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Written by: iiGrowth

Thank you Jeff Bezos for buying the Washington Post! I believe that Jeff Bezos will now lead the transformation of the customer experience at the Washington Post. Will this save the news organization, or the news industry? Who knows, but now I know I will be there for the ride and continue to buy the products and services the Washington Post offers.  Who knows, I might even buy more, if the focus as I believe will be on the customer experience.

I have been on the borderline with respect to my desire to continue buying what the Post is selling me. However, with the purchase by Jeff Bezos I am going to stick with it as I do believe the potential is there (the Post does have some very good journalists, storytellers, and trusted voices – Thomas Boswell, John Kelly, and more).

My personal angst with the Post (news industry) has been the customer experience. I really can’t say it is very compelling for me. I think in part this is because from my vantage point as a buyer the Post does not have a clear direction.  This manifests itself with a multitude of disconnected experiences that in their totality seem like a broken lab with everything in constant turmoil. Some of the annoyances as a buyer include constant changes to layout (aspects of the online version are hard to absorb visually), mixing of opinion and fact based journalism, irritating pop-ups for online advertising, changing subscription formats, and the list is much longer.

I have been thinking about the future of journalism and newspapers for some time and even explored new disruptive business models with some friends in the news and communications industry. One insightful study I suggest reading is entitled “Be the Disrupter”, which was sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, and published in November of 2012. It featured the thinking and insights of Clayton Christensen (Innovators Dilemma, 1997), and David Skok (a 2012 Nieman fellow). In the study, they dissect the news industry and offer many excellent ideas for how to innovate news gathering, news distribution, and selling the news.

I believe there are many different types of opportunities for improving the news business model, but my own main interest with the Post is having a better customer experience. I do not know Jeff Bezos, but just like many other avid readers, I am a consumer of Amazon.com services(Amazon Prime Member, which I pay for each year, but get many benefits in return in purchase discounts and shipping). I have been buying from Amazon for years.

For me, Amazon replaced the online (Borders, Barnes & Noble) and the local bookstore I used to walk into. While I still love a variety of different types of bookstores because they offer a sense of place (Politics and Prose in Washington DC, the Barnes and Noble in Bethesda or Rockville, or any one of the used books stores in the historic section of Kensington, MD) Amazon was able to come in and capture my mind-share, my time, and business because of their focus on the customer experience.

For me, the Amazon customer experience is excellent and offers value to me before I buy anything, makes the buying experience very user friendly, allows me to engage with a community if I so choose, and follows up with me after a purchase. I mostly hire Amazon to help me learn and/or be entertained by business and non-business books. They are there for me in a personalized way, even though I am aware they have somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 million accounts.

Recently, I wrote to Amazon about helping me speed up my purchase decision by integrating digital and print purchase information (it is available under either option, but currently not across my order types). I also inquired about deeper discounts for a 2nd purchase of the same product (i.e. if I buy one print copy – offering me a deeper discount for a digital copy). Most companies will respond with a boilerplate response. Amazon provided me with thoughtful answers to each of my questions. I understand I am one voice among millions, so taking the time to respond to me was meaningful in my relationship with them. Of course, I also hope my suggestions progress up the priority board as they adjust their service offering.

I am not a futurist, but if Jeff Bezos applies the same tenacity to his leadership with the Washington Post, as he did with Amazon, count me in! Long live the customer experience!

Written by: iiGrowth

Jobs to be done based talent sourcing will provide entrepreneurs and small business owners peace of mind and make sure the right team is in place to grow the company.

As many small business owner and entrepreneur knows, running a successful small business requires a variety of skills and talents. The needed capabilities range from understanding the market and customers who have a need to get a job done (that is why they will hire you), keeping the lights running, updating the books based with the latest income or expense information, and delivering what you are selling.

Often, the entrepreneur tries to fill many of these roles, when in reality it is better to simplify, systematize, and source talent (i.e. do not try to do everything on your own). Breaking the mindset of trying to do it all is probably one of the most important lessons that successful entrepreneurs and small business owners have learned.

If you think you can do it all, you should stop doing so, or at least cut back by bringing in specialists to fill certain job roles. Your physical and emotional health will greatly improve. You will also attain positive business results as doing less is more.

The legend of Superman portrays a superhero that can be everywhere and do everything. However, for us plain folks whose parents did not come from the planet Krypton, that is a tall order, and probably not a healthy one. Trying to do it all is more analogous to being exposed to kryptonite (which is the material that was deadly to Superman, created from the planet Krypton when it exploded).

Small Business Roles
Below is my own quick brainstorm of some roles (throw titles out the door) that need to be filled in a small business. You should build your own as these will change by business type and circumstance.

  • Accounting – manage “the books” and financial cash flows, perform cost accounting and financial reporting, and develop tax strategy
  • Legal – develop your business structure, protect intellectual property, and develop business agreements
  • Business Strategy – Define the business model (customers, value propositions, etc.), set goals, and keep score of your progress
  • Information Technology – keep the lights on in the cloud or inside your offices (you need to fill roles for collaboration, hardware, coding and hacking, business applications, etc.)
  • Facilities – Manage the facility – one of the largest costs in most businesses (go virtual if you can)
  • Marketing – design the website, write the code, design user experience, write copy and content, develop branding materials
  • Human Capital – Hire and develop people and manage alumni relations
  • Innovation – Determine Jobs to Be Done; Design, Build, Test, and Measure what you are building and selling
  • Partnerships and Alliances – Create and manage business partnerships and alliances

Building a Team

Building the right team means having a wide variety of team members who fill the important business roles and do things better than you can do. In addition when you think of the things that the business needs to do, also consider the perspectives of vision and leadership; system and process management, and technical skills. Each of these must be applied to any of the many activities in your business to make it operate effectively.

As a small business and entrepreneur you need to be the one to initially develop the big idea about what your business stands for, what it will do, and what will make it unique. Spend less time in the “lab” and more time with potential clients and customers to get real feedback on what they will hire you to do!

Once you get feedback on your business model, you can create a “Jobs to Be Done” (JTBD) board to define what needs to be done. Using this type of JBTD board you can further construct what your business will look like in terms of people. It does not matter what industry you are in. This approach can help initially define your business activities (aligned with your vision and business model) and this can scale with the business.

Having the right team is critical. Of course you will rely on the team you have constructed. Just as important, or even more so, you customers, business partners, and investors will all rely on the team you have constructed. A good team, with the right roles filled by the right people, will give everyone a good peace of mind and produce better results.

 

Written by: iiGrowth

Entrepreneurs face challenges each and every day. Often, as entrepreneurs, we tackle the hardest problems on our own. Of course, the stress of doing so can certainly be difficult. There are other means for approaching challenges such as delegating to someone else, calling on a friend or colleague, talking to a family member, calling up a business partner/supplier, or buying some service/solution. None of these choices are mutually exclusive.

Sometimes a change of venue, being able to speak with other entrepreneurs and business leaders can also be of great value. Recently, I spoke and met with Bill Dennis, who leads and facilitates entrepreneurs in such venues. The CEO Accelerator groups are not large, but they are intended to be meaningful in terms of content, relationships, and addressing problems faced by us as entrepreneurs.

Through the conversations we decided their are many topics of interest to entrepreneurs that we like to discuss and solve including the following examples:

  • What new business models does the new economic environment suggest?
  • Successful cross referral relationships with group members
  • Communication models: social networking: Linked-In vs. Twitter
  • Getting to electronic records as well as “Emotional Intelligence”
  • Creating extraordinary team members through dynamic leadership techniques
  • Group websites, forums, and blog development
  • Collaborative agreements between disciplines
  • Creating multiple brands- creating multiple revenue streams
  • Specialty marketing and networking strategies
  • HR solutions: conflict resolutions and motivation
  • Insurance and technology strategies
  • Collaborative and personalized and hybrid business models
  • Outcome-driven innovation

Finding the right type of support environment is important. You have many options to create such an environment, but maybe a CEO Accelerator is right for you. We are working to put together a group or two in 2013/2014. If you are interested in learning more, helping us frame the discussions important to you, please call me at 240-499-4938 or by email gplato@iigrowth.com. I would be very pleased to speak with you.

Written by: iiGrowth

During the spring 2012 semester, undergraduate students in the two-year Accelerated Degree Completion Program (ADCP) at Boston University’s Metropolitan College (BU MET) gathered in teams to study International Business Management (MG 520). This course, taught by Chris Brodersen, himself a BU MET alumnus, examines the effects of overseas business investments and allows students to understand how to assess foreign market, how to develop firm operational strategies, and how to establish international operations.

Chris does more than just have the students read books. His approach is to provide guidance, and link this to a process where students immerse themselves into their work by talking to real businesses, real people, and presenting their recommendations to seasoned international executives. One word for this, “Fascinating”!

Chris Brodersen, in his first semester teaching at BU, began teaching at Bryant University in Rhode Island in 2008. When he is not teaching, he is working full-time as the Senior Manager for Releasability and Technology Transfer at Raytheon. Chris’ approach opens up country after country to these “applied” studies. It allows students from BU to gain valuable and practical international experiences. Next to being in-country, this approach to learning, decision making, and taking on real responsibility for deadlines brings BU MET students the type of experience they can take back to their own businesses. Most or all of the students in this program are already working so this course is something they can draw on and put to use.

During the Spring 2012 semester three teams were formed. One of the teams that was formed was for Latvia (Team Latvia). A group of four students, assessed Latvia, one of the Baltic Tigers, and examined setting up an Information Technology related business in Latvia. As part of the applied process, Brodersen invited iiGrowth LLC and Latvian Chamber of Commerce (LatCham) representatives Gustav Plato (CEO iiGrowth/Founder LatCham) and Rudolfs Peksens (VP Strategy and Alliances at iiGrowth) as mentors to support the team.

Team Latvia conducted research and obtained feedback from the assigned mentor team. Using iiGrowth’s collaborative technologies for project management (37 Signals Basecamp) and communications (Cisco’s WebEx) allowed for excellent interaction with the team. Once their work was to a certain stage they were able to present to a team of “Judges”, who evaluated their overall work, analytical and decision making results, and with everything else provided the teams a great overall experience. The students found the experience to be challenging.

