For the last two year’s I have written, or largely written, the Powertek Corporation, www.powertekcorporation.com, response to a SmartCEO, http://www.smartceo.com/, set of questions associated with where Powertek is positioned technically and what that means to the company. While preparing this year’s, I looked at what I had written in 2011 and by golly, much of what I wrote is still pretty good, so thought I would post it here and then follow up a while later with our new, improved thinking.
1. What products and/or services does your company provide?
Like many smaller companies who are in a growth phase, we have invested time making sure we had clarity and consistency in understanding what it was we were trying to provide to our customers both now and as we grew.
In the simplest sense, the services we provide is encapsulated in our vision statement “We make Government better”.
We accomplish that in a variety of ways.
- Using data analytics to measure and ultimately improve performance
- Integration of industry standard process methodologies such as ITIL, CMMI, and ISO into how we perform our work
- Increased use of the Internet and web-based implementation to enable mobile access to information assets and constituent outreach
- Strong emphasis on security and information assurance in an increasingly interconnected and conflicted environment
2. Who is your target customer?
Currently 100% of our business is with the Federal Government spread across DoD and Civilian agencies. Over time I wouldn’t be surprised that this will inevitably lead to work with state and local governments as their information processing becomes more tightly coupled across organizational boundaries.
3. What trends in technology are you noticing?
I would make the case that we are entering a time when the speed of technological change makes it dangerous to place big bets on any specific technology direction. This is radically different than what has been true historically where our ability to react was faster than the changes that were occurring.
Let me use as an example one of the trendy technologies, the supposed focus on mobility. Contrary to the popular literature what is going on is not the increased use of mobile applications but rather the increased implementation of applications that are mobile. The difference is that systems developers have to take into account that they do not know in advance where and how their application will be used, which is very different than how applications were historically developed.
I believe we will need to increasingly look at systems architecture not as a digital implementation but as a biological one with many connecting to many often with not entirely predictable results.
4. How has new technology influenced your industry?
My opinion is that is hasn’t influenced it enough.
Too many companies are designing applications and providing services for yesterday’s challenges and yesterday’s capabilities.
For those of us who are supporting Government, we need to recognize that efficiency and optimization, while extremely critical in today’s lean budget times, are not in the end our most important service. Rather it is how do we support Government in integrating in a more real-time, on-line fashion with its multiple constituencies, both the public, intermediate stakeholders, and its own employees and enable Government to be more effective in provisioning public services.
5. What up-and-coming technologies excite you?
While I made light of mobility, the increased access to mobile devices which have wireless broadband, that is the ability to receive audio and video as well as text and email, capability has the potential to change Government’s relationship to the citizen.
This is starting to have a truly revolutionary impact around the world, both in societies like ours that are relatively free and in those that historically been closed and controlled. While the results will not always be pretty or positive, they will certainly be dramatic and significant.
6. How can these new technologies help a business owner?
Whenever there is dislocation and change, business owners have the opportunity to provide creative solutions that never existed before or were not provided in the same fashion as before. Those owners who are able to create organizations which have passion, high-energy, and creativity will thrive, the rest will disappear.
7. How does this technology differ from what CEO’s currently use?
First we need to agree upon what role the CEO brings to understand the impact of technology. In my opinion, a large part of the role of a CEO, or any senior executive, not only relates to defining goals and direction but communicating them after creation. They need to convey those goals and the implications with clarity, consistency, and repetition and in return setup feedback mechanisms to understand the relationship of reality to those goals.
The kinds of technologies that I mentioned earlier change the way the messages are conveyed. The receiving communities react differently. The methodology to achieve feedback loops are dramatically different.
Some executives will adapt and thrive, and help their organizations compete in this new environment. Many will not with negative implications for those around them.
8. How is technology contributing to your company’s competitive advantage?
We have made investments in people and technology infrastructure to be able to utilize mobile technologies to optimize our internal capabilities, the quality of the services we provide, and the advice and support we give our customers.
9. Describe how your company’s technology is helping you to better serve your customers.
Our customers are faced with shrinking budgets and an increasingly mobile set of stakeholder/customers and workforce. We help them make their work more efficient through the use of process methodologies, more mobile through the use of the Internet, and more effective through the use of data analytics.
10. What long-term advice would you give another CEO regarding technology?
Focus on agility and the ability to respond to constant, disruptive change.