Brian Keedwell is a seasoned ICT industry leader (and MPS patent applicant) who has built successful mobile process systems for global companies. More importantly, Keedwell is a fearless visionary with a plan not just for a new company but for an entirely new technology market – Mobile Process Services. His plan can be intimidating in its scope and complexity but, even so, it is winning endorsements from esteemed business and technology academics and others who have taken the time to understand it.
The hope of Keedwell and his supporters is to convince key industry players of the viability of delivering mobile processes as a service and to attract investors for development of a proof-of-concept working model. Additionally, his plan calls for the creation of two companies – one to manage knowledge flowing from Keedwell`s process patents and other sponsored R&D, and a second company to corner the market for a new Smart Business Network dedicated to Mobile Process Services.
The whole business of building Mobile Processes, whether delivered as a system or as a service, is very complex, expensive and risky. The slow uptake of this technology indicates that customers need a guarantee before they will invest heavily in technology that is supportive but not part of their core business.
Growth of business-to-business enterprise mobility is stalled because customers are balking at risking serious investment in mobile processes. Telecoms and similar players need a serious value-added offering to counter the threat from encroaching, low-cost competitors.
This is a key refrain from industry leaders and government in calling for a national agenda for the digital economy.
Without moving to the added value of integrated and advanced services, many telecom companies will soon fail. They will be driven out the market by low-cost providers that are able to survive selling traditional telephone and network services as commodities.
Canadian universities obtain only half of the license revenues generated by U.S. universities due in part to the less favourable commercialization environment in Canada and the more limited receptor capacity of Canadian industry.
There is a way to address the needs of the stakeholders above but it requires that business does more than pay lip service to systemic innovation, education and research. Brilliant innovations in both business and education have evolved in recent years but the adoption of many promising ideas has been pathetically slow. Why? People are timid about learning and changing the way things are done. With the recent economic downturn especially, business leaders are fearful of sticking their necks out so, instead of innovating, they cut jobs. Very few truly believe that a strong offence is the best defence, that innovation can be a better strategy than layoffs. Even fewer are willing to take a risk without someone else going first.
Brian Keedwell’s detailed and elaborate plan has many facets. It requires the creation of both companies and collaborative networks, including an integrated network of R&D universities. It also requires a paradigm shift to begin offering mobile processes as a service - a market that doesn’t yet exist.
Today mobile process systems are designed and sold largely by ICT consultants who reap great rewards but share none of the risk if these costly projects fail to satisfy their customers. Keedwell`s plan calls for mobile processes to be sold as an integrated service and billed monthly instead of as a system with payment on delivery. This will provide customers with a guarantee that if the service doesn’t match their expectations, they won’t be stuck with dud technology.
Following are the four main components of the Keedwell plan.
Every MPS project will be uniquely complex and require considerable learning in order to guarantee that all the parts work together perfectly. A Smart Business Network, comprised of vendors, customers and academics working (and learning) together, promises an organizational model agile enough to adapt quickly to the needs of each project. It promises customers that they will get the best possible mix of vendors. And it promises vendors that, while they may not get all of today’s tiny mobile process market pie, in the future they will get much more - as an even larger piece of a giant pie that they helped to create.
Charter member vendors in the SBN will be invited on the basis of their complementary strengths so the final form of the SBN will represent a formidable adversary to any challengers.
Research and development is the key driver for investment in mobile processes but its upfront cost inhibits many companies from exploring ideas for innovation. The Mobile Processes Innovation Network offers a way to overcome resistance to expensive R&D and is the cornerstone of the Keedwell plan.
MPIN will obviously bring the learning of business academics to bear on each SBN project but its mandate is much larger. Currently, enterprise mobility is not a program offered by any university so consultants selling these systems have no specialized training or credentials. The Keedwell plan calls for SBN developers on each project to enrol as students with an MPIN school and to use their participation in project development to earn a degree in enterprise mobility.
Since the final product will be delivered as a service, there will be no upfront cost to the customer for R&D, or to vendors. Costs will ultimately be recovered as part of the customer’s monthly service charges. Even so, customers and vendors will have some costs associated with enrolling their personnel in a concurrent enterprise mobility education program. Customers in particular, however, will benefit from this cross-discipline learning since they will gain a much better understanding of industry trends, about what is possible and about how their business might adopt MPS more effectively.