Steve Eaton, a Team Latvia member stated, “Beyond the great overview of international business our course provided us, some of the greatest lessons learned for me were gaining deep understandings of the values and culture of Latvia and the Baltic states, and how they reflect on the business environment in the region. The ability to work directly with those with first-hand experience in Latvia proved invaluable, not only for our assignments, but also in garnering insight into doing business in the country, and the tremendous opportunities Latvia offers. Through our research and collaboration we saw a country that pulled itself out of a deep recession while much of the world stagnated, and continues to show strong growth as the EU wavers, which is in large part a testament to the strength of its ICT sector.

iiGrowth’s connection to Chris and BU, came through Krista Tassa of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce (She is an honorary member of LatCham). Krista had met Chris at World Trade in spring of June 2010 at Bryant University. He had been to the Baltics several times and they started batting ideas back and forth about how to possibly include the Baltics in his class instruction. These discussions led to Krista guest lecturing about market entry into the U.S. market (Krista has practical experience through her own venture ParkNow! as well as the Estonian Chamber). It was Krista who subsequently made the connection with Latvia. As a result, Team Latvia, including the mentors from iiGrowth, was formed for the Spring 2012 semester.

Chris continues to teach International Business Management at BU MET and has many more interesting and innovative approaches for learning on the horizon. We at iiGrowth are very pleased to have been part of the BU MET ecosystem for learning and look forward to working with Chris again in the future. We also encourage serious international business management students who are seeking something unique to find out more about Chris’ applied approach. It is fascinating and provides a practical approach to studies that students can take back to their own work environments.

Written by: iiGrowth

RIX Technologies, the leading e-Government services provider in the Republic of Latvia, is now going global, and is entering the US Market. RIX Technologies was founded in 2001. RIX Technologies is a fast growing, woman-owned, small business. They have a staff of over 100 Information Technology (IT) solutions and development specialists.RIX Technologies focuses on IT innovations including: user driven design, enhanced customer experience, state of the art development methods that are CMM compliant, and the latest technology platforms. In order to ensure that this IT innovation is credible and repeatable, RIX Technologies applies proven software development practices and methods. They currently possess an ISO 9001:2008 quality certificate and will soon receive their ISO 27001 security certificate.
RIX also holds dozens of technology certifications in code development, application frameworks, and data base platforms which form the foundation for an innovation culture at RIX. RIX has leveraged this expertise to become partners with Global companies including Microsoft (Silver Certified Partner) and Oracle (Gold Partner).
RIX is committed to fully meeting customer expectations; 100% of its projects have been delivered on-time and within budget.
In 2011, RIX had net sales of $5.6M and is forecast to have sales of $7.4M in 2012 and growing to $20M by 2014.
RIX has turned to iiGrowth, an experienced business growth consultancy based in the Washington DC Metro area, to assist with RIX global expansion efforts. iiGrowth is now working with the RIX leadership team to evaluate opportunities to enter the US market. iiGrowth is pleased to be able to work with RIX to provide American market analysis, market strategy, alliance development, customer acquisition, and more local marketing.
iiGrowth is now conducting a survey of potential RIX customers and partners in the Washington DC metro region. RIX believes that they can leverage RIX innovation driven solutions, proven business methods for software development, and very attractive pricing to create very high value for US customers and channel partners.
For more about RIX, please contact Gustav Plato at iiGrowth or John Bryant.
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Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth UK is pleased to announce that it has joined the British Business Club. The British Business Club is a powerful business networking tool for both British and international firms.  By allowing companies to build their networks and connect with business partners worldwide, it increases opportunities for businesses to meet and engage with potential partners during the unique atmosphere of the London 2012 Olympic Games themselves.

The British Business Club is an exciting new resource available to help everyone make the most of business networking activity around the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major sports events now and in the future.

The British Business Club is a partnership between UK Trade & Investment, London & Partners, London Business Network and BIS, on behalf of the UK-wide London 2012 Business network. 

Now that iiGrowth has joined the British Business Club, Marcis Liors Skadmanis, Managing Director, iiGrowth UK will be the iiGrowth lead contact at the Club. Marcis will coordinate efforts about meeting with iiGrowth at a British Business Club event.  Please contact us to learn how networking can help your business and be part of your business successful business growth strategy.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth today announced that it has appointed Marcis Liors Skadmanis, iiGrowth UK Managing Director, and member of the Leadership Team.  The appointment of Mr. Skadmanis, a leading global development executive, signifies the firm’s commitment towards building global services capabilities to accelerate our client’s needs and desires for accelerating business growth.

Marcis Liors Skadmanis, immediately steps into his appointed role as iiGrowth UK Managing Director. He said, “I am pleased to be able to help lead iiGrowth’s service expansion efforts globally and in the United Kingdom in particular.  We envision iiGrowth as a leading global business accelerator for Small and Medium sized Enterprises as well as Non-Governmental Organizations that can benefit from global networks and connectivity.”

Recently, Skadmanis has  been head of Skadmanis Group, a London based law firm specializing in business and commercial law.  Previously he worked as a lawyer in the Republic of Latvia.

iiGrowth CEO and founder, Gustav Plato said, “I am very pleased that Marcis has decided to join the iiGrowth team as iiGrowth UK Managing Director.  I initially met Marcis in his role as CEO and Founder of the Latvian British Chamber of Commerce.  His ability to recognize challenges faced by SMEs, NGOs, and Government and can do attitude to help solve these challenges adds great value to iiGrowth’s ability to accelerate business growth for our clients.”

Marcis Liors Skadmanis holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.), a Master of International Laws (LL.M.) and Certificate of Business Administrations (IEVF TIN).

Written by: Gustav Plato

If someone asked you about how you are planning to improve your golf game, or lower your handicap, would you know?

  • Would you know where to turn?
  • How to find a coach?
  • How to see what you were doing?
  • Remember the feedback you received?
  • Could you visualize it?

Now you can easily answer these questions and many more related to improving your golf game with Golf Swing Exchange. Golf Swing Exchange or Golf Swing X is a new iiGrowth client. They are a client that we believe revolutionizes sports training by leveraging the new mobile platforms offered by Apple, Android, and Microsoft. Golf Swing X has a wealth of great ideas and innovations with respect to sports training and this is just the first.Just type Golfswingx.com into your URL and you will enter a community where golf players can meet golf pros. That is just the beginning. Golf Swing X has launched in advance of Valentine’s Day and spring golf with an offer that includes a full month of golf coaching and more for $98. With this program, GolfSwingX has put together a package that includes the following:

  • A complete swing analysis with Golf Swing X’s Director of Instruction, Stephen Moskal, who will provide a complete swing analysis.
  • Weekly follow-up lessons, once a week for one month, through the Golf Swing X online portal and your private web page.
  • 50% off on the next month of lessons.
  • Free membership to the Golf Swing X on-line portal.
  • Deals on selected golf equipment from GolfDom (Tyson’s Corner).

From our perspective, and we think yours when you take a look, Golf Swing X offers a new toolset that can help improve your game at breakthrough price points. Although the initial Valentine’s Day promotion is for the DC Metro area, the Golf Swing X service is an app available world-wide.
With spring just around the corner, Golf Swing X, is poised to help the casual and serious golf players make steady progress and gain a much improved understanding of the golf swing. All is documented in your account so that you can continue to learn and have a forum to store your ideas.

When we at iiGrowth are not working on strategy, finance, or operations, just look for us on the links with our new coaches at Golf Swing Exchange!

Written by: Brett Sechrest

As individuals and as a world business community, we need to embrace the role of  “sustainability,” the benefits of “green” and the workings of biological partnerships. If we are trying to do this in our lives and in our businesses, we are no doubt working toward best outcomes for our family, community, nation and the world. We also might fear the worst, but we keep embracing goals that will take us forward, yet we will continue to get hammered by both the expected and unexpected.

What we are doing is intervening into an existing system that does not measure everything we would like it to measure. Therefore, the deck is stacked against us whether we are trying to create a business in renewable energy, “green” products, “green” services or whether we are trying to make our traditional existing business a little more efficient and conscious with regards to what is happening in our communities, nation and world.

Finding leverage points to intervene in an existing system is critical to our success in business – here are several I came across while reading Donella Meadows years ago.

  • The power to transcend paradigms.
  • The mindset or paradigm out of which the system – its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters – arises.
  • The goals of this system.
  • The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure.
  • The rules of the system.
  • The structure of information flows.
  • The gain around driving positive feedback loops.
  • The strength of negative feedback loops relative to the impact they are trying to correct against.
  • The length of delays relative to the rate of system change.
  • The structure of material stocks and flows.
  • Constraints, parameters, numbers.

I will be digging down as deep as I can into these leverage points in future posts.

Brett Sechrest

bsechrest@iigrowth.com

Written by: iiGrowth

Getting to North America was designed by the Riga Business School and High Impact to bring perspectives and insight in how North American finance and markets work. The event included market entry, banking, and venture finance specialists representing North American and Latvian markets.  The seminar was moderated by Aleksandrs Rozens, from Bloomberg.

RBS Seminar 01.17.2012

Aleks led the discussion and spoke about the American experience and his perspectives and then led the dialogue between the panel and the audience. The participants included the following:

Gustavs Plato; Gustav Plato is the CEO and founder of iiGrowth. He is a consultant and advisor to entrepreneurs and business leaders on driving business growth. Gustav guides iiGrowth clients in creating strategic change initiatives, accelerating execution through portfolio management, and identifying financing/resourcing alternatives. Gustav spoke about market entry to North American consumer, health, information technology, and financial markets. He participated remotely via video link from Washington, D.C.

In Riga, the panel was joined by Mārtiņš Rikšis – Managing Partner at Norda Aktivi Ltd. Previously he has held positions in Zaļās Gaismas Investīcijas, Riga City Council, and Riga Stock Exchange. His nearly 20 years includes screening more than 300 investment proposals. Through his investment vehicles he has made investments in technology, communications and media sectors.
Mrs Ieva Fatjanova, the Head of Corporate banking department at Swedbank also was on the panel. She was accompanied by representative from their Entrepreneurship Competence Centre.
The panel was rounded out by James Bowen.  He is a serial entrepreneur, professor at University of Ottawa and RTU Riga Business School, author and, most recently the co-founder of the internet accelerator hatchbrands. In addition to his insight into going global, James offered very practical knowledge regarding readying a company for financing.

Those who attended the session on January 17 will be able to have a private meeting with James when he is in Riga in March of this year.

Written by: iiGrowth

Klāvs Rudzītis is a web design, development and digital marketing professional from Riga, Latvia. He is at the forefront of iiGrowth’s efforts to build a new service vision with the Baltic region.

