Robert Blackwell Jr. EKI Interview


John Page: Hi am John Page for CEO IntroNet TV, Chicagoland. We have got two great guests today both active in the technology space. Jim why don’t you tell us who you are and where you are from?

Jim Treleaven: I am Jim Treleaven, I am CEO of Via Strategy Group which is a technology consulting firm that we work with technology companies to help develop growth and turnaround strategies. And also CEO of a recently founded company called Speerz which is an acronym for Syndication Peers which helps small and medium sized businesses make more effective use for social media and growing their businesses.

John Page: And Robert tell me a little bit about who you are and where you are from?

Robert Blackwell Jr.: My name is Robert Blackwell Jr. I am the CEO of Electronic Knowledge Interchange. We help mostly large organizations both, public and private modernize processes and systems and improve service delivery, sourcing and decision making.

John Page: That’s a lot to think about, because especially with big companies, lots of processes how do they help them integrate that technology into their business to grow?

Robert Blackwell Jr.: Well one is I think you have to and we try to help customers understand what the role of technology is. The role of technology is to automate processes that are aligned to the business services or products that they are delivering to their customers. Too often people think about technology in a vacuum. The way that we think about technology is, it’s a portion of what we call a quotient. And this business quotient is that results equal the quality of strategy plus execution divided by time.

John Page: Okay.

Robert Blackwell Jr.: And in execution you have people, processes, tools and facilities. Technology is just a tool, but if you don’t have the other things, right, you don’t have the people right both internal and external, if you don’t have your processes aligned to the services you deliver, technology will end up being a waste of money. So we try to help them think about creating enterprise architectures first. And the enterprise architecture is really business architecture, technology architecture and also delivery architecture.

John Page: You probably run into the same kinds of things right Jim?

Jim Treleaven: I agree with Robert completely and social media is a perfect example of that even for large companies and small companies it really is not and end in itself it really is a way to help companies get at their customers more efficiently than they used to through other channels which may not have been technology based, but if you think about it in that perspective you can’t make effective use of it as Robert said.

John Page: So using a tool portal is not going to get you the results you want?

Robert Blackwell Jr.: No automating a bad process means you are just going to have a faster bad process.

Jim Treleaven: Or maybe not even faster.

Robert Blackwell Jr.: Right.

John Page: But more costly for sure, right.

Robert Blackwell Jr.: Well again I think you have to look at what the technology is there to do. It is there typically to automate some process that is manual or it could be outdated but it lets you modernize those processes first, you will end up wasting a lot of money on technology.

John Page: And your goal is what do you want to accomplish in your business same with social media, right.

Jim Treleaven: Exactly I mean one of the things that most companies miss in the use of social media for example is tying it back to the business objectives. You can go through all of these motions and use all of these channels and send out all of these messages, but if it really isn’t driving business results than it really isn’t worth doing.

John Page: What’s the biggest challenge you see you know in keeping our competitive advantage in this country, is there, I know you are active in grooming the next generation both of you are very active in helping kids and helping students to do better, is there our biggest bank.

Jim Treleaven: Now if you look at the US economy generally I mean we still are a very effective manufacturing economy and we do a lot of things well, but where we have differentiated ourselves in the last few decades has been in the development and innovation of technology, not just information technology but if you look at pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, medical technology and energy technology recently as well the US has built and economy around innovation and if we are not able to effectively innovate we won’t be able to maintain our competitive advantage. We have the best universities in the world, but we are not feeding those universities with US students, students who want to major in science and engineering and unless we can get more of our students in the K through 12 system interested in majoring in science and engineering you know we will lose our competitive advantage. China and India are have quite a number of schools now that are not as good as the US but they are educating a number of engineers not as many as it’s often reported but they are catching up with the US and we have to continue to grow our base of knowledge and innovators in this country to stay ahead of the rest of the world.

John Page: And what about you Robert?

Robert Blackwell Jr.: Now I think frankly the biggest challenge that we have in this country is that we are becoming slow like Europe. Europe has a very stagnant system it is not very entrepreneurial friendly. So there if you want to go and you want to start a business it has become and entitlement, these economies in which some are really collapsing, the smaller ones, have become entitlement economies as opposed to entrepreneurial and risk economies. I think the danger to the US is are we going to be an entitlement economy or are we going to be one that really rewards risk, because what I think what entrepreneurs do for country, it sends a signal towards young people that now you can take risk. Your reward is tied to your preparation in certain areas. That’s why in the Dominican Republic there is no like government programs around baseball, but all these little kids see Alberto Pujols and the other Dominicans who now dominate baseball in the US so their aspirations are now tied to this. So how do we reward and how do we create aspiration where there is not aspiration today, because you can’t just give resources, it’s not just about building better schools and giving teachers more resources, you have to have resources combined with aspiration. And I think it’s the market that creates aspiration and what’s happened in China and India in the last 20 years is they figured out the free enterprise system creates real opportunity. And that has driven the aspirations of their people that is why they are going into engineering and math and science because the market has said this is where the payoff is. This is what I think we have the danger of doing in this country is to protect everybody from everything which means then you are going to have a very slow economy and you are not going to really reward risk taking. So I think my view that’s the opportunity and the challenge.

John Page: And I think you have got to agree with that, that’s something that everybody watching this has got to agree with.

Jim Treleaven: I agree completely I mean I think Robert has hit the nail in the head and that is you can’t and he mentioned Europe, you can’t and we seen it in this country recently, the government can’t mandate innovation, the government can’t mandate creativity, it can’t mandate risk taking that has to come from the economy, from free market system which is being adopted in the countries that are growing and it’s been not adopted in the countries that are stagnant. And it’s going to have to, it comes from people taking risks and seeking rewards and being creative and innovative.

John Page: And aspiring to do better.

Jim Treleaven: Yes.

Robert Blackwell Jr.: And by the way that’s how you create affluence and prosperity in neighborhoods and in communities it’s happened with lot of different immigrant communities in this country, they have come and they have been poor but they had opportunity, that’s why I think they left where they were at to come to this country for opportunities not for guarantees but for opportunities.

John Page: And that is a topic that I think, we could talk at length about and –.

Jim Treleaven: For a long time.

John Page: But for right now I am John Page. Jim, thank you so much.

Jim Treleaven: Thank you John.

John Page: Robert, thank you so much.

Robert Blackwell Jr.: Thank you.

John Page: Intriguing concepts aspiration and I am John Page, aspiring to be the CEO IntroNet TV host here at Chicagoland that you watch everyday. Jim, thank you. Robert, thank you so much, appreciate it.

Robert Blackwell Jr.: Thanks so much.

Jim Treleaven: Thanks John.