GINNY DAVIS IS ENSURING HER COMPANYâ€™S FUTURE IS AS BRIGHT AS ITS PAST P. 10
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Most of us take technology for granted. Laptops and smartphones are commonplace, and tech companies are in the early stages of advancements like virtual reality and exoskeletons that could restore a personâ€™s ability to walk. One hundred years ago, the world looked quite differentâ€”and yet there were still plenty of mind-blowing innovations. Looking back far enough in time, nearly every industry could have been considered a cutting-edge startup. Even the most mundane elements of our daily lives were once breakthroughs. From the introduction of the automobile to the appearance of the television set, the twentieth century was brimming with critical inventions that fundamentally reshaped their industries and the way we live. Companies that couldnâ€™t keep up with the rapid change fell to the wayside, while other businesses emerged as leaders of their craft. Some organizations took these innovations and have kept on pioneering to this day. Our Focus section not only examines the enduring legacies of three such companies, it also spotlights how their leaders continue to blaze a trail of innovation after all this time.
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8 Centennial Companies
Ginny Davis presents Technicolor with the glorious future of IT
Bill Beane changes the culture at Parker Hannifin by focusing on the commercialization of innovation
Thomas Druby makes CornellCooksonâ€™s IT department a multifaceted, strategic business partner
26 Upgrade Your Performance
Scott Strahler helps Davidâ€™s Bridal connect with its customers in an increasingly digital world
Dublin Unified Schools District parent and CTO Traci Bonde brings technology and education together to best serve students
38 Chris Rothbauer paves the way to virtualization with cloud-hybrid hosting at SP+ Gerry Hunt celebrates twenty-five years at Oklahoma City University by implementing Skype for Business throughout the company At Blue Shield of California, Karen Xie breaks new ground in healthcare with emerging data technology
Joseph Hemway is changing the way 47 students, teachers, and parents interface with technology at Pratt Institute The University of California transforms higher education and healthcare through data analytics
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Empower Your Peers
Move Ideas Into the World
CrossCom National CEO Greg 92 Miller knows to serve retail clients across the globe, the company needs to be a well-oiled machine
IT leader Todd Wilson transformed two new facilities for Clif Bar in record time A winding path brought Daniela Crivianu-Gaita to an influential leadership role at a Canadian healthcare company
67 After forty years at SCANA, Randy Senn knows that IT’s primary mission is to support the company’s business functions
Thomas Squeo understands that all technology is built by and for people Russell Falkenstein leverages big data to help Aaron’s grow in the digital age
Tim Cunningham brought the innovative, fast-paced leadership style from Wall Street to a regional insurance company in Ohio
Nick Grecco is helping bring a new approach to technology to First Advantage
Andrea Campbell is helping to build the future of education at Keuka College
Tom Tanase looks to attract top IT talent to the bowling industry
Karen Thomas of Southern States Cooperative 109 has been doing what she’s been doing since day one—improving processes and driving growth
David Lewis knows running a more proactive IT department helps attract top talent
Garret Yoshimi’s broad career experience proves essential at the University of Hawaii
SunTrust Banks’ Anil Cheriyan knows digital is just a tool to provide better service to customers
Dean Haacker looks back on a career of disruption as he prepares for a brave new world
HUGO BOSS’s Anthony Milano is turning web traffic into brick-and-mortar shoppers
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people & companies index
People & Companies
Rothbauer, Chris, 38
Andriola, Tom, 52
SCANA Corporation, 67
Beane, Bill, 18
Schaeffer, Cory, 101
Blue Shield of California, 44
Senn, Randy, 67
Bonde, Traci, 34
Southern States Cooperative, 109
Bowlmor AMF, 78
Campbell, Andrea, 74
Squeo, Thomas, 97
Cheriyan, Anil, 121
Strahler, Scott, 28
Clif Bar & Company, 58
SunTrust Banks, 121
Tanase, Tom, 78
Crivianu-Gaita, Daniela, 65
CrossCom National, 92
Thomas, Karen, 109
Cunningham, Tim, 106
University of California, 52
David’s Bridal, 28
University of Hawaii, 82
Davis, Ginny, 10
University of Rochester, 114
Druby, Thomas, 22
West Corporation, 97
Dublin Unified School District, 34
Wilson, Todd, 58
Xie, Karen, 44
Falkenstein, Russell, 104
Yoshimi, Garret, 82
Ferrilli, 50 Ferrilli, Robert, 50 Finger Lakes Technologies Group, 118 First Advantage Corp., 70 Gibson, Ewan, 72 Grange Insurance, 106 Grecco, Nick, 70 Griswold, Paul, 118 Haacker, Dean, 86 Hemway, Joseph, 47 HUGO BOSS, 124 Hunt, Gerry, 41 Keuka College, 74 Lewis, David, 114 Linium, 72 Milano, Anthony, 124
VP of Creative Kathy Kantorski Editorial Directors Megan Bungeroth Cyndi Fecher Senior Editor Adam Kivel Editors Steven Arroyo Danny Ciamprone Joe Dixon Jonas Weir Contributors David Baez Zach Baliva Galen Beebe Olivia Castañeda Randall Colburn Joe Dyton Lori Fredrickson Chris Gigley Brian Harper Michael Hernandez Russ Klettke Kelli Lawrence Lior Phillips Urmila Ramakrishnan Jeffrey Silver Brian Welk Billy Yost Design Director Joshua Hauth Senior Designer Holly Leach Designers Juliet Desnoyer Lauren Keeling
Parker Hannifin, 18 Pratt Institute, 47 The PrivateBank, 86 QSC, LLC, 101
Director, Executive Success Anna Jensen Executive Success Manager Christina Brown Josh Rosen
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From the editor
As a child, my father introduced me to old movies: Sherlock Holmes, the Marx Brothers, screwball comedy, film noir.
Cover photo by Kristin Deitrich, Adam Kivel photo by Caleb Fox
I was so immersed in black and white that, to this day, I more frequently check in with Errol Flynn and Barbara Stanwyck than I do with whatever’s popping up in the theaters. There’s just something about films of the 1930s and 1940s, a fascinating sense of an industry still only beginning to understand itself and its audience. My father isn’t even old enough to be passing down love of this era of film due to nostalgia; he too tapped into something unique about the era. And, to put it kindly, this fascination put me in a unique position amongst my peers. I know, for example, that I saw Double Indemnity and Gone With the Wind before I saw any of the modern films that my friends were obsessing over. For that same reason, I’m sure that The Wizard of Oz had a bigger impact on me than it did on many other kids watching it for the first time in the late 1980s. They were raised on vibrant color cinema, but for me, seeing the Land of Oz burst into glorious Technicolor was a revelation. It truly felt new, different, and exciting. I can never claim to know what that experience must have been like for those seeing the film on its release in 1939, but the spark of wonder it produced is something I’ve never forgotten. As I’ve grown up, though, I’ve developed an appreciation and understanding of the history of film innovation from the first moment that Dorothy steps onto the Yellow Brick Road and into the shining future. As we produced this issue, I was blown away by how essential Technicolor has been throughout that time, and how its innovation and research labs have continued to keep ahead of the curve. Even to this day, the company continues to push at the cutting edge of the media and entertainment world, as evidenced by our conversation with chief information officer Ginny Davis (P. 10). Also, experiencing that feeling of Technicolor wonder has allowed me to recognize its recurrence, to really have context for the moments at which I recognize similar technological advancements and feel their impact—as I do with the stories within every issue of Sync. Each and every story in this magazine has a “Technicolor moment,” a fascinating innovation or revelation that may just change the way we see the world.
Adam Kivel, Senior Editor Adam@sync-magazine.com
Ginny Davis continues to innovate for the legendary Technicolor.
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Engines of Innovation
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FOCUS CENTENNIAL COMPANIES
A century is a long time for any company to stay in business, not to mention to stay at the cutting edge of its industry throughout that lifespan. These three companies, however, have achieved the near impossible by doing just thatâ€”while continuing to thrive. Parker Hannifin embodies the spirit of innovation and longevity. Over the past hundred years, what was once a small pneumatics shop has grown into one of the five hundred largest companies in the country. Similarly, CornellCookson began its story as an ornamental ironworks business more than 175 years ago, when that was still a dangerous occupation. Today, the metal door manufacturer has provided all of its safety and quality assurance managers with iPads. And anyone whose life has been brightened by the silver screen knows the work of Technicolor. As these companies continue to carve out futures as promising as their legacies, the technology leaders in this section are helping to keep each one on the path of innovation in a new century.
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The Gold Standard of the Silver Screen How Technicolor veteran Ginny Davisâ€™s solid leadership helped usher in an IT evolution By Billy Yost | Portraits by Kristin Deitrich
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FOCUS FOCUS CENTENNIAL COMPANIES
Ginny Davis Technicolor CIO
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Technicolor conjures an image of Dorothy, welcomed to the magical kingdom of Oz—not only by its inhabitants, but by an onslaught of electric colors, a palette never before seen by audiences in 1939.
Since then, “Presented in Technicolor” has appeared on title cards of Disney’s family films and Hitchcock’s psychological thrillers alike. Technicolor’s tenure as an industry standard in Hollywood film stretches back a century, and its propensity for redefining itself has ensured a continued spot as a leader in digital film production, storage, transportation, and communication. That proud history has not been without its fair share of growing pains, though. Technicolor has at times necessitated extreme evolution in not only adapting to new paradigms, but in crafting its own. Chief information officer Ginny Davis adapts to and addresses the ever-changing needs of the marketplace, which led her to her pivotal role in Technicolor’s latest rebirth. Previously a Technicolor divisional chief information officer, Davis assumed her current role in 2008 after CEO Frederic Rose began prepping the company for a transition from its analog past to its digital future. “We actually had the foresight to plan for the next generation of our business,” Davis says. “That was really transformational.” 12 / Sync
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Walt Disney wins an Oscar for the short “Flowers in Trees” using Technicolor
The Wizard of Oz premieres
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NASA approaches Technicolor to process photographic operations
Technicolor begins producing VHS cassettes
Technicolor begins mass-producing DVDs
Technicolor is acquired by Thomson for $2.1 billion
Technicolor surpasses nine hundred million Blu-ray discs produced sync-magazine.com
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“That’s what it’s about: making people believe they’re capable of more than they think they are.” While the company underwent an extreme shift in both personnel and identity, vice president of corporate communications Lane Cooper emphasizes Davis’s importance in the midst of the transformation. “It would have been very difficult for the company to execute that severe transition without someone as trusted as Ginny,” Cooper says. “This measure of continuity provided some level of stability to execute a complete break with our past.” Davis was initially brought in to oversee program management as Technicolor began its move from VHS to DVD formats. Her supply chain and processing background benefited the company in its migration to DVD and transition to automating the duplication process. But the work was just beginning. With multiple sites around the world, Davis was tasked with creating a network that would help streamline the workflow of three separate parts of Technicolor’s organization: artists actively working on films, research scientists creating cutting-edge technology for Technicolor, and business development professionals responsible for getting that technology into the hands of consumers. The Technicolor Production Network, a ten-gigabyte proprietary network, has grown from six original sites to thirty-seven around the world, and it has transformed the way in which Technicolor and its partners collaborate. Huge digital files can be shared in real time from London to Beijing to Los Angeles. “It’s obviously an integral part of our fabric, especially in terms of visual effects,” Davis says. The importance of tailoring that network for Technicolor’s various artists and professionals cannot be understated—and neither can Davis’s accomplishments. “It’s a complex business, but we have three complex sync-magazine.com
businesses,” Cooper says. “That requires vision and execution. Finding the common threads that bring these three different complex businesses together is a hat trick. That’s what she has pulled off.” Those were not the only projects brewing. Over an eighteen-month period, Davis began redefining the function of IT at Technicolor. The department started by adopting an “as service” model that has largely changed the way IT does its job. A significant portion of the company’s nine thousand desktops and laptops were converted to a virtual desktop infrastructure, which allows for centralized management, automatic backup, and increased security. About 90 percent of corporate function applications were moved over to software, and on-demand app licenses were offered for users. Meanwhile, Davis placed an emphasis on automating IT and offering self-help and self-service for customers. “Forty percent of functions can now be done by customers who don’t have to wait for someone to call them back,” Davis says. An intercompany platform called Constellation was created to deliver one-click self-service through multiple cloud environments in a single interface and has been instrumental in driving innovation. Davis’s job—which has essentially been to manage several complete overhauls that have had company-wide ramifications—has not been without its fair share of stresses. “The change that we went through turned over about 65 percent of our people,” Davis says. “It was intense, but the team understood the mission. Technicolor is changing, and we need to change with it.” Davis was tasked with and succeeded in increasing flexibility, reducing cost, and finding ways for fewer people to do more on the IT side of the business. “I think people were Sync / 15
skeptical if we would ever adopt the cloud strategy fully,” she says. “To have proven that wrong is something for us to be proud of.” Modest yet concise, Davis attributes her success to her own flexibility in leadership. Her focus tends to be on listening first to the 321 staff members she oversees and the strategic partners who provide more than five hundred additional team members. “It takes a lot of time, but it’s valuable time because I understand where they want to go,” she says. “As a service provider, knowing what the customer wants is essential. I’m a service provider. If they’re not happy with the service I’m providing and I’m not communicating the value of the service I am providing, then we will be replaced—and rightfully so.” Davis is something of an anomaly. She was a company veteran promoted from within to instigate massive reorganization and restructuring. “The average life span of a CIO is three years,” Cooper says. “That might be even more perilous in the entertainment and technology in16 / Sync
Technicolor’s technology has brought to life several iconic movies, such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
dustries.” However, Davis has not only weathered the transformational storm at Technicolor, but she has also blossomed in it. “Over a long tenure as a CIO, she has retained a culture of innovation inside an IT organization,” Cooper asserts. An avid hockey and football fan, Davis cites explosive former Dallas Cowboy coach Jimmy Johnson as a source of inspiration. “In terms of his leadership style, they may not have had the talent to win a Super Bowl, but he made them believe they had the talent to win the Super Bowl,” Davis says. “That’s what it’s about: making people believe they’re capable of more than they think they are.” Wipro’s Media Vertical is a global partner for a wide spectrum of customers ranging across segments, namely publishing, education and information services, new media and OTT, entertainment, broadcast and sports, and advertising. It is a one-stop solution for its blue-chip clientele, empowering them to ‘Run Easier’ with focus on cost reduction, and to ‘Grow Faster’ by enabling new revenue generation. Wipro’s Media business serves many of the top global brands across publishing groups, premium newspapers, Internet companies, stadiums, studios, and leading media and broadcasting groups.