He has been working in Internet industry for over 6 years now, and currently serves as iiGrowth’s Manager of New Media Strategies.

Klāvs has expertise in working with private sector clients, not-for-profit clients, and has also led a technology startup. His skills include both server-side and client-side programming, SaaS (Software as a Service) development and graphical design. He has developed solutions for international clients such as the Latvian Chamber of Commerce in the Americas, American Latvian Association, IT companies, law firms, restaurants, construction companies, manufacturers, car dealerships, travel agencies, insurance brokers, as well as advertising and PR agencies.

Klāvs is a final year student studying Business Administration at School of Business Administration “Turiba” in Riga. He is fluent in English and Latvian.

Klāvs RudzītisIn 2011 Klāvs along with his partner developed a business idea as well as a business plan to develop an anti-plagiarism software for all higher and academic education institutions in Latvia. They participated in a business plan contest organized by “Latvijas Hipotēku un Zemes Banka”, and were one of the winners. Klāvs made contacts with many business consultants, deans of local universities, as well as government officials working at the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia.
Although government officials and board members of several universities were interested in the idea, the newly-established company has not yet attracted funding.  There is still hope to get things running in the future.

Another project Klāvs has lead in the past few years, is a legal case management application development. The users of the application are law firms who want to manage their work in a more efficient way, by using a project management tool for collaboration with partners and office workers. The system is now being used by several law offices in Riga, and is soon going to launch for a wider audience.

Every once in a while Klāvs travels to the United States to establish contacts with American IT and web design professionals and companies, and is going to participate in an industry conference this summer.

In the next few months Klāvs is going to participate in establishing iiGrowth’s subsidiary in Riga.

Written by: iiGrowth

IT House, is an agile software developer located in Riga, Latvia.  Riga is considered an innovation hub.

I suggest you view the following video to learn how Riga continues to evolve its innovation ecosystem.  People, creative spaces, companies, and academia come together.  Riga is different.  It is a place and set of values that promotes innovation through partnership.

IT House is a company worth knowing!

IT House was founded by Gunars Grundstoks and Valdis Pornieks.  Gunars and Valdis are sought out idea generators and innovators.  Their approach is to link technology to business goals.  Having started IT House they have also started Rent Mama (an innovative auto rental service offering low priced leasing options for the price conscious traveler and a Software as a Service (SaaS) portal for local & independent car rental companies to offer their services to consumers), numerous web based applications leveraging Ruby on Rails, and more recently were catalysts in forming Tech Hub Riga.
They have established a strong foundation in the Latvian market and have decided to offer their innovative software development services to a larger international client base.  They continue to grow their business base in Latvia and globally.
I interviewed Gunars Grundstoks, CEO of IT House, just prior to the holidays.  Gunars shares insights about 2012.

What sparked you to start IT House?  How is IT House different?

We have worked on different projects before starting IT House and we saw that we can give added value to our clients by leveraging IT (Information Technology), therefore starting our own company was the logic next step.

Since visiting the United States in 2010, what has IT House been doing?  What is new?

As we have grown out the Latvian market we set our focus on global projects. Since our visit to US, IT House has tripled the amount of international projects we are working on, and increased the development capacity to satisfy the increasing demand.

You recently co-founded TechHub Riga, how did that come about? What is the vision/expectations for Tech Hub Riga? How is that important for US market?

For us TechHub Riga is a social based responsibility to help local startup community, to build new business in global markets. TechHub Riga will gather the best startups in one place and those people who will “live” there will help each other. It will be also a great network opportunity between broader markets and countries.

What is the next big idea(s) in IT?  How will you/IT House participate in this?

We are very closely partnering with companies who are the best in the areas of electronics, design and mobile development, so that we can offer IT solutions that reach not only within the web but also connect to the real world. For example IT House has developed software and our partners the hardware for smart metering solutions for utility companies and end-users to provide usage statistics and services like leakage detection and location. This solution is already deployed in several cities in two countries and new deployments are coming every month.

What should businesses/your potential clients be doing this year to gain advantage from ITs Big Ideas?

NFC (Near Field Communications) is coming up. All Google phones are already NFC enabled, which allows the holder to interact with other electronic devices. This brings the world a big step closer to the ubiquitous network. The applications for this technology are countless. I.e. in education platforms where teachers can prepare tasks to be done outside the classroom and follow the progress of students without interfering or in working environments tracking of business related events will become viable due to reduced hardware costs as most users already have or will have an NFC enabled Smartphone.

Written by: iiGrowth

AKlase visited the United States in September to look at the potential for creating a global partnership with U.S. fitness clubs. Aklase’s CEO Iveta Valtenberga, and CMO, Māris Valtenbergs worked with iiGrowth to assess the US market in the DC metro region for their new venture Oxygen Training Systems (OTS). Following the assessment, the Aklase leadership team worked with iiGrowth to further refine their initial market entry strategy and visited with a number of DC based fitness clubs. Following the visit to the United States they are continuing to develop these newly established relationships. Fitness clubs with interest in oxygen training can contact iiGrowth for further information at gplato@iigrowth.com.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth LLC and Altitude Global Advisors (AGA), are partnering to help their global clients develop and implement their business and financial strategies. AGA is based in the Washington DC area and provides advisory services, investment opportunities and capital solutions for businesses, organizations and high net worth individuals across the globe. The company was established by its two Founding Partners, Jeff Hokenson and David Lereah.

Gustav Plato, CEO of iiGrowth, stated, “Speed is critical to market success. Together with AGA we can increase the speed of business using our collective global networks. We have been working with Jeff Hokenson for a number of years and are pleased to be able to further this relationship now with Altitude Global Advisors and David Lereah”.

The iiGrowth and AGA team provide a complete suite of advisory services and worldwide coverage to clients across the globe. The collective experience of the two firms will improve a client’s competitive position, enhance their revenue and growth opportunities, and lower the cost of execution.

Written by: iiGrowth

Bethesda, MD, October 5, 2011 – iiGrowth LLC, a global strategy and management consulting firm, is pleased to announce that Brigadier General Rudolfs (Rudi) Peksens, US Air Force (Ret) joins the company as Vice President of Strategy and Alliances.

Gustav Plato, iiGrowth’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are very fortunate to have an individual of Brigadier General Peksens experience join the company.  He has extensive practical knowledge of developing and implementing strategy and planning in the public and commercial sectors.  He has led large organizations and small teams in the United States as well as in Europe.  General Peksens has also forged wide networks and contacts and has the experience and ability to help clients and business partners form the right teams and right solutions to get the job done.  He is a catalyst for firms seeking to expand through organic growth as well as acquisitions or divestitures.  He is a seasoned, hands-on leader that can provide support in strategy, planning, business development, buy and sell transactions, and establishing operational excellence.”

General Peksens concluded his Air Force career commanding complex, operational units. He subsequently took positions as an Assistant Vice President with SAIC and later as a Director of Strategic Pursuits for Raytheon. He now leads iiGrowth’s strategy and alliance offering to clients as well as provides oversight for iiGrowth’s corporate strategy and alliances.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth has been engaged by Multiplast Systems Inc. to provide marketing support services to help Multiplast expand into new markets including Europe and the U.S. Federal Government.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth has been engaged by Information Spectrum Incorporated (ISI) to provide marketing and operational support services to help ISI grow its client services portfolio and capabilities.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth attended a Renewable Energy Workshop sponsored by The Ohio State University. The topics were very interesting:

• Building an energy efficient home
• Solar power
• Wind power
• Electric cars
• Biofuels
• Algae as the most promising biofuel
• Anaerobic digesters

Written by: iiGrowth

CNBC interviews the President of Latvia in regards to the Eurozone and the economic crisis.

CNBC Interview

Written by: iiGrowth

As discussed last month, iiGrowth has developed a process for developing your new media strategy – the 120 Marketing Process. It is a four-phase process, with the first phase being called Branding & Marketing Strategy, which is essentially the planning phase of this process.


iiGrowth's 120 Marketing Process


The Branding & Marketing Strategy phase attempts to answer:

• What is the brand and what should be your firm’s message in regards to the brand?
• What types of marketing strategies align with the branding message you are trying to get out there?
• Does this strategy align with overall corporate strategy?
• Will this approach deliver a positive customer experience?

The answers to these questions may not always be straightforward and forthcoming, but there are various tools that can be used to answer these questions. This is essentially a creative process, so as a starting point brainstorming and white boarding are recommended, which then can be refined with such techniques as surveys, interviews, and the results of these; focus groups being a particularly strong form of surveying and interviewing.

At the end of the process you should have a set of deliverables that will drive the next phase. Hopefully, if you have been successful, you will be able to deliver a concise and clear message to the customer. Another result of this phase should be the brand and marketing concept document, which serves as a guideline for the next phase, which is Design & Content.

The Branding & Marketing Strategy phase of the 120 Marketing Process essentially delivers the guidelines and scope document for the next phases. It can also be used to steer the process back on course if it gets off course in the next phases. Next Tuesday’s blog will cover Design & Content. Please comment on today’s blog or other phases of the 120 Marketing Process. We look forward to your participation.

Written by: Aleksandrs Racenis

Last Thursday we identified and classified your stakeholders, it is time to dig deeper and develop the Persona Profiles. The Persona Profile is designed to give your company a brief, but detailed insight into what kind of customers your employees will be interacting and working with on a specific task.

The whole point of the Persona Profile is to understand your customer or client and deliver the optimum level of customer experience for the individual. We collect data about our customer on topics including the person’s job, special skills, work experience, education, salary, and most importantly, how they interact in the work environment. The information that we target includes who the employee works and interacts with and their preferred communications methods. These interlocking ideas provide us with the necessary ingredients to tailor a unique customer experience.

To give you an idea of how I assemble a Persona Profile, take a look at what Ten Ton Marketing suggests as questions to begin the creation of a Persona Profile. The profile should look almost like a brief resume complete with a picture of the individual. Using the questions outlined by Stephanie Tilton, your employees are now able to effectively differentiate your client’s skills, needs, and necessary working conditions.

In my experience, this profile building helps develop a deep understanding of the clients/customer’s expectations and habits in the work environment. This is important to understand because work satisfaction, productivity, and collaboration are imperative to success in ramping up your customer experience efforts.

I frequently take advice of other experts in the field and incorporate new techniques into to my own processes. These are just introductory questions that can be tweaked to specific individuals and circumstances so that customer and client understanding are achieved.