WWWW Ltd. (World Wide Wealth & Welfare) will manage patents and knowledge flowing between MPIN and the Smart Business Network. Investors in WWWW Ltd. will earn royalties and commissions from that knowledge as part of the services charges paid by MPS customers.
IMP will be a marketing company created to evangelize globally for mobile processes as a service and to pre-sell the Smart Business Network to prospective customers. The sales process for IMP will be a program of assessing and pre-qualifying customer projects as candidates for SBN development. This prequalification is critical since the final product will be guaranteed – members of the SBN need such rigour to ensure they will be able to deliver as promised.
Keedwell’s detailed financial projections, based on a target of 40 projects a year, suggest that revenues in the fifth year of perhaps $5 billion are realistic (to be shared between SBN member companies). Royalties to IM of 3% are projected at $150 million. Keedwell plans to donate 2/3 of his share to funding MPIN. Commission revenue for IMP is modeled at 10% of gross revenue ($500 million), a very low cost for such a sophisticated marketing/sales role.
Brian Keedwell has sold, designed and managed a number of mobile process system projects for global companies. These were costly (million dollars plus) projects but the acclaim and gratitude he now enjoys from those customers is remarkable. In addition, Keedwell has successfully helmed global companies in a variety of industries. This hands-on experience, coupled with a formidable amount of mentoring and studying with leading industry academics, has gained Keedwell a deep understanding of Information Communication Technology and the business processes connected with enterprise mobility.
His mentors are also supporters of his plan. They include distinguished, industry-leading professors Don Cowan of the University of Waterloo, Canada; Gunnar Sohlenius of the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden; Hans Andersin of Helsinki University of Technology, Finland; and Kenny Preiss (editor of the book, Smart Business Networks) of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.
Interest in the plan is also growing amongst industry players. Many companies – potential vendors and customers – are giving Keedwell`s plan serious consideration although, so far, only Sasktel has signed on with a firm commitment to provide a data center for use in a demonstration.
The greatest challenge with this proposal appears to be pedagogical. At a glance, the plan seems so large, complex and unwieldy that few executives are willing to invest the time needed to understand it. They would, however, be willing to learn if they could do so in the company of other prospective members of an SBN and if they had a working model to demonstrate concepts and processes in real time.
Keedwell and his team of programmers are ready to build this demonstration model. Don Cowan of the University of Waterloo has offered to host the conference. Everything is in place to present this conference except the financial backing and a champion to lead key industry players off the fence. We trust that will come as support for the plan reaches a critical mass amongst vendors and academics.
The core of the MPS plan revolves around the promise that there is more to gain from cooperating to create a bigger pie than from ruthlessly fighting over one little pie.
Because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, piecemeal innovation will never be able to deliver the same quality and effectiveness as integral innovations that address the entire system
Currently, most business is mired in tradeoffs between quality and productivity, and because of that no business has an advantage over others. By raising the game with systemic innovation and engineered processes, we are proposing that MPS will reap immense advantages in effectiveness by raising quality with no loss of productivity. Or vice versa.
Lessons from Tom Peters and Henry Ford "If I had asked my customers what they wanted," Ford said, "they would have said a faster horse."
Systems delivered the old way – as products – require an adversarial relationship between vendor and customer and therefore do not nurture sustainable relationships, a spirit of compromise and long-term thinking.
To use a sports analogy, we want vendor teams in the MPS network to learn how to work together in creation of a new premier league of competitors. And maintain that spirit to cooperate on early-stage groundwork for individual customer projects.
Modern educators recognize now that these three learning modes are critical for improving motivation and effectiveness of learning
At a fundamental level this is a required paradigm shift – to give as much or more awareness to relationships as to the individual things or people that are part of a whole system.
A nascent model of self-organization and agile team formation applied to people, organizations and networking infrastructures
With engineered processes and robust IT communications, management can get out of the way and let teams manage their own services.
A shift in thinking about systems that promises greater effectiveness by letting automation do most of the work while retaining human intervention only where necessary.
These modern methodologies and tools provide an ideal framework for systemic business design.
This is the discipline and the common language that members of the Smart Business Network will need to learn in order to work together.
The market for advanced systems that can take advantage of MPS is restricted to organizations with a large number of dispersed nodes in their system network. Even so, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies around the world that qualify but will have no systems developer able to match the value delivered by the proposed MPS system.