FOCUS FOCUS CENTENNIAL COMPANIES
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How Comme Thinking Dr Invention As it celebrates its centennial, Parker Hannifin creates a new vision for addressing the needs of customers in markets around the world By Jeff Silver
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When Arthur L. Parker founded the Parker Appliance Company in a loft in Cleveland one hundred years ago, the organization bore very little similarity to what has since grown into Parker Hannifin—a world leader in engineering and manufacturing motion and control technologies with billions in annual sales. Back then, the company was developing a pneumatic braking system for trucks and buses. Today, the company is active in a variety of industries, ranging from aerospace and climate control to filtration and hydraulics, to name just a few. For a number of years, Parker grew through numerous acquisitions, but the company’s senior management recognized the need to develop strategies to leverage growth from existing assets and resources. That’s when Bill Beane joined the company. Before joining the Parker team, Beane—senior director, corporate technology ventures and innovations systems—had been working in Silicon Valley, practically light-years away from Parker’s business and markets. However, the company wanted to evolve to provide innovative solutions, not supply individual commodities. It was the perfect time for someone like Beane, with a background in a highly innovative industry, to join the company. First, Beane helped shift the company’s definition of innovation. Instead of changing existing products, Issue 011
FOCUS FOCUS CENTENNIAL COMPANIES
DINA A. ROSSI
rcial ives Parker began focusing on how effective its products were at addressing its customers’ desired outcomes and priorities. “The strategic part is asking, ‘What are we doing to support the outcomes customers want?’ and then providing products and systems that help shape evolving markets,” Beane says. “Just being new and different isn’t enough; you must offer compelling solutions to specific problems.” That philosophy also helped identify areas of organic growth. As an alternative to the risks of entering unfamiliar markets, Beane encouraged teams to look for untapped opportunities in existing markets. For example, when the oil and gas sector experienced a widespread slowdown in drilling and production, Parker recognized the continued value in providing distribution systems for oil and gas products. That led the company to develop a family of fluid transfer pumps. But the process didn’t stop there. The company also created products to complement pump sales, which included offering the electric motors to drive the pumps (with thermal protection and overpressure protection), along with fittings, valves, filtration, and other components to integrate with customers’ existing systems. “By understanding customer operations and focusing on meaningful benefits and outcomes, we naturally sync-magazine.com
Bill Beane Parker Hannifin Senior Director, Corporate Technology Ventures and Innovations Systems
REQUIRED READING Disciplined Entrepreneurship By Bill Aulet
“MIT has a phenomenal track record for turning out successful entrepreneurs, and this book does a great job of showing exactly how entrepreneurship can be resolved into discrete behaviors and processes that can be taught, measured, and improved upon. It drives home the importance of commercialization as a critical element of successful innovation, and it also emphasizes that innovation can range across a whole gamut of elements and activities as you define the product and lay out the business model. Bill Aulet provides high-value insights in a very engaging style and format. His structure of twenty-four steps organized into six major themes has resonated well with our development teams. The steps are helpful in the details of execution, whereas the themes ensure that we do not lose sight of the forest for the trees.” —Bill Beane, Parker Hannifin
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A TIMELINE OF INNOVATION
1918 A thirty-three-year-old Arthur L. Parker founds the Parker Appliance Company in a rented loft in Cleveland and develops a unique pneumatic braking system for trucks and buses
1935 Parker purchases the bankrupt Hupp Motor Car Company’s 500,000-squarefoot manufacturing building. By the end of the decade, the company will achieve $3 million in sales.
1927 Parker designs fittings for Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis’s historic flight across the Atlantic
evolve into systems discussions,” Beane says. “That leverages the full spectrum of our capabilities and presents a much more comprehensive picture of what we can do in any market.” With that in mind, Beane looked to change the company’s internal processes. For example, Parker was strongly invested in the Stage-Gate process, but when Beane arrived, he recognized that the company had often lost sight of desired outcomes. In other words, many teams were following prescribed steps and procedures, but they weren’t producing true innovation or, Beane believed, really addressing the right problems. In response, he emphasized the commercialization of innovation—a concept from Bill Aulet’s book Disciplined Entrepreneurship—with a formula: innovation=invention × commercialization. With all of the company’s talent for inventing, it was essential to introduce more commercial thinking into the company’s innovation efforts. “We can’t just push invention,” he says. “We have to know where and how we’ll market a new product or application, how it fits with customers’ needs, and why it’s better than what they already have. Those questions are critically important to successful innovation.” Parker’s fluid transfer pump is, once again, a prime example of this new approach. A business developer worked in partnership with the project’s chief engineer to ensure its commercial appeal. “There is nothing in the pump that doesn’t tie to a commercial benefit, and the needs of the market are reflected in every element of its design,” Beane says. To ensure all development initiatives adhere to these new priorities, company leaders launched a 20 / Sync
1957 Parker Appliance acquires cylinder and valves producer Hannifin Company and gains a new corporate name
portfolio review that ultimately reduced the number of ongoing projects by 25 percent. Along with improving resource allocation, streamlining the innovation pipeline also boosted the company’s projected revenue by 50 percent. To help fuel its innovations, Parker works with numerous universities around the world. In addition to creating opportunities for students to participate in the development of cutting-edge technologies, this also offers Parker access to top young technology and engineering talent. Many current employees were interns for several years before graduating and joining the company full-time. As part of its career development initiatives, Parker offers select high-potential recent graduates the Engineering Leadership Development Trainee Program. The company also supports numerous other programs that provide additional training and networking opportunities throughout individuals’ careers. Beane welcomes new employees’ facility for navigating digital resources and communication channels. He thinks that they are less constrained by existing processes and that they will learn in due time. “We want fresh perspectives and feedback from new staff on how we can evolve and combine our existing processes with the best tools available,” he says. The advent of the Internet of Things and Parker’s new vision of innovation will certainly help drive the company’s continued success. “With our vast range of products, experience, and expertise,” Beane says, “there’s no one better than Parker to bring the benefits of digital communication and connectivity to the industrial space.” Issue 011
FOCUS FOCUS CENTENNIAL COMPANIES
1964 Parker Hannifin stock is first traded on the New York Stock Exchange
1969 Parker contributes products to NASA that help make the moon landing possible. By this point, the company is in the Fortune 500 and has operations in ten countries and sales of nearly $200 million.
1977 Sales reach $500 million, and a year later, Parker acquires industry-acclaimed flight controls producer Bertea Corporation
Your Partner for Innovation Performance™ Congratulations Bill Beane on this well-deserved recognition. We are proud to have played a
1980 Parker acquires Ermeto Armaturan GmbH, a successful hydraulic fittings and valves manufacturer
part in increasing the value of Parker Hannifin's product portfolio by more than 500% in the first three years of our 1997 The company launches its first website, www.parker.com
2007 Parker Hannifin reaches $10 billion in sales and $100 per share
Sopheon partners with innovation leaders like Parker Hannifin, PepsiCo, Honeywell, Merck, Electrolux, and ConAgra Brands who are challenged to reconcile the pull between “responsible, safe, secure” and “speed, ease of use, smart” as they compete in today’s fast-moving digital market. Learn more at www.sopheon.com/strategy-execution/.
decade-long partnership. Join innovation leaders like Parker that use our enterprise innovation management software and services to align and connect their organization, drive best-practice innovation processes and enable fast, iterative decision-making in the face of increased pressures from ever-evolving markets.
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A Well-Oiled IT Machine CornellCookson’s Thomas Druby revved up IT’s culture within manufacturing By Brian Welk
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Three years ago, Thomas Druby fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams: he purchased a dark blue 1965 Ford Mustang. He’s been a Mustang fanatic all his life, and now he had a vintage classic all his own to repair and restore. He says it was a challenge to end the day working on computers and to start his evening working on restoration, but doing so set him on a new path. Druby pursued a similar challenge as vice president of IT with door and grille manufacturer CornellCookson—an organization with roots dating back to 1828. In about a year with the manufacturer, he’s taken an IT staff of just twenty-one employees and set it on a path to becoming a well-oiled machine. Druby is leveraging technology on the operations floor, representing IT with a seat at the executive table, mending the strained relationship between IT and the rest of the business, and instilling a new culture in his department. “My mantra is that I like to go in and fix organizations and take IT departments to a high-performing level,” Druby says. “CornellCookson had an IT department that they thought could do a lot more, and they really wanted to leverage technology to develop the business and to help increase the top and bottom lines. The position offered a seat at the executive table, and it was much more of an influential position. I’ve grown my career by taking on opportunities that are very challenging, and that’s how I ended up here.” When Druby came on board, the relationship between IT and the rest of the business wasn’t all it could be. “Some would say it was pretty frayed,” Druby says. The staff had spent years focused only on trying to implement an ERP system. That sole focus resulted in the business units relying on outside partners and vendors to assist with their IT projects, including implementing a CRM platform that CornellCookson’s IT department could not support. The small staff was overwhelmed with requests and so focused on completing this one project that, from a technology perspective, the business lagged far behind. “It was getting them to look beyond what they worked on for the last several years,” Druby says. “They sync-magazine.com
had gotten into a zone where they were just working on one thing, which is very harmful. We started down a path within four or five months where IT had a different, more collaborative culture being cultivated, and the business was much more receptive. We’re starting to move down the path in some cases with sales and operations, where we’re becoming a strategic partner with them and not just a service delivery organization.” Druby’s team started with a simple IT service desk where they could manage and prioritize requests and put service levels around the amount of work they had to deal with. He then put iPad Pros into the hands of the safety and quality assurance managers on the floor to speed up operations. He also utilized OneNote to get everyone organized digitally with the iPads. “For a smaller manufacturer such as CornellCookson, the idea is to get steady and stable operations and create as much efficiency as we can so we can improve the bottom line,” Druby says. “If I look outward, the question becomes, ‘How can I leverage technology to create a competitive advantage and make it easier to do business with us?’”
Thomas Druby CornellCookson President of IT
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A TIMELINE OF STRENGTH
1828 George Cornell and Samuel B. Althause announce the formation of Cornell and Althause, manufacturers of plain and ornamental ironwork.
1854-1856 J.B. Cornell patents a method of joining metal slats for revolving shutters for store windows, as well as a metallic surface for fireproof partitions that could support plaster, enabling the construction of fireproof high-rise buildings.
So while Druby would love to invest in cutting-edge technology, he acknowledges that working within a smaller organization requires a different priority on investments. Rather, Druby’s focus has been to stabilize IT operations, improve the culture within IT, and empower his staff to accomplish more. “It’s about creating a professional environment where they can have growth, where they can see themselves being at a much higher level than they are now, and giving them the development to get there,” Druby says. “It’s about allowing them to take risks, to have successful failures, and to not be chastised because they decided to take a risk that potentially could have had some benefit to the organization.” Druby tries to present a similar level of trust in how he deals with his vendors. “I’ve been in organizations where vendors were just treated as a supplier. You negotiate hard, you get the best deal, but it’s not really a win-win for you and the vendor,” Druby says. “If any issues ever arise, I’ve gotten much better cooperation with them because I’m a partner of theirs. Otherwise, I’ve already hammered them and nailed them to the cross with the deal, and when I need them to resolve an issue, the cooperation is not as good as it can be.” After a few years of caring for it, Druby sold his ’65 Mustang to another muscle car lover. But he eventually upgraded from that model to a 2017 Mustang GT. In a short time with CornellCookson, he’s now earned a seat for IT at the executive table, and like his car, his department looks as good as new. 24 / Sync
1997-2000 Cornell earns the Family Business of the Year Award from the State of Pennsylvania, as well as Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania recognition from the Team Pennsylvania Board.
1880-1886 Now known as J.B. & J.M. Cornell becomes one of the largest manufacturing operations in New York City, providing steel and iron for projects including The Product Exchange, The US Trust Building, the iron base and stairways for the Statue of Liberty, and elevated railroad structure for New York and Brooklyn Stations.
1911 J.M. Cornell forms a new company with his sons, Milton and John, called Cornell Iron Works, which focuses on the production of rolling door products.
SOFTWARE-DEFINED, HYBRID WAN FOR MULTI-LINE ENTERPRISE NETWORKS 1931 Cornell introduces the metal security grille (also known as the mall grille) to the US market.
FatPipeÂŽ, the inventor and multiple patents holder of software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), reliability, security, and WAN Optimization products, specializes in providing solutions that transcend Wide Area Network (WAN) failures to maintain business continuity for thousands of customers including numerous Fortune 1000 customers for over a decade, and has the largest installed base of customers in software-defined network WANs.
1952 Cookson introduces the first extruded aluminum counter door.
SD-WAN Multi-Path VPN Security Seamless VoIP Failover Multi-Line WAN Optimization Application Path Optimization Internet Load Balancing Business Continuity Routing Bandwidth Management Satellite Optimization Server Load Balancing
1938 Harold W. Cookson Sr. and his wife, Dorothy Cookson, start The Cookson Company; they were joined not long after by sons Harold Jr. and Robert after they returned from the war. The company produces wood sectional doors due to the unavailability of steel during the Depression and the war.
1990 Cooksonâ€™s headquarters and western manufacturing facility move from San Francisco to Phoenix.
1978 After moving from Long Island City, New York, to Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, Cornell continues to expand with the purchase of the Oceana facility.
