UBC IT Services Analysis

Dodds was confident in his speech and effectively conveyed the capabilities of UBC IT, along with their successes over the past few years. The evidence of UBC IT’s past successes shows that UBC is highly capable of providing students and the university community with the services they need for an enriching learning environment.

Management Team
Dodds emphasizes the importance of formal and informal meetings and how, as a decentralized university, the units and faculties manage to collaborate to develop and provide solutions to the UBC community; different teams within the University help toward the function of IT Services.

Business Model
The business model is feasible and the arguments toward the mission and vision are compelling. Dodds discusses the notion of a global citizenship where the talent pool is organized so everything can come together harmoniously to reach their goals. The trick toward success is to continuously re-evaluate strategies and raise the bar.

Competitive Products
The realistic market size, share and selling price captured are based on enrolment, but more importantly, the reputation of the institution as well as the reliability of the products and services delivered by UBC IT and similar services to support the reputation of UBC as a whole.

Market Readiness
UBC IT clearly has the ability to face the challenges that helps them succeed, particularly since they are driven to continue doing things with success in mind. By bringing together key members and stakeholders in the UBC community, they formulate strategies that ensure the success of their business model.

Technical Innovation
One of the most innovative learning tools to come from UBC was WebCT, proving that the institution has the edge to advance technologically. As well, Dodds discussed going beyond the community with an open source and community source project that will provide benefits to students, faculty and staff at UBC. Dodds did not mention the name of the project but it makes me wonder if he was referring to the Kuali Student System currently in development?

Exit Strategy
UBC IT recognizes success. The annual e-Strategy town hall meetings and release of monthly newsletters are great examples of how valuable decision-making strategies are from different levels within the University community in order to continuously improve products and services.

Overall Investment Status
As an EVA, I would risk my investment capital in UBC IT Services.

September 15, 2009   1 Comment

Royal Roads University OCW

The pitch given by Burgess provided plenty of information about what Royal Roads should do with Open Courseware but did not quite convey how they would effectively overcome risks and achieve success with the project. Throughout the pitch, Burgess presented more factual information rather than clearly pitching why RRU could provide uniqueness in their Open Courseware.

Management Team
Other than mention of a marketing team, there is little evidence of a team in place to execute this plan or which existing teams in the University would or could be used as resources. Providing more information on the teams responsible for executing the plan would have been beneficial in strengthening the pitch for Open Courseware.

Business Model
The idea is feasible but the argument is not so compelling. There is evidence of opportunity and weaknesses but not so much how the University can use its strengths or how RRU will face threats to the idea. In the pitch, Burgess could have focused more on what will make students want to go to RRU or any other university with established open courseware in place? How do the courses from RRU differ from the ones offered by other institutions that are part of the Open Courseware Consortium (OCW) and should these other universities be viewed as opportunities or threats for providing similar learning tools?

Competitive Products
The main competition Burgess identified is MIT, although the other post-secondary institutions that are part of the OCW make the service very competitive. Within five years, MIT was able to grow their open courseware program significantly. As pointed out, if RRU were to do the same, they would have to effectively target and market to students.

Market Readiness
Without knowing exactly how students can or will be drawn into the market, the critical path ahead seems challenging and may take more time than necessary if RRU is not prepared.

Technical Innovation
This pitch did not provide strong evidence of RRU having an edge technically.

Exit Strategy
Burgess makes the destination clear, however the success of the project is brought to question.

Overall Investment Status
As an EVA, I would say at this point in time, unless Burgess could provide further proof that this venture would be successful, an investment cannot be made on this proposition.

September 15, 2009   No Comments

Rubric for OLT at UBC

I’ve decided to take the challenge of being brief and to the point in evaluating the presentation of the OLT at UBC. I adapted a marking rubric that we use at the elementary school level in order to facilitate this (it actually looks a lot better as a Word document):

