Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The CTO role is not what it used to be

"'CTO used to be the glamour job,' said Peter Woolford, manager of IT and engineering for the Boston staffing firm Kforce Inc. 'Generally, one of the company founders or principals stepped into the role, and it meant less involvement in day-to-day management and a focus on playing with new toys.'"

Web Source: The CTO role is not what it used to be, Tech Republic.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

MIT 15.351 Managing the Innovation Process

MIT has committed to placing the learning materials for ALL of its courses online so that they can serve as resources for students of the world. This is the MIT Open Courseware project that has been covered heavily by the press.

Among the courses available from MIT's Sloan School of Management is one on Managing the Innovation Process. "This course approaches 'managing the innovation process' through five levels of analysis: individual, team, network, organizational, and industrial. At each level of analysis, particular attention is given to the conditions under which innovation processes succeed and fail."

MIT SLOAN 15.351 Managing the Innovation Process, MIT OpenCourseWare, Sloan School of Management.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Multi-University/Research Lab (MURL) Seminar Series

Are you interested in seminars on social computing, artificial intelligence, computing parallelism, miniature robotic aircraft, search engines, and a hundred other topics all presenting by some of the smartest people in the country? The Multi-University/Research Laboratory Seminar Series is the place to find all of this. It is hosted by Microsoft Research, but includes five major members and visiting seminars from people everywhere.

MURL partners are:

  • Carnegie-Mellon University
  • MIT
  • Microsoft Research
  • Stanford University
  • Xerox Palo Alto Research Center

Multi-University/Research Lab (MURL) Seminar Series

Xerox PARC makes big leap to innovation in medicine - Xerox PARC makes big leap to innovation in medicine: "Xerox PARC, best known as the home of some of the great innovations in computer science, is turning its prowess in a new direction -- medical devices."

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Technology Impacts on Business

"Management literature is filled with examples of the changes wrought on business by the addition of technology and the creation of entirely new businesses whose primary product or service is technology. These changes have become of vital interest to companies who see technology as a means to improving their operations. They are also important to the inventors and vendors of this technology, encouraging them to identify the next product or service that customers will flock to. The term “killer app” is often used to describe the most wildly successful technologies or products. In the past, such killer apps have been the personal computer, laptop computer, personal digital assistant, Windows Operating System, word processor, Internet, electronic mail, World Wide Web, web browser, information portal, cellular telephone, and wireless messaging. Each of these has been so widely adopted that the leading providers have risen to the pinnacle of commercial success. Companies like Microsoft, Dell Computers, Palm, Research in Motion, Yahoo, Google, and Nokia have all ridden from obscurity to international prominence on the back of a killer app."

This article explores the importance of three major impacts that technology has on a business:

  1. Disruption of the current status quo.
  2. Globalization of opportunity, skill-base, and wealth.
  3. Innovation Management as an essential tool for attaining or retaining a leadership position.

Web Source: "Technology Impacts on Business: Disruption, Globalization, and Innovation Management",
posted at

Saturday, July 24, 2004

CTO People: Padmasree Warrior, Motorola

What lessons have you learned that would be valuable to women beginning their careers in technology?

"Be an expert in your field, know your stuff! Develop a clear, concise and distinctive communication style. Surround yourself with giants - don't be intimidated by brilliance from others, leverage it. Lead with femininity and grace - you don't have to be "one of the boys" to be recognized as a strong leader. Be professional and always treat people with respect. Be well organized in how you deliver and be thorough in what you do. Take charge of your career. Don't wait for the perfect opportunity to land in your lap--search for it with passion and daring. A lesson I learned from Bob Galvin is "Leadership is the ability to take people elsewhere. Lead with humility. Humility does not mean that one thinks less of oneself, it means that one thinks of oneself less". This is a nugget I will always carry with me."

Interesting Bio at Women in Technology International: WITI Biography
Very Official Bio at Motorola: Motorola Biography
Very Quick Intro at Chicago Business: Chicago Business

Innovation Begins with an Eye

In The Art of Innovation, IDEO founder Tom Kelley talks about how their company creates so many innovative product designs. They boil their method down into 5 steps - in their words, an embarassingly simple 5 steps:

  1. Understand the market, client, technology, constraints.
  2. Observe real people in real-life situations.
  3. Visualize new concepts and customers who will use them.
  4. Evaluate and Refine prototypes in a series of quick iterations.
  5. Implement the concept for commercialization.

All of this begins by looking at the world with a different eye. It requires seeing what is right there in front of everyone, but no one can see because they are busy seeing the world their own way - not the way the customer sees it.

