in Sacramento, supporters & opponents – including Microsoft, Yahoo, Aol and the AeA – agreed to work out a bill that all sides can support. (see article).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

sales vs marketing

Having been both a marketing & sales executive, I have seen first-hand how silos between these two departments can exist while products (or the sale of services) still "succeed" despite the rivalry. But there's a high price to pay when you consider that it affects the well-being of your company culture.

A culture is the values and practices shared by your team. It's important, because a bad company culture can literally "make or break" your firm.

On 04/22/08, the AeA Los Angeles Council is sponsoring "50 NEW ideas in 50 Minutes" which will show business leaders how they can immediately improve performance within their sales & marketing departments. Panelists include:
  • Mark Friedman, President of the Velos Group, an industry expert in Sales Lead Management. Worked at Shearson Mortgage, Basic Four, Madge Networks, CalComp, Ingram Micro, etc. National speaker and author on sales lead management.
  • Judy Key Johnson, former IBM executive and president/COO of Southern California technology companies. Judy is known as the “Branding Queen” for her work creating strong, effective identities for companies and product lines. Judy brings a guerrilla attitude with a hint of Big Blue to everything she tackles. Marketing is in her blood and yes, she bleeds Blue.
  • Phil Nasser, Managing Partner of Sales Productivity Institute LLC, has specialized in the information technology industry. He has been a CEO Coach, general manager, VP of Sales and sales trainer and is known for driving growth in difficult situations where tact and change are needed. He is also a part-time professor of strategy at California State University, Fullerton.
  • James Obermayer, Principal of Sales Leakage Consulting, Obermayer is a well-known speaker and consultant for B2B companies. Author of three books and 80 plus articles on sales and marketing, Obermayer works with companies that have “momentum” issues. His client side experience includes senior management positions at Brentwood Medical Products, Inquiry handling Service, Stac, Inc., Internet Products, Kern Direct, AdTrack Corporation and Beckman Instruments.
  • Moderator: Pam Wasley, CEO/Chair of Cerius Consulting Group, Southern California’s largest executive consulting group has been president of Data Site (medical software) and Senior VP of Unifi. She has also served as Chair for the $30 million non-profit Orange County Head Start.

Their collective years of sales & marketing experience are distilled into 50 ideas that can shape a long term impact on your business. With straight to the gut, how-to-do-it ideas, these speakers (who don't always agree with each other), strike sparks in a rapid presentation that will send our audience away with actions that can be implemented in their companies.

Who should attend? Presidents, CEOs, Business Owners. Vice Presidents of Sales. Sales Directors. Vice Presidents of Marketing. Directors of Marketing. Marketing Communications Managers. Advertising, Direct and PR Agency Executives.

REGISTER FOR THE EVENT - your $25-dollar contribution includes the price of breakfast on 04/22/08 from 8:00am - 10:00am @ Maggiano's (6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd.) in Woodland Hills.

Environmental Stewardship

"More states are weighing environmental legislation on everything from how electronic products can be recycled to what materials can be used in products. 'This industry wants to make sure whatever plan a state comes up with is logical and doable." -- Christopher Hansen, AeA President & CEO


04/29/08 - "High Tech Innovation / Green Engineering Awards" Mix with the A-list of extraordinary innovators who are making amazing contributions to the high tech world, while keeping our planet in mind. This event will spotlight Orange County’s dynamic community of technological innovators. The AeA O.C. Council will present the Inaugural Harvey Mudd College Green Engineering Award at their 15th Annual dinner award show. Register for this Orange County event.

05/13/08 - "International Environmental C0mpliance Seminar" Come hear the latest global environment developments on RoHS, WEEE, Energy Efficiency and network with industry peers to discover how their companies are complying. Register for Sacramento event.


03/20/08 - "How Going Green Affects The Bottom Line" From green-building & solar energy to business drivers & branding, the Los Angeles Council AeA event touched on a variety of ways firms can employ a successful approach to environmental stewarship.


High Tech is Hot -- and CA is on fire!

California's high-tech industry added more than 21,000 jobs last year, and is maintaining its place as the nation's industry leader.

According to the AeA 2008 Cyberstate's report, California's technology workers earned an average wage of $101, 200 (112% above the state's average private-sector wage.) By the numbers, California has 940,700 high-tech workers, a high-tech payroll of $95.2 billion and 43, 400 high-tech enterprises. All these make it the top "cyberstate" in the country.

Christopher Hansen, AeA President & CEO, singled out "negligence on the part of our political leaders" to invest in research, improve the U.S. education system and "allow the best and the brightest" from around the wolrd to work in the United States.

