Public Sector Opportunity Is Recognized By VCs. Watch For Civic Innovation.

Today I attended a conference for Russian entrepreneurs organized by Digital October.  I’m going to digress a moment and describe the location which for a Moscow veteran is one of the coolest places I’ve seen in new Russia.  Digital October has taken over part of the old Red October Confectionary Factory, a red brick factory on the banks of the river on the outside with a state-of-the-art, loft-like business space on the inside.  The building has a view of the Kremlin and of the new church built on the other side of the river (where the world largest outdoor swimming pool used to be for those of us who knew Moscow before the church reconstruction).

Today's Digital October event, “The Art of Going Global,” brought together startup founders, VCs and entrepreneurs to discuss how to expand globally, including global marketing and PR, and getting funding from global VCs. 

During the VC panel, Alisa Chumachenko, Founder and CEO of Game Insight, and one of the entrepreneurs in the audience, really grilled the panelists asking them to name their top geographical markets, top horizontal markets and top vertical markets.  Some responses were not surprising. Others were. 

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Start With Business Smarts, Not Necessarily Specific Smart Technology

If there is one theme that jumps out of my most recent client discussions, it is the need for business smarts in our approach to smart cities.  Cities are faced with a barrage of vendor solutions pitched as the holy grail of X, where X is public safety or transportation or some other city department.  I feel like the smart city discussion has reached of fevered pitch with conferences, congresses, expos and summits cropping up around the world.   But what is real and now as opposed to truly aspirational and future?   

Three observations:

  1. Smart computing is really about putting together the right pieces of technology, not about any particular smart technology.  Yes, the ability to capture and aggregate data is important.   But so is the ability to share information and collaborate.  A new Forrester report on smart computing addresses the realization that “smart” is really about finding the right solution and leveraging the new technologies available to better connect both machines (and information) and the people who can use them. It’s less about smart technology and more about using technology to get smart, or really using technology intelligently. (I really wanted to say “smartly” but couldn’t do it).
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