We collected our data through various channels and continually consult these networks to revise, update, and enhance the customer experience. I would be interested in hearing about your experience. How does your organization practice these techniques? If not, why not?

Written by: iiGrowth

ClusterPoint has selected iiGrowth to assist in the development and implementation of a long-term business development and growth strategy in the United States. This adds to iiGrowth’s high tech portfolio of companies. It also represents a trend toward Latvian companies, like ClusterPoint, entering the lucrative US IT market. Both companies are excited about the opportunity to work together.

Written by: Aleksandrs Racenis

In my previous blog post on October 20, 2010, I outlined an approach to customer experience through a Customer Experience Model we have been developing. In this post I begin to share some of the tools that I envision are part of this model.

In my experience, step 1 requires a thorough investigation into the identity of customers and their value propositions. One tool that can be used to get at the customer’s identity is the Stakeholder Matrix. The Stakeholder Matrix provides the ability to identify and classify levels of importance and interest in collaboration for all stakeholders. This is important for the development of branding, marketing, and communications efforts throughout the customer experience.

How is this best done? I like to begin with a brainstorm and write down each stakeholder or group of stakeholders to an organization. The next step is to group or organize the stakeholders into a Stakeholder Matrix by asking a few simple questions about each individual or group of stakeholders.

The chart below shows you what the matrix looks like:

Stakeholder Matrix

The matrix will undoubtedly help in assessing the degree of influence and interest among your stakeholders to improve the overall customer experience. The building of the Matrix itself can be a time-consuming task, but will result in an honest assessment and useful resource.

Now that that your stakeholders have been identified and classified, it is time to dig deeper and develop the Persona Profiles. The Persona Profile is designed to give your company a brief, but detailed insight into what kind of customers your employees will interacting and working with on a specific task. This will be the topic for next Tuesday’s blog.

Again, please feel free to comment or ask questions on our blog. Your participation is greatly appreciated. Also, as you might have guessed our blogs now will be posted twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth has developed a 120 Marketing Process that is specifically tailored to New Media. The process has a four stage approach as depicted in the accompanying process flow diagram.


iiGrowth's 120 Marketing Process


Essentially it is a structured approach which begins with a fundamental concept of developing Branding and Marketing Strategies that are tied in with a firm’s overall corporate strategy. These Branding and Marketing Strategies then become the cornerstone and starting point for the Design and Content development of a firm’s New Media approach. The Design and Content then feed the actual Development and Implementation. At the end of the process are Launch, Refinement, and Campaign, which in effect is the execution of the entire 120 Marketing Process. In essence, by following the 120 Marketing Process, it ensures that a company is maximized on the New Media execution of the overall corporate strategy, thereby maximizing a firm’s New Media ROI.


Each of these four phases of the 120 Marketing Process will be investigated in further depth in future Blogs. Anyone interested in this topic is invited to comment on our blog. These comments can be questions that we would hope to answer, or comments that could help refine our process. iiGrowth looks forward to participation.

Written by: Aleksandrs Racenis

Customer Experience Methodology and Process
As discussed in the previous CE blog posting, the importance of a comprehensive customer experience guideline and implementation process is absolutely necessary for a firm that desires to be a leader in whichever industry it does business.

iiGrowth has studied and adapted its own Customer Experience Model (CEM) and we continue our development in a continuous learning environment. The iiGrowth CEM serves as a useful tool and guide as a customer experience methodology and process for our client engagements.

iiGrowth customizes steps of the model to a client’s specific needs (i.e. corporate or project level), strengths, weaknesses, and an acceptable time line when each step should be taken. This ensures that the customer processes that a firm undertakes are beneficial to the firm itself as well as fit into the firm’s ecosystem, or set of stakeholders.

1. Define Customer Value: This process is important because it sets up the rest of the customer experience framework. Identifying who your customers are is an obvious, yet crucial act. Once the customer is identified you must understand their values, expectations, and how your product/service will benefit the customer. iiGrowth’s consultants aggregate Stakeholder Lists and draw up Persona Profiles and begin the process of building a Persuasion Architecture as a way to get started with the discovery process. Persuasion Architecure is used by iiGrowth for building our customer experience model into websites and web-based businesses. The building of the Persuasion Architecture spans the first two steps of our customer experience model.

2. Design Customer Experience: The goals of this step require customer centric thinking. It begins with understanding and outlining the customer’s needs. The Persuasion Architecture continues in step two with processes of wire framing, storyboarding, prototyping, development, and optimizing that come from a model developed by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg several years ago.

Once the desired solutions have been identified, you must design a specialized customer experience for the customer’s segments you identified in step one, as well as develop a plan of how and when to proceed with implementation. iiGrowth’s consultants prefer to use Journey Maps as their primary tool in designing the customer experience.

3. Empower People: Step three requires you to embody the work done in steps 1 & 2 with your firm’s employees. If 1 & 2 are done in an executive boardroom out of sight of employees who interact with the customers, then the exercise will be wasted. You must provide your staff with the resources, skills, and knowledge of the Customer Experience Framework. This involves developing training programs, governance models, and metrics to monitor the implementation. iiGrowth’s consultants typically use Resource Maps linked to the Journey Maps created in step 2.

4. Sustain Customer Initiatives: This step involves listening to your customers and employees about the progress of the program. You must align the company culture with metrics and remain in constant communication with your stakeholders. iiGrowth’s consultants use a simple, yet effective Customer Experience Survey.

5. Measure Performance: The last step allows your company to review, critique, and modify the whole customer experience. The identification of met goals, metrics, intermediate targets and scoring these results is important. The aspects of the assessment should be shared with your stakeholders. iiGrowth’s consultants use the Customer Experience Scorecard.

Typically iiGrowth advises clients to undertake the implementation of the Customer Experience within a 12-18 month time frame (e.g. corporate level) so that set goals are tangible and within the foreseeable future, while establishing a long term precedent. iiGrowth’s research has identified success in implementing this in every type of organization. The importance of a good customer experience is a universally understood concept, yet the hard part is to understand just how to tweak the model for each organization’s needs while maintaining the drive to see the change process through to the end.

Future blog postings will break down each of the tools iiGrowth believes can be most helpful in implementing the CEM. We are interested in your experience with the Customer Experience and possible models and tools that you have found beneficial. Please join the discussion and we will keep you informed about future discussions and meet-ups we hope to promote. The contributions of the community will make this blog theme much more interesting and meaningful. We look forward to your ideas, questions, and comments.

Written by: Gustav Plato

iiGrowth attended the European Council of the American Chambers of Commerce on Tuesday, October 20,2010 in Washington DC. As members of the European Chamber system (we are small business members in Latvia) it provided a great opportunity to meet with Chamber representatives from across Europe. This provided us an opportunity to speak with many of the 39 member countries (see http://www.amchamseurope.com/index.php?id=409) who attended the event.

We strongly encourage US companies entering the EU to join a local chamber. Many already do and one fact that was shared yesterday was that 60% of world’s GDP is represented by these countries and the US. If you need us to help you make connections just fill out the request on our Contacts page (http://iigrowth.com/contacts-2/). We look forward to seeing you at a future Chamber event.

Written by: iiGrowth

Your Business and New Media

The Retail Challenge

In the not so distant past a retailer’s marketing strategy was relatively straight forward: print, TV, and radio. Depending on the business, the choices by which to structure and implement a marketing strategy has now cascaded beyond the traditional media into the web, blogs, vlogs, cell phones, iPads (tablet computer), texting, social media, and so on. Thinking about these it is even hard to find where one medium stops and another ends. For instance are blogs part of the central web strategy or are they independent and managed in their own space? There is not one right answer; I think it suffices to say that the choices provided to businesses are out there and all are adding to how companies must communicate and build experiences with their customers. For instance, the average store visit before a consumer buys a big ticket item now is 1.5, it used to be 3.0 and higher, meaning consumers are first researching all the choices, primarily on the web, before they make their purchase. So even if you are just selling commodities you better have a website and good one at that, if you wish to remain competitive.

New Media & B2B

In the retail space, New Media and the necessity to create a compelling customer experience in this entirety of media choices is relatively easy to understand, but in B2B models this may not seem so straight forward. However, the challenge is still there, how to reach your customers when there are so many competing media: the web, print, TV, radio, smart phones, texting, iPads, etc? What message do you want your customers to hear, what do you want them to experience,  and how do you deliver it via a clear consistent strategy?  While trying to answer these questions  may seem confusing and too much to comprehend, it is a necessity to succeed in business in this digital century. Companies like iiGrowth exist to help B2Bs gain this understanding and resulting competitive advantage.

Measuring This?

Let’s say a company understands that it needs to have a new media presence and they have made the commitment to be out there. Beyond just sales, how do companies measure their success? Generally, until now, the basic measure has been long in depth hit reports developed by IT staff and only appreciated by IT staff. A challenge in this new world then would be to come up with a way to clearly define what is and not important and present in a balanced scorecard fashion (i.e. to include a balanced set of metrics including financial, customer, brand, process, and learning/growth) and understand how the metrics relate to one another. iiGrowth is working on just such a solution. A more in depth discussion on New Media scorecards will be a topic of a future Blog.

Written by: Aleksandrs Racenis

Almost all private businesses know that customer experience is a huge aspect of success in today’s consumer centric market.  There is so much competition in every sector of the economy, that business have to stand out and provide exceptional customer experience every step of the way.  Experts like Bruce Temkin and Forester Research do in depth research and analysis of private sector customer experience goals, practices, expectations, and realities.  This year’s top company in terms of customer service in Forester’s 2010 Customer Experience Index, Barnes & Noble, probably worked exceptionally hard to earn this title.  There are of course happy customers at Barnes & Noble.

Recently the federal government, one of the largest buyers in the world has realized its needs to improve the customer experience.  It is measuring, analyzing, and practicing consumer needs.  We see this improvement happening in many different areas of the government, both federal and local.  RightNow is pioneering these advances in over 170 federal, national, state, provincial, and local government agencies world-wide.  They are calling it “Government 3.0” that is achieved on four fronts designed to involve citizens in the process of developing improved service mechanisms, communicating through social networking sites, personalizing interactions with agency employees, and developing ways to measure their ROI on communication techniques.

