Rogers Small Business Leadership Network – Robin Smith

Robin Smith, HeadshotMeet Robin Smith the newest member of the Rogers Small Business Leadership Network. Robin is the co-founder of Virtual Logistics Inc. located in Mississauga, Ontario. We sat down with Robin and asked him a few questions about his business.

Q1: What’s Your Elevator Pitch?

I always come back to our vision. To be the leader in customized data integration solutions for growing omni-channel businesses. We want to change the way you think about data integration. It’s not a really sexy topic but it’s key to a successful and scalable business. Bet you never thought about it.

Q2: What’s Your 3 Biggest Challenge as a small business owner that you’re tackling today?

Time (there is never enough), finding the right people (people that fit technically and culturally into our organization) and changing the attitudes in business towards data integration and data. These are three of the biggest challenges we face. Of course there are lots of others but they are far easier to manage.

Q3: What role does technology play in the day to day operations of your business? What didn’t you expect you’d use technology for?

Love this question! If you don’t have a solid technological foundation you are living in the 19th century. You would be amazed at the number of businesses we speak with who can’t see past the outdated junky systems they use. They are not informed about what is available and run inefficient and antiquated processes because of the technology they use. We use technology to manage the entire sales and marketing cycle, contract administration, accounting and then all customer interfacing points using an issue management platform. We love technology at Virtual Logistics and have always said if you want to talk the talk, you better walk the walk. So we eat our own cat food. No dogs here.

Q4: Tell us a time when technology helped get you and your business out of a jam?

We were having a dispute with a customer. By having a centralised CRM for emails and a proper issue management solution where people logged their time, this allowed us to show the customer that we were not the bad guys. Having the facts allowed us to defuse the dispute and establish a better working relationship. Had we not had the technology it would have been a “he said, she said” in which no one came out unscathed. If you don’t have proper systems you don’t have good data.

Q5: What technologies do you think could impact small business in the coming months or years?

Wow a huge question. APIs (application program interface) are going to create the greatest opportunities and the greatest challenges for business. The internet is one giant API. What APIs are doing to business is allowing them to move beyond the transaction and getting at data. Data is king, we all generate it, we all have it and we all use it. Data is the foundation of all we do today. It feeds the customer experience; it drives our planning and decisioning. If it’s bad we make bad decisions. We trade today in a digital world so the use of data across an organization is more pervasive than ever before. With APIs things will get much more personal and drive much of the internet of things solutions. Think of APIs as doors we can look into to get a view of data. How many doors can you open to get a better view?

About Robin

Robin is the co-founder of Virtual Logistics Inc. He has overseen VL’s sales and marketing since the company’s inception in 1994 as an EDI and data integration company.

Prior to forming VL, Robin was responsible for new business development in Africa and the Middle East for Canac Telecom a division of CN Rail. While at Canac, Robin represented Canac on numerous Canadian Government trade missions to Morocco, Tunisia, Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Prior to working at Canac, Robin served as Director of International Liaison at TEMIC (Telecommunications Executive Management Institute of Canada) and worked for USAID in Somalia as well in the UN office, Vienna, Austria.

Robin has a BA Honours in Prehistoric Archaeology and Historical Geography from the University of Toronto. He also has a MA in International Relations from Webster University, Vienna, Austria. He is married with two sons and lives in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Disclosure statement

Alex is a member of the Rogers Small Business Leadership Network. Members work with Rogers to produce and share content that can help Canadian small businesses be successful. He is not

compensated by Rogers.

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Rogers Small Business Leadership Network – Alex Glassey

Alex GlasseyMeet Alex Glassey, the newest member of the Rogers Small Business Leadership Network. Alex is the Founder and CEO of Stratpad located in Victoria, British Columbia. We sat down with Alex and asked him a few questions about his business.

Q1: What’s Your Elevator Pitch?

At StratPad, we believe entrepreneurs will save the world. We help entrepreneurs harvest their team’s creativity and transform it into a thriving business. Our online resources teach them how to think about, plan and manage their business. Further, we introduce them to the advisors and lenders that want to help them grow.

