Where has Talent Gone?

Prior to WWII, many talented and educated people went to work on Wall Street trading stocks, or running divisions of large companies of the day, steel, rail, textiles, canning, and manufacturing. At the beginning of WWII the US Navy had a large problem on their hands trying to figure out how to disperse throughout the Pacific and maintain control of distributing men, material, food, aircraft, and all the other supplies required for such large operations. They did not have the personnel in place so they found the brightest and most entrepreneurial minded people of the day on Wall Street.

After WWII and the industrial expansion of the times, military personnel returned home to new jobs, new opportunities, and of course they returned to Wall Street as well. Throughout the following decades the military still utilized the brightest of our citizens when possible and needed, but other opportunities such as technology, engineering, aircraft, space, and more, absorbed much of our talented citizens. In the ’90s Wall Street became a large attraction again.

Here we are in the 2010s and much has changed including Financial Services have become very automated and the creative entrepreneur of the past seems to be few and far between with most positions being filled by clerks instead. So where has all the Talent gone, and if we follow the current trend, is this were opportunity exists?

The Entrepreneur of today, is more dispersed than in the past. Some stay home and build their business online, others have developed new versions of services for home or business, and still others have continued to run divisions of larger business and technology. The military still gets their share too. Yet there does seems to be a downturn in new technology companies, financial business opportunity, and high growth for new corporate divisions. At least it feels like these are less robust. Most likely it feels that way because of the incredible number of things developing around us all the time, changing rapidly, and we are no longer stunned by the newness of things. A computer is no longer a mystery, flat screens are everywhere, and who can ever try all the apps developed for our cell phones? Why pick a stock when the computer or manager can do it?

But there may be a place where nobody expects to look for innovative, talented entrepreneurs of today. It may be the mundane in which opportunity has hidden. Could it be that Talent has found a place where it can flourish without being the headline of Wall Street, the news of the day on TV, the political argument of the moment? Could it be in a place which rewards hard work, critical thinking, experience, and the ability to take a meaningful risk?

One industry the talent pool seems to have poured into is Hospitality. Hotel owners, investors, and managers are flourishing with very little fanfare, all for the sake of providing a meaningful service for a fair price. The talented leaders of this niche have been developing new models, adding technology, and using creative financing to produce a very rewarding space for themselves in our modern times. They are fully taking advantage of our new age of technology and I would say they have advanced far beyond most industries. Seriously.

If you have taken a vacation and stayed in a nice resort or hotel, you also know these are not mundane at all. They are excellent places to visit, they have the latest in technology and services, and the people are incredibly nice since hospitality is… nice.

BlackBerry, Powerful Future in Bloom

A while back I wrote about the Rise of Blackberry, which I still believe in, although things seem to have taken a year longer than expected, but much has changed in the World of BB.

KEYone

Suddenly, it seems, BlackBerry is no longer catching up in the handset arena and may be in front… but careful here!  The handset arena is not where BlackBerry is becoming powerful, although I believe John Chen correctly sees a marketing future in which the device is a doorway to the bigger and wider world of “things” and security, and control.  The future is not missed in the plans of the former productivity company.

How about a quick comparison to Harley Davidson which at one time sold 20,000 or so motorcycles to the Government and later ended up with many soldiers wanting one of their own when they returned from WWI.  This was successful enough that they did it again in WWII, building on a niche of followers familiar with the product.  BlackBerry will find the same “soldiers” of handsets as they continue to innovate in other areas.

The new BlackBerry phone called the KEYone is definitely a doorway device.  They are capitalizing on the familiarity of the original BB design which draws attention because it is very recognizable.  If you have not used one of these new keyboards you would be surprised to find that it is faster to type on simply because it is more accurate; fewer misspelled words means much faster completion.  It may not matter to you that you misspell words all the time when texting to friends, but in the business and communication world of social media it has an impact on sales, impression, and number of followers.

Personally I use a Priv which has a very good physical keyboard that slides out and also has the amazing BlackBerry touchscreen keyboard when it is closed, allowing you to ‘flick’ the suggested words into your text or document using gestures.  The physical keyboard also has this ability by swiping up quickly on it and in the perceived column under the suggested word you would choose.  This is fast!  I never became great at the newer touchscreen keyboards but my wife is an ace, especially using swipe.  However, after using the Passport and getting used to the physical keyboard, she seems to be much happier because she uses this instead of her laptop or tablet.

If you look at the BlackBerry website you will find that smartphones are not the primary business of the company anymore.  Instead they take about 4th position.  Still, if you drop down the menu for smartphones or click on it, you will find 5 excellent models available, yes that’s 5!  Two are BlackBerry 10 units (real BlackBerry phones) and the rest are now Android based devices with BlackBerry software for security and apps.  My personal phone, the Priv, is Android based and my wife’s phone is a Passport using BlackBerry 10 OS.  I like my phone, especially because I do use a lot of Google and Android apps along with MS Office, so it works for me and the DTEK security is excellent.  From time to time I am allowed to use my wife’s Passport and I am always blown away by how fast and intuitive it is.  It may not be fully compatible with the open world of Android but who gives a rip when the productivity is so dang high!  Another thing about the Passport is you get to use BlackBerry Blend and BlackBerry Link which means you can run it from your computer with ease, sync easily, and really get some work done.  I will miss these applications if they end and truly hope they are extended into the Android platform instead.  One thing is for sure, if they offer another BB10 OS phone I will be near the front of the line to get one!

Speaking of ending, the thing BlackBerry has left us with is the expectation of productivity.  For some strange reason people just don’t buy productivity like they used to, instead they go for entertainment, and this to our great downfall.  Maybe it takes a bull market to create a need for prosperity and productivity, in which case the current markets and positive business direction may bring back some of the better days and we will see the full return of BlackBerry devices alongside their newer software ventures.  Side note: you know how people walk into a pole or something while using their cell phone?  I have yet to see anyone with a BlackBerry do that (prove me wrong).

All this leads to an important point regarding BlackBerry which I will now repeat, it is not primarily a handset company but is instead all about IoT (the Internet of Things), networked security, tracking, and much more.  These are not just new lines of business to keep up with other companies but are in fact lines which they have been pursuing for some time, and in some cases they bought out other companies which already had deep roots and better focus.  They have really structured a powerhouse of opportunity and are at the cutting edge of the next technology services needed for smarter things like cars, trucks, transportation and much more.  Just check out their Core IoT Platform and QNX for yourself.

So ignore BlackBerry all you want, with an attitude that the keyboard is out of date and out of style.  I don’t think it will take long for you to change your mind or for your boss to change it for you in the near future.  Now just consider two things: 1) your car may be utilizing BlackBerry in its dashboard information system, and 2) do your prefer your keyboard at your computer when you are typing a long document or would you rather slop through it on your ‘boardless iPhone?