Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top Academic and Industry Wants

During EdTech Innovation in Alberta, there was a special session on the wants and needs of industry and academia. We had representatives from Universities across Canada and many industrial companies such as Husky Energy (HSE.TO), Telus (TU), Desire 2 Learn and SMART (SMT).

Top 3 Academic Wants

  1. Government Matched $$
  2. Cooperative Industry-Academia People Exchanges (e.g. internships)
  3. Free Hardware and Software

Top 3 Industry Wants

  1. Teamwork and Communication skills
  2. Real-world studies (compared against the next best alternative)
  3. Return on Investment
Tim Workman from Husky Energy put it best when he gave us two quotes:
"Everybody calls to sell me something. Very few people call to solve my problems."
"An Expert is something who knows more and more about less and less until they know almost everything about nothing"
While I don't agree with the second, the first rings very true.

Dear Academia: We're breaking up.

Dear Academia,

This relationship is not working out so we are going to end it. It's not us, it's you. You have gamed the system making it so exclusive to academics that we no longer feel welcome at your conferences. Your highly tweaked review process has pushed you to ever more niche areas of novelty and customer outcome irrelevance. The result is clear: dismal academic to industry ratios (100:1 in some conferences).

It pains us to hear employees complain about a lack of relevance and return on investment on even the conference fee itself. While we are pleased to hear that the ivory tower of academia is alive and well, we lament that it has fallen so far away from real-world customer outcomes. 

We wish that you would let us talk about real customer outcomes but this doesn't meet the criteria for peer reviewed papers by novelty-seeking computer science graduate students. But here's the thing: customer outcomes don't change over time and are not novel. The iPhone did not change customer outcomes, it made what people wanted to do (phone, email, browsing, music) ubiquitous and simple. Customers don't measure us to related work, they use alternatives that are good enough. We are less concerned with statistical significance and more concerned about cost and value to the next best alternative. 

Clearly, we don't share the same values. We wish you all the best in your future relationships.