Q2: What are your 3 Biggest Challenges as a small business owner that you’re tackling today?

We wrestle with these questions:

1. How do we differentiate ourselves from the numerous “business planning” alternatives?

2. How do we find and develop an international network of high-quality advisors to drive our growth?

3. How do we continue to deliver the quality experience that our early customers received while growing 10-fold every year?

Q3: What role does technology play in the day to day operations of your business? What didn’t you expect you’d use technology for?

First, technology is at the core of our offering. We’ve taken all of the business planning experience and methods from decades of work and used them to create StratPad and its subsequent iterations. We use it to enhance what we do, and provide a unique framework for business people and their advisors. Second, we also use technology to link us to our customers as directly as possible. Finally, we use technology to link our customers to each other, in effect creating a experience for business services.

Q4: Tell us a time when technology helped get you and your business out of a jam?

Our business would look significantly different without technology. Our flagship product, StratPad Cloud, is a purely web-based app that helps simplify and focus the strategy and planning process. It provides a framework for business people to work within, freeing them up to do what really matters to them: growing their business. It’s difficult to think about specifics when your business revolves around using technology to promote small business success and connect business people with the advisors they need to grow and be successful. So let’s just say that technology saves the day, every day.

Q5: What technologies do you think could impact small business in the coming months or years?

We believe that technology is accelerating its transformation of the business landscape.

3D printers, for example, will radically disrupt delivery chains and manufacturers and transform the economics of “things”: anyone will be able to have anything at any time and send it anywhere, instantly.

Wearable technologies and the Internet of Things will increase the amount of data generated about us. This data, harnessed to increasingly powerful and sophisticated inference engines, will reshape the world of marketing, shopping, communications and human decision-making.

Finally, the internet is becoming increasingly ubiquitous worldwide, and as more and more emerging markets find themselves with fast, reliable internet access, business will be moving into an online space. This massively impacts small businesses who can now communicate more efficiently with their employees, many of whom may be working remotely. The hiring pool is vastly increased as well because of this.

About Alex

Alex is the founder and CEO of StratPad Inc. StratPad’s award-winning software represents the best of what Alex has learned in his 30+ years of experience as a serial entrepreneur and advisor to small and medium-sized businesses. StratPad provides a simple, practical approach to business planning that makes sense for entrepreneurs.

Based in Victoria, BC, Canada, Alex is a former “big five” management consultant turned entrepreneur with four successful startups to his credit. Over the years, he has advised hundreds of small businesses on growth and innovation strategies. A dynamic and engaging speaker, Alex presents to business groups worldwide and offers workshops and video-based training on strategy and business planning.

Alex is an adjunct professor in the entrepreneurial program at Royal Roads University in Victoria. He earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Alex is a member of the Rogers Small Business Leadership Network. Members work with Rogers to produce and share content that can help Canadian small businesses be successful. He is not compensated by Rogers.




Twitter: @stratpad

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Interview with Robyn Bews: Workplace Flexibility

392abc4We recently interviewed Robyn Bews, Executive Director, WORKshift Canada for her perspective on workplace flexibility. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

You just released research in partnership with Rogers. What were the key findings?

The premise behind the research was to get a definitive feeling of the importance from Canadian employees about workplace flexibility. Ie- did all the talk about workplace transformation from the media and vendors match what employees really wanted? Secondly, if it were important to employees, how did offering it affect employee engagement?  That is to say, what impacts might a company see, beyond real estate savings, if they were to get their arms around it?  Lastly, we obviously live in a hyper-connected, technology driven and supported world, we wanted to understand how providing employees with the right technology impacts their feelings about their employer.
The results were frankly unsurprising to us: Yes, employees value flexibility.  It can significantly improve engagement. And, giving employees the best technology to support anytime, anywhere work leads to positive impressions about the company.   I guess the only surprise was how significant the impacts might be.

What does this research mean for Canadian businesses?

