Doug Wright: CEO, Alberta Recycling Management Authority
The manager of the country’s first electronic recycling prgram is helping the IT industry start to attack the many mountains of e-wasteIf there’s one image that says Canada, it’s probably the ice-capped Rockies looming over pristine lakes and forests. But those mountains are threatened by growing mountains of electronic waste from discarded computers, monitors, cell phones and televisions.
That’s why last year Alberta undertook an e-waste program to divert the more than 190,000 televisions and 90,000 desktops expected to be discarded in the province over the next 12 months.
“We’ve always been fairly decisive on environmental things,” says Doug Wright, CEO of the not-for-profit Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA). “If there’s a problem that needs a solution, Albertans, and therefore their politicians, are quite willing to step forward and address the problem.”
Environment Minister Guy Boutilier agrees. Albertans, he said in an e-mail interview, are leaders in many areas, such as recycling, climate change, conservation and green power production.
“I hope that the good news stories about the actions Albertans are taking in all these areas are starting to be heard across the country,” he says.
The program, which is the first in Canada, is designed to not only divert hazardous materials such as lead and mercury from landfills, but to capture the recycling potential of metals, glass and plastic.
For example, steel from computers goes to steel foundries, while cathode ray tubes are sent to a lead smelter.
Since its inception in October 2004, the program has recycled more than 1,500 tonnes of electronic material, which is collected at more than 100 municipal collection sites and drop-off points.
It is funded through fees collected by retailers on electronic items at the point of purchase. The fees, which are set by the province, range from $5 to $45, depending on the product.
“I think that’s important because it ensures a level playing field, which is very important for industry,” says Wright. All vendors, whether mass merchandisers, manufacturers, distributors or independent retailers, know everyone else is collecting the same fees.
Alberta’s program is unique because often e-waste recycling programs in other countries are run by industry, says Wright. And while the program has been a success so far, it has undergone some tweaking.
The original model didn’t include products in the commercial distribution chain, for one thing, an issue that is being addressed in the first program review, says Wright.
“We’re going to look at how we can minimize or reduce the paperwork, or maybe do it through electronic reporting,” he adds.
For example, the e-waste recycling system will allow a vendor’s supplier to remit the paperwork on their behalf.
“If a supplier has 100 to 200 retailers and they remit on their behalf, think of the reduction in paperwork,” he says.
ARMA also had to adjust its theoretical model to reality, adds Wright.
“We’ve had to provide clarification as to what printers are in or out for commercial distribution,” he says.
“You get technology conversion, you get printers that fax and copy, and you’ve got computer monitors that can be TVs, so those things you can’t avoid. What’s key is to figure out a process to get that input from industry to make the right decisions and communicate those decisions to maintain a level playing field.
“You’ve got to tell everybody
at once. You can’t have companies playing by different rules, so that’s a big challenge.”
Wright’s advice for other provinces looking at setting up similar programs is to spend a lot of time communicating with participants before proceeding with any decisions, and to first make sure you have companies on board able to recycle the products in a way that meets strict environmental and safety standards.
“You’ve got to be as careful in designing your program to pay for the recycling as you do in collecting the revenue,” he says.
But while the e-waste recycling program is an excellent first step, it’s only the beginning, says Boutilier.
Future plans for the program will include increasing the number of collection points across the province and expanding the list of items the program accepts.
Ultimately, though, says Boutilier, “My vision is for Alberta to be a province without any landfills, because every resource is used to its fullest. Used computers contain many resources that can be salvaged and turned into new products.”
James Gosling: VP, Fellow, Sun Microsystems
For leading Java to its 10th birthday this year we salute a man who left his mark on IT Ten years ago James Gosling led a team at Sun Microsystems in a modest programming project for integrating consumer products. It sparked one of the most famous four-letter words in IT: Java.
Today it’s one of the leading programming languages, taught in universities and used in everything from running banks to cellphones.