See his interview with Fox Business News. (04/02/08).

Topics include Cyberstates 2008, High Skilled Visa Reform, STEM Education, and U.S. Competitiveness.

In a separate interview, Mr. Hansen told Congress Daily that "The upside is that technology jobs pay considerably more than most other posts in the private sector and although the labor market remains tight, unemployment rates are below 2% across many tech occupations." The bad news, he told the publication, is "The tech industry and the country risk an impending slide in U.S. global competiveness, caused by negligence on the part of our political leaders to adequately invest in scientific research, improve our education system, and allow the best and brightest from around the world to work in the United States."

Mr, Hansen also discused the importance of the "America Competes Act."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Green IT Strategies

As definitions go, IDC says that Green IT is all about "the design, manufacture, deployment and recyling of IT products and related materials in an environmentally responsible manner." (see article)

The 10 "Ps"

Our Dinner For Decision Makers, with Bob Fox as keynote was enlightening. He stood in a room full of people -- still jet lagged after surviving 20 hours on a plane from Palau -- discussing CEOs.

"In thinking about career & success, the key is ability and integrity" said Fox, a veteran CEO himself. "And here are the 10 'Ps' you have to watch out for":
  • People - The primary component to success or failure
  • Passion - I believe in it, and will make it happen
  • Perspective - What is this all about?
  • Priorities - What is the most important objective?
  • Performance - Being noticed for what you do
  • Personality - How other people see you
  • Pragmatic - There is more than one way
  • Power - Recognize where it is and use it judiciously
  • Politics - Be very alert & cautious
  • Perfect - The enemy of good

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

CEOs shoulder the blame

CEO’s shoulder nearly 60% of the blame for a company crisis. Perhaps this explains why in 2007 we saw an all time high of CEOs leaving their posts. North American CEO turnover increased 50% from 2006-to-2007. And globally, 32% of CEO’s were forced to leave their organizations “against their will” -- statistically shortening the average term of a “global chief” to just 6-years. (See Forbes article)

Is it just harder to be a CEO today than it was in yester-year? The AeA Los Angeles Council proudly brings Bob Fox to the table tonight to examine not only that question, but to identify the common traits and characteristics of what turns a CEO from savior to barbarian. (See keynote descriptor)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

DOLLARS & SENSE: The ABC's of a Corporate Board & Social Responsibility

I was recently exposed to a book entitled “The Human Side Of Corporate Governance” by Morten House. Deep inside its pages I found a passage about “Barbarians and CEOs” which tickled me since we’re hosting a dinner on 03/11/08 entitled “Barbarians & Other CEO’s I’ve Known” with Bob Fox as the keynote. (see blog entry below)

According to my quick research on the topic, the “ABCs” of most corporate boards fit into one of three types:

  • A – “aunt boards” –typical in small firms where no one has any role other than a notch on their resume. Often described as a “pool of helpers,” they play the role of discussion-partner, crying-shoulders, and source for advice in decision-making.
  • B – “barbarian boards” –typically described as having a distant, and sometimes hostile relationship with their CEOs. They do not trust the management, and the management does not trust them.
  • C – “clan boards” –typically generated though an inner circle of connected people, constituting a distinct network. The “clan” members tend to support each other during board meetings, and traditionally, there is a mutual support between the board members and the CEO.

What becomes obvious is that while the board roles might vary depending on the attributes of the CEO (tenure, ownership & competence), the main purpose of the board is to enhance executive decision-making and improve organizational performance.

With issues of social responsibility, transparency and corporate governance in the spotlight, boards must find techniques for strengthening their organizations. Where “financial capital” used to be the primary measure of success, “human capital” has become equally critical. So described by Wikipedia, "the concept of a corporate board’s fiduciary duty has to expand to include social, environmental and human rights issues."

My observation is this: the board’s ideology of “making dollars” has to graduate to “making sense” if the organization is to be heralded and survive.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Best Corporate Citizens GO GREEN!

By viewing sustainability "though a business lens," Intel’s has begun answering the question "How Does Going Green Impact The Bottom Line?"

According to Intel President & CEO, Paul Otellini, Intel has dedicated capital funding for energy conservation projects to the tune of $20-million dollars (since 2001) and has achieved savings of more than $42-million and more than 500-million kilowatt hours.

As Intel’s Corporate Responsibility Director, Dave Stangis notes, Corporate Social Responsibility is now "a boardroom conversation."

From boardroom to classroom, I am pleased to say that Intel has agreed to be a GOLD SPONSOR for the AeA Los Angeles Council "green" event on 03/20/08.