Businesses can ignore workplace flexibility at their own peril. We’re not going to see a time in the future where employees are more tethered. Those who “get” it and create workplaces that can realize the upside are going to win. They will win the talent war, they will win reputationally, they will win the ROI.

How do you think technology plays a role in driving flexible work?

Consumerization of IT,  which I loosely define as employees having better technology at home than at work, means that we now operate with the expectations of technology to drive efficiencies in our lives.  We no longer see distance as a burden: Grandparents from other countries can read their grandkids bedtime stories, professors can teach surgeons complex procedures via robots. Which leaves many asking the obvious question, why don’t I have the tools to collaborate effectively with my team from distributed locations?  Technology is both the driver and enabler now which is interesting to me.

engaged employeeCan you talk about the event you are hosting this week?

In addition to releasing the full results of our research, this events is an opportunity to bring together what I think are some of the most talented minds on this topic of workplace transformation.  It will be a chance for change-makers to hear about the latest research, thought-leadership topics like HR, demographic shifts,  collaboration and technology which might give them the confidence to begin advancing the conversation in their own workplaces. But even more exciting will be the opportunity to hear from organizations that have done this and have the evidence and results to support the business case.  If it exists, it can be done, which makers it infinitely harder to ignore.

Click here for more information about WORKshift.

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Transforming the way we do business with the Internet of Things. Interview with Eric Simmons.

091715-007-BPAwardsDay2-298We recently interviewed Eric Simmons, Senior Director, M2M & IoT at Rogers for his perspective on IoT and why it matters for business. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Surveillance cameras, fridges, smart cars and almost every device imaginable are being given connectivity through the Internet of Things; how do you think this technology will have an impact on our daily lives?

The internet of things will have a more transformative impact on our daily lives than the internet, smart phones and apps combined.  As the world becomes more and more interconnected life will become more predictable and personalized.  We will receive notifications about the things that are important to us like when our bus or subway is arriving, when low on gas our car will recommend the closest gas station that ties to your loyalty card and when your favourite stores are having sales and what products are available in one’s size.  Predictive analytics will tell us when something is going to happen before it happens so we can prepare in advance.  i.e. we will get a notification that your car battery is close to end of life so you can replace it before you get stuck on the road in -20 weather.

What do you think are the greatest benefits of IoT for businesses?

The greatest benefits for business will be in 3 main areas (1) dramatically improved operational efficiencies through smart real time notifications, (2) improved customer experience enable through captive portals, personal preference models and purchase history (3) new revenue streams and  As-A-Service business models.  Businesses need to adapt to thrive in order to maintain their competitiveness.

Why do you think some businesses are struggling to adopt IoT Technology?

There a couple of key challenges some businesses face in adopting IoT.  Many customers see IoT as complex and need to find an organization that can help them by providing an end-to-end solution such as Rogers.  Secondly many simply don’t understand where and how they could leverage IoT in their business and for these customers we offer a ½ day workshop where we bring in our best experts to help them uncover the value IoT can bring to their business.

What would you say to those who believe that the IoT is one of the most over-hyped concepts?

I would suggest it is no more over hyped than the internet, smart phones, cloud and big data.  IoT although at the top of the hype curve, it is simply the next set of technologies that businesses will adopt.

What do you think the future holds for IOT?

IoT will change the landscape of every organization and our daily lives.  The future is a connected one, hosted in the cloud and leveraging big data to “predict” actions and outcomes.

For more information on the Internet of Things visit: structure/internet-of-things

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Exploring Rogers Talks

RogersTalks_tw_caro_1This post originally appeared on Connected For Business and has been republished with permission.

If you’re like most small-business owners, finding the time, revenue and resources to drive your company forward can be a challenge. Devote just one morning to a Rogers Talks event, though, and it will be time well spent.

This cross-country speaker series, featuring some of Canada’s biggest names in business, will send you away inspired, invigorated and loaded with actionable tips and tools you can apply immediately to your own company.