Book Web Site: The Art Of Innovation

Friday, July 23, 2004

The IDEAL Model for Technology Change

Faced with an organization that needs to be refocused on pursuing new technology, leveraging existing technology, or outsourcing technology strategically - how does one go about making this transformation?

One approach that has been quite successful and that has been formalized by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon university is IDEAL.

IDEAL spells out the phases of the change process for the organization. These are:

  • I - Initiating. Laying the groundwork for a successful improvement effort.
  • D - Diagnosing. Determining where you are relative to where you want to be.
  • E - Establishing. Planning the specifics of how you will reach your destination.
  • A - Acting. Doing the work according to the plan.
  • L - Learning. Learning from the experience and improving your ability to adopt new technologies in the future.

The SEI has generously placed a great deal of information on IDEAL and its application on their web site. So you have free access to this powerful tool and to a large library of documents to assist you in implementing it.

Web Source: The IDEAL Model

Innovation in Bug Hunting

"Klocwork, a startup in Ottawa, Canada, is helping to solve a multibillion dollar problem: finding and fixing bugs buried deep in lines of computer code – or exterminating at the source before they strike.

It is a worthy battle. Software defects cost the U.S. economy nearly $60 billion a year, or about 0.6 percent of its gross domestic product, according to a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Developers already spend about 80 percent of software development costs on identifying and correcting defects."

CTO and Co-founder, Djenana Campara, "moved from Sarajevo to Toronto with her infant daughter in 1998, escaping the war in Bosnia. She had a degree in science, electrical engineering, and computer science from the University of Sarajevo, but didn’t speak a word of English. She sent out handwritten resumes on lined paper and landed a job Toronto technology company Amdahl; later she moved to Nortel Networks. There she developed software to clean code and free up memory, allowing programmers to add new features without the fallout.

The software was so successful at finding and repairing software code that Nortel decided to spin it out as a separate company – Klocwork – in February 2001, after a five-year incubation period."

Web Source: Red Herring, May 25, 2004 (requires free registration)

Klocwork Web Site

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Return on Innovation - A New ROI

What is the payoff for investing in innovation? Is it a linear relationship? Is it logarithmic? Authors at Strategy+Business explain their concepts and research into the Return on Innovation.

"The law of diminishing returns in innovation effectiveness explains the numerous cases in which increases in R&D spending do not produce significant lifts in sales or growth. These companies are not raising but rather “riding the curve” — increasing their spending on idea generation and new product development, without altering the processes, systems, structures, or capabilities that determine their ROI."

Sttrategy+Business article (requires creating an account): The Innovator's Prescription: Raising Your Return on Innovation Investment

GE Investor Meeting on Technology 2004

General Electric spends billions of dollars each year on R&D and the application f new technologies. This is such an important part of their corporate strategy that they schedule meeting with their shareholders to explain their strategies - to win investor support for their technology exploration.

R&D and Technology are a significant part of the future of GE.

View GE Briefings: General Electric Investor Meeting on Technology

Innovation Management at Siemens AG

Siemens has determined to be a trendsetter in developing solutions to life in the 21st century. The key, says Claus Weyrich, Siemens' Head of Technology, lies in developing “comprehensive visions, pictures of the future.” The company attempts to maintain technological leadership, aggressive patenting, synergy among work groups and a vast network of 50,000 skilled R&D workers worldwide.

Video by Weyrich: MIT World : Innovation Management at Siemens AG

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Chief Executive is the Head Innovator at Novartis

Chief Executive - Innovation: July 2004 Issue 200: "Many experts agree that in an industry where the work is as technical as pharmaceuticals, it helps if the CEO is a scientist or doctor."

The article above describes the technical prowess, technical management, and technical interests of the CEO of Novartis ... almost as if he were the CTO. He seems to set R&D budgets based on his own understanding of the potential of each new drug. Novartis does not have a CTO, but Jorg Reinhardt is the Head of Development, which includes R&D. What input does he have on setting R&D budgets?

Chief Scientist's are not always in favor of more technology investment

Chief Scientists, standing in for the CTO in this case, must consider the financial situation of the company. More technology investment is not always what the company needs right now.

"McNealy was bucking not just the counsel of outsiders but also that of his own lieutenants. After the tech industry went into its long slide in late 2000, virtually his entire management team, including Chief Scientist Bill Joy and President Edward J. Zander, pleaded with McNealy to scale back his vision and adjust to meaner times."