It's clear that Intel believes that global climate change is a serious economic, social and environmental challenge that warrants an equally serious societal and policy response. In 2006, Intel joined the U.S. EPA’s Climate Leaders program, pledging to reduce its global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 30 percent per production unit from 2004 to 2010. “Intel helped establish a goal for PFCs (perfluorocompounds) that the entire industry could support,” Otellini told CRO.

It's perhaps no surprise that Intel, on Wednesday 02/27, was announced #1 of the "100 Best Corporate Citizens" of 2008, by CRO Magazine. Developed with an eye on large, impactful corporations in 8 categories:

  • Climate Change
  • Employee Relations
  • Environment
  • Financial
  • Governance
  • Human Rights
  • Lobbying
  • Philanthropy

Intel rose to the top. According to CRO, Intel ranked in the top 100 in five of the eight categories, scoring its best mark in Environment (which measures environmental disclosures, policies and performance) and in the top 200 in another category, Philanthropy. CRO gave Climate Change and other issues related to the environment the greatest weight because of their accute importance. (view methodology)

In the 9 years that this list has been tabulated, just three companies -- Intel (#1), Cisco (#14), Starbucks (#35) have appeared on the list every year. (See the list)

Companies that were involved in a recent (during the past 3 years) major public scandal (involving significant government-or-regulator imposed fine; major governemnt-initiated lawsuit; admission of guilt or conviction; major corpoate governance lapse; or other comparable infraction) were listed by CRO as "In The Penalty Box" (take a look)

GO GREEN WITH THE AeA! Come to our event on 03/20/08.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

AeA GREEN initiatives ...in the press...

Chris Hansen, AeA’s new President & CEO, has got his finger on the pulse of the high tech community. On February 11th, he brought AeA’s environmental policy efforts to the forefront by announcing Ms. Holly Evans (President, Strategic Council LLC) as an advisor to the association. In this capacity, she will also be available to assist member companies on environmental policy issues at the State, international & federal levels via an acclaimed newsletter “Environmental Issues Update” which analyzes product-related environmental requirements of relevance to the electronics industry.

“One of the biggest challenges facing the high-tech industry today is the increasing number of environmental bills & regulations at every level of government that have proliferated across the country, imposing costly and burdensome requirements on manufacturers, “ said Mr. Hansen. “Under Holly’s trusted and experienced leadership, AeA will be even better positioned to engage this legislation at every turn, and add to our lobbying capabilities around the world.”

(Click here to see the official press release and more details on Holly Evans)

As for the AeA Los Angeles Council (which I chair), we are doing our part to educate members of the high tech community on green initiatives. On 03/20/08, we are hosting an event entitled “How Going Green Impacts The Bottom Line.”

(Click here to see our official press release!) Or scroll down through this blog to see what issues we will be touching on!

Friday, February 22, 2008

AeA Los Angeles Council on Facebook!

You can now see all of the AeA Los Angeles Council events on Facebook!

03/11/08 - Dinner @ Water Garden's new restaurant "Prego" in Santa Monica with keynote, Bob Fox (RSVP now!)

03/20/08 - Green Event @ UCLA (lots of details in below blog entry! RSVP now!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How Going Green Affects The Bottom Line

The AeA is putting on an event 03/20/08 from 5:30pm to 8:00pm designed to educate & engage high technology companies on the existing & emerging issues in "going green." Hosted by the UCLA Sustainable Resouce Center, the panel will highlight stories of companies that have made their green initiatives translate into the concept of triple bottom line: Profits, Planet & People.

Early bird registration (ends 03/10) is $55-dollars for AeA members and $75-dollars general public. RSVP now to guarantee your spot. Price will increase by +10-dollars thereafter.

Read additional blog postings for detailed event content!


While different decision makers want different rewards, they still want their green to turn to gold.

The CEO:
Since the main role of the CEO is to set strategy & vision, it’s hard not to consider aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) when setting the direction of a firm. CSR has begun to shape the culture of firms across the country. What has bubbled to the top most recently are CSR issues & compliance standards around environmental stewardship.

The chief executive has to take notice of the slue of mandates & regulations aimed at making electronic goods (along with their production & disposal) less harmful to the environment. From sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, commercialization, distribution, consumption, and disposal of goods, the adherence to WEEE and RoHS are critical in the supply chain. When a company is not in compliance, it looses its ability to sell in certain markets.

The CIO:
The optimal use of information & communication technology is critical to the CIO. According to Gartner, CIOs should only expect to pay hefty energy bills but beware that the vast majority of U.S. data centers will face energy disruptions in the coming years.

