Two months ago, the day after the 2008 U.S. election, I covered a partially IT-related meeting at the National Press Club in which the Republican and Democratic party chairmen Monday-morning-quarterbacked the just completed election. Governor Howard Dean, the Democrat, said something along the lines of
" I don't know what the next big election whatsis' will be but someone in Silicon Valley probably does and it is probably out on the Internet in some rudimentary fashion already."
I think I might have just seen the "whatsis" Gov. Dean was guessing about. And the someone in Silicon Valley (SV) Dean was guessing about therefore may be Don McDougall, CEO of Space-Time Research (STR). The wrinkle is that although Don maintains an office in SV, STR is based in Richmond, Victoria, Australia. The "whatsis" is some very forward-looking business intelligence software.
But before some politician uses it to help get U.S. citizens to vote in 2012, the government is going to use it to help count you - citizens or not - in the 2010 U.S. census. STR software is used heavily by the Australian and other national statistics offices around the world and is now entering the U.S. as a subcontractor to IBM Global Services. It has been used in California already as a test (in which it processed 39 million pieces of data in 7 seconds). One of its tricks is that the software performs an Extract/Load/Transform process rather than the more traditional Extract/Transform/Load. Don McDougall tells me that of STR software's features, key is the ability to protect your confidentiality/privacy. Self-service is another key feature; you don't need MBAs and/or "rocket scientists" to get useful reports.
Keep an eye out for STR. Just like many other important IT products you use, it's starting out in the U.S. Census Bureau (see Herman Hollerith).
Truth in advertising: Don is a fellow Grey Eagle - which means that in other lives, he and I both worked for the former Data General. I met Don on New Year's Eve afternoon in 1975 and over the next 10 years he and other Grey - or is it Gray? -- Eagles taught me more about the IT market and IT marketing than the dozens of college courses, training seminars, executive workshops, etc. that I attended previously or since.
Don has a long history of growing companies and leading global expansion. Prior to Space-Time Research, Don was vice president of Customer Solutions and Alliances at SAS Institute. Before its acquisition by SAS, Don was president and COO of ABC Technologies. He has also held the roles of president and CEO at Decision Dynamics Inc, a developer of supply chain software, and Mitron Corporation, a developer of manufacturing automation software. Don was also vice president at Floating Point Systems.
And I have to add that it was easy to learn a lot about the IT market at Data General. The afternoon I met McDougall, he was sitting with a guy named Ed Zander. Among only a few thousand employees at the time or within the next few years, there were not only McDougall and Zander but Rowland Archer, John Butler, Joe Forgione, Jean-Louis Gassee, Ron Gruner, Mark Leslie, Dave Mahoney (in between having sold Applix to Cognos and whatever is next), Craig Mundie, Ray Ozzie, Jonathan Sachs, Jit Saxena, Janpieter Scheerder, Chris Stone and many others. All you had to do was listen and stay out of the way of the insults.