Web Source: BW Online | July 26, 2004 | Sun: A CEO's Last Stand

Sun Stock Performance

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Intel CTO Extracts Value from Acquisitions

A Red Herring article in 2002 implied that Intel needed a CTO because they had made a mess of their business situation through multiple acquisitions and had to call on someone to turn those acquisitions into a profitable and integrated business.
"Mr. Gelsinger will help manage a $4 billion research-and-development budget as Intel tries to navigate the complex and increasingly unstable terrain of computing, networking, and communications. He has to extract viable businesses from Intel's mess of acquisitions."

However, it is more important to recognize that the benefit of a CTO is in extracting value from technology, regardless of whether it was acquired or invented in-house.

Red Herring is on target when they point out that growth, acquisition, and research in all directions as fast as possible is a luxury that cannot be sustained indefinitely. Eventually you will have to bet on products that you can market and retreat from technology that is not leading anywhere.

Web Source: Red Herring, January 21, 2002

Scott Donnelly � : Technology for the 21st Century

Scott Donnelly, VP for Global Technology at GE, speaks to MIT about the future of technology.

Video: MIT World � : Technology for the 21st Century

GE Focuses Their Investors on Technology

General Electric spends over $2 billion on research and technology every year. Scott Donnelly, Senior VP for Global Research, spans all of the company's business areas. His goals are:

  • Delivering Breakthrough Technology

  • Leveraging Core Technologies in Multiple Businesses

  • Driving Technology Across the Businesses

  • Infusing New Technology Value in Acquisition

  • Developing and Protecting Intellectual Property

GE considers this investment so important that they schedule meetings with their investors to explain what they are doing in technology and why. The briefings at the link below explain the meaning of the five goals above.

GE Investor Meeting Focused on Technology

Technology Administration at the Department of Commerce

Question: What does the Department of Commerce's Office of Technology Administration do?

Answer: "The Technology Administration seeks to maximize technology’s contribution to economic growth, high-wage job creation, and the social well being of the United States."

Advocating for technological innovation in the government policy arena, and other key national and international organizations.

Analyzing factors that affect U.S. technological innovation and competitiveness, including R&D investment, business climate, technology infrastructure, and workforce technical skills.

Developing and promoting measurements, standards, and technology to enhance productivity, trade, and the quality of life. This includes conducting research to advance the U.S. technology infrastructure, promoting excellence and quality achievement in U.S. business and other organizations, providing technical and business assistance to the nation’s smaller manufacturers, and supporting the development of technologies for broad national benefit.

Providing access to information that stimulates innovation and discovery. This includes serving as the largest central resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information.

Technology Administration

Thursday, July 01, 2004

The Council on Competitiveness

"The Council on Competitiveness is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that sets an action agenda to drive economic growth and raise the standard of living for all Americans."

It has responsibilities similar to the Technology Administration in the Department of Commerce. Also the sponsors of the Technology Forum.

Forum on Technology & Innovation

Follow discussions on technology policy in Washington D.C.

Forum on Technology & Innovation

Sun CTO Greg Papadopoulos - Speaks His Mind

One of the jobs of a CTO in Silicon Valley is to make outrageous predictions that are worthy of being carried in the media and that will garner a place on the front page. In the case of Sun, it also requires maintaining the duel between Sun and Microsoft - the Grand Rivalry. (Yes, recent new is that the rivalry has been settled and Microsoft won in exchange for a $1.8 billion licensing payment to Sun for Java tech.)

Greg Papadopoulos, CTO at Sun, has several good articles on his Sun web site. Particularly look at the one on the innovative legacy of Thomas Edison. He maintains that Edison made similar outrageous claims to get the press' attention.

Papadopoulos Speaks

Information ... Knowledge ... Innovation ... Effectiveness

Storytelling Series - Larry Prusak, IBM Global Services.

IT Competitive Advantage - the Shrinking Timeline

Strategy+Business, Does Nick Carr Matter?: "Dawn Lepore, vice chairman in charge of technology at Charles Schwab, estimates that a lead in new IT-based financial products lasts from one to 18 months. 'You still get competitive advantage from IT, but there is no silver bullet,' she observes."

This use of the term "technology" is more limited than what we consider here. It is nearly synonymous with "IT" or "MIS". However, since IT has been the primary source of technology innovation over the last decade, it is important to notice when the power of that innovation begins to wane.

Power of Technology vs. Power of Application

Strategy+Business, Does Nick Carr Matter?: "This is what Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a strategy executive at IBM, calls the 'post-technology era.' The technology still matters, but the steady advances in chips, storage, and software mean that the focus is less on the technology itself than on what people and companies can do with it."

The advantage comes from doing something with technology faster, more efficiently, and in a manner that attracts customers.