Because data centers can consume 15 times the energy per square foot of a typical office building, the potential for economic & environmental benefits are impressive. This situation caught the attention of Congress in 2006, which ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study trends in data-center energy use. The agency delivered a report in 2007, estimating that the IT sector consumed roughly 61 billion kilowatt-hours in ‘06, or 1.5% of the total U.S. electricity usage — more than double since 20000.

  • How Green is the data center? (source: Gartner)

    Look at the example of Citigroup. This company pledged to spend $232M on a LEED-certified data center in Germany.

The CMO:
Not only do consumers favor companies that credibly demonstrate reduction of carbon impact, employees are also positively impacted green initiatives. However, environmentalists and savvy consumers are on the look-out for “green-washing,” or marketing campaigns that masquerade as real environmental progress.

A corporate initiative may have honest intentions and even be an absolute positive for the environment. But if it doesn’t address the company’s central environmental culpability, then there are significant risks.

  • Can Green be transparent? (source: Green Marketing)

    Toyota, the darling of environmentalists these days, has its own take on transparent green marketing. Fore years, the automaker has discouraged the word “green” in any of its internal or external communications.

The HR Executive:
From recruiting to employee retention, sustainability projects boost employee moral. Sometimes called the “hire calling,” these initiatives come in many shapes and forms, including: employee telecommuting, carpooling, green building, employee matching programs, payroll giving, wellness programs, etc.

As the talent shortage becomes acute, more organizations are going to take a stance on green recruiting. Job seekers coming out of college are now demanding to know the kids of things that potential employer are doing for the environment.

  • Employee Sustainability Projects (source: Strategy Business.com)

    There are many success stories that can be noted here. One example which stands out from the rest is Toyota Motor Corp. success of moving one of its divisions into an environmentally friendly, or “green” building in Torrance in 2003, employee moral jumped while absenteeism fell. Another is Wal-Mart’s “Personal Sustainability Project” which encourages employees to come up with programs that will improve health & wellness as it relates to people and the environment.

The CFO:
While chief executives are proclaiming their new environmental initiatives without much fanfare, CFO’s, as guardians of their companies’ financial welfare, are let to account for the impact of these programs on the bottom line. The return on investment for CSR depends on three things: the industry, the company’s existing reputation, and the way the company approaches the issue.

The impact of reduced supply chain risk, increased brand loyalty or green IT can still be hard to quantify. However, with rising energy pries, many companies are realizing prompt returns on environmental programs.

  • What return can I expect on my investment? (source: CFO magazine)

    For example, Herman Miller (furniture manufacturer) says the company sees $4.5 million in annual savings from $2 million in annual spending on environmental initiatives.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

CEOs - Barbarians or Heros?

Only about 1/1000 of 1 percent of the total worldwide workforce will ever become a CEO for a major firm. Of those who defy the odds and become the chief executive, more than half of them will be regarded as failures.

The AeA Los Angeles Council is hosting a “Dinner for Decision Makers” at the Water Garden’s new restaurant, Prego (formerly Bizou Gardens) on March 11th 2008 in Santa Monica, California. Invited to speak is Bob Fox -- a semi-retired executive who has been the CEO of 7 companies (including Canada Dry, Continental Can, Del Monte, Foster Farms & Revlon International). Currently Bob serves on the Board of 12 companies and has been engaged as a professor at UC Berkley & UC Davis.

Over dinner, Bob will give a straight-forward account of “the good, the bad, and the ugly” conduct of corporate chief’s he’s worked with or come to know during his 40-year career.

Included in the evening’s discussion will be these CEO's -- whom Bob has worked with:

And these CEOs Bob personally knows:

Find out which of these men Bob regards as truly great, and which he classifies as barbarians... and why!

To RSVP, click here, or call JoElla Lapiana (Executive Director of the AeA Los Angeles Council) at 818. 226.3800 .

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Corporate Social Responsibility & High Tech

As chair of a non-profit technology association -- known as the AeA (www.aeanet.org) -- I am leading a local effort to educate high tech executives & future decision makers on the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility.

As you might be aware, the AeA markets itself as the largest association of high-tech companies in the United States – with about 2,300 companies – representing all segments of the industry and 1.8 million employees. Nationally, our primary purpose is helping our members top & bottom lines. Locally, we are focusing our events on sustainability, corporate philanthropy, environmental stewardship & CSR.

TechLine Magazine recently published an article I wrote. See page 26. (http://www.aeanet.org/PressRoom/wadz_TechLine_Winter08.asp) Entitled: CSR in High Tech.