Innovation is in again at Zander's Motorola

November 15, 2004


It will be a busy week on the rubber chicken circuit for Motorola CEO Ed Zander. On Wednesday, Zander keynotes the Executives' Club lunch at the Chicago Hilton and Towers on "Innovating in Chicago."

Zander is also on the dais explaining the reinvention of Motorola at World Business Forum Chicago 2004, which convenes at the Arie Crown Theater on Wednesday and Thursday.

Since taking the reins at Motorola on Jan. 5, Zander has emerged as Chicago's First Citizen of Technology. He's intelligent, articulate, knowledgeable, personable and approachable. While it's too soon to call Motorola a successful turnaround, Zander's put renewed energy into the company.

Seems Zander's got the vote from CDW CEO John Edwardson to become First Citizen. "Ed Zander is a welcome addition to the Chicago community," says Edwardson. "It starts with the leadership he's demonstrated and the progress he's encouraged in the few short months he's been at Motorola's helm."

Zander is surely the beneficiary of a lot of belt-tightening that preceded him. His arrival is well-timed. After years of focusing on operational efficiency, innovation is back in vogue at Motorola. The market is looking for new products, and Zander seems able to deliver. He recognizes it takes great engineering and great marketing to succeed. Zander's giving the Motorola brand a much needed spark.

There's plenty at stake in Zander's tenure. A reinvigorated Motorola can be the anchor tenant of a Chicago technology boom. When Motorola opened its downtown design center, the company signaled that it understood the importance of recruiting urban knowledge workers. Maybe Zander will move Motorola's headquarters downtown as well. Mayor Daley would give him the keys to the city.

Don't count on Motorola relocating, but bet on Zander. Get out and hear him this week, and decide for yourself if Motorola's on the right course.

Gold rush for California

While our politicians debate casinos, California researchers and VCs are celebrating the passage of Proposition 71. The measure provides $300 million annually for the next 10 years to fund stem-cell research. The taxpayer-financed $3 billion cash infusion will create a new economic boom for the Golden State.

Says Chicago Democratic activist Marilyn Katz, "Everyone has been missing the real coup of Nov. 2: the California referendum in which taxpayers voted to tax themselves $3 billion for stem-cell research. In terms of the future of Chicago, this is likely to have as great of an impact as who was elected president, as researchers, jobs, and capital go west to the new gold mine."

BDPA supports tech workers

Chicago's Black Data Processing Association held its annual CIO gathering at LaSalle Bank. Reginald Gartner, local BDPA president, credits his employer, Allstate, for supporting BDPA nationally with a $100,000 grant. "Being a sponsor is one more way we make Allstate's commitment to diversity a reality," says Cathy Brune, Allstate's CIO who was in the audience.

Cheryl Matlock, senior programming analyst at TTX Corp., praises BDPA. Says the Evanston high school alum, "Each job I got in information technology, I got through networking at BDPA."

The event turned out our town's stellar CIOs. On hand were Andrew Armishaw, HSBC North America; Ellen Barry, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority; Roderick Height, Cook Country Treasurer's Office; Darwin John, formerly with the FBI; Louis Rosenthal, EVP at ABN Amro Services, and Bob Runcie, Chicago Public Schools.

Bits & Bytes

Peoria-based Akoya Inc., a business intelligence software provider, closed a series A financing round worth $800,000. ARCH Development, Caterpillar and Tri-County Venture Capital Fund led the financing ... Vaho Rebassoo, Boeing's chief technology officer for IT services, keynotes the Enterprise Communications Consortium's gathering Thursday at the University Club. ... Robert Blackwell Sr., CEO of Blackwell Consulting, shares ideas for aligning technology resources to meet organizational goals Wednesday at the Society for Information Management at the Fairmont. ... Technology Executives Club impresario Alex Jarrett hosts his IT trends seminar Friday at the 410 Club. ... Joel Berez convenes the MIT Enterprise Forum to explore ways to create and protect intellectual property at Gardner, Carton & Douglas Wednesday.

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


 ©2004 Marion Consulting Partners