The USAF is an example of internal realization of certain customer needs within the government sector.  The USAF is a critical force in the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s Air Force Personnel Center was struggling to manage its documentation, curb spending, and support its military operations. The Human Resource tools and services needed to undergo a drastic transformation phase. “The primary goal was to create a better customer experience by providing self-service solutions and tracking customer service needs.”  RightNow’s Software as a Service provided the USAF with the increased ability for knowledge management, case tracking, contact center tracking, and customer survey mission needs.  This initiative has saved the USAF $4 million annually and improved customer engagement by 70%.

Send in posts about your experiences with Government 3.0 services and products.  How are the public and private sectors complementing each other?  What are your ideas on making positive changes?

Written by: Gustav Plato

Juris Lazdins, who has been a business advisor to iiGrowth for the last 3 years, has joined iiGrowth and will be the President of Government Services. Juris brings over 30 years of experience in contracts, finance, information technology, and international business development. Juris will guide the overall strategy and development of the Government services group which will provide services directly to the government and also advise and support companies serving the government market or seeking to break into the government market. Juris will oversee client as well as iiGrowth schedule strategy and development. This will include contract management services, as well as market planning, interactive marketing, and web design and development services.

Written by: LeeAnne Haworth

The Estonian daily news Eesti Päevaleht reports that a dozen or so Estonian IT companies are planning to enter the US market via Silicon Valley. Interest in this market has been growing over the last three years, according to Andrus Viirg, Director of Enterprise Estonia in Silicon Valley. Several companies are planning a big push into the market this fall. Jüri Kaljundi, a serial entrepreneur and head of Talentag, a social CV and recruitment tool, says that Estonian start-ups are focused in Silicon Valley for four main reasons:  investors, marketing, customers, and business partners. Kaljundi acknowledges that mistakes will probably be made, but this interest illustrates the development, maturity, and globalization of the Estonian tech sector. Several of the companies mentioned include:  Fortumo, Emp.ly and Talentag, ZeroTurnaround, CrystalSol, Yoga, and Modesat. To read the whole article, see: http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/582237

Written by: iiGrowth

On May 25, 2010, the speaker of the Latvian Parliament, Gundars Daudze, was in Washington DC.  Speaker Daudze was here as part of an official visit of Nordic and Baltic Parliament speakers to the United States.  While in Washington the speaker visited with House leaders such as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi; the Foreign Affairs Committee chair, Howard L. Berman; as well as Bill Delahunt, who is a member of the subcommittee on Europe. READ MORE

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth will be attending the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) after hours program on April 14, 2010 in Rockville, Maryland. READ MORE

Written by: iiGrowth

On May 25, 2010, the speaker of the Latvian Parliament, Gundars Daudze, was in Washington DC.  Speaker Daudze was here as part of an official visit of Nordic and Baltic Parliament speakers to the United States.  While in Washington the speaker visited with House leaders such as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi; the Foreign Affairs Committee chair, Howard L. Berman; as well as Bill Delahunt, who is a member of the subcommittee on Europe.

On the evening of May 25, Speaker Daudze was a keynote speaker at the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia, where he addressed an audience of Latvian and US citizens on a variety of issues including cooperation in the Baltic- Nordic region in areas such as democratization and energy security, the upcoming elections in Latvia, as well as his desire to promote and strengthen trade between Latvia and the Baltic-Nordic region and the United States.

During the evening event Speaker Daudze took time to congratulate iiGrowth CEO Gustav Plato, for his role in founding the Latvian Chamber of Commerce in the Americas.  He presented Gustav with a special commemorative coin celebrating 20 years of renewed independence for the Republic of Latvia.  Also in attendance were Latvian Chamber CFO, Juris Lazdins; as well as honorary Latvian Chamber member, Latvia’s Ambassador to the United States and Mexico, Andrejs Pildegovics.

Gundars Daudze and Gustav Plato

Written by: iiGrowth

The iiGrowth LLC’s Global Innovation Center is designed to provide firms with the tools and expertise to generate new ideas, innovate, and develop strategies for growing the bottom line and core competencies.

The center is focused on bringing best of breed solutions to global businesses and has identified a need to make social network analysis (SNA) or organizational network analysis (ONA) accessible and affordable to businesses across the globe.

iiGrowth has created a strategic partnership with Keyhubs, a firm that is an innovator in social network analysis, to offer solutions for mapping informal (human) networks in the workplace.  Using Keyhubs’ unique methodologies and tools now makes it possible to uncover hidden talent, expose key influencers and identify high-performing teams to help organizations realize their full potential.

iiGrowth’s program is founded on the principle that establishing relationships with best-in-class organizations, such as Keyhubs, will offer superior solutions to the market, faster, with lower cost, and with reduced risk.   iiGrowth’s Idea and Innovation Center will be launching a series of partnerships in 2010 and 2011 that will offer our clients a one-stop shop for solutions and also look to build collaborative communities.

Keyhubs Founder, Vikas Narula, stated, “we have made significant investments to create a game changing solution in the field of organizational development.  The companies that have already been introduced to Keyhubs have been amazed by its clarity and ability to provide them with valuable information on the true workings of the organization.  We admit, we are biased, but this product offers a competitive advantage for the early adopters.  For those companies that come later, this will be the solution that will help them level the playing field.  We are excited about the offering and expanding it globally.  In that light, we are also very pleased about connecting with iiGrowth to help us bring the solution to global markets.

Written by: iiGrowth

USA and UK based company iiGrowth LLC and the Sentio Ltd., based in Tallinn, form a strategic partnership to promote the Baltic region. Together, iiGrowth and Sentio will shorten the time to market for Estonian business entering US and UK markets.  In addition, we are working together to help firms enter the Baltic market.  iiGrowth, which has been working in Latvia, is now expanding its base of operations to also work with Estonian enterprises.  iiGrowth has been working with Mobile Now (whose U.S. leadership team is of Estonian heritage) for the last several years in the Washington DC region.  Sentio and iiGrowth believe that the timing is right to escalate cooperative efforts, as Estonia and Latvia have a number of cooperative agreements in place to partner on an international scale.

iiGrowth CEO Gustav Plato stated; “We are very pleased to accelerate our efforts to link with Estonian markets.  We believe the Baltic region offers attractive business partners and that Tallinn is certainly one of the leading Baltic Innovation Centers.  Sentio, which is based in Tallinn, offers a natural extension for iiGrowth.  We are already working with the Ventspils High Technology Park and Incubator, which also collaborates across the Baltic Region, and this also extends our base camp in the Baltic region. It was natural to have iiGrowth and Sentio form a strategic partnership. Having a strategic partnership with Sentio to promote the Baltic region will help business acceleration in both directions.”

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth will be attending the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) after hours program on April 14, 2010 in Rockville, Maryland. MCCC is considered the voice of business for Montgomery County, which is one of the wealthiest counties in the DC Metro region as well as the United States. For upcoming events visit:The Montgomery County Chamber

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth introduces US and EU clients to DC Metro region economic development opportunities. Business Over Breakfast™, is a government sector “just networking” breakfast event that is a superb networking event. iiGrowth will be at the Tyson’s Corners event at the Tower Club on April 14, 2010. For upcoming events visit: The American Small Business Council

The ASBC

Written by: iiGrowth

Yes you can!  Rockville based MobileNOW! is a sparkling example of how a business originating in the Baltic States can thrive in the US.  Their showcase pilot in the DC Metro area is an example of how this Baltic to US connection can work.  They made the right investments and commitment to learn about the local market and tailored their market entry strategy based on the local requirements.  This has not been an overnight effort, but rather several years of dedication to the market and its customers.
MobileNOW!’s pay-by-cell system ParkNOW! was selected for a 3 month pilot project in Montgomery County, Maryland. The pilot which began on January 4, is being conducted in downtown  Bethesda, in one of the city’s most well travelled locations, encompassing some 1250 parking spaces, including Garage 57, Lot 31, and on-street meters along Bethesda, Woodmont and Elm streets (note: a frequent destination for iiGrowth).  This pilot represents ParkNOW! ‘s largest U.S. installation to date. Says Krista Tassa, President of MobileNOW, “we were delighted to launch this project in Montgomery County since Bethesda is a vibrant community well suited to adoption of new technologies. Well over a thousand users have already registered for the service and experienced the convenience of not having to search for coins to pay for parking and being able to extend parking sessions remotely.

Rick Siebert, Chief of the Property Development and Planning Section of MCDOT, said “We conducted a full RFP process to select our vendor for the Pay By Cell Pilot program and we are happy to have selected Rockville-based MobileNOW!  We have been surprised by the buzz the Pilot has already created in the media, among so many civic groups and individual parkers.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth will be attending Ruby Nation this week. We are working with clients in EU with an interest in building lasting partnerships in the United States. iiGrowth works with companies in the EU and the United States to define new business opportunities. We leverage our vast network of contacts to build the strongest service delivery teams for end user clients. See you at Ruby Nation or contact us at iiGrowth.


Written by: iiGrowth

USA and UK based company iiGrowth and the Ventspils High Technology Park (VHTP) are partnering to bring international solutions to the Latvian market. Together, we are scanning the globe for world class business partners for Latvian enterprises. The purpose of this scan is to identify new business solutions in science and research, defense, and creating new innovation and competency centers in Latvia.

There are several near term opportunities for Latvian and international businesses to form cooperative agreements.

The ERDF is sponsoring science and research projects ranging from 70-492 thousands Lats (up to 1 million USD). These are co-financing funds and project proposals in cooperation with universities must be submitted by December 14, 2009.

The network of business incubators in Latvia supports high tech companies to start business operations in Latvia, by offering SMEs qualitative infrastructure on reduced tariffs and co-financing for research and new product development.

The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia is preparing to solicit ideas/projects regarding the development of competency centers in Latvia. For example, Space, is a competency that the VHTP has already been developing for several years.

These and other focal areas are just the beginning of the new business opportunities and investment climate in Latvia. The Baltic Tiger is coming back and VHTP and iiGrowth are working together to be part of this economic resurgence. If you have an idea or capability that you would like to further explore, please contact us for a confidential consultation.

For more information please contact Ivars Eglajs (email: ivars.eglajs@vhtp.lv phone:+371 29126249) or Gustavs Plato (email: gplato@iigrowth.com or phone: 240.499.4938)

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth’s Marketing and Communications Practice has been engaged by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA). iiGrowth is providing communications consulting services for the LIAA in the Information Technology and Electrical Engineering and Electronics industry sectors. We are very pleased to be able to support LIAA, which is considered one of the premier investment promotion intermediaries in the world.