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THINK Upgrade Your Performance
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Unveiling The Future Scott Strahler provides the technology backbone needed to make David’s Bridal customers’ dream weddings a reality By Lior Phillips
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Scott Strahler David’s Bridal VP of IT Infrastructure, Security, and Operations
When a woman walks down the aisle at her wedding, she isn’t thinking about the stress that went into finding the perfect dress—let alone the intense, complex systems needed to get that dress into her hands. And, thanks to Scott Strahler, it should all be a little bit easier to reach that bliss. The vice president of IT infrastructure, security, and operations helps provide the technological underpinnings for the hundreds of David’s Bridal stores spread across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico. Although he may not be suggesting gowns or helping choose veils, Strahler plays an essential role in the journey that each David’s Bridal customer takes— and, as he’s quick to point out, that journey stretches far beyond a wedding. “We’re really dressing women of all ages throughout their life’s special occasions,” he says. “We start with the prom as a teenager, and then as a bridesmaid for her friends, and then certainly as she becomes a bride. Beyond that, we’re here for social occasions where she wants to look her best, whether it be a night out, a cruise, or a dinner party. And then we’re even there later, as she becomes the mother of the bride or the mother of the groom. She wants to always look her best, and we want to help her do that.” A big part of building that positive relationship with customers has been the organization’s development of apps that make the whole process of finding the perfect dress that much easier. The David’s Bridal Dress Finder tool, for example, helps brides-to-be sort through the thousands of dress options that the organization offers, narrowing down their choices through selecting favorites, choosing styles, and the like. They can also then schedule an appointment in-store, at which point David’s Bridal stylists can access their favorite selections in order to make the in-store purchasing process smoother. In addition, the David’s Bridal app can be used to browse and purchase everything from bridesmaid dresses to invitations and table decor. Although he was not the principal behind developing the app, Strahler is thrilled by what it has come to offer to David’s Bridal’s customers. “One of the things sync-magazine.com
weddings a year in in the that sets us apart from our comUnited States petitors is our broad selection of product,” he explains. “We’ve got a vast selection of different designers and styles, and that’s brides visit DavidsBridal.com probably one of the biggest chaleach year lenges that a new bride has: that overwhelming feeling of, ‘Where do I start?’ The app is really meant to give her that jumping of customers end up shopping in David’s Bridal off point of narrowing down stores her selection based on some of her personal preferences and more than style.” In addition to the app, the organization constantly updates social media and online presence locations from Pinterest to YouTube and everything in between, finding more than every opportunity to reach out to brides to help them through employees the difficult process. Additionally, Strahler works to provide the underlying technical components that make these decisions easier for customers, including the infrastructure, networking, telecom, end-user systems, and apps that support stores, the contact center, distribution centers, and corporate office associates. No matter how technical each of his many projects may get, Strahler keeps in mind that it’s all done to aid those once-in-alifetime purchases. Strahler has now spent fifteen years with David’s Bridal, though most of his career has been spent supporting retail operations, including a long tenure with supermarket chain Genuardi’s. As the years have passed, Strahler has gotten more insight into the rapidly changing world of technology and the constant evolution of what retail customers have come to expect. “As young women move up into the bridal age, technology is so ingrained in their life, and if you can’t interact with them through technology, then they’re not interested in
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BOUTIQUE TO BOOM How David’s Bridal evolved from one store to an e-commerce-aided empire
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1950 Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was the first home of David’s Bridal, a small bridal boutique opened by David Reisberg
1972 Phillip Youtie purchased the bridal salon in Fort Lauderdale
doing business with you,” Strahler says. “It needs to always be quick and easy, otherwise they move right on to the next company who can deliver it quickly and easily. It’s a challenge to stay ahead of that, but we’ve managed to continue to innovate.” Just as much as David’s Bridal makes sure to keep on-trend, stylish dresses in its stores, Strahler works to make the stores themselves cutting-edge. Strahler’s team is currently rolling out a pilot project for a new point-of-sale system where individual stores’ registers are being replaced by tablets that are held by stylists. “We’re going to have twenty-plus tablets in each store,” Strahler says. “The challenge and focus of my team is preparing to support a large fleet of mobile devices and all the applications that are going to come along with that. One of the ways we’re doing that is revamping our IT help desk, from how we operate to the technology we use to keep our associates’ systems operational.” In addition, David’s Bridal needs to train its many employees—including a large proportion of seasonal hires—on how to use this new system, primarily through video training. “Our learning and development team has done a tremendous job creating great training content for our associates,” he says. “This has been a huge success in preparing our staff to be experts in the industry and provide superior customer service for our brides.” With added mobile capabilities, however comes the larger need for information security, something that become a major focus of Strahler’s work. “We’ve taken a very strong stance and made major investments to Issue 011
Enabling Secure Productivity in the Cloud 1988 Steven Erlbaum, a childhood friend of Youtie, joined the business, expanding it to all fifty states and shifting the store model to stock designer gowns
Enabling Technologies proudly recognizes
Scott Strahler CIO David’s Bridal
1999 The company went public and launched an e-commerce site
2000 May Department Stores Company purchased David’s Bridal for $436 million
“Sco’s visionary leadership for improving Communicaons and Collaboraon at David’s Bridal has been outstanding. He has taken his implementaon one step further by providing Organizaonal Change Management (OCM) which made user adopon of new technology go viral throughout the enterprise! Aer transforming David’s Contact Center, he shied his aenon to Data Security because the retail industry is a key target for security threats. Always one step ahead! Bravo Sco!”
2012 Clayton, Dubilier & Rice acquired David’s Bridal for $900 million
Bill Vollerthum President, Enabling Technologies
Secure your success at Enablingtechcorp.com sync-magazine.com
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make sure that we’re really protecting that key and critical data,” Strahler says, referring to both customer and employee information. “Our customers need to trust in us, so that’s a critical function for the organization.” Just as important as instilling trust in those customers, however, is ensuring that the company’s many employees carry that same trust and feel that they’re being supported. Accordingly, Strahler’s steady hand and collaborative style have led to great successes and team members who feel empowered. “I am strategically focused on how we can improve through technology,” he says. “I tend to keep very close track of technology trends and then work with my team and other departments to identify where we might be able to leverage those trends to move things forward for the company and better the experience for our associates and our customers.” That same collaborative approach informs Strahler’s innovative relationship with the company’s technology vendors. He is always working to find winwin solutions, even if they turn out to be more creative or experimental than other technology leaders might theorize. For example, during the current rollout of the tablets, Strahler has negotiated per-location licensing for various tablet applications—rather than on a peruser or per-device licensing—that will still give the vendors plenty of business but deliver a better budgeted deal for David’s Bridal. “While I always want a fair price, I am not going to squeeze them for every penny because I recognize that our vendors will only continue to be in business if they continue to make a profit,” Strahler explains. “I want them to continue to invest in innovating the product that our business is now relying on to meet our goals.” All of his work is done in part to make David’s Bridal more mobile and digital, with the goal of always driving more customers to the physical stores and making sure David’s stylists are able to make dream weddings come true. “We’re making sure they have the tools that they need to make that shopping experience an excellent one,” he says. “Anybody can create an app nowadays, but being able to tie that back into all the aspects of the purchase process and the dress-finding process is powerful.” Cradlepoint is the global leader in cloud-based network solutions for connecting people, places, and things over wired and wireless broadband. With Cradlepoint, customers can leverage the speed and economics of wired and wireless Internet broadband for branch, failover, mobile, and IoT networks while maintaining end-to-end visibility, security, and control. Over 15,000 enterprise and government organizations around the world—including 75 percent of the world’s top retailers, 50 percent of the Fortune 100, and 25 of the largest US cities—rely on Cradlepoint to keep critical sites, workforces, vehicles, and devices always connected and protected.
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THE CLASSROOM Traci Bonde ensures access to innovations in technology and education to the Dublin Unified School District By Jeff Silver 34 / Sync
In graduate school, Traci Bonde thought she was headed for a career in special education. In the late 1990s, however, her experience in module building, corporate training, and program and curriculum design led her to becoming the assistant director of Expression College, which was her first exposure to managing technology in an educational environment. It was also the start of a ten-year career working in technology in the private sector. But after she became a mother, Bonde decided that if she was going to spend 8–10 hours a day, five days a week, away from her son, she would rather devote herself to supporting students’ and teachers’ educational goals than to stakeholders’ and stockholders’ bottom lines. Now, she is the chief technology officer of California’s Dublin Unified School District. Although there were many changes in education while she was in the corporate world, Bonde believes the combination of her education background and business experience makes her better at her job. “Matching the right tools and technical capabilities to learning styles and abilities is crucial, whether you’re training adults in the corporate world or young students,” Bonde says. “The most effective outcomes are tied to usability and accurately assessing the value of those outcomes.” To do that, her department and teachers have to understand both the learning objectives and the technologies supporting them. For example, twenty years ago students might have demonstrated what they learned about the Pyramids by writing a paper or building a clay model. Today’s students can produce stop-motion clay animation or create a “pyramid society” in Minecraft, a virtual environment-building software. “The venues now available to students to demonstrate learning are limitless,” Bonde says. “Teachers have to be clear about the functionality of the technologies to fully understand how students are demonstrating what they have learned.” Bonde and her department work toward that goal by doing more than just performing technical tasks like fixing computers and testing portal connectivity speeds. They spend time coteaching to gain firsthand classroom experience and to demonstrate to teachers and students sync-magazine.com
“MAKING” A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT In the midst of the Bay Area’s “maker movement,” Traci Bonde incorporates innovative tools to facilitate learning. This includes training teachers to use creator kits like littleBits and MaKey MaKey, which enable students to make everything from flashlights to Wi-Fi remote monitors to PlayDoh game controllers to piano keys made out of bananas.
how to get the most out of innovative technologies. That includes training them in coding, robotics, 3-D printing, and peripheral tools like littleBits (a library of modular electronics that snap together easily with magnets) and MaKey MaKey (an invention kit that allows users to control their computer through objects like bananas and Play-Doh by alligator-clipping them to a MaKey MaKey board). The results have been both impressive and entertaining. In one instance, kindergarten classes that had been studying the weather also learned how to use green screen technology to create their own weather report videos. In addition to her technical expertise, a great deal of Bonde’s insight comes from the volunteer work she does at her son’s school in Dublin. In an informal capacity as a parent, she can see how learning and technology are working together in a relaxed atmosphere in which teachers aren’t worried about the district CTO being onsite to observe. Her experiences helped debunk assumptions that had been made about local students in a geographic region where many parents are themselves technology Sync / 35
“No amount of money could entice me to leave working in public schools. . . . I’m totally dedicated to contributing to the success of others by providing access to education and technology they might not have otherwise.”
Traci Bonde Dublin Unified School District CTO
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professionals. “We thought most of our students had the tools and skills they need to be extraordinarily tech savvy, but volunteering showed me otherwise,” Bonde says. “We offer training in basics like keyboarding, proper research techniques, and the meaning of plagiarism and copyrights.” As the district’s CTO, Bonde is excited about the new three-story engineering and science academy building Dublin Unified is in the process of building at its main high school. With the ability to accommodate as many as six hundred students, it will provide numerous enhancements to digital and traditional instruction, such as a fully supported mobile/wireless environment, flexible seating and classroom configurations, collaborative breakout rooms, dedicated “maker” areas for tinkering and exploring, mobile charging stations, and programs in 3-D AutoCAD, robotics, coding, app design, and cybersecurity. It will also include 1,600 square feet of science and 2-D multi-media labs, 1,800 square feet of 3-D art and engineering labs, and a 2,400-square-foot digital graphics and web design space. “The robust tools and capabilities of the new building will help our students be far better prepared to pursue engineering, biomedical, and other types of core science programs at elite colleges,” Bonde says. “They’ll also be better equipped to navigate workplace expectations than students who graduate from traditional high schools.” She also believes that Dublin’s support of education and technology helps create a sense of belonging
for many students who don’t fall into conventional categories, like athletics or traditional academics. Her own son feels more connected to his middle school because of the online access it provides before and after school and during lunch. “He’s an engineer, not an athlete,” Bonde explains. In addition to making her an insightful leader, her experiences, expertise, roots in special education, and multiple roles as CTO, parent, and volunteer all give her a very personal connection to her work. “No amount of money could entice me to leave working in public schools,” Bonde says. “Although Dublin is an affluent district, I worked in underserved areas before and grew up in poverty myself. I’m totally dedicated to contributing to the success of others by providing access to education and technology they might not otherwise have. That’s my real work, so, ultimately, I fully intend on retiring as a public service employee.”
