In following up on an earlier blog I wrote on Growing the North & the Internet of Things (IofT), I have had an opportunity to venture further into how SMART(the IofT) Communities, People and Ideas can play an increasing role influencing and driving community economic development. Communities like St Albert and others across the province are advancing SMART strategies and seeing concrete success stories unfold on a number of new technology-based companies that are growing in their region.
Almost everywhere you read or hear the word ‘ innovation’ being a factor in addressing a problem or exploring a new opportunity and how people may wish to learn more about it: for example, this fall the Economic Developers of Alberta are sponsoring a course in Calgary on Technology-Led Economic Development. Are we starting to see IofT transforming itself from a product or service offering under other industry sectors to being an industry sector to itself?
It is an interesting world we live in: we strive for stability, are reluctant to change and yet, we see chaos and change whirling around us. We know that with change brings opportunities. And the ‘Death Valley’ gap between a person having a wonderful idea and getting it to the marketplace successfully is daunting. The Conference Board of Canada explains how we are good at new ideas and knowledge but suffer with commercializing ideas and products to the marketplace.
What I like about the strength of SMART communities is their potential abilities to influence the right innovation successes by representing taxpayer’s interests in IofT innovations. Their internal buying power can encourage citizens to explore and solve problems and provide that market pull for the right solutions to come into the marketplace. The challenge will be ensuring the IofT innovation has value to the taxpayers as customers.
SMART Communities, People & Ideas operate well within some basic economic development principles. The best innovative ideas come from those that work in that industry: they often know what the customer wants. And most new jobs in a community come from the businesses in that community: local people with innovative ideas and resources to invest in their community.
How much time or resources should someone allocate to innovation? For business and communities, I would suggest that if you allocated 4% to innovation, you will be ahead of the pack. That would leave 96% of your resources to operating an efficient and effective organization. That would give you opportunity to manage challenges and change in new ways (that the old solutions are not satisfactorily doing) while optimizing your operations (meeting & exceeding customer needs while managing your cost of doing business).
Innovations for the most part are going to occur: and the real question might be are your organizations being welcoming, aggressive and purposeful in doing innovation? By being an active leader and participant in innovation, one should get maximum return and value from being engaged in innovation activities.
Innovation is a process that can be learned and this can be especially fruitful in SMART IofT Communities. As a side note, April 12 &13 is Alberta Smart Cities Symposium it will be an exciting opportunity for me to meet leaders in IofT and Smart Communities and learn more about where the industry is headed.