These industry experts of today have been where you are right now, and they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. They’ll not only share with you the stumbles that led them to success, they’ll offer concrete advice and insight about everything from online marketing to building your brand to cross-platform strategies. Plus, you’ll have ample time during networking breaks to mingle with them, as well as other small-business owners, for one-on-one conversations.

Here are some highlights from the 2014 Rogers Talks events:

• One of the most inspiring talks at last year’s event was from Frank O’Dea, co-founder of coffee chain Second Cup, during his presentation (“Perfecting Your Online Presence”) in Ottawa. A true rags-to-riches story, O’Dea went from panhandling to receiving the Order of Canada at Rideau Hall. Three words drive him: hope, vision, action. “Without hope there’s no vision, and without action, vision is simply a dream,” he said at the event. He went on to share his three groundbreaking ideas, which perked up the coffee industry and made him his millions.

• In Vancouver, Peter Van Stolk, CEO of organic-produce delivery company SPUD, spoke about his core business principles in his presentation on building your brand through social media. He believes we should be reacting to the future, not the present, because everything will change. He also takes a page from marriage counselors and advises listening from your customer’s perspective rather than your own, communicating without judging, and acknowledging what’s been said.

• In Calgary, LinkedIn Canada account director Ben Kelly shared his strategies for content marketing for small business. He emphasized the importance of using social media to generate word of mouth and deliver content, as well as offer new information about your company. He also explained how to use online content to leverage your understanding of marketing.

• In Toronto, internet strategist and broadcaster Jesse Hirsh revealed valuable insight about the future of mobile commerce during his presentation on “The New Buying Culture.” And in Montreal, Eric Fournier, partner at multimedia company Moment Factory laid out a game plan for how to integrate those changes into your own company during his talk on Keeping Up With Technological Changes.

Ready to take part in one of this year’s Rogers Talks? Visit for more information and to register for the 2015 Rogers Talks event nearest you!

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Introducing Food & Safety Solutions from Rogers

130247From food production to distribution to food sales and service, we understand how essential safety is to each part of the process – and how complex ensuring it can be. To that end, Rogers has created Rogers Food & Safety Solutions: total turnkey IoT remote monitoring to help you achieve HACCP compliance and enjoy peace of mind.

By creating a secure sensory network that seamlessly connects the diverse elements of your business – from remote, unattended environments to vehicle fleets, warehouses, and food services spread across the province or country – Rogers can help you manage your product and processes more effectively.

Rogers Food & Safety Solutions takes the complexity out of running your business by automating the monitoring of data, such as temperature thresholds, while maintaining an audit trail so that you’re able to produce custom reports and digitized records easily and systematically in event of an audit and for further reference when making critical business decisions. These solutions help in ensuring that your food is safe by controlling conditions, detecting hazardous threats, preventing health risks, reducing food waste and increasing profitability.

How it works

Once secure sensory networks have been installed where required and you’ve established the conditions that must be maintained during each stage of the process, the network collects and monitors data in real time and allows you and your staff to view streaming analytic dashboards on smartphones, tablets and laptops for immediate secure access without having to be at a remote location. You and your staff will also receive real-time alerts when a hazardous threat is detected, enabling you to act quickly to avoid a crisis.

Plus, you can enjoy the convenience of one simple billing method for all aspects of the end to end solution and one single point of contact to address all your servicing needs. From farm to forks here’s how Rogers Food and Safety Solutions can benefit your business:

For food production: Farm & Food Monitoring

A proactive approach to business issues, the Farm & Food Monitoring solution allows you remotely check key status points at each stage of the production process, no matter how harsh, or dispersed the environments.