Gosling is modest in explaining Java’s success. “A lot of it is luck, a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time, a lot of it is having the technology,” he said in an interview. “It’s really been a community-based thing. It’s not something any one person did.”
While early demos involved consumer gear, “a lot of the early vision was about a very integrated networking world where all of the pieces worked together,” he pointed out.
“By the time Java had been out for a couple of months I think it was clear there was a big rocket engine going on underneath it.”
It boosted him to an executive who divides his time between “mindless meetings,” road shows and programmming.
Five years from now Java will be “pretty well every place there’s a digital system. The interesting places for me in the future are places like automobiles, DVD players – anything that communicates with the ‘Net.”
As for his future, the guy who calls himself “pretty geeky” and is known for going to public events in T-shirts and jeans, figures he’ll still be at a keyboard.
For computing is still fun. “I get to build things. I get a big thrill out of building things. The nice thing about computing is you can build stuff, tear it down, build another.
“It’s the world’s biggest Leggo kit.”|
Alan Schwietzer:Majority shareholder, RAM Group
& Ken Killin:CEO, RAM Group
They headed a $100 million company. How did it fail? Why couldn’t RAM survive?
Arguably that’s the biggest unanswered question the channel mulled over in 2005.
Privately held companies can hold their secrets, and this one held them well.
To the public, it allowed having annual revenues of about $100 million. But that didn’t show profitability, or how dependent it was on a single customer, or the lack of depth of its management.
All became exposed in June when the company applied for bankruptcy protection facing $12 million in debts. The trouble seemingly started in June, 2004 when it lost the business of MTS Allstream, cutting annual revenue by $6 million and $300,000 in operating profit.
A two-year effort to sell the American Express Edition of SAP’s Business One suite here and in the U.S. was a net drain on the company.
There were conflicting allegations that the company didn’t lay off staff fast enough.
Killin had been brought in by an ailing Michael Schweitzer and groomed to take over before he died in 2003. His brother, who had no experience running an IT business, gamely acted as CEO before elevating Killin to the spot. A sad and mysterious ending. |
Mark Zaifrovski: CEO, Nortel Networks
Amid a burst of unwanted publicity, a new man takes over at Nortel It wouldn’t be Nortel if there wasn’t a bit of drama. So it was with the appointment of Mark Zaifrovski as the company’s new chief executive officer.
No sooner had his name been announced in October as the troubled company’s next CEO than his ex-employer, Motorola Inc., sued him for allegedly violating non-compete agreements by taking the new job.
It was nothing that couldn’t be solved with money – US$11.5 million. According to a news report, Nortel will reimburse him.
But it wasn’t the blaze of publicity the company wanted. Perhaps it made the company gun-shy, for it declined a request for an interview with Zaifrovski for this article.
But SeaBoard Group analyst Brian Sharwood credits him for making “very aggressive moves” when Zaifrovski ran Motorola’s handset division. Still, Sharwood acknowledges the cellphone business is not the carrier business, which brings in 75 per cent of Nortel’s revenues.
“It’s a pretty big challenge. Nortel’s quite tarnished right now. It’s been death by a thousand cuts. They’ve always been very good at what they’ve done, but they don’t partner very well, which is becoming more important because you’ve got all these applications on the network. Motorola’s always had to partner, so that may be a skill he brings to the table.”
Meanwhile Nortel VARs, will want to know if Zaifrovski sees enterprise sales as a key piece of the business. Other telecom companies are shifting faster to services, adds Sharwood, which goes along with enterprise sales.
Stephan Elop: CEO, Macromedia Inc.
As Adobe prepares to swallow Macromedia, Elop readies his switch to the field By the time you read this Stephen Elop could have a new title.
At press time the Canadian-born executive was CEO of Macromedia Inc., but some time this month Adobe Systems was scheduled to complete its US$3.4 billion acquisition of the company.
When it does he’ll become Adobe’s president of worldwide field operations under the combined organization, where he’ll be expected to help the channel integrate Macromedia’s products with its new owner’s line.