UBC’s OLT Pitch Pool Marking Rubric


Not Within Expectations

Minimally Meets Expectations

Fully Meets Expectations

Exceeds Expectations

CEO Credibility – Does this person exude capability and convey confidence that they will achieve success against all obstacles? Michelle Lamberson seems quite comfortable in the setting. If anything the format is too casual to truly evaluate her credibility.
Management Team – Have they assembled a stellar team along with the other human and material resources required for success Unclear. Not a lot of attention given to this subject.
Business Model – Is this feasible? – have they done their homework? – are their arguments and information accurate and compelling? Unclear. It appears to be a work in progress.
Competitive Products – What is a realistic market size, market share and selling price that these products or services can capture in a very competitive world? Since this is a ‘home grown’ initiative there would not appear to be the need to be as competitive as they would if they were trying to compete in an open market.
Market Readiness – How long and difficult is their critical path to success? Unclear. A work in progress.
Technical Innovation – Do they have an edge, and can they keep it? At the time of recording Michelle Lamberson indicated that her department was unique among universities. This could be seen as giving them an edge or it could be seen as a detriment as others observe and learn from their success and mistakes.
Exit Strategy – Do they really know what success looks like – is their destination clear A work in progress but Ms. Lamberson does indicate that a successful department will be able to look after the technological needs of an institution. An ‘exit’ strategy really doesn’t seem to apply here in that if the online learning department is successful the will always need a department like this one.
Overall Investment Status – Am I going to risk my investment capital on this proposition? Yes- not based on the interview given but based on the assumption that online learning will continue to grow and as a result a unified, efficient strategy/department is vital.


The format of the interview was not formal enough to make a reasonable judgement as an EVA. Michelle Lamberson was obviously at ease and familiar with the interviewer and this led to an overly casual environment (as far as trying to evaluate the ‘Pitch’). Ms. Lamberson seems excited about her role and is confident as she discusses it. I would have liked to see a formal presentation (an actual ‘Pitch’) so that I could understand clearly what it is that her department does and what its vision of the future is.

September 15, 2009   5 Comments

UBC Alumni Book Club – INTERESTING!

Scroll down this link to view the non-fiction book being reviewed Oct 28th.


While I haven’t read the book, it has a fear monger feel to it.  Check the facilitators bio, he is giving Pro-D seminars on this book!!!  Am I the only one bothered by this one-sided labeling?

September 15, 2009   4 Comments


Michelle Lamberson does not have a job I envy.  Balancing the needs and budgets of her office with the needs of UBC students, faculty and departments is a recipe for the adage. “you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.  There is no way to please everyone.

She is intelligent and obviously possesses the skills to balance all of the demands placed upon her and her office.  She gives the impression that she takes in multiple viewpoints and considers them all.  If I had any critique to offer, I would suggest she be more aware of her eye movement during the interview.  While very often intelligent people look away to form a thought it can be misinterpreted as evasiveness.  She is fully versed in her subject and would project this more clearly if she held her gaze more directly.  This small nuance falls into the credibility category.

In a short interview, deeply considered projects can appear to have been quick and easy judgments.  The decision to offer blogs and wikis to all students is almost presented as an experiment.  The endpoint or definition of success is unclear yet, I am not sure in this case it can be clear.  Decision-making within this paradigm is most challenging. An institution like UBC must be willing to try a few ‘experiments’ after intelligent consideration.

As for the question – would I invest in this enterprise? – I believe my tuition bill speaks for itself.

September 15, 2009   5 Comments

Recombo 2005

Brad McFee tries to make a compelling case for his company.  They seem to have gone through early growing pains about how to position themselves as a product or service company. He talks about a year of transition.  They seem to have a product which up until recently was not being purchased “off the rack” but is now being better represented to customers.  I would like to see more discussion of this boxed product and what they think it’s potential is as it stands, without customization.  It sounds as if Mind Leaders got a customized product. How much in sales have been attributed to their boxed software?

Mr. McFee proudly discusses their new, large partner – Lighthouse Publishing.  He seems very optimistic that they will share their 700+ customer base with them.  He is perhaps a bit too optimistic.  Will Lighthouse risk losing a customer of their own for a small incentive?  I worry that he underestimates the corporate change the doubling of a small workforce can bring.  An expansion from 12 to 22 in a few weeks is extremely rapid and it will not be seamless.  As the number of staff doubles there will be a friendly period where everyone sizes each other up followed by internal re-positioning struggle as old and new employees ‘stake their claim’ to areas of the business they deem important.  Hopefully, their HR department is adept at interviewing for ‘fit’ as well as qualifications.

Innovation in b2b programming is fleeting.  Unless Recombo can get a boxed product out which fits a needed business solution they will be customizing to prove the product works but not really producing a product that has a high enough sales potential.  Very quickly someone else can (and will) customize a single solution for each of the larger customers leaving the market shallow.  India and China are producing a generation of very savvy programmers who will be cutting into Recombo’s market with one off, customized solutions for less.

If  Recombo could show me a large customer base to sell boxed software into and could show me it would need little or no customization then I might consider investing.  I would have to make sure my exit strategy matched theirs or there may be issues about when to sell the company.

September 15, 2009   3 Comments

Analyzing Ingenia

Analyzing Ingenia’s Pitch

* CEO Credibility – Does this person exude capability and convey confidence that they will achieve success against all obstacles?

