WRITTEN BY: BOB LYTLE
Collision: two entities moving, unaware of the other’s path as they head towards their destination. A short, often violent, occurrence where entities “exert forces” on each other. We tend to think of collisions as high-energy events where the outcome is a transformation of one or both of the participants. Collision in our worldview is impactful, but often seen as negative.
It need not be.
What does this have to do with Niagara business? Let’s talk about collisions that have occurred in the life of our local startup company. Through these events, rel8ed.to has grown as an organization and continues to experience transformation on its journey towards success in Niagara, Canada, and beyond.
Sometimes collisions are arranged by others – in our case, by watchers and promoters of emerging businesses. The innovation ecosystem in Ontario, exemplified by Innovate Niagara and Communitech in Kitchener, regularly creates opportunities to connect emerging businesses with larger organizations in need of innovative ideas. These opportunities are promoted as chances for new businesses to meet their future customers.
For rel8ed.to, the meeting with Data Analytics executives at Deloitte Canada through a Communitech Collision Day was not arranged by the company. Instead, leaders at both the Kitchener and Niagara Regional Innovation Centers caused this happy crash. The initial collision meeting fostered a broader relationship between the participants, culminating in the Data VizArt Student Challenge described at http://www.dvastudentchallenge.ca/. This 6-week contest (sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, and Tableau Software) features rel8ed.to’s data assets in a race to find the best Data Artists across the country. We collide with Deloitte, they connect students to our data, and we together assess top young performers (and maybe our next set of hires).
Sometimes collisions proceed from a determined strategy to create connection, friction, and direct impact. Such was the case in the chance meeting of opinions from two Innovate Niagara tenants with a passion for, and against, retail cannabis. A social media spat on the issue started negative and parties dug in deeper. Outside a collision environment, those opposing views might normally fight, seek rhetorical advantage, and eventually walk away without resolution.
Inside a collision environment, actors might instead find common ground. In the Cannabis debate, Caddle researcher Keith Thompson and I found that the collision atmosphere encouraged a data-driven solution. We agreed to set aside the argument and instead conduct a statistical assessment of opinion on retail opt-in approaches. rel8ed.to collides with Caddle, both sides generate data-supported research and present to City Council, Council votes with the benefit of new analysis.
That’s collision. The question now: who will you be colliding with? If you’re an innovation-driven business in Niagara, check out Innovate Niagara to see who you might crash into.
Bob Lytle is the former CIO of TransUnion Canada. His St. Catharines-based venture, rel8ed.to Analytics, analyzes public data on commercial entities for banks, insurers, and government clients. rel8ed.to is a tenant at the Generator at one, Ontario's premiere interactive innovation centre sponsored by Innovate Niagara. Bob is a "Citizen Data Scientist" and promotes the broad use of analytics in daily life through the ethical use of Open and Public Data.
This article originally appeared in Business Link Niagara.