We Are Wavefront is an ongoing series providing an in depth look at the individuals who make up Wavefront. Being a centre of excellence for commercialization and research, there are many facets to the work we do. This month, we sat down to chat with Alan Swain, VP of Technology & Operations.
Tell me a bit about yourself…
Well, I knew I wanted to be an engineer when as a young child we got a television and I was the remote control. I was determined to figure out how the heck that magic worked. That wonder as a child combined with a deep need to know how things work set me on a path to wireless engineering. While working for Motorola in Calgary I completed the comms system design for the 1988 Olympic Games and was recruited by Mobile Data International, which is what brought me to the West coast. Most folks at MDI were sea-going and so my love of the sea developed rapidly. These days, my three – now grown children – myself and our dog spend a few weeks every year, just out there…
Why did you want to work for Wavefront?
When you start out in your career, you take pride in your own work, then building high performance teams. At Wavefront that work reward balance is taken to a new level; building companies. We also get a never ending, refreshing view of great innovation happening all across Canada – so you get to see it first hand. It is challenging and interesting work to keep on top of the evolution of mobile innovation and all that this now entails with the simple moniker IoT. With this broad awareness, I occasionally kibiz about my crystal ball that lets me see where the world is heading. I find these insights most enlightening. You don’t typically get this with your head buried deep in the sands of the business of any single company. This helps guide the technology paths of both Wavefront and our companies.
What do you do for Wavefront?
Beyond my crystal ball analogy, here at Wavefront I head up Technology and Operations. So I wear the company’s CTO hat while also running our project management office that delivers projects to help companies get to market leveraging both our own engineering team and our hand built Trusted Partner network – taking a page out of Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail. Our engineering team also helps bigger companies with continuous quality assurance through test automation of mobile extensions of enterprise applications. Those apps span brand and mission critical apps from firms like RBC or BMO, consumer apps for Bell to commercial apps for AT&T and Verizon. My team makes sure enterprises deploy apps that work and keep working as the platforms they run on continuously change. We compliment helping get apps right through our usability lab and services that help with adoption by making sure the apps are easy and intuitive to use.
Why the tech industry?
Other than tech being in my DNA from a young age, it’s the easiest way for me to help make the world a better place – for all of us. It’s a pretty fundamental drive.
How is what Wavefront is doing making a difference to Canada?
Wavefront is leading the way to help our companies make a profound impact on the world though our long established expertise around wireless innovation. Through the coupling of deep technical awareness and business insights we are Canada’s guide to the future.
What does the future of IoT hold for Canada?
In a way similar to the obelisk from 2001 A Space Odyssey: It’s full of stars opportunity. No kidding, I’m dead serious about this. IoT embraces all that Canadian’s excel at from engineering around the physical layer, to device management, to big data, to analytics including predictive and stream, to security and privacy-by-design and all the applications that monetize our innovations. All with a focus on driving productivity and efficiencies in our core industries where results yield global competitiveness. Opportunities span mining, forestry, advanced manufacturing, precision agriculture, life sciences, clean technology just to name a few. And just over the horizon lies the collision of block chain & digital ID with IoT.
Frankly, I’m astounded this question gets asked.
Can’t you see it?