How Springfield woes may trim tech sector

June 14, 2004


The state budget deadlock is placing technology initiatives and future Illinois jobs at risk.

Jack Lavin, director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, says the $200 million Illinois Opportunity Fund is a potential victim of a zero-growth budget. The program was proposed by A.T. Kearney to stimulate funding of entrepreneurial businesses. Funds totaling $11.2 million for Argonne National Lab and $4 million for the Illinois Institute of Technology are also at risk.

The Argonne projects include the Advanced Protein Crystallization facility ($1.5 million), the Rare Isotope Accelerator Science Center ($3 million) and the Ricketts Regional Biocontainment lab ($6.7 million). IIT's Biomedical Research Center ($4 million) might also be axed.

Lavin is concerned the failure to fund the Argonne and IIT projects will cost the state "significant federal dollars, which leads to new jobs and new growth in Illinois. That's what's at risk here."

Homeland security threatened

Failure to fund the Ricketts Regional Biocontainment lab and the Biomedical Research Center could also affect homeland security.

The Ricketts lab will provide a secure site to assess biohazards. The Biomedical Research center will keep IIT on the cutting edge of food safety.

"If there is a terrorist event and the food companies can't respond, we could have an economic disaster in Illinois," Lavin says.

"These are capital investments Gov. Blagojevich prioritized," Lavin adds. "He understands they are key for the Illinois economy."

Let's hope the Legislature agrees.

KnowledgeAdvisors inks deal

Chicago-based KnowledgeAdvisors will join PeopleSoft's Partner Connection Program this week.

The deal opens the door for adoption of KnowledgeAdvisors' "Metrics That Matter," an analytical tool for PeopleSoft customers.

KnowledgeAdvisors is a little-known Chicago technology company with a powerful customer base and a potent product offering.

Located at the corner of La Salle and Madison, KnowledgeAdvisors is becoming the standard to evaluate corporate training effectiveness. According to IDC, the Massachusetts-based researcher, the worldwide market for IT education services is $19.9 billion.

Companies make big investments teaching their personnel technology skills.

KnowledgeAdvisors offers products that measure training effectiveness. This allows companies to improve their programs to assure training investments aren't wasted.

KnowledgeAdvisors' big break came in early 2001 when Microsoft called. "[Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer came down with an edict saying he needed customer satisfaction data on all of his lines of business," says CEO Kent Barnett. KnowledgeAdvisors developed technology to monitor Microsoft's global customer education programs. That victory created a domino effect that won contracts with a who's who of the technology world, including Cisco, Citrix, Dell, H-P, Nextel, Nokia. SAP and PeopleSoft.

"KnowledgeAdvisors brought us a way to measure the value of training," says Tom Cooper, director of education strategy for Peoplesoft Global Services. In a pilot program, KnowledgeAdvisors demonstrated PeopleSoft's training improved customer productivity by 20 percent.

"That's a day a week," adds Cooper, who expects to sell a lot more training, thanks to KnowledgeAdvisors.

Nasdaq CEO here

Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld discusses an expected strong showing in second-quarter earnings, an improving IPO pipeline and the upside of Sarbanes-Oxley when he visits here tomorrow to keynote the Executives' Club technology program.

Greifeld sees Nasdaq as a uniquely U.S. institution that "gets entrepreneurial dreams connected with investment capital. The IPOs coming to market represent a big jobs benefit," Greifeld says. "When you look at job creation in this country, it's because of small companies getting larger," he adds.

Greifeld believes regional economic success emerges from great academic ideas, investment capital and entrepreneurial spirit. He sees all three in Chicago: "You've got great universities and an educated work force. It's a little cold in the winter."

Memo to Bob: No need for snow boots tomorrow.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant.


 ©2004 Marion Consulting Partners