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Driving the Future of Virtualization Chris Rothbauer focuses on hybrid cloud-hosting at ground transportation company SP+ to streamline the business By Lori Fredrickson
Chris Rothbauer SP+ VP of IT Infrastructure
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Chris Rothbauer’s first move at SP+ was to go virtual. When he joined the Chicago-based ground transportation company as the director of IT infrastructure in 2008, he began virtualizing its data centers. Today, with six hundred of those servers hosted at colocation facilities, he considers it one of his most cost-effective improvements. “When you look at working with tight budgets, it’s all about getting down to less hardware and making more use of what we have,” he explains. “Virtualization in today’s technology with SSD drives, the way both can shrink your data footprint, and the size of your data center are huge steps forward.” It’s particularly relevant for Rothbauer, currently vice president of IT infrastructure, to touch on now. One of his biggest projects over the next year—transitioning SP+ over to a hybrid cloud-hosting model—is taking him further down the virtualization road. Like many other industry professionals, he sees this as part of the next wave in data services. For Rothbauer, making the change is as much about practical use as it is about feasibility. Issue 011
“What I think a lot of people miss is that cloud is a continuum of services, and where you land on that continuum is very specific to what you do,” he says. “For me, it’s knowing where your apps and needs fit in the cloud and then moving them in that direction.” Tailoring technology solutions is something that Rothbauer has focused on throughout his duration at SP+, in part from having to solve networking problems across a wide gamut of independent systems. Since 1929, SP+—formerly known as Standard Parking—has been a leader in providing professional parking and associated services to property owners, including managing four thousand parking locations and providing services that range from maintenance and security to event planning and airport transportation. As Rothbauer notes, because the lots and parking equipment SP+ works with are privately owned, it can be particularly challenging to manage; getting the different systems to interact with the back office takes work. Accordingly, streamlining and automating have been Rothbauer’s primary focus since he started at the company. Having worked as a network engineer and IT director for various consulting companies since the mid-1990s, he developed a knack for troubleshooting, which is the reason SP+ brought him on, to resolve a host of issues that it had encountered in outsourcing administration. “I’m in the business of solving problems,” he says. In early days, that meant getting ahead of system issues and automating wherever necessary. Now, after resolving some of the bigger issues in cost-cutting and picking the right tools, he moved over to other big projects: virtualization and data center moves, integration, software retirements, and phasing out legacy or custom-written applications to bring in new technology. Recently, one of his team’s biggest projects has been working with automation, something that has become increasingly important as clients look to reduce manpower. This has included improving standardization, provisioning and deprovisioning scripts, and using remediation tools and scheduled routines to make them less human-interactive. To keep services up and running, Rothbauer and his team also focus on interconnectivity with local and backup providers and a secure connection to the SP+ back office. Reliable remote connectivity is critical, Rothbauer notes, both to make sure that garage operations continue to run smoothly and to prevent the potential for true emergencies that could create a risk factor in the case of a technology outage. Tackling these challenges makes it important for Rothbauer to ensure that technology in the back office is sync-magazine.com
“I stopped being interested in flashy toys a while ago. For me, it’s about getting a smaller footprint and better performance.” managed most effectively on its budget, which is one of the primary reasons that he began planning the hybrid cloud-hosting transition. “I stopped being interested in flashy toys a while ago,” he says. “For me, it’s about getting a smaller footprint and better performance.” Hybrid cloud-hosting hasn’t necessarily been a preferable option over colocation in the past. “It took a lot of work to get to something that could be feasible,” Rothbauer points out. “Not all of the licensing and capital spend rules for hosting providers are conducive to saving money.” Additionally, hybrid cloud-hosting’s cost-effectiveness is also contingent on how the technology is going to be used. “Using a service like Amazon or Azure may be more cost-effective than running a traditional data center if you have a highly elastic workload, but not if you have systems that run all the time and chew up lots of data,” he says. For a company like SP+, which has already been in a cloud-first mentality for some time, there can be innumerable benefits—not just in saving money, but in improving performance by moving towards a platform-as-a-service (PAAS) model, one where a third-party staff can monitor the company’s hypervisor, storage, and network. “With an entire team of people who are on top of that, I wouldn’t have to worry about problems with the storage or network, but I would still maintain the applications and systems on top of the maintenance that go more into the day-to-day work,” Rothbauer says. “Because we don’t spend a lot of time on the hypervisor and down, I don’t mind giving up that control.” Now, he’s contacting nearly a dozen hosting providers, looking into options from his team’s current Sync / 39
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colocation facilities, and building a plan to use licensing and capital that SP+ owns to plan a hybrid model that augments manpower and equipment rather than parking service centers outsourcing them. The goal is to find a provider that offers as many services as possible, from colocation to PAAS to dibrands: SP+, Standard rect connections to cloud services. Parking, Central In the larger picture, making simiParking lar changes is something that Rothbauer sees as a part of the diminishing game of system administration. With shrinking scholarships presented staff and new developments in technolto SP+ employees ogy, looking more to online services and sponsored by the organization’s third-party service vendors as both opWomen’s Advisory tions and data models is a natural part of Forum the process. “These days, a cloud company like Google, Amazon, or Microsoft is a major platform for many, many businesses,” Rothbauer says. “If you need a server or an application, you just click on a button. There’s processes, there’s provisioning, it’s all very standardized and clean. However, those benefits are not always sufficient to justify the cost. “What we’re looking at now is how do we replicate PAAS best practices for our internal systems and the things that can’t go to the cloud. And I think the more hosting companies improve on standardizations and security, the more we’re going to look to them for best practices and how we can apply them as well.” annual passengers
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No Goal Too Big, NO JOB TOO SMALL Gerry Hunt has been living and breathing Oklahoma City University since his undergraduate years in the mid-1980s By Olivia N. Castañeda
Gerry Hunt just celebrated his twenty-fifth anniversary with Oklahoma City University (OCU), but his fascination with technology and ties to Oklahoma City were ingrained in him at an early age. Hunt was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, and when he was three months old, his family moved and settled in Mustang, Oklahoma—just eighteen miles southwest of Oklahoma City. Later, in the 1970s and 1980s, he began playing video games, and he was hooked. Hunt’s appetite for computer technology continued to develop in high school. In ninth grade at an orientation event, he and a friend walked into their high school computer lab and discovered how to put together a three-line program to make a computer count to ten. “I thought it was the coolest thing in the world,” Hunt says. Following high school, he went on to receive a bachelor’s of science in computer sciences from OCU in 1989 and joined the university’s IT department in 1992. He eventually earned an MBA there, too, in 2005, and he now holds the title of CIO. With 1,800 undergraduate students and six hundred graduate students from forty-six states and forty-three foreign countries, OCU is a coeducational, urban private school in the Uptown District of Oklahoma City. The student-faculty ratio is eleven to one. It is the only Sync / 41
“I love being a CIO. Strategic planning and visioning are a great passion in my current role, but I’m also very much a techie at heart.” Gerry Hunt Oklahoma City University CIO
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Oklahoma institution listed in the top tier of the regional, master’s-level university category by U.S. News and World Report, and it is listed in Forbes’s “Best Christian Colleges” and “100 Best College Buys.” “I think the CIO’s role is to determine how to help the university compete, as well as to enhance and improve teaching and learning,” Hunt says. He goes above and beyond, however, by getting his hands dirty with all sorts of IT projects and staying involved in numerous school committees, such as the president’s cabinet and strategic planning and budget committees, to name a few. This exposure allows him to understand the opportunities in which his team of twenty can strategize where they should invest their time and resources to advance the ongoing efforts throughout campus that support the school’s mission. OCU’s mission embraces the United Methodist tradition of scholarship and service, which includes an open door to people of all faiths in a culturally rich community—all with the goal of student success. To derive that success, the school caters to students’ intellectual, moral, and spiritual development, aiming to develop them into effective leaders in their communities. To support that mission, the university needs to keep on top of the changes in those very communities. Technology and education have become intertwined across the nation, and OCU has worked to integrate that focus into its programs. As one example, OCU energy management and energy legal studies graduate programs have access to traditional classroom technology as well as added in-room microphones and camera systems that go into an encoder device so that classes can be live-streamed for those who cannot physically be on campus. Students who are on-site working at an oil field can take an energy management class by watching lectures online and participating through instant messaging. This program was launched three years ago, and oil field workers in North Dakota, Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas, Wyoming, Washington, and Pennsylvania have all participated. The nursing and criminology programs have also adopted distance-learning technologies. By using technology related to the school’s phone system updates, the criminology program was the first to conduct a class that allowed for remote students . About a year ago, Hunt and the previous telecommunications manager had decided to opt for Skype Issue 011
for Business for the university’s phone systems. The goal was to have a more unified way of communicating across campus and a better method of delivering academic courses to remote students. Just before the project launched, the telecommunications manager took a different job. Now, during the implementation and deployment of the new system, Hunt is acting as the telecommunications manager. Hunt says this project has taken a big chunk of his time, but he is really enjoying it. “I love being a CIO,” he says. “Strategic planning and visioning are great passions in my current role, but I’m also very much a at heart.” Having held every role within the department throughout his twenty-five-year IT career at OCU, Hunt has developed a broad set of skills. Around campus, he contributes his skills in assisting help-desk tickets when the department is shorthanded, filling in if someone is out sick or on vacation, and developing web-based programs. Thanks to his background in programming, Hunt wrote and developed the inventory system that the school now uses and the scripts for the creation of network user accounts. Even before the planned spring 2017 launch of the Skype for Business program, many staff offices have already been upgraded with the new system. Staff members can choose between a special Skype for Business phone or a mobile device, or they can utilize the Skype for Business app on their computer and use a USB headset with microphone. Once deployed in classrooms, Skype for Business will allow remote students to have live interaction within their classes. Rather than merely viewing the class through a screen, remote students can be seen and heard by the faculty and the students in the classroom, giving them a similar experience to being physically present. “It’s really neat,” Hunt says. “I will say it takes some adjusting. Even though you can see their faces and hear them, there’s still something about that student being right here, you know, right next to you.”
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Gerry Hunt CIO of Oklahoma City University “Gerry has an exceptional understanding of how technology drives value for students, staff, the university and the community. He strives to create an environment that provides connectivity, support and access to information while promoting learning and collaboration.” – Rick McCharen Account Executive OnX and OCU partnership
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An Algorithm for Life or Death Karen Xie’s scientific training and patient-centered strategies are strengthening healthcare innovation at Blue Shield of California By David Baez
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Meaningful change always meets resistance, but it can be a particularly tough sell in healthcare, says Karen Xie, vice president of enterprise architecture and health innovation technology at Blue Shield of California, a nonprofit health plan that has more than four million members. “When you push for innovation, you are disrupting things,” she says. “You are challenging the status quo, trying to get people out of comfort zones and toward out-of-the-box thinking. It’s not comfortable. It’s a huge barrier.” Xie speaks from experience: she climbed the IT ladder, growing from a tenure as database administrator to VP at Trinity Health over sixteen years, and then joined Blue Shield in 2014. Blue Shield’s mission immediately attracted her; the company is committed to ensuring its members are provided the highest-value, highestquality care that is readily accessible and affordable. She was also struck by the company’s focus on learning. “I could see how highly the company valued learning,” says Xie, who earned a PhD in physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “In any organization, success is the result of learning. If not, you won’t be able to run and grow the business. That is something I value highly about the organization.” Xie runs enterprise architecture, quality assurance (QA) testing, and health innovation technology at Blue Shield. When Blue Shield hired her, the company needed Issue 011
someone who actually had the experience of building these separate domains from the ground up. Her role and responsibilities are complex, but Xie breaks them down into constituent parts. Enterprise architecture at Blue Shield consists of five segments: business capability architecture, information integration architecture, application solutions architecture, and infrastructure technology architecture. All of these categories fall under the umbrella of security architecture. Meanwhile, software QA involves the entire software development process. Xie cites software design, coding and code reviews, unit testing, functional testing, regression testing, integration testing, configuration management, and release management as associated steps. Then, there is the health innovation technology (HIT) facet of Xie’s purview. She added this function to her responsibilities in the spring of 2016, and the former Columbia University scientist is excited to tackle the subject. The HIT organization faced many challenges in its first couple of years leading up to Xie’s arrival. However, it now consists of three effectual teams: innovation strategy development, product delivery, and an open innovation lab, a place where creative ideas are brought to the experimentation level. Recently, the delivery team diligently transferred comprehensive patient information into an integrated platform known as the California Integrated Data Exchange (Cal INDEX). The interface allows doctors, hospitals, and other care providers to securely review, analyze, and share medical information across the healthcare system. Cal INDEX is being merged with Inland Empire Health Information Exchange. The union will create one of the largest repositories of patient records in California, and together, they will have insurance claims and medical records of 16.7 million people. The merger also happens to be a passion project for Xie, who considers fragmentation to be one of healthcare’s biggest problems right now. It disperses a patient’s history through different systems that don’t communicate with one another, even contributing to the eighth leading cause of patient death: medical error. Xie sees the problems of fragmentation not only from the vantage point of her work, but also from personal experience. At one point, her mother needed to have surgery. Prior to the surgery, she needed a blood test and an x-ray. She had already completed both procedures elsewhere two months before, but she was required to do it again because the hospital had no access to the results. This kind of redundancy is common, expensive, and even deadly. sync-magazine.com
Karen Xie Blue Shield of California VP of Enterprise Architecture and Health Innovation Technology
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“As a result of fragmentation, nobody can have a complete picture,” she says. “It ends up being very costly, requiring all kinds of testing, a longer path to diagnosis, and delayed treatment. Providing a comprehensive picture will directly contribute to the lower cost and higher quality of health care.” While leading HIT, Xie has instituted sweeping changes. The main challenge is the lack of a systematic innovation methodology, which contributes to how dreams and big ideas will be stillborn, she says. To remedy this, she created an operating model with four aspects: an innovation counsel for governance, an endto-end process for innovation initiatives, an ideation platform for generating and managing ideas, and an open innovation lab for bringing ideas to the market and promoting the culture of innovation. “The cultural aspect is so critical to what we are doing, especially in a healthcare organization with its long history of doing things in a certain way,” Xie says. “We try to encourage those people in the company who have contributed to innovation initiatives even though they might not be a part of my team. We do work in awareness and education. We hold workshops where people can talk about design thinking and customer-centric thinking. I always stress that many innovative concepts didn’t have popular support at the beginning.” Looking toward the future, Xie is focusing on how to transform data into insights that can make a strong impact on healthcare transformation. Some organizations are only at the level of descriptive and diagnostic analytics, using data only to see what happened and why it happened. Yet, Xie wants to push the envelope to the point of transformation, she says, because now the available information is more comprehensive. “We can actually go beyond the what and the why to predictive analytics and even prescriptive analytics,” Xie says, adding that it also requires more advanced expertise in data science. “Cognitive computing uses data mining, pattern recognition, and natural language processing to mimic the way the human brain works. A target in 2017 for us is to have a breakthrough in cognitive analytics that will help us better serve our members and our providers while we effectively run, grow, and transform our own business.” Congratulations Karen Xie and Blue Shield of California for the well-deserved recognition you are receiving as leaders and innovators in modern healthcare. PwC has been proud to support you over the years and looks forward to working with you to improve the healthcare experience of your members.
IMAGINATIVE EDUCATION As Pratt Institute’s CIO and VP of IT, Joseph Hemway is reshaping the way students, parents, and faculty experience technology and higher education By Brian Harper
Joseph Hemway knows what people think when they hear IT: “We drop the machines on the desk,” he says. “We walk away.” But after more than thirty years leading IT departments and initiatives at New York colleges and universities, Hemway remains determined to prove that both technology and higher education are capable of more. Since 2006, Hemway has been CIO and vice president of IT at Pratt Institute, an art, design, and architecture school with campuses in Brooklyn and Manhattan. A Brooklyn native himself, Hemway grew up hoping to work in broadcast journalism, and his appreciation for artful storytelling is right at home at Pratt. Today, he considers himself a walking contradiction—a modern technology expert who tinkers with old-fashioned Volkswagens and antique radios. However, when he was a student at St. Francis College in the early 1980s, IT was just starting to become a viable communication tool. “Those were mainframe days,” he says. “You saw the manifestation, but you never really saw the technology right in front of you.” In 1982, Time selected the personal computer as the “Machine of the Year,” and something clicked for Hemway. sync-magazine.com
“I probably read and reread that article a dozen times,” Hemway recalls. “The thing I liked from the beginning about personal computing was the democratization of technology. For the first time, it was in everybody’s hands.” After a brief stint at a public relations firm, Hemway took a job managing research and records in Pace University’s Office of Development. He has remained in higher education ever since, holding several positions at Barnard College before serving as director of information systems at Monroe College. In 1999, Hemway jumped at the chance to return to St. Francis, teaching in the IT department and managing administrative applications before becoming director of information systems and assistant vice president of IT and chief technology officer. He joined St. Francis’s staff as a new administration arrived with a commitment to making technology intrinsic to its strategic plan. “Every aspect of the college was being revitalized,” Hemway says. “The students didn’t have e-mail. We had no Wi-Fi. The enterprise system was terribly underpowered and in need of an upgrade. They tore down one of the old buildings and set up plans for a new academic and administrative center that was full of technology. Sync / 47
It taught me more than just how to manage an IT operation; I got a real sense of the universal aspects of what it takes to run an administration and work with a board for the first time.” His experience at St. Francis served him well when he arrived at Pratt under somewhat similar circumstances. Founded in 1887, the school’s technology was in need of renewal. “Technology never quite marched along with the world-renowned art and design disciplines they had there,” Hemway says. “It wound up being cast into multiple areas. It wasn’t so much that there was a need for centralization as much as it was a payoff by having technologies adjacent to each other and building greater institutional muscle.” Hemway began with a “worst-first mentality,” updating the most out-of-date network and enterprise systems first. “Within the first two or three years, we started to gain some momentum,” he says. “We could start to do more imaginative things.” The first of these efforts came when Hemway was searching for assets to highlight students’ work on Pratt’s website. After speaking with the chair of the film department about giving students practical experience, the two arrived at the solution of SideLights, a series of 60- to 90-second videos that students would produce about life at Pratt. “Some people in the beginning questioned the relevance of it: ‘Why are you doing this?’” Hemway says. “Because it’s not being done.” From SideLights came PrattTalks, a platform that brought Pratt’s videos together in one online location. “Some people said, ‘Why not just have it on YouTube?’” Hemway recalls. “It was too important as a design school, as a creative hub, for us to have something where somebody would suggest a cat video after they watched something about jewelry making.” Hemway’s dream of tying together the disparate threads of students’ and parents’ online experience of the school in a streamlined fashion resulted in onePratt. “OnePratt developed a system where people could see what was on their horizon,” Hemway explains. “As a student comes through and gets accepted from admissions, there will be a handoff to only those segments of things you need to see when you need to work on something that moves a student forward.” Outside of his role at Pratt, Hemway donates time to organizations committed to children with severe illnesses and people who have experienced natural disasters, 48 / Sync
Joseph Hemway CIO, VP of IT Pratt Institute
and that passion for volunteer work gives him a service-minded perspective on what he can do for students, IT, and higher education. “I think IT should be an enabler,” he says. “It should be a cost-saving mechanism. We should challenge corporations that are victimizing higher education.” Just as he has in the past, Hemway intends to tackle this and other obstacles by asking questions that might bring additional issues to light. “If I just did the traditional role of the CIO, the effect would be far less,” he says. “Sometimes by doing what we do, we’ve introduced new problems. But we had to get those problems out of the way to get to the next thing. We’re overwhelmed at times, but it’s a good overwhelmed.” Issue 011
WHEN IT WAS TIME FOR A FRESH APPROACH, PRATT CHOSE FERRILLI. For more than a decade, Pratt Institute has partnered with Ferrilli to raise the bar for higher education technology. The Ferrilli team of experts uses insight and creativity to offer innovative solutions for today’s students—whether it’s an exciting new mobile app, streamlined process, or bringing Amazon Alexa voice services to Pratt. What can Ferrilli do for you?
