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Mixing business with technology
Monday, 23 November 2009 00:00

It seems almost everywhere you look there is some sort of computer technology. A much larger percentage of people work from a desktop or laptop every day than in decades past, and more and more people are carrying around handheld computers in their pockets they call smartphones.

Though using email, word processors and web browsers are more or less common knowledge, actually understanding how a computer works - or how to fix it - is a rarity.

But that doesn't necessarily matter for someone looking for a job in the technology sector says David Baxter, vice-president of innovation for T4G Ltd., a national firm specializing in technology solutions for business problems.

Baxter, who comes from a business background, says there are plenty of opportunities for people with a broad range of specialties to work in technology in New Brunswick.

"The ICT sector is an enabling sector that allows you to do interesting things to solve business problems," he says. "There is a certain amount of knowledge equity that you build up as you progress through your career."

This can be an asset for tech firms.

E-Health companies value insight from health-care professionals, energy tech firms want to hear from power sector veterans and technology workers often needs business people to help monetize ideas, he says.

Although there is a continent-wide shortage of technology-trained workers, Baxter says people with other complementary experience are needed as well.

"I believe collaboration is necessary anywhere," he says. "It's one of the conduits to making innovation happen."

Todd Murphy, co-founder of Saint John-based tech startup MedRunner Health Solutions Inc., knows first hand how this can help a new business.

The University of New Brunswick MBA student looked to his school's computer science faculty to find people with the technical skills needed to make his idea for a paperless prescription service a reality.

But this wouldn't have happen if Murphy hadn't taken the initiative to walk down the hall, something he says not enough people do.

He says there should be more communication and collaboration between business, computer science and engineering students as well as their related counterparts at the community colleges.

"They may not come up with anything, but it gets them talking," he says. "There are lots of business people out there that want to start a business but they can't find the right people."

But startups aren't the only place where technology-interested non-techies can find a job, Baxter says. Plenty of the province's ICT firms have a need for them as well.

"The other opportunities have more to do with utilizing your creative, or your problem solving abilities," he says, adding big-picture thinkers and the ability to forecast future trends are often valued. "There are lots of opportunities for people to come in with that kind of perspective and apply a technology solution to what really is a business challenge."

After the necessary collaboration between technology and business people and other specialists has happened, Baxter says all parties will be better prepared for possible future endeavors.

"It is a two-way street," he says. "Whether you're coming in with a technology orientation or coming in with a business orientation, you learn enough about the other and what it takes to apply that type of creativity."

 

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