In May 2009, the World Bank published its Global Investment Promotion Benchmarking report. The report compared over 200 of the world’s leading investment promotion organizations. In this competition, the LIAA has been identified as one of the top 10 performing national Investment Promotion Intermediaries (IPI’s) in the World. iiGrowth is excited to be working with LIAA.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth has been engaged to provide readability testing and translation/language services in EU. We are providing translation support in Latvian and English and conducting market research of patient information leaflets. This engagement is a hybrid of our Marketing and Communications (MarCom) Practice and Pharma vertical Practice area. Our team’s strong communication skills and vertical industry knowledge were critical skills needed by our world class client.

Written by: iiGrowth

On August 13, 2009, representatives from the American Latvian Association and the Latvian Chamber of Commerce in the Americas met with Ambassador Designate Judith Garber. The group included ALA President Dr. Juris Mežinskis, ALA Information Branch Chief, J

Written by: iiGrowth

In May, 2009, iiGrowth CEO, Gustav Plato addressed the participants of the US Baltic Foundation’s annual gala. During this presentation he focused on the role of the Chamber in growing the Baltic Brand with a vision to increase trade between the Americas and Latvia ten-fold.

Written by: iiGrowth

Recently, the Greater Washington Initiative (GWI) developed a series of videos entitled “Power Profiles”. We highlighted GWI as one of the organization’s that has extensive knowledge and insights into the Washington DC metropolitan area. GWI is is a “regional economic development, marketing and research organization that promotes the Greater Washington region as the premier business destination”.

One of the videos is by Matt Erskine, who is the Executive Director of the Greater Washington Initiative (GWI). Matt joined GWI in May of 2008. Matt and Gustav Plato, CEO, of iiGrowth LLC, worked together at Coopers & Lybrand Consulting (now IBM Consulting). After many years, their paths have crossed again with respect to mutual interests to promote the Washington DC metropolitan area as a location that must be considered when thinking about entry into the US market. In the video, Matt discusses his views on why the Washington region is strong, stable, resilient, diverse, and growing. Other videos are available for viewing at GWI’s News and Events Page.

Written by: iiGrowth

In addition to offering USA market entry and other expert consulting services, iiGrowth is increasingly expanding its focus to offer assistance to firms wishing to enter the UK market. We can help you with Market Readiness Analysis, Rapid Market Assessment, Entry Planning and Implementation Support.

The United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) is the world’s sixth largest economy and the European Union’s third largest, following Germany and France. London is the world’s leading financial center with the greatest concentration of foreign bank branches on the planet. Most multinational corporations oversee their European operations from a headquarters in the UK. The domestic market in the UK is also of great interest to a foreign company considering expansion abroad. The economy is highly developed with vibrant and sophisticated commerce at all levels.

UK Trade and Investment lists many reasons why the United Kingdom is the leading investment destination for companies expanding their business. Setting up a business is a relatively rapid and straightforward process. Taxation is quite favorable – corporate tax is among the lowest in the industrialized world. The labor market is flexible, barriers to entrepreneurship are few and the UK is second only to the USA in terms of innovative research.

For more details, please see UK Trade & Investment.

For more information on how iiGrowth can help you with market entry into the UK please contact Eriks Rusis on +44 7983 484 836 or erusis@iigrowth.com.

Written by: iiGrowth

DC Metro Market Entry

ii Growth LLC is located in Bethesda, Maryland, is in the heart of the U.S.’s most vibrant economic sector, the Washington DC Metropolitan Area, which includes Washington D.C. Northern Virginia, and Suburban Maryland. For international companies looking to enter the US market, the Washington Metropolitan Area offers many advantages.

According to June 2009 study by the Greater Washington Initiative (GWI) the region led the nation in job growth over the last 10 years and is the 4th largest in terms of Gross Regional Product (GRP) and population. The region is also home to the largest IT cluster in the United States as well as large and growing biotech and aerospace industries.

The region has a number of attributes that make it attractive to international firms:

  • Access to markets
  • A productive labor force
  • University and R&D support
  • Ease of transportation
  • Assistance in meeting the right people
  • A desirable place to live

The area has tremendous reach. It is an international communications hub, with excellent air access internationally. Over 60% of the U.S. population lives within a one-day drive/2-hour flight of Washington D.C.

Because of its geographic location and size, economic strength, large number of knowledge workers (over 1 million), universities and educations systems, and proximity to the US Federal Government there is a well developed ecosystem for doing business. This breadth also supports and enables leveraging significant cross-market opportunities that allow for accelerated market growth. The government and technology markets are particularly attractive for US market entry and can leverage one another.

Federal, State, and Local Markets

The Federal Government is the largest buyer in the world. The U.S. federal government market has grown 250 percent from 2000 to 2008. It is projected that the government will buy more than $500 billion USD in 2009. The federal government will continue to be the largest single buyer of goods and services in the world. The Washington Metropolitan area is the largest buyer within the Federal market with California being a distant second.

In addition, the Metropolitan areas boasts strong regional and local governments including Anne Arundel, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties in Maryland, as well as Fairfax, Alexandria (city) Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William in Virginia. Many of the counties also are home for technology innovation centers and incubators.

Each of the regions is also home for international businesses. For example:

  • WGI reports over 700 foreign firms doing business in Washington Metro Area
  • Fairfax County reports it has over 360 foreign businesses.
  • Montgomery County reports it has over 100 foreign owned businesses (550 in the state of Maryland).

Technology Industry

According to the GWI June, 2009 report, “Greater Washington’s technology cluster has the country’s highest concentration of network and computer systems administrators, database administrators, and computer programmers. The region also has six times the national average of computer scientists and four times the national average of computer software engineers.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth LLC, an international strategy and management consulting firm, today announced that it has partnered with Leap Technologies, the leading provider of Rapid Lean Six Sigma (RLSS) consulting and training services. The partnership will bring a combined offering of world-class RLSS services and strategy driven program management consulting to corporations and enterprises in the Baltic Region. Through the strategic alliance, iiGrowth LLC will introduce its clients to Leap Technologies’ unique and innovative RLSS transformation model for enterprises.

iiGrowth CEO, Gustav Plato stated, “I have worked with Leap and their CEO Rick Tucci in the past.  They are results driven and collaborative and bring a fresh perspective to business transformation.  They engage leaders at all levels of the organization from the outset of a collaboration, which means that results are achieved faster and are sustainable. We are looking forward to working together again in the Baltic Region.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth LLC is exploring the meaning and value of something called the “Baltic Brand”.   Defining the Baltic Brand, begins with a probe into the meaning of what/who is a “Baltic

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth CEO, Gustav Plato, founded the Latvian Chamber of Commerce in the Americas in December 2008 to promote trade and investment between the Americas and Latvia. The Chamber is off to a strong start and this was reflected in the recent opening of the Chamber at the offices of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), which is a coalition of 14 locals governments in the commonwealth of Virginia. NVRC works regionally on issues including the international energy, the environment, human services and regional emergency preparedness.

LatCham founding member and Chairperson Gustav Plato praised Northern Virginia for its diversity and vibrant economy and expressed his interest in promoting mutually beneficial exchanges between Latvian businesses and businesses in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Mark Gibb, Executive Director of NVRC stated, “The co-location of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission is a mutually beneficial partnership with many opportunities for collaboration on local, regional and international issues. This is a big advantage for Northern Virginia.

Written by: iiGrowth

Building strong relationships requires creating common foundations and mutual interests. One such opportunity presented itself recently and iiGrowth CEO, Gustav Plato, also Director of the Board of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce in the Americas became actively involved in this international relationship building opportunity through the medium of music. Last year, iiGrowth visited with the Riga Business School to begin to build what we hope is a long and last relationship with this Latvian B-School. The relationship moved forward as the Director of the Business School, Janis Grevins, contacted iiGrowth earlier in the year to share their vision of visiting the United States and Canada. The reaction of course, was, “Great Idea J

Written by: iiGrowth

Ventspils High Technology Park and iiGrowth LLC sign a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate investment and trade between the United States and Latvia

Ivars Eglajs, the Chairman of the Board of Ventspils High Technology Park said that iiGrowth LLC would deliver strategy and international marketing services to companies located in the technology park. iiGrowth LLC is a global strategy and management consulting business with representation in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

Gustav Plato, Chief Executive Officer of iiGrowth LLC, stated, “I am pleased to announce that we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ventspils High Technology Park to help Latvian, US, and UK businesses enhance their opportunities for trade and growth. We view VHTP as a market leader and market maker and are excited about working with them and companies at the park. I believe that our joint mission has profound importance, particularly in light of the current economic climate. Together, we can forge new inroads in terms of introducing potential Latvian businesses who will look to the United States and United Kingdom for new business opportunities and to US and UK businesses who are doing business or planning to do business in Latvia.

Written by: iiGrowth

Ēriks Rūsis has joined the iiGrowth Business Advisory Council. Erik will leverage his startup experience in the EU market and guide iiGrowth in establishing its EU presence. Erik has over 20 years human resources management, general management and business development experience in multi-national, cross-border environments in Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Japan and the USA. He has extensive experience in helping Latvian firms establish or expand their presence in other countries.

As CEO, Eriks opened operations in Russia and Germany for a large Latvian construction group. Serving as Business Development Manager he established offices in Stockholm, Tokyo and Berlin for a leading Latvian bank. Most recently, Eriks served as a director of the integrated solutions provider Lattelecom. He is now based near London in the UK. Eriks earned an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a B.A. from the University of Washington.

Written by: iiGrowth

Gustav Plato, iiGrowth CEO, is the Business Program Chair for the 2009 Supply Chain Venture Forum. This year’s conference, held in Washington DC Metropolitan Area promises to be a very exciting and will have a great mix of emerging and established businesses as well as government ministries and government owned corporations.

What is the Forum?
The 2009 US Baltic Foundation’s Supply Chain Venture Forum is a must-attend event for innovative companies looking for new business opportunities in logistics, supply chain, and emerging technologies. iiGrowth LLC and the Latvian Chamber of Commerce are leading an international organizing committee from the United States, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Featured Speaker
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Republic of Estonia

Why Attend?

The benefits for attending the forum include:

* Increase sales in the Baltic and Nordic region
* How to reach clients in Europe, Russia, and Far East
* How to enter the US market
* Build reliable global and local supply chains
* Access the latest technologies to lower operating costs and make you more competitive
* How to finance your “Big Idea

Written by: Gustav Plato

The efforts to lead an international team in developing the Supply Chain Ventures Forum to be held in Washington DC from May 13-17, 2009 are filled with adventure and excitement.  More importantly the lessons learned to date, and the many more to come, have afforded us the knowledge base critical for developing international conferences and helping companies with market entry at a much lower cost threshold than they could get anywhere else.