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The Art of Higher Ed IT Services Ferrilli’s long relationship with Pratt Institute represents the potential of IT as a tool to simplify the lives of college students By Chris Gigley
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Since 2005, IT and services company Ferrilli has helped Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute revolutionize the way its students handle all the paperwork they’re given. Like those students, Pratt and Ferrilli never really stop learning. According to Charles Mattiello, Pratt’s director of enterprise technology planning, the art school and Ferrilli are focused on an overarching initiative called onePratt. It includes everything from student information system upgrades to mobile support to custom workflow processes. The goal is to streamline all the paperwork and administrative tasks that students must handle so that they can focus on the classroom. This is the kind of project that Ferrilli CEO Robert Ferrilli envisioned when he founded his company in 2003. “I would say Pratt is one of our most progressive customers, always looking to move beyond the traditional,” Ferrilli says. “They were the first to look at redesigning how students register. They were the first to tie in text messaging with their legacy enterprise resource planning system.” Issue 011
Ferrilli says his firm’s long-term relationship with Pratt has created an ever-faster cycle of innovation. His and Pratt’s teams work so well together that they often come up with ideas without having to brainstorm. “Ideas bubble up from everywhere,” Ferrilli says. One of the latest is hooking up the Pratt website to Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated personal digital assistant. “This new voice assistant technology is becoming pretty mainstream now, and we want to be on the forefront,” Ferrilli says. “We’re bringing in students to try to find out what they would like to see from this technology.” The project is still in the pilot stages, but Mattiello sees plenty of potential. His six-year-old daughter is already ordering music via Alexa. “We constantly have to look at our services from the perspective of today’s students and the kids who may apply in three years,” he says. “Asking the questions about what those kids will want keeps us current.” Another part of onePratt is a text messaging program that lets students pay their tuition from their smartphones. Pratt and Ferrilli have already tested the power of text messaging. “The first messaging campaign we did was about tuition waivers,” Mattiello says. “We sent a onePratt message—delivered via e-mail, via portal, and, to opted-in students, via SMS—to 4,600 students on a Friday at 5:00 p.m. We came in Monday morning and found 2,600 responses and a 40 percent action rate.” Had Pratt reached out to students only via e-mail, the response and action rates would have been far lower. According to Mattiello, Pratt would have waited about three months for responses. Then, Pratt would be forced to negotiate its student health insurance bill including students who never responded and had since left the school. In this case, onePratt communications saved the school tens of thousands of dollars, and it also freed staff from administrative tasks and put them back in front of students. Money is just part of the goal, though. Another is consolidating everything from communications to financial aid to registration through a single, easy-to-use interface for students. “There are lots of tasks a student needs to complete in a semester at Pratt,” Ferrilli says. “We’re constantly giving them their next action steps. We’re creating individual to-do lists for them by leveraging the legacy systems. It streamlines the whole process.” It also makes life much easier for many Pratt administrators. Mattiello recalls working with the student financial services on improving the way students apply for loans. The executive director told Mattiello that he was amazed Ferrilli and Pratt figured out how to authenticate both parents’ and students’ digital signatures. “We really try to make it easier, especially as an art school with students from around the country who can’t sync-magazine.com
Robert Ferrilli Ferrilli CEO
easily get their parent’s signature,” Mattiello says. “We deliver whatever we can to keep students out of our administration offices and in the classroom.” The Pratt admissions office has also benefited. Mattiello says admissions processes about fifty thousand documents a year for incoming fall classes. Now, it’s almost completely digital. The three and a half minutes admissions used to spend inputting student information into the system is down to just thirty seconds. Going forward, the Pratt-Ferrilli relationship promises even more innovation. Mattiello says one of the most important things he’s learned from Ferrilli is not worrying about having everything perfect at a new program’s launch. “When we approached projects like that, it took us two to three years to get something out,” he says. “Now we say, ‘Let’s get version one out. We know it’s not perfect, but it’s functional and it works. Version one will get us data and metrics we can use to get version two out.’” Mattiello and Ferrilli proceed to tweak on the fly, almost always via SMS. Who knows? One day soon, they may exchange ideas via Alexa or virtual reality. If it helps them help Pratt students focus on their studies, they’ll give it a shot. Sync / 51
“Letting a Thousand Flowers Bloom” University of California’s Tom Andriola transforms higher education and healthcare with data analytics By Michael Hernandez | Portraits by Jose Pantoja
Tom Andriola regularly says he has the best IT job in the world. With an information technology community of close to seven thousand people, the University of California system is larger than many IT companies. The diversity and scale of efforts rival that of any global multinational company—cybersecurity, medical imaging diagnosis algorithms, deep-machine learning applications, agricultural resource algorithms, and much more—all under the umbrella of one university system. “Universities are hubs of new ideas and fresh thinking,” says Andriola, the university’s vice president and CIO. He works under the premise of “letting a thousand flowers bloom.” As a former business leader from the world of healthcare IT, Andriola brings insights from his business experience to support the university and its stakeholders, patients, students, faculty, and staff through the use of data. Although the challenges presented by a system of research institutions might seem different from those of a business, Andriola draws upon his experience creating new products and reaching new markets from his years at Philips Healthcare to identify and scale the most successful projects at the university. “We try to find the best innovations and scale them in the way that a private company would,” Andriola explains. “Scaling could mean turning a successful ser52 / Sync
vice into a shared service for stakeholders across the university. It could also mean offering a service we’ve created to the outside market, like other universities and hospitals throughout the country.” Take CropManage, for example. What began as faculty research into water and fertilizer utilization is now a software resource that helps manage crops in the drought-stricken state of California. CropManage started as a series of algorithms to provide insight for growing lettuce and alfalfa, but it’s now being expanded to growers across the state to manage water and soil nutrients for a variety of crops. Research that addresses California’s drought exemplifies the way in which Andriola helps take a project from the university to scale. “It’s all based on technology and data,” Andriola says. “We both lead agriculture research and work closely with the grower community, putting us in the unique position to do innovative work and then spread it. While you might consider agriculture an old industry, technology and data have come to the forefront of innovation. That’s why the CIO role has become so much more strategic to the university.” Coming from the business world to the higher education environment may not be the most obvious progression, but Andriola finds that the path of an innovator isn’t always a linear, single-track journey. “My career Issue 011
Tom Andriola University of California VP, CIO
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has been less of a ladder climb and more of swinging from vine to vine on a rock climb,” Andriola says. “To do something at the scale of the University of California is the type of challenge I wanted to sink my teeth into.” Given his background in healthcare IT and growth markets, Andriola was not well-versed in the student success component of the UC mission. However, it’s become one of his greatest passions. In the same way Andriola has championed using technology and data to transform patient care, he supports efforts that help students grow to their full potential and succeed in their academic journey. Universities have the ability to aggregate large amounts of data, both formal and informal, relevant to student success and retention, so the big question is how and when to use that data—or whether to use it at all. “Today’s student population grew up with technology in the palm of their hand and accessed it with their fingertips as often as a keyboard,” Andriola says. “Mobility is not an option, but rather a way of life. They share 54 / Sync
their lives through various social media outlets, which gives us clues about what’s going on with their world and how they’re progressing. All this self-reported data adds to the formal mechanisms we’ve used for their profile. We sometimes collectively call this their digital footprint or, to steal a healthcare term, the quantified self.” In education, Andriola has to consider many questions, including how to organize this data, what the appropriate uses are, how to leverage data science and machine learning, and whether to use opt-in or opt-out strategies. With all of this, he also has to consider big data techniques to help each and every student succeed. The University of California has 238,000 students, and they all have their own unique needs. Andriola equates this to healthcare population management strategies, like managing diabetes. He uses both formal data, like in health records, and self-reported data, like the findings of a Fitbit. The university has formal data from student systems and learning management systems, but Andriola thinks more self-reported data could be Issue 011
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“If seven thousand people every day came to the university trying to innovate around the mission, think about the positive impact we could make in the lives of students, patients, faculty, and the citizens of the world.” leveraged. Through this approach, the university has been increasingly able to deliver information, helpful hints, and reminders to the student on their mobile phones. The university can help keep students on schedule with everything from assignments and advisor meetings to self-care tips about healthy eating and sufficient rest. “This is just the start from my perspective,” Andriola says. “As more machine learning and artificial intelligence applications find their way into education, I think we create the opportunity to transform the student experience and success rates. Our faculty has shown great interest in this as a research topic, and that will lead to the faculty leading the innovation cycle. We CIOs need to be right there with them for the journey.” Because Andriola understands the innovation cycle and can see the growing strategic role for the IT community, he knows IT must be ready to embrace the challenge of leadership. Two years ago, his office reached out to the Haas Business School at UC Berkeley to build an IT Leadership Academy focused on innovation, collaboration, and leadership. Jointly taught by Haas faculty and CIO practitioners, thirty-five students every year get a first-class professional development experience, taught by some of the brightest minds in one of the nation’s leading business schools. They’ve started referring to it as the nano-MBA because the program’s content is more about strategic thinking and behavioral modeling than anything IT. Ultimately, the academy is about preparing the university’s IT leaders to be innovation partners and create new career trajectories. “In the end, it’s all about growth. Growing crops, growing minds, growing careers—it’s all the same,” Andriola says. “Create the right culture and environment, introduce the right content and a little bit of structure, and then step back and watch it happen. Like I always say when I talk to our community, ‘If seven thousand people every day came to the university trying to innovate around the mission, think about the positive impact we could make in the lives of students, patients, faculty, and the citizens of the world.’” sync-magazine.com
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On a Wild Ride A look into the two-year race that expanded organic food company Clif Barâ€”and how Todd Wilsonâ€™s IT team accelerated the transformation By Zach Baliva
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KAREN DRINKWATER PHOTOGRAPHY
Todd Wilson Clif Bar & Company SVP, IT
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That’s how Todd Wilson describes the past two years. In January 2015, his employer, Clif Bar & Company, announced plans to build a 300,000-squarefoot bakery and packaging facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, to complement existing operations in Indianapolis. Months later, however, the company received surprising news: its copacker would be leaving the Indianapolis facility. In addition to building a totally new production space, Clif Bar had only twelve months to take over its existing plant or face devastating production shortages. Today, the dust has settled after employees at Clif Bar banded together to accomplish the unthinkable. The company that once relied fully on third-party copackers now produces more than 70 percent of its own product and is poised for continued growth. All departments contributed to the astounding success. Wilson, Clif Bar’s IT leader, led a team that worked around the clock to get both facilities up and running without delay. The IT team developed and executed a plan to install all systems for the new Twin Falls facility while simultaneously managing a full tech integration 1,700 miles away at the Indianapolis location. Both projects involved hundreds of employees, three languages, new systems, and complex networking infrastructures. IT expanded from a four-hour help desk to 24-7 service. The enterprise company tripled employee count to more than 1,200. And though 70 percent of ERP implementations fail, Clif Bar’s IT team completed two in just six months. How did they do it? Wilson broke each project into bite-sized chunks, created six core teams (two internal and four external), and used the principles of “breakthrough change” that author David Pottruck outlined. “We communicated more than usual since we were doing two major projects at once,” Wilson says. “We wanted everyone to understand the why behind what we were doing, and we wanted everyone to understand how their role had a direct impact on the overall success.” That why is big at Clif Bar. In 1992, Gary Erickson started the energy bar company, which went organic in 60 / Sync
KAREN DRINKWATER PHOTOGRAPHY
“It was like jumping onto the end of a moving freight train, making your way to the front, and quickly swapping out the engine without ever letting the train slow down.”