Ramona’s voice is clear, concise and confident. It was a great place to begin the pitch but the ongoing professional experience of Ramona became really distracting. The perception of the company seems to rely on simply Ramona and not a team based approach. Her core team consists of people with “Masters” but in what field? How will their expertise contribute to the success of Vietnam? Are they experience dealing with Asian markets? In addition, does Ramona speak Vietnamese? Does she have local support? What are the demographics of Vietnamese people who want to have an education? Just because there are youth along the street where Ramona took her picture, it does not suggest those people would be willing to engage in e-learning. What makes her so sure?

* Management Team – Have they assembled a stellar team along with the other human and material resources required for success Consulltants (Willing to seek out consultants depending on the project)

The mention of seeking out consultants in addition to have a core team was very reassuring, however there does not seem to be enough of a team presence within the pitch for me to trust in this “team” she mentions. The only mention is of Ramona’s professional experience  but her team is missing from the picture. It doesn’t seem to be a team based production. Perhaps in a pitch, she wants to focus the attention on her professional qualifications but I find it hard to trust the venture when it seems like there is only one reliable face for the company. What if something happens to Ramona? Are there other people to follow up and support it? Will it be worth risking 100, 000 Canada for the suggested expected rate?

* Business Model – Is this feasible? – have they done their homework? – are their arguments and information accurate and compelling?

The business model seems to be feasible within a North American region and culture. Moving their ideas to Vietnam will probably include the differences in culture, language and environment. In their pitch, they have not really addressed this. Is it going to be a problem or since they are going to deal  with multinational companies, this is less of an issue. Regardless, the difference in regions in relationship to their past experience needs to be mentioned. As an investor, I want to know why they think that Vietnam would have the same positive reaction in Canada?

* Competitive Products – What is a realistic market size, market share and selling price that these products or services can capture in a very competitive world?

Ramona does not seem to mention who are the competitors. It seems she is underestimating the interest in Vietnam. Is that really reliable? If there is money to be made, why aren’t other competitors jumping at the opportunity. What are their hesitations?

* Market Readiness – How long and difficult is their critical path to success?

From the investments of the World Bank and other Asian financial institutions, why would they not hire their own e-strategy company to handle their own educational launches? Why would they hire Ingenia? If they are investing those amounts, what would keep them from establishing their own e-learning departments within their own institution? How can Ingenia ensure that the investments there will be interested In Ingenia? The breakdown of the finances seems to be unbalanced. $40K seems to be quite a large amount for the market development trips. It needs to be more specific within this part because this is a major part of the equation. What does she mean? It seems like she mentioned a lot of accommodations and hotels. Can there be a permanent establishment arrangement there. It seems the budget for the “trips” seem to use a lot of money. This needs to be reassessed and what kind of lifestyles are we talking about because this is 40% of the budget. I am not comfortable with this because it does not seem that Ramona has thoroughly researched the Vietnam context enough. It seems like she is using the 40K to see if this venture would be successful rather than using it to develop the already researched plan.

* Technical Innovation – Do they have an edge, and can they keep it?

The idea of promoting e-learning within Vietnam and this region gives Ingenia an edge, but it seems like that is all for their venture. What are their future goals? What will happen if the politics of Vietnam change? Is it really stable? Is Vietnam going to be the only target? Why are other companies not exploring opportunities in Vietnam? What are their reasons for not investing their money there. If there is money to be made, why are other companies not going there. Is it because they don’t see the growth that Ingenia sees or is it that the expected return rate is not as attractive? What are the reasons for other companies not to invest?

* Exit Strategy – Do they really know what success looks like – is their destination clear

They seem to know what their destination looks like. However, it seems their pitch is rather empty. There seems to be more information about Ramona, than there is about the Vietnam project. What has been confirmed with Ingenia as of this moment? *

Overall Investment Status – Am I going to risk my investment capital on this proposition?

At this time, I am interested in Ingenia’s pitch. However, I am hesistant because of the points above. The face of the company seems to be Ramona. I don’t know if I can risk spending that amount of capital into just simply one person’s professional experience. I need to see and meet the team. I would like to know more about the small team which is at the core of the company. This is a good beginning for a pitch. However, I still need a lot of persuasion beause there are things that she mentions which cause me to wonder if they are really able to establish a presence in Vietnam. I want to know more about the partnership firm and that company’s background. I still have a lot of questions regarding Ingenia. The presentation was very well put together with the slide presentation and Ramona’s voice but this is not enough persuasion for an investor to hand over the amount of money the company is asking for. A good beginning but needs a lot more references and support.

September 15, 2009   2 Comments