Farm & Food Monitoring helps you:

  • Provide visibility, vistas, and reliable metrics for multiple aspects of agriculture.
  • Monitor food produce, livestock, and equipment
  • Automate and eliminate manual processes
  • Produce custom reports and digitized records easily and systematically
  • Ensure business is running optimally
  • achieve HACCP compliance
  • Manage threats and alerts in realtime
  • Improve employee safety

For food transportation: Cold and Cargo Fleet Management

Ideal for clients looking to replace their existing GPS-only systems with a proactive real-time IoT platform, the Cold and Cargo Fleet Management remote monitoring solution ensures that your cargo is stored in optimal conditions and delivered punctually. Cold and Cargo Fleet Management helps you:

  • Monitor temperature, and many fleet critical dependencies while cargo is en route
  • Manage threats and threshold alerts in real-time
  • Manage your fleet with standard GPS tracking and fleet management features
  • Optimize your business through data accuracy and secure data management
  • Monetize real-world metrics and alleviate human labour and intervention
  • Produce custom reports and digitized records easily and systematically
  • Achieve HACCP compliance

For restaurants, grocery stores, warehouses and more: Food Safety

A proactive approach to business issues, the Food Safety remote monitoring solution allows you to monitor and track key storage parameters – no matter how many or how disperse the locations – to prevent food spoilage. Food Safety helps you:

  • monitor temperature thresholds and other business critical control points
  • manage threats, alerts and changes in real-time
  • improve employee safety
  • monetize real-world metrics and alleviate human labour and intervention
  • produce custom reports and digitized records easily and systematically
  • achieve HACCP compliance
  • focus on your core business functions

Discover how Rogers Food & Safety Solutions can help your business produce great food safely, more effectively and with increased profitably. Get in touch with your Rogers account manager or click here to get more information.

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The Need For Speed in IT

167132255_22There’s a definite need for speed in business information technology.

One of the most important values that IT provides for business today is what many described as agility or more simply the ability through the use of technology to respond rapidly to business market changes, disruptions and new opportunities without losing momentum or vision.

That might include things like adding new business locations or the need to extend IT resources and capabilities to your employees, customers and partners. Agility is key when improving IT-enabled business process function or the services capabilities that support your employees, customers and partners. It may also be a matter of reallocating resources by moving IT investment capabilities away from stagnant areas of business to support better growth potentials.

Time is always of the essence when it comes to responding rapidly to market disruptions that create opportunities because these can be small windows and moving quickly is essential. Supporting information technology and communications need to be immediately in place and it must be done simply and securely.

But, you may not have the capital funding to make these necessary additional communications infrastructure investments and, even if you did, perhaps you can’t roll it out quickly enough through your own in-house resources. Or you may not even have an internal IT organization to do the work.

Many businesses today are required to move or extend the range and function of communication infrastructures. Can you make that happen? IT and connectivity often needs to be fluid – expanding and shifting as your business processes are redefined…or as your company enters new market opportunities…or needs different requirements to meet the new realities of existing markets.

IT and connectivity can’t be static and unchanging. It must move fast – to support the people and changing processes when or where they’re needed or happen to be.

And collaboration is an essential need for business. Results of a CIO survey conducted by IT World Canada in 2015 show that enterprise collaboration and the need to create a flexible workplace are the top two priorities for technology in the next five years. It needs to happen in a way that’s secure and highly managed.

Here’s an approach that may help you address your rapid IT deployment needs

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Rogers – powering the future of business!

White Phoenix 1The world of work is changing fast. It’s never been more vital to work towards productivity, collaboration, customer engagement and security strategies that outpace the competition.

Starting today, businesses will be able to access a range of Managed Network Services built in collaboration with Cisco, with more solutions available in the coming months. The following solutions will be managed by Rogers in a virtual cloud environment to free-up time, mitigate security risks, and reduce ‘truck rolls’ for businesses that operate a number of sites:

  • Managed Business Wi-Fi as a Service
  • Managed Guest Wi-Fi as a Service
  • Customer Engagement and Application Development Platforms and analytics
  • Cloud Portal: Enables businesses to view and/or manage their network from any device
  • Virtual Managed Services Platform: firewall features; anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-phishing security solutions

When it comes to Wi-Fi, access is traditionally viewed as not secure. Managed Wi-Fi provides reliable, high-performance connectivity to help improve employee productivity, customer engagement and business processes.