2003, and converted it to an employee stock ownership structure in 2010. Employee benefits include an on-site gym, free personal training, and paid life coaching. Each year, employees donate hundreds of volunteer hours to community service projects and lead grassroots initiatives around the world. The Clif Bar Family Foundation issues grants and supports projects that address environmental and food security issues. In fact, it was Clif Bar’s culture, spirit, and values that led Wilson to accept a position with the organization in 2013. Wilson had his options open. In 2006, he sold an early web-based business intelligence (BI) startup to a company later acquired by Microsoft. Wilson was consulting part-time and pursing a history degree from the University of California-Berkeley when he heard about an opening at Clif Bar—a company that had once used his BI software. Wilson jumped at the chance. “I loved the brand, and I had seen how dynamic of a workplace it is,” he says. “Clif Bar has people who believe in its mission and who want to work together to do something really special.” That’s the message Wilson communicated to motivate his team. “We needed to get the very best performance out of our team for an extended period of time,” he says. “People made sacrifices to get these projects done, and they did that for more than a paycheck. They did that for passion.” The new facilities not only improved value for Clif Bar’s employee owners, but they also brought hundreds of new jobs and the associated tax revenues to two communities. The plant will further stimulate the economy by providing additional business opportunities as local grain producers look to supply the organic ingredients needed to produce Clif Bars and Clif Kid ZBars. Wilson started implementation first at Clif Bar’s new Twin Falls facility. After breaking ground in April 2016, his teams had complex automation components, a new manufacturing ERP system, and an entire infrastructure running almost immediately. Many technologies must interact and operate flawlessly in the facility. Scanners and systems track ingredients from beginning to end as they arrive and move through receiving docks and various stations within the highly specialized, regulated, and automated building. An on-demand conveyor belt guides the bars until they reach a packaging room and go into robotic loading lines that use customizable BluePrint Automation solutions to fill various orders. The system can load different packaging configurations for more than twenty stock keeping units (SKUs). The facility started producing shippable Clif Bars by May of 2016. That ramp-up from zero to full production helped the team perfect and tweak the approach they then applied to the Indianapolis facility, which was already producing forty million Clif Bars each month. There, the IT
“People made sacrifices to get these projects done, and they did that for more than a paycheck. They did that for passion.” team migrated systems, converted an SAP operation to an ERP environment, and helped train and onboard 450 employees in English, Spanish, and Burmese. Clif Bar’s new Indianapolis bakery went live on November 8, 2016. Although completing these tasks required considerable effort and some late-night sessions, the buildings are inspiring Wilson’s team. “It’s rewarding to see your contributions come to life,” he says. The Twin Falls bakery features vaulted skylights, ample windows, Solatubes, recycled barn wood, and an outdoor events space. Green elements include hybrid cooling towers, LED lighting, a reflective roof, and an efficient cooling system. The facility uses about a third less water and a fifth less energy than other similar spaces. The site uses an innovative biophilic design that promotes well-being by uniting people with their environment through the use of indoor plants, sliding sync-magazine.com
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doors, hybrid indoor/outdoor spaces, and other purposeful elements. Instead of working in dark, sterile, and closed spaces, employees enjoy a natural setting and floor-to-ceiling glass in the break room. One workspace without exterior windows offers rotating, projected wildlife images. Just before the space opened, Wilson watched as a help desk team member and longtime Clif Bar & Company employee toured the space. “I think he teared up a bit because this never seemed possible when he joined the company, and he saw the impact we’re having together,” Wilson says. “He saw the beautiful facility that he had an important role in completing.” Founder and co-owner Gary Erikson has famously refused many lucrative offers from iconic brands that would like to acquire Clif Bar. With two new facilities in operation, the company now produces a majority of its own products and controls its future. And, after a busy two years, Wilson is focused on restoring Clif Bar’s commitment to its people. In 2017, he’ll encourage employees to use their vacation time and other benefits and reemphasize the importance of a healthy work-life balance. At the same time, he’s dedicated to helping Clif Bar operate at high efficiency and get to a steady state with its two new facilities. While tackling two massive projects at the same time is not for the faint of heart, Wilson says anything is possible. “We performed well because we had a clear vision, supportive executives, and talented employees who knew they were a part of something bigger,” he says. “We had passion.” And at Clif Bar & Company, that’s a recipe for success. Denovo is the mid-market leader in providing enterprise application and cloud services. We are committed to listening to your needs, innovating for you, and delivering positive business outcomes. Our focus is on providing a quality customer experience, so we take the time to develop relationships with you to best understand your business needs. With over 2,400 successful Oracle projects, we are the trusted partner for any implementation, upgrade, or managed services engagement.
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Dyna mics of Culture Dynacare CIO Daniela Crivianu-Gaita helps the health solutions organization deliver the best work to their clients by mentoring and leading a strong technology team By Russ Klettke
The life and career of Daniela Crivianu-Gaita—from growing up in Romania to attending grad school in Canada to becoming the CIO of a major Canadian healthcare company—is improbable in many regards. So, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that she is challenging her staff and her business partners to approach their tasks with a creative eye. Dynacare began as a laboratory company, but now it markets itself broadly as a health solutions enterprise. In addition to providing traditional laboratory testing, Dynacare offers genetic testing (Dynacare Next), employee health and safety testing and services (Dynacare Workplace), health risk assessments (Dynacare Insurance), and direct-to-consumer services (Dynacare Plus). That’s a large service offering, and one that requires bestin-class technological services and equipment. Add to that the physical nature of Dynacare’s business, much of it involving time-sensitive biological samples and mandatory on-site visits by patients, and it’s easy to see the challenges of stringing together hundreds of locations and thousands of employees.
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Daniela CrivianuGaita Dynacare CIO
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Crivianu-Gaita’s purview therefore involves a widely distributed network that means she’s often physically separated from her staff, internal clients, external clients, and the patients themselves. IT is not just a solution, but the lifeblood of the organization. “Our focus is on keeping people healthy,” she explains, underscoring how the geographic distance doesn’t remove Crivianu-Gaita and her IT team from their ultimate mission. She professes a strong belief in the company’s mission and values: compassionate care, ingenuity, accountability, cooperative work, and customer focus. She also visits sites to meet patients and technicians with some regularity. But to deliver those beliefs requires innovation. Because she oversees an IT staff of eighty-five individuals, she has to create a truly innovative culture to serve the company’s broad objectives. “Our technologies and services have to enable all these clients,” she says, explaining how, in many situations, data from one line of business is used to deliver services in another area. “This includes servicing a very diverse group: hospitals, nursing homes, governments and their agencies, private insurers, and of course, individuals.” Indeed, the complexity of these many services and many stakeholders means Crivianu-Gaita must run a high-performing IT organization to satisfy the dynamics and technological needs of all clients. An innovative culture is essential, she says. “To find ideas, we sometimes look outside our industry,” Crivianu-Gaita explains. For example, Dynacare was inspired by a hair salon app to devise a unique queueing solution for patients. The app, known as Dynacare Net Check In, was tested in 2015 in Saskatchewan and is now rolling out across Ontario, where Dynacare has more than one hundred locations. “Clients need to find a testing laboratory, and they don’t want to wait in line,” she says. “We wanted to give them choices for patient services centers and for them to know what the wait times were in real time at those different locations. It turned out a hair salon chain had an app that did something similar. It wasn’t 100 percent of what we were looking for, but it was a start. Now at the press of a button, you can find a location and put yourself in the queue.” Servicing 2,700 employees across Canada, the IT team provides employees a portal where they can find all the needed information. But in a gesture to pull those employees out of an exclusively digital relationship with their peers, the portal includes photos and videos. “This helps them to get to know each other better,” she says. She took that idea a step further with a platform that promotes collaborative innovation. In 2016, Dynacare launched a program called Soapbox as a means for employees to post ideas for improvement. The software functions somewhat like a wiki; it allows participants
to comment on, tweak, pose specific challenges to, and eventually vote on those ideas. “It makes every employee an innovative partner,” she says. “Everyone at every level can participate. For example, we had one strong proposal on how to reduce use of paper. Other proposals include how we can be socially responsible and how to cut a particular ten-step process down to seven steps.” Crivianu-Gaita had heard about Soapbox—which was developed by students—and proposed it to the company president and CEO, Naseem Somani. “She said, ‘This is it, this is what we need,’” Crivianu-Gaita says. From there, resources were allocated for its development and rollout. Good ideas are good ideas. The fact that those ideas can come from other industries, from student innovators, or from any level of the company is a part of the culture at Dynacare. Crivianu-Gaita also notes that at Dynacare, good ideas are given credence no matter the gender of the person offering them. For example, she describes semiformal mentor relationships she’s had with both men and women. “If there is to be true fairness in the world, it should involve both genders,” she says. “Sure, men and women might think differently, but 95 percent of requests for help and guidance are the same.” In this semiformal approach, she likes her mentees to draft a plan that includes specific outcomes over the next six to twelve months. She says it’s a good technique for staying focused. Crivianu-Gaita has found the desire to be focused— to be a contributor to the organization—is consistent among her IT staff. “It’s sometimes difficult for them to see how the mission is theirs,” she observes. “I talk to them to explain that everyone has a role to play. That’s extremely important. They want to be recognized for their work, to be seen for having gone beyond the call of duty. They want responsibilities, to progress to more senior roles, or sometimes just to make horizontal moves.” That seems entirely possible when they have a leader who crossed an ocean to thrive in an industry more typically run by men—and to supervise with such open-mindedness that her staff is delighted to engage in innovative projects.
At PilotFish, systems integration has been our only focus for over fifteen years. Our architecture and visual and code-free integration tools are redefining how integration gets done and by whom. In the healthcare ecosystem, Applied PilotFish Healthcare Integration provides middleware integration engine solutions to leading companies. As Dynacare’s technology partner, we are pleased to honor the accomplishments of CIO, Daniela Crivianu-Gaita. Through Daniela’s no-nonsense executive leadership, can-do approach, and the close collaboration of our teams, we have forged a strong and enduring partnership. Dynacare excels in the accurate and timely delivery of test results and other health-related services. The implementation of PilotFish integration solutions across the Dynacare enterprise simplified and facilitated all internal integration efforts, leveraging the talents of both agile technical and non-technical teams. Our mutual commitment is to lead in technology and service. To that end, PilotFish leads in integration solutions for healthcare’s ever-expanding interoperability and innovation needs.
Power Change Randy Senn has been with SCANA Corporation for more than thirty-nine years. As the new senior vice president of administration for the electric and gas power company, he’s bringing a new, broader perspective to technology. By Urmila Ramakrishnan
Besides working at his father’s gas station in high school, Randy Senn has only worked at one company his entire career: SCANA Corporation. It’s something that’s unique in today’s day and age, and Senn is proud of that. He came to SCANA as a student assistant in his senior year of college and took a full-time position there right after graduating. Since then, he has had twelve different roles within the company, ranging from programmer to CIO. Back in late November, Senn added senior vice president of administration to his roster of titles, and he’s using his technology and business acumen to positively steer the company in its latest endeavors. Over the thirty-nine years that Senn has been at SCANA, technology has changed drastically. From evolution in customer areas into more web-based applications to huge strides in cybersecurity and compliance, Senn has been a part of a positive change from a business and IT perspective. One of his first milestones at the power company was implementing a new general ledger system as a project manager. Today, the accounting systems Sync / 67
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and processes he and his team put in place are what the company use. Senn also managed SCANA’s Y2K project and the project to merge two IT groups when SCANA acquired PSNC Gas. That latter opportunity allowed him to blend the cultures of the two companies to develop relationships and expertise. One of Senn’s biggest accomplishments has been addressing a challenge that the utility industry has faced in recent years. IT groups have historically had very little involvement in managing the company’s operational technologies. However, the convergence of operational technology and information technology has increasingly made that a priority, primarily because of cybersecurity and compliance requirements. Over the past several years, Senn is proud of the collaboration and cooperative endeavors that have evolved between the company’s IT areas and its operations groups. He intends to bring that same leadership style with him in his new role. Senn’s IT group is currently working to meet compliance regulations for two new nuclear plants that the company is building. “Meeting cybersecurity requirements will be critical to that project,” Senn says. The plants being built today will be the first nuclear plants in the United States to run entirely on digital technology, and SCANA will have to meet cybersecurity requirements that differ from the requirements for the company’s existing nuclear plant. In addition, there are two significant systems SCANA has to have in place for the new plants. One is a new work management system, and the other is a configuration management system. That’s on top of 10–15 smaller projects that are moving in parallel, all of which will also have to be in place before THE POWER OF GIVING construction is completed. While ensuring the well-being of Cybersecurity is SCANA’s SCANA Corporation is essential top consideration. Like other for Randy Senn, the senior vice president of administration spends utilities, the organization has his time away from work looking several efforts in process to after the well-being of others. In his improve its cybersecurity posfree time, Senn has served as the chairman of the board for Special ture. The company’s also workOlympics South Carolina and serves ing on enhancing its customer on nonprofit boards including Sexual information systems. Recently, Trauma Services of the Midlands, Fast Forward, the South Carolina SCANA completed a modernGovernor’s School for Science and ization project that focused on Math Foundation Board, and the providing the right informaGovernor’s School for Science and Math Board of Trustees. tion to call center representatives based on the customer issue they were trying to solve. Issue 011
SCANA is also in the middle of a project to replatform that system from a mainframe to a midtier platform. The project is expected to be completed in 2017, and it is expected to save more than $7 million annually. It’s been a major initiative to move as many customer requests as possible to the web and web-based applications. “It’s the way many of our customers want to do business with us, so we’ve got to meet those expectations,” Senn says. Senn and his team have put a lot of time and energy into conducting company-wide cybersecurity drills. His group recently conducted a drill to determine how company employees would react to a cyberincident that resulted in an electric grid blackout. The two-day drill was a significant investment in resources for the company, but it was a great learning opportunity. For Senn, it’s not about adding up his personal accomplishments or finding the next rung of the ladder to climb. “In my role as CIO, I have tried to not focus so much on just technology, but instead I have tried to focus on being an agent for change at the company,” Senn says. “For example, many of the recruiting practices and the use of interns and students in IT have served to pave the way for establishing similar practices throughout the company.” sync-magazine.com
Randy Senn SCANA Corporation SVP of Administration
From a technology perspective, there are three areas of focus for the future. One area is developing strategies to leverage cloud resources. Another is establishing the methodology and processes for developing internal and external mobile applications. The third is leveraging advanced data analytics to solve business problems. Senn sees his first six months as senior vice president as a learning opportunity. He has to understand how his new areas of responsibility operate today and what challenges they face. He’s confident that his CIO successor will continue the strategies he began. “One thing I reminded our IT group while I was CIO was that our mission is not specifically to be a world-class IT department,” Senn says. “Our mission is to be a world-class partner with our business areas. We have to be a great provider of the services that our business areas need. I want to make sure that’s the same approach we have in all the administrative areas. Our sole reason for being is to support the business areas of the company.” Congratulations to Randy Senn on his successful thirty-seven-year tenure with SCANA. HPT, Inc. is proud to be a trusted partner and an extension of this IT team. We value our partnership and continue to focus on increasing efficiencies while optimizing performance and data availability of SCANA’s IT assets.
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All the Right Measurements When Nick Grecco became CIO, First Advantage’s IT department lacked fundamental, reliable metrics. New tools and a new culture have changed that. By Jeff Silver
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First Advantage Corporation provides more than twenty-three million international background screens annually to more than forty-five thousand organizations and has grown extensively over the past several years. Nick Grecco joined the company as CIO in the spring of 2015, as the IT department was struggling to keep pace due to a high level of M&A activity, the ongoing integration of three companies, and increasing customer demand. The IT department faced three challenges. The first was basic operational metrics, such as call volumes, capacity management, system availability, and lacking details on technology assets. Discrepancies existed on some reported statistics that didn’t reflect the customer experience, such as uptime and turnaround times. Documentation was also incomplete and unreliable. “We were measuring all the wrong things,” Grecco says. “Our tracking reports weren’t accurate and the capacity metrics were focused on inappropriate KPIs, like free disc space and CPU and bandwidth utilization. Without appropriate, customer-facing metrics, we couldn’t make meaningful improvements.” He also focused on the importance of addressing documentation procedures, which included instituting peer review. “Documentation is crucial to a smooth IT operation,” he says. “It’s a lengthy process, but requiring it up front is still much more efficient than cleaning up the mess after a problem is discovered.” Issue 011
Second, the M&A activity resulted in lost institutional knowledge, staff confusion, and a lack of experienced lT leadership. In fact, many managers had risen through the ranks based on technical expertise, not leadership ability. Grecco also discovered a lack of coaching, mentoring, and strategic planning, which created an environment where every situation became an emergency that superseded structure, procedure, and other company demands. This was compounded by the IT team not having appropriate decision-making resources. Lastly, relationships with internal business partners were suffering. When Grecco first touched base with other departments to assess their IT experiences, responses ranged from “I don’t care” and “IT handles whatever we need” to “We’re doing it all ourselves because you guys don’t know what you’re doing.” To address these issues, he developed a multipronged approach that clarified business demands and customer needs, and matched IT’s organizational design and performance structure to meet them. From there, he worked with peers to prioritize business outcomes and set realistic expectations. What he describes as “empty promises” were replaced with solid processes and firm due dates. Next, Grecco replaced the existing management with highly experienced colleagues with whom he had prior work experience at several Fortune 500 companies. They not only brought years of leadership and proven managerial track records, but also “gut-level technical instincts,” he says. This was critical in an environment, where quick decisions had to be made with incomplete data. The new management team leveraged their expertise and operational muscle memory to develop viable, fast-action plans and backup contingencies. “When you’re trying to move quickly without legacy knowledge, you know there are going to be mistakes,” Grecco says. “But to move forward, making some decision is better than making none.” The new team developed plans based on their collective experience, along with an appropriate risk mitigation strategy. This approach paid off, and several difficult milestones and aggressive time lines were achieved with little to no impact on the customer experience. To help build peer relationships and better understand their concerns, Grecco added regularly scheduled communications with internal business partners. This included having some difficult conversations, such as the ones around the migration to a new data center, a process that was scheduled for completion in only two sync-magazine.com
“We succeeded by delivering not only within the timeframe and the budget, but also by convincing our internal clients that sometimes you have to take two steps back to go three steps forward.”
Nick Grecco First Advantage CIO
months. In response to the unrealistic time frame, he pointed out how risky it was to the customer experience and outlined a compromise. His seven-month plan allowed for extra quality assurance, clear documentation development, time slippage, and customer testing. “We succeeded by delivering not only within the time frame and the budget, but also by convincing our internal clients that sometimes you have to take two steps back to go three steps forward,” Grecco explains. To improve the overall IT culture, Grecco launched an initiative that drew heavily from David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around. Using the principles outlined in the book, Grecco empowered his IT staff, dramatically increased their engagement, and he was also able to point out needed improvements. Grecco instituted short conversations early in the process that included “skip-level” meetings, which allow lower level staff to give direct feedback to upper level managers—without allowing supervisors’ input, he’s quick to point out. This scenario allows staff to cross traditional boundaries. For example, a software expert might have knowledge about a network specialist’s approach to a problem. The approach has resulted in fresh perspectives, innovative solutions, and increased collaboration. To help ensure First Advantage’s future success, Grecco maintains a flexible strategy to streamline and support changes in business partners’ desired outcomes as they work collaboratively to meet customer demands. He doesn’t offer predictions, but he is certain that in three years, they will constantly be evolving and moving toward ongoing improvements. “We’ll always be testing our assumptions and solutions, building consensus, and continuing to work more collaboratively with our business partners to better serve our customers, ” he says. Sync / 71
Success With a People Approach After extensive growth and acquisitions, Linium helps bring First Advantage Corp. teams together to deliver end-to-end service By Jeff Silver
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Although Linium is known primarily for implementing technology, it is also highly qualified and experienced in consulting on people management and processes through targeted transformations. Its people-centered approach made it a perfect fit for background check provider First Advantage Corp., which sought to address challenges associated with multiple acquisitions and rapid expansion over a period of about three years. Linium dedicated a team of fourâ€”led by Ewan Gibson, director of enterprise readinessâ€”to First Advantage. The team held initial discussions with First Advantage CEO Mark Parise, head of human resources Michael Pilnick, and CIO Nick Grecco, who identified cultural issues among the senior leadership team as priority areas to address. To some degree, this was no surprise, considering the company was still in the proIssue 011
cess of integrating teams from India and Atlanta, which had very different internal practices and businesses that were very isolated from each other. Atlanta was focused primarily on sales, while the Indian entities focused on operations. There were also issues that resulted from ongoing personnel adjustments and pressures due to restructuring. The Linium team followed up with surveys and indepth interviews with other members of the senior leadership team. These conversations revealed an extensive lack of trust among the group. That lack of trust resulted in inadequate transparency, conflict, and limited collaboration between business units. On a day-to-day basis, Gibson characterized these symptoms as individuals keeping their heads down, working hard to put out fires, and often failing to see the bigger picture. There was a focus on disparate functional activities rather than prioritizing end-to-end service or achieving the desired business outcomes. This was an unusual situation for Gibson. “I had never worked with an organization going through quite as much change as fast as First Advantage was at all levels,” he notes. “The positive thing, though, was there was no sense of denial. Nearly everyone we spoke to agreed that there were problems and was eager to get them resolved. And that, as they say, is half the battle.” The next step was to hold a series of experiential workshops in the United States and India—three-day sessions for senior leadership and two-day programs for international managers and leaders. The workshops simulated a fast-paced, high-pressure business environment. These workshops let participants experience how addressing the challenges would directly lead to improved business outcomes. “This is a very holistic approach that focuses on behavior, technology, processes, and systems to deliver targeted results,” Gibson says. “It is designed to bring up familiar challenges in recognizable scenarios and to require the group to work together to address them successfully in a safe learning environment.” Gibson provided teams with problems to solve through reflection and constructive dialogue in a framework of continuous improvement. He required the teams to reach decisions by consensus and to work together to deliver end-to-end service. These activities helped to break down existing boundaries and develop trust and new relationships among participants, many of whom were meeting face-to-face for the first time. The problem-solving scenario also provided a forum for the company to highlight First Advantage’s core values, such as transparency, focusing on results, innovative thinking, acting as change agents, and accountability. Nick Grecco looks back on the experience as being very engaging and rewarding. “The workshop presented scenarios with behaviors and outcomes we were dealing with on a daily basis and could easily relate to,” he says. “That made the process eye-opening and fun, which ultimately led to practical benefits and solutions.” Gibson indicates that the First Advantage teams themselves were responsible for the positive results. sync-magazine.com
“The workshop presented scenarios with behaviors and outcomes we were dealing with on a daily basis and could easily relate to. That made the process eye-opening and fun, which ultimately led to practical benefits and solutions.” —Nick Grecco, First Advantage CIO
“We take a comprehensive business perspective that accounts for the ‘human factor,’ something that is often overlooked. It’s how we’re able to develop people-centered, holistic solutions that deliver real-world business outcomes.” —Ewan Gibson, Linium director of enterprise readiness “I was very impressed by the degree of positivity and enthusiasm throughout all the workshops,” he says. “Everyone was able to quickly recognize the benefits of communicating and cooperating effectively and the satisfaction of focusing on problems and coming up with solutions—all things they can now put into practice to achieve greater success.” Since the workshops, First Advantage has developed a clear consensus on its business objectives and developed a revised set of core values and specific plans to help reach them. It continues to address the underlying issues, and it has even achieved results. A regularly conducted survey indicates that company morale has improved by 50 percent. “When a team comes together with common values and goals, you get more comfortable working together and even feel closer with each other,” Grecco says. While First Advantage keeps working toward its goals, Gibson indicates that part of Linium’s own success is rooted in the fact it goes beyond focusing exclusively on technology, processes, or people. “We take a comprehensive business perspective that accounts for the human factor—something that is often overlooked,” he says. “It’s how we’re able to develop people-centered, holistic solutions that deliver realworld business outcomes.” Sync / 73
From Kodak Andrea Campbell is slowly turning upstate New York’s Keuka College into a forerunner in the integration of technology and education By Randall Colburn
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Like her great-grandfather before her, Andrea Campbell builds things. But where his trade called for brick and mortar, her trade relies on optical fiber. As the chief information officer of upstate New York’s Keuka College, Campbell has spent the past three years building a brand new digital infrastructure from the ground up. That means a new data center, new storage, a backup recovery system, and loads more. Now, the college is well on its way to becoming a forerunner in its integration of technology and education. Education was never Campbell’s passion, however. Surprisingly, technology wasn’t, either, though she certainly had a knack for it. Campbell recalls accidentally reformatting the hard drive of her IBM 286 as a child, then rebuilding it all on her own. “It was intuitive to me,” she says. “My dad opened my eyes up to it. He allowed me to kind of play and really explore technology in its early phases.” When she was young, Campbell dreamed of being a lawyer. Luckily, when she discovered that her law school classes were “as dry as toast,” she had something on which to fall back. Her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all worked for technology juggernaut Kodak, and the company reserved internships for the offspring of its employees. After a brief secretarial Issue 011
Andrea Campbell Keuka College CIO
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Keuka College CIO Andrea Campbell wants to engage students through a technological revolution on campus.
as the ability to maneuver and navigate through the political environment. Saying it felt like a sinking ship, Campbell left Kodak in 2008 after being recruited by the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. The transition was a scary moment in her career. At the point of moving over to the University of Rochester, Campbell was switching from a corporate environment to higher education, not to mention raising a child as a single mother. However, she found higher education appealing. Campbell liked the better work-life balance. She also enjoyed that it was a mission-driven industry rather than a profit-driven one. “You can be a lot more creative, and you can see the difference in your creativity,” she says. “In the corporate area, you’re in the basement and they throw scraps of food to you every once in a while, but you never see the end product of what you’re working on. In higher education, you really do see that. You’re there to make these students’ lives better and to make their educational experience a positive and meaningful one.” Issue 011
stint, Campbell moved into Kodak’s IT department. “The passion for law wasn’t there anymore,” she says. “At the same time, technology was easy for me and enjoyable, so what started as a job ended up morphing into a career. It just organically happened.” At twenty-six years old and after just two years of full-time employment with Kodak, Campbell was made the manager of the desktop support team. There, she combined her technological know-how with her legal expertise. She was actively involved in contract writing and negotiations—across just about every infrastructure group. She credits her mentors for her swift ascent, specifically a young, single mother who helped her navigate the politics involved with being a female leader in a male-dominated environment. “My knowledge was always challenged,” she says. “That was really an important lesson, that it doesn’t matter what skills I bring to the table. The reality is they see me as this young female—‘And what can she provide?’” Campbell says it was hard at first, but those years taught her perseverance, drive, and motivation, as well
“Technology is a strategic partner now. It’s not just an operational unit.” But Campbell still felt like something was missing, though she didn’t realize what it was until she was invited to interview for a position with Keuka College. She found that she wanted to make a bigger difference. At the University of Rochester, she was just moving things along and doing tasks that she already knew. There, she was given the strategy, but at Keuka College, she was able to build and drive a new strategy. First, she had to rebuild the college’s entire digital infrastructure. In doing this, she sought to leverage all network capabilities, wireless and cloud computing, and bring-your-own-device capabilities to enhance the curriculum. For a long time, Keuka has been known for its experiential, hands-on approach, and Campbell believes technology can help elevate that reputation. She’s excited by the possibilities of augmented and virtual reality, as well as the capacity for 3-D printers, to provide immersive, tactile learning experiences to students. For Campbell, the digital age calls on technologists to be a bigger, more integral part of higher education. “Our job as technologists is to help people understand the latest and greatest tools out there and then collaborate on how they can best be integrated into the curriculum,” she says. On that note, Campbell says Keuka doesn’t want traditional computer labs. Rather, the goal is to have students be able to bring in any device, regardless of the brand, and learn in an open environment. That way, students are helping to teach, and they are a part of the learning cycle instead of just passively watching a teacher give a lecture. Throughout higher education, organizations are trying to reduce their reliance on the traditional lecture style, and technology leaders are being tapped to create innovative alternatives.
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On a Tom Tanase keeps Bowlmor AMF moving forward by innovating and attracting top IT talent to the worldâ€™s largest bowling center owner and operator By Chris Gigley
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BRIGITTE TODD TINGLEY
Tom Tanase is the CIO for an incredibly innovative and driven company, and that company’s business just happens to be bowling. Bowlmor AMF, based in Richmond, Virginia, operates 309 bowling centers across the country. Tanase’s challenge as CIO is convincing IT talent that Bowlmor AMF is every bit as fast-paced and innovative as any tech company. “Applicants see we’re a bowling company and not Google or Facebook and wonder what there will be to do here,” Tanase says. “They think, ‘Where’s the incentive?’ It’s actually quite exciting, but we have to get them here to see it.” The “here” is another challenge. Richmond is a growing city, but it’s not New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, where the talent pool for IT runs deep. Other major companies in town vie for the same talent that Tanase seeks. Tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. is based there, for instance. So is Capital One. And Amazon has two fulfillment centers in the area. A dated perception of the company can be another hurdle that Tanase must overcome. When Bowlmor acquired AMF Bowling Worldwide Inc. on July 1, 2013, AMF was in bankruptcy. Bowlmor was the smaller of the two companies, with just six successful venues at the time. Applicants recognize the AMF brand, and they tend to ask questions. “IT people are risk averse when it comes to corporate instability,” Tanase explains. “We turned the company profitable in less than a year, and we’re on a 20 percent growth rate now. Still, there’s that stigma of a company that once struggled, and it’s something that I have to overcome.” Finally, there’s the work itself, which can seem intimidating to someone used to specializing within IT. “We run a small shop here, considering the size; we are the largest bowling company in the world,” Tanase says. He has about seventy employees in his department to handle technology for more than three hundred bowling centers across the country. “The talent I need has to have a willingness to be more cross-functional than they would be in a normal IT department,” Tanase explains. “I need everyone to reach out across the company and be able to do more than one function.” sync-magazine.com
CUTTING EDGE ON THE LANES
Tom Tanase Bowlmor AMF CIO
While Tom Tanase and Bowlmor AMF produce a very innovative workplace for employees, the world’s largest bowling center owner and operator is also innovating in the experience for bowlers of all ages. According to reports, the organization has invested millions in advertising and bowling center upgrades in the past three years to showcase the fun of the sport to families, millennials, and league bowlers alike. Bowlmor AMF encompasses four distinct brands: Bowlmor Lanes, a modern, upscale offering that appeals to those in the mood for a gourmet meal and signature cocktails along with ten frames; Bowlero, a selfappointed “hipster-inspired hangout” complete with blacklights, arcade games, and plenty of nostalgia; and Brunswick Zone & AMF, classic bowling centers ready for family visits, birthday parties, and league-play. Across these brands, Bowlmor AMF continues to open new bowling centers and bring the existing ones up to date. That dedication to pleasing customers is key to the 1.8 million league bowlers, and the sixty-nine million people who bowl at least one game a year. As the company continues to diversify its approach and reinvent the bowling center, Bowlmor AMF is eager to see those numbers rise.
