Virginia Technology Today

Perspectives is a blog designed to discuss future trends in technology.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Come on Virginia - We Need One Message - Spoken By Many Voices

Interesting read below from the Washington Post. Here's the problem with this approach both locally and statewide – lack of critical mass and sustaining infrastructure that entices global tech firms and startups to move here and stay. When you consider the high-tech economy as a whole - Virginia is lagging behind the rest of the country and the world in terms of technology innovation. It’s not because of a lack of talent; we will graduate an incredible number of STEM professionals this year. The problem is many move to other areas like Austin, Nashville, Boston, Atlanta and yes the Silicon Valley. I love that Amazon is coming to NOVA, but what is the statewide plan to make us competitive and leverage all of the assets in Virginia? The “Go Virginia” initiative is a good start, BUT we need to think more holistically. Virginia is one of the top states for business, but it appears we are in a time warp in terms of the type of companies we are recruiting. I’m amazed when I look at North and South Carolina in terms of Finance, High Tech, and Advanced Manufacturing. Compare what’s happening in Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Spartanburg to the rest of the state. Yes we have Amazon in NOVA, Carillion in Roanoke and a host of exciting projects in Richmond but it’s not enough. We must start speaking as one state and punch above our weight.

 I remember when Lou Gerstner joined IBM years ago. The company was a tad dysfunctional during this period - focusing on products of years gone by instead of embracing the new world around them. Sound familiar? Lou corrected course by focusing IBM on what was essential and shredded investments in non-profitable businesses. I remember at one meeting Lou told us the wind was at our back if we concentrated on what's important and tell the story - one message spoken by many voices. Isn't it time for our local communities and the state to do the same? Fossil fuels and tobacco are gone. So is N&W, Advanced Auto, Dan River Mills, Lane, Bassett Furniture and a host of others locally. In NOVA - Government contracts will fall to the same fate over time. We are blessed across the Commonwealth with excellent schools, incredible innovation, a well-educated workforce, and an incredible blue-collar work ethic. The possibilities are endless if we have one message spoken by many voices across all of Virginia focused on nurturing and building the infrastructure required to build and sustain the tech economy. There are many incredible ideas, intellectual property and start-ups across the state already but to break through the noise, a laser focus is needed in terms of commitment, marketing, and resolve to make it happen statewide and not just in NOVA.

One message – many voices.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019


I was in Boston over the weekend to watch the Virginia Tech and Boston College game.  The bad news is that we lost the game but I had a great time walking around the city.  So many great software companies have called Boston home over the years (Lotus, DEC and others).  Both Boston U and BC students were moving in this weekend.  It made me think about the infamous line from the movie Spinal Tap.