From R & D to Strategy and Management – Technology is the Key
If you’re in need of advice on information technology strategy and management, Adrian Bowles ’77, MS ’78, vice president of consulting at Datamonitor and founder of SIG411, is your man.
With an extensive background in IT, Adrian Bowles’ resume includes stints in executive positions in R & D management for IT firms and consulting groups, teaching at NYU, Drexel and Binghamton universities and earning a PhD from Northwestern University. But what has he done lately? Founded a firm to provide resources to support enterprise and individual sustainability efforts while working for Datamonitor and teaching at Boston College. A recent addition to the Dean's Advisory Board at Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, Bowles began his career in research and application development roles at IBM and GTE Laboratories and has moved on from there to become a thought-leader in IT strategy and management.
How does he do it all? “I carry two business cards and have two computers on my desk – one windows, one mac, plus a Blackberry and an Iphone,” he says. “I try to only carry the Iphone on weekends and try to segment calls out with different ring tones. I use technology to help me use technology.”
Bowles says that nominally, he has two real jobs, plus his community service for the Watson School and Boston College. “One job is working solo with a few associates, and the other is for a very large, international research firm with resources at my disposal and me on notice globally all the time.
“The common thread for all of what I’ve done the past 20 years is that I’m fascinated by the potential of technology to make things better,” he says. “The environment, the economy… Technology itself is neutral but has the capacity to improve almost everything it touches.” “If I’ve matured professionally, it’s that over the last several years I’ve migrated my focus to the business use of technology. Instead of looking at technology as a computer scientist, I’m looking at the business purpose it’s going to achieve and I now teach in the business world,” Bowles says. “At heart, I’m still someone who loves to tinker with technology.” But he works hard at his craft as well and provides this advice to others: “In this economy, you have to be more responsive than the next person. On the train this morning, I wrote 14 e-mails,” he says. “It’s quite common that I’ll be online with friends and colleagues at odd hours throughout the night.”
Bowles speaks of helpful faculty who enabled him to take graduate-level courses before completing his bachelor’s degree, allowing him to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 4 ½ years. “It was the kind of place where you could get kind of creative and create your own major and that really fit my personality,” Bowles says. “I have felt through the last 20 years that I’m still part of that community. It’s a great place for our kids to get a start.” A recent visit to campus underscored Bowles’ connections to Binghamton. “When I had a look around, a couple of things struck me,” he says. “The school has really done an outstanding job of maturing. It may be a more conventional school now, but … when I got to see the caliber of the faculty I was thrilled. If even a small percentage of the graduates have the depth of relationships that I had there, then the future will be very bright for Binghamton.”