Rogers is offering Managed Wi-Fi as a Service, with Business and Guest configurations. This product is a fully managed solution with easy, service-based billing with lower upfront capital costs. With Rogers Managed Wi-Fi as a Service, you have choices, from the features you choose to the level of service and management. And whatever you choose, Rogers will provide dedicated, expert support, embedded security, and a solution that works best for your business needs.

If you’re ready to explore your options, we’re here to help. For articles and videos on virtualized managed services visit, or to speak with a business specialist call 1-866-835-1292

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We’re here to make the vision of connected business a reality

Starting today you’re going to see Rogers in a new light, a new solutions partner for Canadians businesses who are serious about making a mark in their industry. Rogers, more than any other company, knows the power of technology doesn’t come from the tech itself. It comes from how it is used. At Rogers, we’re transforming how we do business so we can deliver new solutions that help you reduce costs, increase efficiency, and profit from more innovative ways to work.

Rogers will be focusing on delivering cutting edge solutions in the following areas:

  • Internet of Things
  • Cloud Solutions
  • Versatile Networks

Watch the video: Industry demands innovation 

For more information, please visit:

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Sustainable food waste gets techy with the Internet of Things.

APPLE 2We recently interviewed Shawn Dym, CEO at Totally Green. We chatted about his business, his Orca solution and the benefits of the Internet of Things. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Can you explain what your company Totally Green is and your Orca solution?

We develop, manufacture, and market the ORCA solution, which consists of a machine that sustainably processes food waste, and an extensive service plan to ensure clients get the support and attention they need. The ORCA machine enables rapid decomposition of most organic material in institutional and commercial end-user applications, after which the liquid effluent is safely discharged into the municipal sewage system. The system creates meaningful cost savings for customers while diverting food waste disposal from landfills and reducing methane gas production. Our solution offers businesses an innovative and affordable solution for food and beverage by-product disposal.

When did you first hear about the Internet of Things (IoT)?

I was first really exposed to the IoT in the last 5 years, although in the last few years, it seems to have really taken off.

What made you decide to enhance your products with IoT technology?

We realized that enhancing our product with IoT technology would allow us to offer our customers an even higher level of service, as well as allow them to experience a level of real-time transparency and reporting they’ve never before been able to experience in the disposal space. Once we started to map out the possibilities, the decision to move forward came quite simply.

What are the benefits you’re seeing with the IoT solution that’s been deployed on your Orcas?

While it is still in the earlier stages, we’ve been able to diagnose issues with equipment in the field and either fix them remotely, or dispatch a technician to fix it right away, often before a user even knows there may be an issue, and with little to no down time. We’re also seeing customers that are able to more accurately report on their waste diversion and sustainability metrics.

What do you think the possibilities are with IoT technology in the waste management industry?

I think there are tremendous possibilities in the waste management industry to deploy IoT technology. It is an industry that hasn’t developed as quickly as many of the industries around it. It has been difficult for haulers to offer customers very timely and accurate reporting, and we feel that the deployment of IoT technology can help in this area, which can lead to waste and cost reductions. We are firm believers that IoT technology will be an integral part of the movement towards zero waste.

Do you think the rest of the waste management industry will start to adopt solutions like yours?

I think that customers are demanding new and innovative solutions. Particularly in the space that we’re currently in, we’re dealing with very sophisticated customers, many of whom have aggressive corporate level waste diversion and sustainability goals and targets in place. These types of customers are able to drive innovation and change in the industry. We’re starting to partner with conventional waste management providers, and working with them to offer our solution to their customers. The response thus far has been great, and we expect to see a lot of these types of partnerships in the future.

What advice would you give to other businesses thinking about adopting IoT in their businesses?

I’d say that it’s a bit different for every business, but if you think that there is a way that you can leverage IoT to meaningfully improve your offering, or the customer experience, it’s something you need to really think about doing. I also think that in these types of projects, you’ll be most successful if you bring in the right partners with experience in the space to help you develop your technology.

For more information about the Internet of Things visit our website.

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