Adobe chief executive Bruce Chizen and president Shantanu Narayen will continue in their current roles.
Since joining Macromedia in 1998, Elop has been the company’s chief operating officer, where he was responsible for executing on growth opportunities across its designer/developer, business user and consumer markets. As executive vice-president of worldwide field operations, Elop quarterbacked sales, operations, and services functions.
Prior to that, he held posts in the Macromedia’s Web/IT department and was general manager of its eBusiness division.
He previously worked as senior vice-president of systems and CIO for Boston Chicken, Inc. He also served as director of Lotus Development Corporation’s Consult-ing Services Group, with responsibility for Canada and the Midwestern United States.
It’s expected that some Macromedia products will disappear. Developers are especially concerned about the fate of Dreamweaver, its popular Web authoring tool.
But Adobe is expected to merge its ubiquitous PDF format with Macromedia’s Flash animation player to create a vibrant document format.
Partners in both companies will want to know what will happen to channel programs. More than half of Macromedia sales go through the channel.
Terry Matthews: Chairman, Mitel Networks
Despite a mixed year, the Ottawa entrepreneur is still a leading telecom player In the words of one industry analyst, it’s been a bittersweet year for Terry Matthews.
On the one hand, he is extending his reach in the telecommunications industry through a web of companies – Mitel, March Networks, NewHeights Software, Ubiquity Software and Celtic House Venture Partners, an early stage venture capital firm.
Mitel, the biggest vendor in the matrix, is further ahead than competitors such as Nortel Networks in shifting its PBX lines from TDM to IP-based units, according to Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst of Infonetics Research in Boston.
“They’re positioned pretty well in the IP space,” he said. “I expect them – and most vendors – to grow next year.”
The good news included a financial shot in the arm to Mitel of US$55 million from U.S.-based institutional investors.
Publicly-traded March Networks, a maker of IP-based digital surveillance, said preliminary figures for the latest quarter were $19.8 million, compared to $14 million the previous quarter.
On the other hand, Mitel’s revenue is flat as sales of IP-based equipment hasn’t taken off the way the industry expected.
Matthews is still charging ahead, however, opening Mitel’s Western Canadian solutions centre in Burnaby, B.C., last month before jetting off to Asia.
Earlier in the year, through his private holding company, Matthews partnered with Bell Canada to open a solutions centre in Ottawa.
“This is a guy whose idea of a good day is starting a company,” said Iain Grant, managing director of the SeaBoard Group in Montreal. “We need more like him.” |
Rick Reid: Tech Data Canada President
Growing faster than the market put a shine on the year for the leader of this distributor The most significant activity for Tech Data in 2005 was its growth, according to company president Rick Reid.
“We will end this year at close to 15 per cent year-over-year growth, which is quite substantial in a market that isn’t growing at that pace,”said Reid.
Growth came in many forms for the broadline distributor this year. Oracle Corp. recently named the company one of two authorized distributors to offer licensed products to the reseller community.
“It’s a very complex licensing software offering, and because of the expertise that we’ve shown through our existing software vendor partnerships it’s only logical that Oracle looked to us,” said Reid.
In addition, Tech Data has created a new storage and server business unit along with S3 program to help resellers develop a business practice around those technology.
“There is a huge consolidation taking place in the server community and along with that comes the need for incremental storage,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a bit too complicated for resellers to digest, so now we have on board a business unit of close to half a dozen experts that can help configure, price, make recommendations, be involved in presales and the general distribution of product after sales.”
Another initiative undertaken by the distributor is the InstaStore, an effort to help resellers create instant e-commerce Web sites.
Powered by the Business Network (tBN), the tool offers customized Web site designs to add value and growth opportunities for partners’ overall business.
Reid added that this year close to 75 per cent of Tech Data’s transactions with resellers have been done electronically.
“That’s a major move up from last year,” he said. “It’s a win win. We’ve been able to pass on the savings in time and cost to our resellers.”