The US Baltic Foundation asked iiGrowth to lead the development of the business program for 2009.  We are very excited in how things are shaping up.

  • Leadership Team: We have had a great team with help from the Department of Commerce and the three Baltic Countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  We have had active participation of Ministers and Ambassadors.
  • Customer Participation: We have been signing up some really great companies like Raytheon whose international experience in supply chain partnerships is world class.  On the other end of the spectrum we are working with small startups, such as MobileNow!, which is a provider of mobile parking solutions.  It is a very diverse group and this is what will really provide great value to this conference.
  • Alliance Partners: We have also received ideas from our friends at the Swedish Embassy and the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce who have been helping the Latvian Chamber of Commerce that iiGrowth co-founded.
  • Web 2.0 Technologies: In addition, the team is also leveraging web 2.0 technology to help promote the event through tools such as Facebook and Linked in, as well as signing up companies for matchmaking events.

The neat thing is that the team, the customers, the experience of our friends, and the use of technology has afforded us the insights and approach to develop a business model, where I believe we have taken the unnecessary non-value added costs of a typical international conference and matchmaking out of the picture.  That is pretty good!

In today’s economy, there is no other way to do it.

Written by: Gustav Plato

If you are an emerging company, or are still in the process of maturing your business model, you probably do not have a General Services Administration (GSA) schedule. This is understandable. As a start-up, your focus was on your business concept. However, as you mature you need to begin to consider implementing the tools that will help you be competitive. One such tool is a GSA contract schedule.

As an emerging company, you probably did not consider a schedule because you did not know what it is, or how it could help you. So let us begin with the basics, and let us answer what a GSA schedule is and why you may want to have one.

Last year, the government spent over $ 35,750,000,000 through GSA Schedules. That is a lot of zeros and a lot of buying power. Here is what you need to know; if a product or service is commercially available, there is a good chance that the GSA buys it for all government agencies.

GSA is a centralized procurement and property management agency for the Federal government and manages more than one-quarter of the government’s total procurement dollars, and oversees the management of $500 billion in federal assets, including more than 8,300 government-owned or leased buildings and 170,000 vehicles. Suffice it to say, keep track of what GSA is doing as part of understanding the Federal market and how it is managing its business.

There is a variety of GSA schedule contracts (87 are shown on their web site) including ones for information technology, small business, or transportation. GSA Schedule Contract presents an excellent opportunity for a service provider, manufacturer, dealer or distributor who bases his or her business on quality, feature-rich products/services and sound business practices. Having a GSA number is like being listed catalogue or directory that has ONLY contractors who have been certified as responsible vendors by the federal government. Most federal government departments/agencies now require that their procurement offices use authorized GSA contractors. In some cases, they are not allowed to purchase goods or services from those vendors who are not GSA Schedule holders.

Being and authorized GSA Schedule holder provides you with visibility, establishes your credentials, and certifies to the buyer that you will be a ‘responsible’ contractor. GSA Schedules are available to federal buyers across the nation, and in some cases, for certain commodity areas, state and local procurement offices can purchase goods and services using the GSA contracts as well. Therefore, if you own or direct a company, this is a proven strategy to generate new business opportunities and create jobs.

Generally, getting a GSA Schedule can be pretty straightforward. That is if you understand its rules and procedures and the pages of acquisition regulations that underlie the Contract. Next, we will look at some of the requirements and restrictions that GSA imposes on businesses to help you understand what you can do and what makes sense for your organization.

We hope that this will help allay your concerns about getting a Schedule and will encourage you to take the next step and investigate the rewarding possibilities of such a contract for your firm.

Written by: iiGrowth

2009 is about new beginnings. One of the features we are rolling out this year is an expansion of our IIGrowth blog. IIGrowth operates in collaboration with a vast network of subject matter experts. We want to bring this knowledge and insight to you with the hope that this will provide you with the Ideas needed to begin the Innovation process in your business, and set you on the path of business Growth.

This week we will kick it off with federal contracting and why we believe you need to have a contract schedule as you mature your business and business model.

In the coming days and weeks we will be adding discussions on supply chain, logistics, technology, market entry, and financial management.

Written by: iiGrowth

It is now clear what a Rock Band goes through by playing in a new city every night. Our group was in four cities in four days. It was a whirlwind tour, but one that provided the seeds of great opportunity.

During the Baltic Tour, there were many highlights.  The Department of Commerce and the US State Department were outstanding in helping to arrange meetings, providing deep insights into each country visited, and just made the trip very pleasant.

The Baltic countries including the government ministries we visited (i.e. economics, foreign ministries, and transporation) were equally hospitable and insightful.  In addition, the private sector industry associations and firms we visited were open, very excited about the opportunities for cooperation on both sides of the Atlantic, and looking forward to accelerated collaboration in 2009.

Of the many highlights, one of them was the opportunity to meet with Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister of Economics, for the Republic of Latvia. It was special in that it was an opportunity to invite Minister Gerhards to join the Latvian Chamber of Commerce in the Americas.

ii Growth CEO Gustav Plato Present LatCham Honorary Membership to Latvian Economics Minister, Kaspars Gerhards

ii Growth CEO Gustav Plato Present LatCham Honorary Membership to Latvian Economics Minister, Kaspars Gerhards

Gustav sees LatCham as looking forward to a very active year in 2009. In particular, given the economic downturn across the globe, it is critical to focus on fundamentals. This requires breaking down economic sectors and sub-sectors and looking for areas of opportunity, building business alliances, and elevating internal business maturity.

iiGrowth’s recent trip to the Baltics (Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia) provided an opportunity to seek out and understand US opportunities in the Baltic markets and vice versa.  This trip proved very fruitful to the notion of strong economic growth opportunities between the US and the Baltics.

The transportation and Information Technology sectors were two areas of focus in the Baltic tour.  In summary, there are opportunities for economic development and fairly large infrastructure projects in aviation, highways, ports, and rail transportation.  Information technology and innovation also highlighted the high level of capability in Baltic IT firms.  The Baltic firms are ready for the US market and have a desire to seek out business partners in the United States.  More about each of the sectors in the coming week.

Written by: Gustav Plato

iiGrowth is rolling out its Business Value Navigator Service Line. We have listened to the voices of many business executives in recent weeks.  The questions, comments and concerns are very similar.

  • How bad will it get?
  • What should we be doing?
  • How should we manage our risks and investments?
  • Where can we get into trouble/where are we exposed?
  • How can we beat this thing?

iiGrowth has assembled a cadre of seasoned executives and business partners to help address these questions of how to navigate a downturn.  We have identified key areas that you must look at, in order to not only survive the financial crisis, but to also use it as a catalyst for accelerating your path towards being a great and highly profitable company.  The key areas that we will help you examine include the following:

  • Business Strategy & Leadership
  • Customer/Stakeholder Management
  • Financial, Investment, and Risk Strategy
  • Operational Innovation (Information Technology Leverage, Lean Processes)

iiGrowth’s experienced team will come in and rapidly triage any critical areas, augment the triage with a long term blueprint that sets forth objective and reachable targets, and an execution approach that achieves results in time-boxed 90-120 day cycles.  We tell you what you need to do in 4 months and we tell you what you will need to do next Monday.

Our approach is proven.  It will give you the foundation today to manage through this financial storm.  Don’t wait, too much is at stake.  In the coming days look for more details on our crisis management service line.

Gustav

CEO iiGrowth LLC

Written by: iiGrowth

Over the last 9 months I have had an opportunity to work with Mind and Media on a variety of cutting edge and transformative initiatives. I am very fortunate and thankful that Mind and Media has also helped me design and transform iiGrowth’s Web site. More changes are on the way to ensure that iiGrowth’s clients attain an improved customer experience.  It is very exciting.

However, the key take away from this post is to share with you that Mind and Media has continuously gone out of their way to be a great group of friends and business partners. All of this in a time when they are keenly involved in transformative communications including persuasive public information campaigns, customized training programs, and workforce recruitment strategies that are making a difference (take a look at www.hirevetsfirst.gov or www.collaborationproject.org).

Mind and Media is a premier media agency and they have achieved this by creating a unique place and space in Alexandria Virginia. When you have the opportunity to go to a place called Mind and Media, you will leave with a unique “customer experience”. Mind and Media has continued to pay attention to the details of the customer experience and makes changes/improvements to this continuously. This means that your next experience will be different than the last and as a result you will gain more value from haven taken the time to go to Mind and Media. I strongly encourage anyone who has not had the opportunity to visit with Mind and Media to do so.

Thank You Mind and Media for being there in a place and space in Alexandria. I look forward to my next visit and experience!

Written by: iiGrowth

The US Baltic Foundation (www.usbaltic.org) invited IIGrowth CEO, Gustav Plato, to lead the USBF’s 2009 Business Program.

The U.S.-Baltic Foundation is an educational resource for U.S. policy-makers and the public. A national organization that unites all American friends of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, USBF develops and implements programs to strengthen democracy and free markets in the Baltics. The Foundation also introduces the Baltics to new American audiences with a series of public affairs programs.

The 2009 business program will be conducted as part of the US Baltic Confluence, which includes a Business Forum, Baltic Exchange, and Gala. The theme for the 2009 program is “Economic Growth Through Social Responsibility”. The Baltics have a long tradition of respect for nature, the environment, and sustainable development. It is part of the fabric of the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian societies, and has its roots in over a 1000 years of Baltic traditions and practices.

Similar to the resurgance of the Baltic economies, there is a worldwide resurgance in sustainable development. Key Baltic industries including Transportation and Logistics, Information Technology, and Healthy Living will come together with US business leaders and financial investors to identify new collaborative business opportunities.

Maria Kivisild Ogrydziak, Chairman of the U.S.- Baltic Foundation also announced that Valdis Zatlers, President of Latvia, will headline a three-day series of Baltic cultural and business development events on May 14-17 at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC. Sponsored by The U.S.- Baltic Foundation (USBF), the 2009 gala weekend will feature a business conference, an exchange program summit, a silent auction and black-tie gala dinner to highlight the special and growing ties between the U.S. and the Baltic States.

