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."