Friday, April 23, 2010

Advanced Decisions is 40!

Advanced Decisions is turning 40 this year. That’s amazing to me. I’ve been spending some time thinking about what’s lead to this longevity and the one thing I keep coming back to is relationships.

We have customers we’ve been doing business with for 20+ years. In such a crowded marketplace, they have many choices, but have formed bonds with us and trust us. Even when the individuals change companies, they still remember and call us. We recently got introduced to a brand new company in just this manner.

We also have employees that we’ve known for close to 20 years. They’re our “go to” people. When we have a tough challenge we immediately think of Brad, or Jose, or Linda, or Dave, or many of the others we’ve worked with “forever”.

We even have service providers that we’ve known for that long. In fact, the company that does our internal IT troubleshooting is owned by one of my very first mentors, way back when I was a Northeastern co-op student working at Pitney Bowes.

The continuity of these relationships is comforting and stable, but would be boring if not for the new – the new employees like Zach, Jovin and Joanne, the new clients like ClearView Edge and Wilkes, the new vendors like Response and many others who keep us growing and evolving even as we retain our “roots”.

I’m incredibly grateful for the presence of those that have been part of Advanced Decisions’ success, whether for 20 years or 2 months. I hope you all can come and celebrate with us on Thursday May 13th here at our offices. To another 40!!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

CT Small Business Climate

I recently attended the 2010 Connecticut Gubernatorial Forum on Jobs, Innovation & Technology sponsored by the CT Technology Council. The event was held at GE’s edgelab ( at the UCONN campus in Stamford. Both Democratic and Republican candidates (11 in all) participated. The format was a question and answer panel discussion. It was not a debate.

The audience was composed of representatives from the technology and business community. The intent of the forum was to hear each candidate’s position on the issues facing CT technology business. Specifically job growth, transportation, energy costs and in general, simply improving the business climate in CT via innovation and technology.

First a few stark quotes about the current state of CT business from various candidates:
1. CT is last (50 out of 50 states) in job retention
2. CT is 46 out of 50 states in small business growth
3. CT has the most expensive energy costs (76% above the National average)
4. CT is losing more young people than any other state
5. Only CT and Michigan have had 20 years of negative growth

The picture painted was bleak, especially considering that CT has a $3-$4 billion deficit looming in the coming years. All candidates were in agreement that the same-old way of doing business has failed and MUST change. They recognize that small companies are the engine of job growth in CT and that CT MUST get better at attracting and keeping business. It must create an environment where small business and innovation can flourish.

How can CT redefine itself? Few specifics offered, but some general themes emerged.

Create an atmosphere of consistency. Frequent legislation and tax code changes in CT has created an atmosphere of uncertainty. Candidates stated that CT companies do not feel they can not place any credibility in a 5 or 10 year-plan. One example was the favorable tax climate to attract and grow media and movie business in CT. Unfortunately this was followed in just a few years by a turn-around in policy.

Many candidates stressed the need for the Governor to be more open and proactive in attracting business. Become an effective partner with the business company. One way of accomplishing this is to combine the more than 220 State Agencies and then streamline their operations. This was considered essential however due to its disruptive nature in displacing workers very difficult to achieve.

Leverage the many Universities in the state to create a culture of innovation. The success of the Yale and biopharma industry or the GE edgelab and UCONN relationship were cited as success stories. All except one candidate wanted to expand the funding of the very successful Connecticut Innovations quasi-state agency to start-up new tech businesses.

So whoever is elected as the next Governor of CT will face a huge set of challenges but could really make a difference.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Next Generation of Techies Part 2

When can a fourth grader kick the butt of a seventh grader? At the New Haven Science Fair!

As I mentioned last week, I had the privilege of judging the first round of the New Haven Science fair on Tuesday. Many of the entries were great but there was one in particular that just blew me away. A fourth grade team did their project on which crop would produce the best bio-fuel. An admirable project to be sure, and one that was of particular interest to me since I’ve been following the Alternative Energy market. But what really impressed me was the way that they went about it.

For any of you that have not been involved in a science fair – it’s really not about making the correct hypothesis, it’s about the process, and the process that these kids came up with was quite impressive. They only had a short time to work these projects so what they did was break it into two phases. First they grew three different “crops”, soybeans, sunflowers, and radishes. They measured the output – quantity of bio-matter – grown in a specific length of time. Then, because they did not have the ability to convert it into bio-fuel, they took already prepared oils, sunflower and soybean, and measured the heat output. Now I realize that there could be a lot of factors in the conversion process, but remember – these are fourth graders.

Not only was the way they designed the experiment impressive, but their analysis was thorough and their explanation clear and complete. If this is our future, I’m a little less worried!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Next Generation of Techies

One of the issues near and dear to me is the lack of engineering talent, especially at the entry levels. Without these young people going into engineering, sciences and other technical fields I just don’t see how we can compete in the world economy. So when I have the opportunity to do something to support this goal, I jump on it. Next week I’ll be judging my first Science Fair for the City of New Haven. I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ve judged events like this before – most recently the Invention Convention up at UCONN last year, and boy was it fun! I can’t wait to see what these bright young people have come up with.

For more information, or to become a judge yourself, here’s the link: