Forty years in business is a major accomplishment and that milestone turns people’s eyes to the past to celebrate the journey. But SureCall Contact Center’s founder and executive chairman Marc Bombenon has his sights trained squarely on the future.
“It’s inherent in us to look at everything based on our past experiences so when you introduce things that are totally new, it doesn’t compute and you say, ‘nah, that’s not likely.’ But for me, I started my business living in the future,” Bombenon says, as he marvelled at the innovative and futuristic technologies found in his favourite TV show, Star Trek.
That start came in 1982 when he moved from Montreal to Calgary to start a wireless paging company. With $1,500 and a business degree, he established Page Direct and grew it into the largest paging outfit in Calgary. When the market introduced cellular, Bombenon embraced this technology too as Page Direct was one of the first cellular companies in the city and quickly became the largest on both networks.
He changed the name to PDL Mobility to better reflect the scope of the business and watched the market carefully as cellular exploded. He saw the writing on the wall with the notion of text messaging directly from cell phones and, at the height of its success, Bombenon sold the paging division. In its place he developed a 24/7 customer service centre and clients soon reached out to ask about PDL handling their calls and messages too, which organically expanded his business. As the landscape and margins for cellular products changed, Bombenon sold the company’s cellular division in 2010 and focused his attention on growing the call centre. Another name change to SureCall Contact Centers heralded in the next phase of the business which offered tailored customer service processes to companies from mid-sized to Fortune 500 across Canada and the United States.
After 40 years in the technology business, Marc Bombenon is fascinated by future innovations and is determined to be around for decades to experience them. Through his adherence to a diet of low-fat foods devoid of sugar or processed ingredients with intermittent fasting paired with eight hours of sleep, regular exercise for fitness as well as bone strength and a positive mindset to deal with stresses, Bombenon is doing his part to stay healthy as technology does the rest.
“What mystifies all of us is how rapidly technology is accelerating, and that acceleration is accelerating. It’s not linear,” he says. “People like to talk to me about what I think is going to happen. And I say, ‘Are you ready?’”
Bombenon follows technology fervently and is part of Abundance 360, a thinktank comprised of entrepreneurs and investors that are on the cutting edge of the latest exponential technologies, from artificial intelligence to synthetic biologicals to blockchain, that will transform the world and disrupt entrenched industries in the not-so-distant future.
In fact, the future is now, and Bombenon expects that the incredible advancements in a wide range of areas like longevity and health will find people living well into their 120s. He sees bio technologies edging out pharmaceutical companies as they develop ways to fix and replace defective cells in a person’s DNA to circumvent disease instead of trying to mask or contain it. Innovators are also gaining traction in the efforts to slow and halt cell deterioration to the point where they can actually reverse aging. This technology focuses on medical procedures too, and scientist are currently fine-tuning 3D-printed organs made from a patients’ own cells to eliminate the need for live donors.
Advancement in 3D printing will affect commerce as well, as consumers will be able to print products on their own 3D printers instead or ordering them from Amazon or they will employ neighbourhood commercial printers to recreate any product quickly and inexpensively. Bombenon is excited to watch as all these technologies prolong and enhance life as we know it.
The entrepreneur is particularly interested in developments in communications where he built his legacy over the past four decades. He foresees internet and cellular companies being rendered obsolete by satellite connectivity that will integrate with the Cloud to provide coverage anywhere across the globe.
He also predicts a change in devices, which are a lifeline that acts as the users’ ID, healthcare, bank, shopping cart, education and entertainment. Soon, wearable devices like Oura rings that measure sleep and heart rate and Apple watches that track fitness and heart rhythms will be augmented not by cell phones but rather by neural chip implants that link directly to the brain to keep people connected and constantly gathering data.
“Everything you see and learn will be stored in the Cloud so you don’t have to rely on your recall as much because your memory will always be crystal clear,” he says. “It’s closer than you think.”
These are interesting technological times for the SureCall founder, and Bombenon is eager to share his thoughts and experiences with the crop of entrepreneurs coming up to help them navigate the complicated business landscape. He mentors them, sharing his successes and failures to help them in their journey and asks in return only that they pay it forward down the road.
After 40 years in business, Marc Bombenon has seen immense changes and is thrilled by the prospect of seeing the “impossible” innovations of today become common tomorrow.
“This is all part of my plan for the next 40 years,” he says. “It’s going to be exciting.”
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