Innovate or Die – Not a New Story


This morning before the big M coffee I listened to the New Brunswick PC candidates jockeying for the PC leadership. Their responses were on “the New Brunswick economic development challenges” hosted by Terry Sequin on “Information Morning” . I heard responses about lowering taxes however I didn’t hear much in the way of a clear direction or provincial strategy for economic development. If I may take the liberty of using my sailing analogue it would be that’s great for keeping the boat afloat but what is our destination and how do we get there?

Shortly afterwards I listened to a CBC radio interview with one of the keynote speakers at the “Big Data Conference” being held in Saint John this week.  The Conference participant talked about the use of technology as an “enabler for existing industries”.  Is this a new story?

Less than two years short of 20 years ago Saint John hosted an IT Works Conference, the first of it’s kind in Atlantic Canada.  The message delivered was that New Brunswick is living in the past, and risks being left in the dust of more forward-looking economies that were embracing technology. The message delivered through a series of work shops was information technology does not stand by itself, it is an enabling industry. “So we’re trying to get the message out that it is vital for everybody from fish farmers to miners to realize the value of IT,” loosely defined as the use of computers and other advanced technologies to improve efficiency and productivity” was a quote from one of the presenters at the conference nearly 20 years ago.

Remember Simms Brushes, the proud Saint John company that was forced to close after 140 years of operation?  It’s manufacturing location is now a parking lot for the JDI pulp mill? I remember having a meeting it the one of the Simms managers in the late 1990’s, Simms was still using what could best be described as obsolete even antiquated equipment. Based on their failure to adopt modern manufacturing and information technology what were their chances of surviving in today’s competitive world with international NAFA and TPP agreements?  We now know the answer to that question.

As it relates to “technology” someone once said to me; The first day someone walked into the woods with a chainsaw everyone swinging an axe….was in trouble”. It’s all about remaining competitive by improving productivity.  The effective use of technology as an enabler helps ALL industries stay in the game.

The message innovate or die is not a new message, it’s one that both industry and government would be well advised to pay attention to if New Brunswick is to have a brighter future.

Think about it.