12 Nov Hot Technology, Hot Jobs and Cool Communities
WTN Interviews Rebecca Ryan of Next Generation Consulting
WTN: What technologies are propelling next generation communities?
Rebecca Ryan: High speed and wireless networks enable any person to work anywhere.
Quality health care is becoming a determinant for where seniors relocate or settle.
WTN: What interesting applications of technology do you see in Wisconsin and how can that model help other communities or businesses in the state?
Ryan: An interesting application of e’commerce is taking place in Crookston, MN. There, students in the University’s IT classes are learning how to measure and modify retailer’s e’commerce investments. With that knowledge, Crookston’s students are going to rural communities and helping Mom and Pop shops go global. One of the coolest examples is an ice hockey stick manufacturer who realized that they could sell OODLES more sticks to players in California…for street hockey. A few modifications in the product line, the web channel, and the e’commerce and BAM, they’d given their business a boost. Since the only way out of a recession has typically been through small business growth, Wisconsin’s small business community should tear a page from MN’s playbook and invest in technologies to make our small businesses more sustainable in a global environment.
WTN: What are the hot technology jobs for the next 12-36 months? Where are the new employment opportunities?
Ryan: Wireless technology, VOIP. Conversations about large telco’s and long distance are becoming irrelevant as VOIP becomes consistent and predictable. Also, technologies that make life easier or more enjoyable- like TIVO – have a strong future. Smart tech dudes and dolls are looking in the rubbish bin of the tech wreck and dusting off the “almost” technologies that missed the answers to, “What problem does this solve?” and “For Whom?” Then they’re writing smarter business plans with real numbers. Consumers are benefiting.
WTN: Looking at Crystal Ball what will Wisconsin’s technology community look like 10 years from now? 20 years?
Ryan: Wisconsin’s tech community will be a destination location for talent and capital within ten years if 3 things happen:
1. We learn from Britain’s mistake of the early 1900’s. After the industrial revolution, England chose to build all its engineering schools in India. In effect, they took the position that the only careers of distinction were legal and financial; they offshored the “lesser” professions. Today, India is emerging as a far greater economic force than its educational benefactor. To learn from England’s mistake, the US needs to QUICKLY understand that the next driver of economic development is NOT bankers, attorneys or even VC’s. The drivers of economic wealth are knowledge workers, entrepreneurs and small business owners. We need to begin recognizing and celebrating them, and giving them their place in society.
2. We position our urban centers as regional participants. Milwaukee is fighting Milan and Malaysia – not Madison – for talent and jobs. Yet our community leaders are terrified to do what Research Triangle and Silicon Valley have done so well: work together.
3. We get out of the pile and differentiate ourselves in no more than two technologies. High tech? Bio tech? Life science? Advanced manufacturing? Ag tech? Wisconsin’s regions need to decide what they can be best in the world at and then – with measured risk – align resources and energy behind it. Wisconsin’s regions cannot be all things to all people….it’s not a sustainable economic development strategy. The best economic super-regions in the world look at their organic strengths and say, “This is our best bet” and then they go for it.
WTN: What’s the next big thing?
Ryan: I tell everyone that their kids must learn a second language. But it’s not Spanish or Mandarin. It’s science. The genome map will be as important as the internet. I wish I knew more about lab science…or at least got better grades in chem. But at least I’m smart enough to KNOW that that’s where the future lies.
Rebecca Ryan is the founder of Next Generation Consulting, Inc. Rebecca’s keen eye for trends – especially those among young talent – coupled with her brilliance in presenting them to professionals at all levels, makes her one of America’s most captivating communicators and futurists. Rebecca has been named a “Woman of Influence” by the Business Journal and was a semi-finalist in Fast Company Magazine’s “Fast 50” awards. Phyllis Wilhelm, a leading economic developer in Rebecca’s home state of Wisconsin says, “Rebecca is more than a platform diva. She helps us understand generational differences, anticipate a workforce shortage of crisis proportions, and identify strategies to help us prepare and change.” A former professional basketball player in Europe, Rebecca drinks her coffee from a mug that says, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.