Six for Six: Scott Snyder, PhD.

Posted by | August 30, 2016

For the first time in nearly two decades, Safeguard has a chief technology and innovation officer. Being able to seamlessly adapt to changing business climates is the crux of Safeguard’s operation. As evidenced by today’s press release, Dr. Scott Snyder is no stranger to the Greater Philadelphia region’s innovation ecosystem. So, let’s learn more about the owner of this newly envisioned role.

Are there inventors or technologists that inspired you early in your career?

Definitely. There are traits from several individuals that I try to embody.

Thomas Edison’s perseverance — He talked about failure as a necessary step to innovation; Nikola Tesla’s foresight — He envisioned a smartphone-like device before there was even a radio; Andy Grove’s sense of urgency — He believed that only the paranoid survive and led Intel that way.

Tell us about someone who gave you the opportunity to succeed — or fail — as a young entrepreneur.

As for most entrepreneurs, there is never really just one person, as it takes a village to launch a new venture. There were many investors, fellow entrepreneurs, and early customers at each stage that believed in me, my team, and our vision to do something special, giving us the runway to make mistakes and bounce back. And, of course, there is no successful entrepreneur without a great partner behind them. In my case, it’s my wife Susan who has been my invaluable alter ego through every twist and turn.

What is the first major initiative you’d like to tackle at Safeguard Scientifics?

Given the fact that we already have a strong portfolio and pipeline of new capital deployment opportunities, I will be focused on looking ahead to some of the key emerging technology areas that our companies can leverage. Additionally, I look to extend Safeguard’s reach in the marketplace through collaborative efforts amongst innovation groups at leading companies, academic institutions, and thought leaders in our target opportunity areas.

Your book, “The New World of Wireless: How to Compete in the 4G Revolution” offers a thought-provoking dialogue on the present and future of wireless technology. It even gives organizations the ability to rate their “WiQ” or wireless readiness. If you could change one thing about your forecast from 2009, what would it be?

The book was filled with several open-for-interpretation scenarios in order to guard against the world changing which, historically, it always does. In hindsight, the areas I might have changed were the delay in ramping up mobile payments, the emergence of robots and drones in everyday life, and the consumerization of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

How does data play a role in your day-to-day decision-making process?

Data is the new oil. It has the potential to create huge advantages for the companies that leverage it, such as Google, Nike, Netflix, or Progressive Insurance. Every executive should be thinking of his/her business as a data company and investing in the right analytics to drive better insights/decisions. A number of our companies already have significant data/analytics plays and we will continue to look for new opportunities that are maximizing the value of the data they are capturing.

What is one tip you would give to any chief technology officer uncertain about the future of their business?

The expectations of your users — customers, employees, partners, etc. — are all being shaped by their experience as empowered digital end-users. Commit to a user-centered innovation process, design your future products and services from the user-in, and leverage analytics to hyper-personalize each interaction. In the end, if you win over the user, your business wins (see Apple).

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