Written by: Gustav Plato

There has been an explosion in social networking. The growth has been fueled and driven by individuals and their desire to connect with one another. The “enterprise” in the public or private sector is just beginning to explore how business and professional networks could be used for competitive advantage. What are the greatest areas of opportunity? What role could/should the enterprise have? How could business networks enhance the enterprise’s human capital? Would this be different in public versus private sector?

Gustav Plato, CEO of iiGrowth, and Aldo Bello, Chief Creative Officer, of Mind and Media are engaging public and private sector new media thought leaders on these questions and many more in some of the leading social networks including Facebook (see posts in Partnership for Public Service and the Collaboration Project) and LinkedIn (Questions and Answers), as well as a social networking tool, Ning.

Join the discussion!  If you are interested in participating in the discussion please go to these forums, our blogs, or contact us directly.

Written by: Gustav Plato

Newseum (www.newseum.org), located in Washington DC, is not just a museum about news.  From the time you enter the facility, you are greeted by warm and friendly people, knowledgeable about the entire facility.  There are 6 floors of interactivity.  As someone who visited the Idea Factory a few years back while in San Francisco, I have understood that the ultimate customer service moments are about having a memorable experience.  The newseum, does just that, and more.

From the Berlin wall to the Annenberg Theater the facility mesmerizes you with history and it also spawns new ideas.  The 4-D film, entitled, Witness: A 4-D Time Travel Adventure, connects you with historic events ( Battle of Lexington, Nellie Bly investigating a women’s insane asylum and Edward R. Murrow broadcasting from World War II London)  in a way that you feel that you are there, inside the event, with not only holographic images all around you, but with wind blowing in your hair, and moving seats!  WOW!

The Newseum is located at Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street, N.W., Washington, DC.

Written by: Gustav Plato

Greenversations is a blog that can be found on EPA’s front page. It is written by EPA employees as well as guests who want to share their thoughts with EPA.
It is an enterprise wide blog. It is not considered official policy, nor does EPA verify the accuracy of the posts. Nevertheless, it is about the work the agency does, the interests of its employees, and shared interests with the public at large.

The blog covers a variety of relevant and interesting environmental issues. For example recent posts include the following:

  • The use of canvas (reusable) versus plastic (throwaway) bags with a link to where you can get canvas bags
  • A question that has been posted to find out if people use plastic water bottles and why?
  • An informational post about community involvement in environmental decision making
  • A question about what it would take to change your driving habits (this received a lot of comments – are you surprised?)

This blog certainly looks like a step in the right direction.  It could be even more powerful with a community type forum built around it.

Creating a community type forum raises the level of participation and citizen democracy to a higher level. The forum offers the venue to move from the discussion/awareness phase to the action/implementation phase. Forums, can include a variety of tools that offer the ability to bring together citizens and public officials to work on problems and achieve results.

Written by: Gustav Plato

It seems inevitable that social networking and new media will permeate government.  None of us can predict how, but there is a way to speed this up.

In order to accellerate the process government departments and agencies should look to enabling a hybrid networking strategy.  A hybrid strategy is one where leadership sets the strategic intent and direction, top-down,  for the use of new media and support of social networking to enable the mission of the department.  This includes allowing for a groundswell of grassroots efforts by encouraging this.

The other part of the hybrid approach is for individuals to drive the participation (encouraged by the leadership) from a bottom-up perspective.  Hundreds or thousands of grass roots initiatives can be formed by individuals at all levels of government.  People who are interested in global warming, or health care, or technology can easily form social neworks on platforms such as Ning, Facebook, or LinkedIn.  These networks can use a variety of communications tools such as WIKIs, Blogs, instant messaging, etc. to enable and foster communications.  They already do and the numbers are growing.  Here a a few examples.

  • NAPA for example along with Mind and Media have created a site for collaboration (www.collaborationproject.org).
  • For example in the intelligence community, Intelink, includes document storage, bookmarking, photo sharing, instant messaging, video sharing, wiki (Intellipedia) and email all operating inside a secure fireweall.
  • LacCarling.ca is a social networking platform for government and industry to work together to communicate and advance the government’s service delivery. It has both a public and private view.

The point is that we do not need to micro-architect the outcomes, but allow for certain conditions and encourage certain behaviours.
Over the coming months, iiGrowth will look for examples of social networks and new media in government.  If you come across this blog, post what you have seen on the growth of collaborative government.

New Media

28.05.2008

Blog & News, News

Written by: iiGrowth

New Media.  Social Networks. Changing Demographics.  That is only part of the story.  IIGrowth is diving deep into the exciting world of human capital and organizational management strategy.  What else do we see.    New Network-Centric Business and Governance Models.  Workforce Lifecycles @ Wave 3.0. Leadership and Mastery of Collaborative Network Management.  Much More.

What do these things mean to you?  Be prepared to get engaged in the discussion.  We are working on a project with our partner Mind and Media that will address these challenges.  Together we are crafting a Future Vision for Managing the Federal Workforce with applicability to all industry sectors.

In support of this project we will be engaging you, posting questions, answering questions, facilitating discussions and creating a record of our work using all the tools at our disposal in the web 2.0 and coming 3.0 world.

Written by: iiGrowth

On Friday April 18th, 2008, the U.S. Baltic Foundation held the U.S.-Baltic Technology Forum, at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. Over 70 participants worked together to build upon last year’s successes, as the 2008 program provided Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and American companies the opportunity to assess current challenges and environments and explore exciting new opportunities in a range of technology innovation fields. Noted American and Baltic experts in economic and market development and technology particpated in panel discussions on cutting-edge subjects including cyber security, technology commercialization, and energy conservation and green technology.

IIGrowth LLC, CEO, Gustav Plato, worked with the USBF to design the program and led the Technology Commercialization workshops. In addition, Gustav led efforts and worked with the State of Delaware and the Maryland Estonian Exchange Council to design and implement the two-state trade mission.

Written by: iiGrowth

IIGrowth CEO, Gustav Plato, participated in the WEL workshop for entreprenurs in March in Riga Latvia. Gustav shared his experiences in leading market development efforts and engaged the audience in a discussion of using a rapid 90-120 deployment approach to market strategy development and implementation.

Written by: iiGrowth

IIGrowth LLC is partnering with MobileNow!, (www.mobilenowsolutions.com) which is a provider of digital permit and mobile payment solutions ,and providing advisory services to MobileNow! on its business, market, and alliance strategies.

Krista Tassa, Managing Member of MobileNow! stated, “We are the sole U.S. distributor for technology developed by NOW! Innovations.  MobileNOW! offers a convenient way to pay by cell phone for such daily events such as on-and-off-street parking; and tickets for public transportation, movies, museums, and sporting events”.  We believe that working with IIGrowth is timely and will aid us with our growth strategy

Written by: iiGrowth

We Entrepreneurs Latvia is leading and facilitating Latvia’s private sector efforts to create a sustainable entreprenurial class in Latvia.  WEL brings together entrepreneurs, investors, academia, and specialists in a variety of fields to generate ideas, innovate, and grow.  From our perspective at IIGrowth, we could not find a better group to spend our time with, the Latvian Entrepreneur.  So we are going to Latvia.  From March 07 through 20, IIGrowth will be in Latvia visiting with Latvian Entrepreneurs.  On March 13, 2008, we will be leading a WEL workshop at the Hipotēka Banka (Mortgage Bank) and discussing how Latvian Entrepreneurs can view the US market, come up with innovative ideas for market entry, and develop US market growth strategies.  If you are interested in a 1:1 meeting please contact us at gplato@iigrowth.com.  For information about the seminar please contact Sandra Ozola, WEL Executive Director, ozola.sandra@gmail.com.

Written by: iiGrowth

The talent pool of entrepreneurs and business people of Latvian heritage in the United States is significant relative to the size of Latvia and the Latvian economy.    In the current environment these individuals are organized through social networks.  Today’s economic environment; the power or technology; as well as the economic interests of these individuals, Latvia, and the United States provide an opportunity to create a Latvian business network to drive economic growth and development.

2008 is the year to create a Latvian Chamber of Commerce (LATCHAM) in the United States.  The LATCHAM will be a business federation that represent Latvian business people, businesses and associations and provide forums for government and private sector firms to meet, keep informed of one anothers activites, and promote business cooperation.

iiGrowth is leading the development of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce in the United States (LATCHAM).  In 2008, the LATCHAM will be formed, an initial operating structure established, and work will be started on building out the membership.  The full scope of services will evolve as the group grows in size and stature.

Please contact iiGrowth if you are interested in becoming a member of the Chamber of Commerce at gplato@iigrowth.com.

Written by: iiGrowth

iiGrowth was in Latvia in January.  It was a Proof of Concept Tour for Market Spark.  Market Spark is an envisioned United States Baltic market accelerator that is being established to promote economic growth and trade in the United States and the Baltics.  iiGrowth visited with numerous innovation thought leaders in Latvia including Jerry Wirth and Līga Bertulsone of the American Chamber of Commerce.

Written by: Gustav Plato

IBM is rapidly moving into the collaborative Web 2.0 world.  IBM has already been active in using customer facing Web 2.0 technologies to enable its customer facing business as shown in its Virtual Business Center housed in the 2nd Life Virtual World.  It has also announced building its own virtual world, called Metaverse, in several news articles including eWeek, Information Week, and ZDNET.  These articles also address “Bluepedia” which is IBM’s internal Wiki.

At IBM the Web 2.0 world is fostering an environment that promotes communication and information exchange within IBM.  As a former IBMer (from the late 90s to the early 00s under CEO Lou Gerstner) one of the more attractive elements of working there was our use of technology to simplify the back office operations (accounting, human resources, supply chain) so that we could focus on our clients and service delivery.   At the time, although we were hoteling, and attempting to work in a distributed environment, the social aspects of being an IBM employee were a challenge.  That is now changing.

IBM leadership, many of whom were there, back in the day, have recognized the benefits of social networking as applied to internal business environments.  Keep watching large innovative companies as you look for examples for how to enable your own emerging business.   Figuring out how to apply these Web 2.0 technologies to your own business, and business culture, cost effectively, will enable your firm to innovate and execute.

Written by: Gustav Plato

Are you behind the curve?

Network-centric innovation is one is one of the fastest moving business model disrupters in many years. What we are seeing is that the world’s largest firms, like IBM and Proctor and Gamble (P&G), as well as emerging and medium sized firms, are moving away from purely internally driven innovation. They are accelerating their efforts in forging new business models by expanding their use of external partners (individuals or companies). They are “plugging in to the network



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