March 25th, 2021
The Forces and Sources of Change
Spring Break - NO Zoomed webinar this week
To view former webinars CLICK HERE
Join us: share and network, discover and learn.
The KEI Network webinar HERE last Friday March 19th was co-hosted with Troy Media The presenters: Doug Firby, Doug Lacombe, and Paula SImons, weighed in on the use and abuse of the internet. Current concerns were voiced about misinformation and the role and challenge for government as an information regulator. Also aired were the implications of allowing digital and social media unfettered access to news, unregulated free usage, and ever-increasing influence in shaping the future of the media, retail, and publishing industries. Follow-on discussion considered options of more-or-less government intervention and the role of education for preparing users to be more critical in their assessment of social media as a source on news and entertainment.
The FORCES & SOURCE OF CHANGE
For all of us, taking a break is core to refreshing our perspectives and getting recharged. (The Covid break is somewhat excessive!) In fact, productivity usually increases just before a break. I can recall how decisions that were often lingering unresolved, were easily resolved just before going on vacation. Clearing the desk was surprisingly easier. Maybe it was the byproduct of finally delegating, but what ever it was, the sense of relief, the creation of urgency just seemed to facilitate working through what before had been onerous and ponderous. Regardless, I'm taking a spring break, but before doing so I want to share with you some of the more evident shifts in perspective that are emerging. Some of these concerns have been discussed in recent weeks, but current events are serving to alter the options for their resolution.
Selling Canadian Technology Firms - The Silver Lining
The attraction of US capital to Canada in search of innovation and rapid growth scale-ups appears to be on the rise. Why? It may be due to the relatively low cost of labour vis-a-vis the US; but that's not new? Or something else? The sale of several Canadian start-up technology firms has been announced recently. Each had survived the trials and tribulations of a start-up having survived and grown, but now were being sold to US interests. On first blush, this would seem like a loss. That is, how is it a Canadian success to sell south, to lose another job creator?
Maybe I'm a contrarian, but I see an extraordinary silver lining and will want to visit this with a webinar. The positive is that each of these start-ups will continue to operate in Canada, so the talent is retained. But more importantly, the proceeds of the sale - the $M and $Bs, have come to Canada. The questions I have are, "Will the proceeds be used to seed another round of innovation, enterprise, and success? Will the sale contribute to furthering development of Canada's national, provincial, and regional innovation ecosystems." I'm inviting your views as I assemble for an April webinar a few presenters and prepare for an open and lively discussion on the topic.
Energy and The Environment - The Rebirthing of Nuclear
I recently received an extraordinary article HERE citing how the laws of physics undermine any possibility that alternative energies could ever displace carbon for energy. It is well worth a read. Other articles this week held out the promise of science research and engineering that have always been the source of discovery. Together they and private sector investment are credited with giving rebirth to nuclear, repackaging fission into small modular nuclear reactors HERE and HERE
More down to earth is the international race to achieve fusion ignition and the aggressive entry of the US HERE advocating public-private partnerships to advance the introduction of fusion energy into the US power mix. And while other countries and industry are now embracing fusion as the future, Canada remains aloof. Fusion - the energy source that powers the sun is viewed as the ultimate source of energy: no environmentally damaging emissions - good for the planet and the location of power plants is unrestricted, producing heat for the creation of electricity and therefore requiring little to no change in the power distribution infrastructure, and sourced by elements found in seawater so the supply would be virtually unlimited. For more visit HERE
Personalized healthcare - increasing competition and choice
Canadians are so very, very proud of their National Healthcare System; in fact, the system is one of the defining features Canadians cite in differentiating Canada from it's neighbour to the south. But change is underway driven by the client, enabled by the internet. When I was Director of Privatization and Funding Reform for the Alberta Government, I advised that it was unnecessary for government to adopt the ideology of privatization. I was of the view that an increase in private sector service options would ultimately be driven by the client, the consumer, the citizen. I assumed that rising expectations, fragmentation of the professions, and better information, would lead the client to increase demand for better access, more specialization, and assured quality - ultimately driving up competition. I DID NOT however anticipate the internet.
