Altus Group Appoints Mike Abramsky as Chief Technology Officer

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Dec. 13, 2012) – Altus Group Limited (“Altus”) (TSX:AIF), a leader in independent professional advisory and consulting, technology and  data offerings for the global commercial real estate industry, today announced that Mike Abramsky, a seasoned technology and capital markets executive, will join the company as Chief Technology Officer.

Prior to joining Altus Group, Mike held senior operational roles at several well-known companies, including software maker, Delrina Corp, and Rogers Communications. For the past 10 years, Mike has been a top-ranked Wall Street technology equity analyst for RBC Capital Markets (Managing Director), broadly recognized for his insights into key trends in software and services, covering Apple and Open Text, among others.

Reporting to CEO Bob Courteau, Mike will play a key role in helping shape Altus Group’s new service initiatives, product roadmaps and strategic plans to drive future growth. His mandate will also include better alignment of the technology strategy across the business. Leveraging his capital markets experience, as a key member of Altus’ corporate team, Mike will also provide insight on M&A and Investor Relations activities. Mike holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Engineering from MIT (Boston), and an MBA from Harvard.

“Mike brings a unique blend of technology and business expertise to Altus Group and we are very excited to have him as a part of our team,” said Bob Courteau, CEO, Altus Group. “His breadth of expertise in strategic positioning, software development, and its targeted delivery, will help advance our objective of combining our consulting, solutions and data to become a global powerhouse to the real estate industry.”

“I’m delighted to be joining Altus Group,” said Mike Abramsky. “With the evolution of global markets, commercial real estate has become a hugely important asset class to the influential stakeholders we advise – developers, investors, banks and property managers who are demanding the best possible business decisions to maximize value. With its blend of offerings, I see Altus Group as extremely well-positioned to take advantage of incredible opportunity.”

About Altus Group Limited

Altus leads the global real estate industry in offering professional real estate advisory services, data solutions and intelligence about an organization’s assets, generating a wealth of knowledge and insight. With a staff of over 1,700, Altus has a network of over 50 offices in a number of countries worldwide, including Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and China. We operate five interrelated Business Units, bringing years of experience and a broad range of expertise together into one comprehensive platform: Research, Valuation and Advisory; Cost Consulting and Project Management; Realty Tax Consulting; Geomatics, and ARGUS Software. Altus’ clients include banks, financial institutions, governments, pension funds, asset and fund managers, developers and landlords and companies engaged in the oil and gas industry.

Fire Your CIO

by Mike Abramsky, Principal, Red Team Global. This article appeared on Friday October 5 2012.

Do you stifle productivity – or shoot the CIO?

That’s the dilemma increasingly faced by CEOs. With the rise of tablets, smartphones, social media, apps and personal clouds, we are in the midst of a profound computing shift, perhaps the greatest technology revolution in the enterprise since the invention of the PC. But the IT department with its risk-averse, slow-moving, heavy-handed culture threatens to torpedo hoped-for productivity.

This revolution is more than just technology; some CEOs recognize it as early days of Retooling the Enterprise. The ease of adoption of these new tools means non-technical staff can pursue faster, more flexible, informed, collaborative and cheaper ways of working. Employees are bringing their own tablets, Smartphones, laptops, and are adopting powerful and free software such as Workday, Salesforce, Dropbox, Twitter, Evernote, Facebook, Google Docs and Apps.

Every business process is up for reinvention: sales, marketing, product development and support, offering higher productivity and employee satisfaction. This is just the beginning; the PC took 10 years to revolutionize business: imagine what may be possible 10 years from now.

This shift, however, wields a double-edged sword: while enjoying the freedom to adopt technologies of their choosing, few employees grasp the security, regulatory, scalability, integration and other risks and costs these new tools create.   In one large organization we talked to, the VP of Sales who demands iPads for all her sales reps, confronts an intransigent CIO worried about security and ROI.  The CEO wonders, “Is the IT department impeding innovation? Or are we opening ourselves up to a massive security breach? Are these tools essential to competitiveness, or are they just expensive toys?”   Unauthorized adoption by an employee of a seemingly risky, insecure and unreliable technology today could be the source of a dangerous security breach or an important competitive advantage tomorrow. Or perhaps both.

Caught in the middle, many CIOs struggle to respond.   Today, CIOs get fired for a damaging security breach, regulatory violation or a systems crash.  Tomorrow, CIOs may also get fired for missing out on important innovations.  This circumstance mirrors the rising adoption of PCs and client/server-based systems in the 1970s when many CIOs steadfastly viewed IBM mainframes as safer, more scalable and reliable. It happened again with the Internet in the 1990s when new competitors usurped laggards too slow to embrace it.

Claims that IT has become irrelevant are overdone. Technology is getting more complex; security risks matter more than ever. IT will continue to do certain things well: managing core transactional systems, storage/hosting/cloud infrastructure, networks, databases and legacy enterprise infrastructure and applications. But the IT department of the future is going to be smaller, forgoing formerly proprietary tasks for cheaper, externally-provided – and often employee-sourced — computing.

Retooling demands a new CIO mandate: supporting and nurturing nascent and productive work innovations, some of which disrupt long-established IT culture and policies.  A progressive CIO we talked to observes that useful innovations initiated by employees and vendor partners – rather than inciting anarchy – are helping build a more productive, effective organization.  This doesn’t mean being soft or naive when it comes to security and other risks.  Allowing personal, productive technology to flourish, while securing important data and addressing inappropriate use (e.g. games, pornography) means helping employees be smart, while keeping them from doing something stupid.

Nurturing serendipitous innovation – while mitigating risks – requires a new CIO mindset, including learning by doing: first observing employees, customers and partners are doing, asking what else they want, determining the benefits, assessing the risks, then figuring out how to do it in the most scalable and secure way.  It requires avoiding lengthy approvals, heavy-handed policies, complex and cumbersome software which can crush employee initiative.

It also means working with new, sometimes tiny, unproven vendors, many of which can’t yet scale, or will fail — while a few may become tomorrow’s Cisco, SAP, Oracle or IBM. Many CIOs today are too influenced by big, incumbent software and service vendors; some of whom may be cannibalized by these new technologies and are concerned with preserving their status quo.

Retooling demands strategic leadership, including CEO-driven ‘Retooling Principles‘, high-level guidelines for addressing these disruptive new tools.   Apple’s secrecy principle, banning employee use of social media, is one example.  A fact-driven risk-reward approach may help assess the potential benefit of new innovations against their actual risks.  Do we allow new innovation at the cost of a redundant infrastructure? Do we allow an untested sales ‘app’? What about self-service access to critical data? How do we avoid corrupting the database? When do we force a solution, or say no?    New, ongoing processes and steering committees are required – led by business managers, with IT input – similar to those in place for developing new business, managing risk or finalizing budgets.

There are many progressive CIOs. Others may not make the leap, or be capable of overcoming an ingrained intransigent inflexible, risk-averse IT culture. But you can’t fight the future.   Given the high stakes, retool proactively, before smart employees find a way around you, and faster-moving competitors disrupt you.

Mike Abramsky is principal of Red Team Global, which facilitates technology innovation via collaborative workshops and consulting.