May 21, 2008At this past TeamQuest Technology Summit in Tucson, AZ, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Robert Erhardt, Chief Technology Officer for the San Diego Zoo. Robert was one of the keynote speakers and delivered a fascinating presentation on the business of zoos. If there was ever a poster child for best practices, Robert is that person.
We spoke for over an hour about the zoo and its challenges around the world. I only remember one comment that was specific to a particular technology - weather resistant information kiosks.
The rest of the time we talked about the BUSINESS challenges the zoo faced. We discussed the considerable number of animals for which they care that can no longer be found in the wild and the steps they are taking to increase the numbers to be able to reintroduce them to their former habitat. It was a discussion in business terms, not technology. He spoke of business solutions where IT played a role, but again at a high level - such as a data repository of animal care information where zoos, veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators around the world can learn from each other on the caring for endangered and exotic species.
Robert really impressed me. We are bombarded with media promoting the integration of business and IT but we usually see little of it in our day-to-day lives. Robert is already there and more. Robert has a passion for the animals his organization protects and is an integral part of the business that is needed to sustain the ongoing work. He knows the business as well or better than the people he serves and uses that knowledge to develop innovative solutions, both high and low tech. From a best practice perspective, who can ask for any more than that?
If you share Robert's passion for animals, please consider going to http://www.sandiegozoo.org/ and make a donation to support their cause. TeamQuest has.