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Technology Perspectives

Economic Development is a Contact Sport!

You’re not likely to break a leg or wind up on the disabled list but high numbers of high quality contacts are critical to your success. I have a great memory, but it’s short so I’ve learned a few tricks. 

I was told that economic developers tend to know two or three times as many people as the average person. By itself that’s not a big advantage – just more names and faces to remember. The key thing is to associate a person with the right assets and attributes. 

As an economic developer, your success and reputation are dependent on your ability to connect people with others who can solve their need or opportunity. Other than a photographic memory, what can you do to improve your contact game? 

You can start with networking skills to identify leaders in various fields but again, that gets confusing unless you can save and store that information in a contact database until you need it. Although cumbersome, use as many fields as possible so that you can search on more than just a name (for the good but short memory).

Consider a client relationship management system (CRM) for you and your community. My colleagues and I use Executive Pulse for our BR&E projects but it has much more utility than just to support a BR&E project. In addition to surveys, you can save details about issues, needs, products and services that can make you look like a genius when you find and connect local businesses that can help one another. You will also have done your community a service in documenting local knowledge, insights and services provided by local businesses. Your client businesses will be happy because you’ve remembered important things about them.  

Contact sports don’t need to result in injuries if you play the game right and have the right equipment and technology to play like a star.

 

Art Lawson B.Sc, M.Sc, Ec.D is a McSweeney Economic Development Associate Consultant and pioneer in community economic development, having made Ontario one of the leading jurisdictions in the world for bottom-up economic strategic planning and development.  He established the regional team system for economic development programs and services to small urban and rural communities for the Province of Ontario and led their award-winning BR&E program in over 100 communities, enabling local retention and development of 1000’s of jobs.

 

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Just the facts, anywhere, anytime, all the time…

Mobile devices will drive decisions anywhere, anytime, and all the time.

Gartner Group recently stated that in 2013, total shipments of all IT devices will rise 5.9% to 2.32 billion units. But the makeup of those shipments has changed dramatically in recent years. In 2013, Gartner estimates 1.8 billion smartphones will ship – 6 times the number of PCs! Tablet shipments are far behind at only 184 million units, but that is up 53% over 2012.

"Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products,” according to Carolina Milanesi, vice president at Gartner. "Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets.”

There are approximately 900,000 apps for both Android and for iOS (Apple iPhone and iPad Operating System) for these portable, less expensive, but powerful mobile devices - so they can do a bunch of stuff, but what does that mean for businesses, and you, the economic developer?

One example of how this trend impacts business, involves the use of location services on the devices. GIS enabled devices show businesses, events and attractions in the immediate vicinity. So, tourists (and residents) can find attractions' open and closing times, find restaurant ratings for eateries close by, review menus, get directions, report potholes along the way, pay using their smartphone, and post a review of their experience afterwards.

From the economic development perspective, we know that your community gets checked out online by site selection professionals - more and more, that will be on a mobile device. This raises several considerations. Do you have a mobile version of your website? Have you read your 400 word webpages on a mobile device? Are the facts quick and easy to find? Can your contact information be found, with clickable phone and email access?

Take a few minutes, put yourself in the mind frame of a site selector, and check your economic development web presence on your mobile device.

By Richard Woolridge and Eric McSweeney


Richard Woolridge

Currently an Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Previously, twenty years in industry as an entrepreneur, consultant, process developer, project leader, information architect, teacher, developer, and innovator.

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Technology Megatrends impacting Economic Development

Enter megatrend into a search engine and you get a lot of hits. Everything from John Naisbitt's original 1988 book, to geopolitics, to new age tenets, can be found. When you further restrict the search to technology, it seems that a significant percentage of this planet's consulting companies have insight into the next big thing(s). From my perspective, after being a practicing information technology professional for 20 years and then moving to academia, I see four trends shaping the information technology space over the next decade. Maybe they will be megatrends, or maybe something new will overshadow them all, but are all going to be important:

  • mobile devices
  • social media
  • cloud computing
  • and data analytics

Mobile devices will drive decisions anywhere, anytime, and all the time.

Social media will give consumers the power to change your products and services, or kill them.

Cloud computing will provide sufficient capacity, cheaply enough for individuals, small business, and big corporations to do things they cannot currently imagine.

Lastly, data analytics, along with big data, will enable knowing what you cannot currently know.

These trends represent major features that will force us to re-think information technology, but ultimately they may have a bigger impact on how we think about our public and private organizations. I am sure that you have already felt some of the impacts of these megatrends in your day to day economic development work. We will talk about each trend and some possibilities of what they might mean to economic development in future posts.


 

Richard Woolridge

Currently an Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Previously, twenty years in industry as an entrepreneur, consultant, process developer, project leader, information architect, teacher, developer, and innovator.

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