We've discussed how in the digital age, data is now everywhere and accessible. The difficulty - until now, is that the data was in the hands exclusively of the system and the professions. The professions were granted exclusive rights of practice AND the responsibility to regulate the profession - weeding out fraud and the fraudulent. We noted in last week's seminar that the professions have that role but with knowledge no longer exclusive they have limited means of controlling misinformation. Today a wearable wrist band supplied by the private sector can convey extraordinary information about that status of your health AND enable you to take charge in monitoring, interpreting, and taking action to ensure longer life and a healthier one as well. The digital infrastructure to collect, disseminate, and interpret this data 24 x 7 can be yours and/or your coach, your doctor, your healthcare researcher.
The "personalization" of healthcare is not a trend, it is a transformation introducing a new player to healthcare, the client - patients wanting and confident to take on the role of owning their body and their heath's welfare. This is turning the "system" upside down, increasing the role and relevance of the client to one of a customer taking charge of their healthcare and increasing the importance of client relations for professions in the delivery of healthcare services. Just ask your physician, your lawyer, your engineer, even teachers, if competition has increased and if their client is not more informed, more challenging, and more savvy - less "trusting", than in the past and whether the internet has contributed to the transformation! We did and the results were confirming HERE.
US Congress investigating misinformation and the power of social media
The US Congress is holding a series of hearings to obtain the views and challenge the activity of several social media giants HERE and how they are handling misinformation. Apparently the information received and general attitudes expressed so far have been unacceptable. What is most evident is the realization of just how much power resides with these social media giants that they can decide what information is fact and what is not, what information to distribute and what not, and what websites will live and what will be closed down. Stay tuned, this issue is not going away anytime soon as governments, industry, and the general public consider options to intervene and regulate or not and let the user beware.
Can "respect" be restored/ achieved?
Again addressing social media, concern continues to be raised that everything from luring to bullying, from general misinformation to outright fraud, is rampant in the world of social media. Is this the wild west - unregulated but simply a feature of something new? Will the problem resolve itself soon, tamed as users learn the risks and wisen up. Or is there a real genuine risk to the erosion of civic "trust". An article we received recently HERE pegged the importance of restoring mutual respect, core to commerce and our social interaction.
Monitoring inflation and appreciating the consequences of hyper inflation.
We've targeted inflation as a primary issue of concern for 2021 HERE given the amount of money that that been printed and circulated by governments during Covid to support people and their families, businesses and in some instances entire industries. Our concern is that as recovery takes hold, that it will come too fast for supply to keep up with demand, fueling inflation with serious economic implications. The classical response of governments would be to dampen demand by increasing interest rates. FOR MORE We have seen some movement here as long term bond interest rates have risen in anticipation of an increase in interest rates. Consider for example the implications on home mortgages should interest rates rise to stem demand.
On the other hand but also a concern, is that recovery will be too slow with tax revenues inadequate to service the multi-trillion $ public debt. Here the response would be to reduce interest rates, but they are already at historical lows so there is little wiggle room. This article shared by a reader cites real concern emerging already in Europe HERE and where money in circulation is three times that of the US. Recent event in Turkey may be an early indicator HERE. So keep your eyes on Europe as our canary in the mine.
Confidence and comfort restored in Canadian politics
Early April fools! For those of you who have read this far and are paying any attention to Canadian politics, have you ever, ever, seen such chaos at the national level?
Do you have something to share?
Regulating Social Media
Government is waking up
What role the humanities? - Thank you Kelly
Risk Mitigation for SMEs
How MARs does it
WD Can Help
Innovating? Wanting to grow?
Canadian Achieves $1B Sale
LOOKING AHEAD TO APRIL
April (and October) will be devoted to issues of economic development including the launch of our month long survey. The articles, editorials, and webinars will be devoted to developing the innovation ecosystem and achieving economic resilience.
NOTE. There is no webinar this week. To view former webinars CLICK HERE