BCC IT visionary panel

today I was invited (thanks Patricia!) to sit on an IT panel discussing trends and implications for community colleges, with focus on Bellevue Community College and the Seattle / PacNorthwest. I was honored to share the discussion with WA Senator Maria Cantwell, and about twelve execs and CIOs from a number of institutions, including Geospiza, Group Health, WSA, Advances in Technology, Microsoft, Urban Influence, U Washington, and more.

Here are my quick notes on the trends:

  • US mobile functionality strongly lags other countries such as Israel, S. Korea, India
  • Energy use and waste continue to be problems, though unclear to what extent it’s a fad or when regulations are pending (this surprised me, since I’ve basically been assuming the “fad”-ness is long over)
  • Companies are struggling to adopt new tools (social networks, etc…) that still conform to rigid, archaic regulations (eg, HIPAA in health care)
  • We are seeing a grassroots change in philosophy from ego-driven, single-property ownership to collective, less-ownership-driven.
  • There is a major talent shortage, driven by lack of interested candidates, immigration restrictions, and lack of qualified US candidates.
  • Companies struggling to manage their energy use, sources, and costs.
  • Lack of a “middle” in the employment environment that is mostly nonprofits, large companies, or startups.
  • A need for community colleges to focus not only on technological education (coding, maths, science), but on ethics and philosophy that will help train an open-minded, adaptable, creative workforce, to replace the generally territorial, risk-averse, corporate workforce we see in many large companies today. I know I’m generalizing a bit, informed from my experience in academics and industry across hospitals, biotechs, pharma, insurance, HR outsourcing, and consumer products. This is a major reason that companies slow down and have difficulty changing, innovating.

On most trends the panelists agreed. Most of the disagreement centered around the use and place of collaborative and community tools within companies, and to what extent these tools were a “generational gap” versus learnable by “older employees.”

My quick thoughts on why new web 2.0 tools are slow to be adopted in large companies. Older employees need:

  • new skills (working with often user-un-friendly programs)
  • new understanding (seeing what the value proposition of sharing information is – believe it or not, there are TONS of doubters!)
  • new mindset (focus less on worshipping the individual, focus more on collaboration and individual achievements as a way to increase community harmony, as suggested in Hawken’s Ecology of Commerce)
  • Confidence that regulatory challenges can be met (eg, security, privacy, or IP regulations)

And of course it falls on the shoulders of younger students and employees to be aware of how others outside of the “millennial” generation learn, and that some tasks work well as multi-user collaborations, while others don’t. There are so many opportunities for learning and collaborating here.

Does anyone know of startups addressing any of these trends? Any as listed that I missed or could improve? How is your local community college addressing these trends?

Update – dig this chart on mobile music sales from the Economist, powered by IFPI data, 1st half 07 (copyright The Economist).  This is just digital music of course, but gives you an idea of the mobile penetration of countries outside the US.


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