Explaining that on the phone or presenting it on paper is the challenge. “When we get them here to show them the atmosphere and how we work together, it becomes a real selling point that they’re not going to be stuck doing just one thing,” Tanase says. “They’ll be involved in opening new centers, figuring out new technology, helping the database department figure out how to run reports quicker, and much more.” Tanase has stabilized the department since he took over as CIO about two years ago. He says he can count on one hand the number of people who’ve left the IT department, and some of them have since returned. A big reason is that he supports their thirst for new knowledge. “We just opened our data center for three or four days to get trained on it,” Tanase says. “Training is a really strong selling point to keep employees happy. Sync / 79
“The talent I need has to have a willingness to be more cross-functional than they would in a normal IT department.”
They like the fact that they’re always learning something new.” Tanase’s team needs to be on the cutting edge because Bowlmor CEO Tom Shannon is constantly pushing his employees to innovate the very concept of a bowling center. “The innovation of the business forces innovation at the IT level,” Tanase says. “We have to figure out what they want us to do, whether it’s how to automate sales reports because they want more customer information or how to create a new system for online booking. We go down paths we’ve never been.” Those paths often lead to greater customer convenience and deeper customer data. The aforementioned online booking system provides both, combining the consumer booking portal on the front end with a CRM system on the back end. “We ripped out two old systems that don’t talk to each other and replaced them with one that does,” Tanase says. “I also have half my development team working with marketing on a customer loyalty program, which is a huge initiative for the company.” Meanwhile, Bowlmor is testing out new selfordering kiosks in more than a dozen centers that allow customers to order food and drinks and pay their bill from tablet-equipped lanes. Tanase says the company is looking to have self-ordering kiosks installed in one hundred bowling centers by the end of 2017. “We have entire restaurant/bars with more than one thousand different products available,” Tanase says. “We had to figure out how to make it feasible. We put it together, and they’re out there right now. We blazed a new path in the hospitality field.” It’s exciting work for any IT worker. They just have to see it to believe it. At Presidio, we think, architect, implement, and support the practical reality of IT everyday. We take the time to deeply understand how your business works and we architect transparent, enduring technology solutions that meet your immediate needs and prepare you for tomorrow. We are not just trusted partners, we enable new thinking. www.presidio.com
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University of Hawaii CIO Garret Yoshimi on maximizing organizational value and the future of STEM in the Aloha State by Zach Baliva
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Garret Yoshimi has more lines on his résumé than most IT professionals. “I guess I took a nontraditional approach,” Yoshimi says of his many jobs. “But I’ve made that an asset I can leverage in many ways.” After starting his career as an applications developer and working in numerous public and private entities of all sizes, Yoshimi is now the University of Hawaii’s CIO. The role—combined with his unique experience—gives Yoshimi an unusual perspective on the talent pipeline and what aspiring tech leaders can do to prepare in today’s rapidly changing environment. Yoshimi says that tech leadership is in his blood. He was born and raised in Hawaii and watched as his father worked as an engineer and technician for a large local company. After tinkering with any electronic components he could find, Yoshimi noticed his natural talent and looked to go to college to study electrical engineering. Looking for a strong engineering program at a reasonable cost in the 1970s, he selected electrical engineering at Indiana’s Purdue University over CalTech and MIT. Issue 011
Purdue had formed a partnership with Bell Labs, and soon, Yoshimi found himself working on complex systems with an emphasis on computer software. Upon graduation, he landed a job as a software developer and has never looked back. “I’ve had the luxury to make frequent moves to keep my work fun and challenging,” he says. “I’m not the type of person who can just sit and earn a paycheck. I have to be learning and growing, or I’ll die.” Between 1989 and 2002, Yoshimi had five different employers. He integrated systems for a telecom company, was the first CIO of Hawaii’s statewide court system, led tech infrastructure for a research center at the University of Hawaii, and transformed service delivery for a private IT firm. He then held various roles at the university before he took another leadership role in the private sector in 2009. In 2014, Yoshimi received news of an unexpected opportunity. His former boss became the university’s president and was looking for someone to lead information technology services (ITS) at the University of Hawaii. Yoshimi agreed to return to the public sector once again. Today, Yoshimi and ITS are in the midst of executing a strategic plan designed to help transform the university by 2020. The strategic plan, titled, “Looking Forward to 2020 and Beyond,” is fully aligned with the University of Hawaii’s strategic directions as approved by its board of regents in January 2015. Yoshimi is working to increase connectivity across the system’s ten campuses and to gather and analyze data to enable decision making, replace and upgrade legacy systems, provide fast and robust support, and automate self-service systems. To do so, he’s drawing upon much of his previous experience. “I’ve touched many industries, roles, and sectors,” he says. “That prepared me really well for the challenges you face in public education. I’ve been on all sides of the relationship, and I understand all of what my current team has to support.” Yoshimi’s team is responsible for network and systems infrastructure, student information systems, financial management systems, human resources, and all other tech areas for a network of institutions scattered across four islands. Each of the university’s ten campuses has one or more smaller IT teams that provide localized support. There’s plenty of work to go around, and several positive aspects attract qualified applicants sync-magazine.com
YOSHIMI’S STEPS FOR SUCCESS For those aspiring to leadership, Yoshimi has one simple bit of advice: “Work only on what’s most important.” Over his long and distinguished career, Yoshimi has developed a formula for success, and it’s taking the University of Hawaii into the future. Here are his simple steps to take for success: • Ask questions and listen. • Figure out what makes your organization tick. • Create an aligned tech strategy that enables overall business goals. • Maximize value by executing that strategy. • Identify talent, and give each person meaningful work. • Repeat.
who enjoy working on open-source teams at one of the state’s top IT employers—and one that runs networks and services that rival any large telecom company. Despite the key differentiators, Yoshimi faces constant challenges around talent and resources. All university leaders must demonstrate and prove clear financial requirements while relying on limited state budgets. Additionally, changing talent requirements often outpace changes to university curricula. Yoshimi overcomes challenges inherent to public education by running a lean operation and promoting a positive culture. “We do meaningful and important work here,” he says. “It’s a collaborative, rewarding atmosphere in which aspiring leaders can find the training and networking they desire.” Since his return to public education in 2015, Yoshimi has been building on the work of his predecessor by networking with other CIOs and area tech leaders. And while he executes the internal plan, Yoshimi also has Sync / 83
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UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT LARGE The University of Hawaii (UH), founded in 1907, is composed of three universities and seven community colleges, as well as additional communitybased learning centers. 1. Mānoa UH Mānoa, the first and largest campus, ranks among the major research universities in the United States and leads the nation in minority students earning graduate degrees. Top-twenty-five programs range from environmental law to Eastern philosophy to international business. 2. Hilo UH Hilo is among the nation’s top ten in affordability and ethnic diversity. It boasts a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The first master’s degree in an indigenous language was developed at UH Hilo and is still the only one offered in the United States. 3. West O‘ahu More than 2,500 UH students study at the West O‘ahu campus, which offers six degree programs in more than thirty academic concentrations. UH West O‘ahu expanded its distance learning capabilities to make it easier for students to complete their degrees. 4. Hawai‘i Hawai‘i Community College focuses on hands-on programs such as mechanics, electronics, and business technology. In 2015, the sustainably designed Pālamanui branch campus opened in Kona. 5. Honolulu Honolulu Community College serves the Pacific region as the primary technical training center in areas such as transportation, industrial and engineering technology, information technology, public and human services, and communications. 6. Kapi‘olani Situated on Diamond Head Crater, Kapi‘olani Community College hosts the nationally recognized Culinary Institute of the Pacific, as well as programs in health sciences, emergency medical services, and STEM. 7. Kaua‘i More than 1,400 undergraduates study at Kaua‘i Community College, which combines its variety of professional training programs and liberal arts programs to create innovative community partnerships. 8. Leeward Overlooking historic Pearl Harbor, Leeward Community College provides some of the best hands-on STEM training and Hawaiian studies programs in the state. The college’s fine and performing arts serve as a showcase for outstanding talents. 9. Maui Maui College offers its degree and certificate programs across the islands of Maui, Moloka‘I, and Lāna‘i. The culinary arts program and the Maui Language Institute are two of the outstanding offerings at Maui College that directly benefit the community. 10. Windward Windward Community College provides education in areas that range from visual arts to veterinary technology to marine and aerospace science. At Windward’s Hawai‘i Music Institute, students learn directly from industry professionals.
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external goals. “ITS is playing a bigger and bigger role in meeting the university’s objectives, and our IT organization is one of the largest in the state,” he says. “We have the opportunity and the responsibility to step into IT leadership in our region.” He meets regularly with his counterparts in public and private organizations to discuss challenges and opportunities. Each leader recognizes the need for an adequate and robust candidate pipeline to fill the jobs in the IT sector and in other STEM fields throughout the state. As a university CIO, Yoshimi is in the unique position to influence the process as both employer and educator. When he’s not meeting with industry leaders, he’s talking to deans, professors, chancellors, and others responsible for developing curriculum. When possible, he connects one side to the other, facilitating conversations between educators and employers. Yoshimi says his fellow CIOs have identified the hard and soft skills they need educators to develop in students. Now, he’s working to create the mentoring programs, internships, and project-based curriculums that will produce better candidates. Internally, he encourages those on his teams to engage and collaborate more than in the past. “Many in our community are Issue 010
Garret Yoshimi University of Hawaii CIO
“We do meaningful and important work here. It’s a collaborative, rewarding atmosphere in which aspiring leaders can find the training and networking they desire.” introverts, but today’s connected work requires more collaboration and more partnership,” Yoshimi says. “We have to make connections with others to add real value.” He constantly preaches the importance of connecting all ITS activities back to the university’s strategic objectives. A public-facing website and an internal portal demonstrate those connections. As ITS at the University of Hawaii executes on its 2020 plan, Yoshimi is focused on succession planning. “Leadership in IT doesn’t blossom overnight,” he says. “We have to do the hard work now that will take us well into the future.” sync-magazine.com
Unisys facilitates digital government transformation, modernizes existing applications to realize maximum value and protects clients against 325 million security events each day. • Winner of the 2015 American Technology Cyber Award • Winner of the 2015 Frost and Sullivan New Product Innovation Award
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Dean Haacker The PrivateBank CTO
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Navigating When Dean Haacker considers the technological advances of the day—digital personal assistants, cars that drive themselves, biometrics, the inexorable push toward an era of technological singularity where the intelligence of machines will surpass that of humans—he is taken back to his teenage years, when the only computer in the entire school was a lone Commodore PC in the library. That boxy thing didn’t have many more brains than a scientific calculator, but Haacker somehow knew that the primitive PC held the key to the future— not just that of the greater world, but his own. “My imagination was captured by what seemed possible with this new machine,” he says. At home, Haacker spent hours playing Atari and sports-strategy games that were linked to probability matrices. In school, he learned BASIC programming and developed a program for people in the school that recommended dating partners. “It was all for fun, but one thing I learned is that people didn’t always answer questions truthfully, which made the results unpredictable,” he says. “I guess that trend continues with social media today.” What was predictable at that point was that Haacker was going to ride technology and find out where it could take him. Even before graduating from high school, he saw tech as a path toward a corporate executive position that would allow him to see the world. He went on to major in computer information systems at Arizona State University and graduated summa cum laude. Being at the top of his class helped him land a job with the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California, in 1983. There, he got to work side by side with some of the best engineers in the world. As a software engineer building global sales and marketing systems, he worked with colleagues in Europe and Asia and traveled on the corporate jet. It was all as he had imagined. The company practiced a beneficence that was groundbreaking at the time, forsaking the hire-and-fire practice that many companies employed to ride up and
Disruptions Over a long career, technology officer Dean Haacker has surfed the waves of change By David Baez | Portrait by Kristin Deitrich
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down periods of the business cycle. HP instead held family picnics and beer busts and encouraged the workers to become shareholders. That engendered a fierce loyalty among the employees. In 1985, Haacker was part of the team that accepted a reduction in work hours and pay for several weeks while the company regained its footing during a downturn. Twice a year, the CEO would address rapt employees over loudspeakers in its locations around the world. Founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard loomed large and iconic for Haacker. He eagerly absorbed the company’s explicit core values: trust and respect, meaningful innovation, achievement and contribution, uncompromising integrity, and results through teamwork. “Dave Packard said that objectives can best be achieved by people who understand and support them,” Haacker says. “People who are allowed flexibility in working toward common goals in ways that are best for their operation. I’ve tried to learn from their examples and apply those principles to the teams that I am privileged to manage.” Haacker says he planned to work at HP his entire career, but by 1996, his third child was on the way and his family’s living space was getting cramped, so he took a position with Motorola during a period of rapid growth. The experience he got at HP building and deploying global applications fit in perfectly with Motorola’s needs. Haacker was the first person at the company to work on marrying e-commerce with digital supply chains as globalization was taking root. The innovation helped the company save billions of dollars that they poured into research and development to launch products like the Razr phone. He worked on the forefront of mobile application development and created banking, stock trading, consumer, and enterprise apps that ran on flip phones and 2.5G networks. The advances necessary for mass market success wouldn’t come until later with the Apple ecosystem, but Haacker is proud of the role he and the company played in mobile development. “We had the vision for it all, including talking assistants and touch screens, but not the right timing,” Haacker says. “The experience taught me the importance of understanding the whole product and timing the market correctly.” Other companies came calling, but Haacker, unaware of the disruptions to come, stayed put. “Motorola was incredibly similar to HP and also made me very happy,” he says. “I had opportunities 88 / Sync
“Eventually, machines will far exceed human intelligence, but that will take some time. In the meantime, enjoy the ride, and always remain curious and willing to learn new things.” over the years to leave for exciting startups but chose the more conservative path.” There had been many reasons to stay. At the time, the company was so flush and generous with its reserves that an annual bonus could buy a new car. But just a few years later, things went south with the telecom bust. Oncehumming plants were shuttered and sold; others were converted into housing or commercial developments. “It’s an important lesson to learn,” Haacker says. “Technology creates opportunities, but also disrupts established businesses in ways that can be hard to predict.” With respect to his own career, Haacker handled those disruptions by reinventing himself and turning them into opportunities to advance his career. After the telecom/dotcom bust, he moved from software development to strategic sourcing and vendor management as IT outsourcing became common practice. He began to hone global IT governance skills, and when the recession hit in 2009, he was well-positioned to take a tech executive position with Nielsen. Then he moved into a CTO job with The PrivateBank in an industry that is on the cusp of a technology revolution in the coming years. Having ridden the waves of technology for decades, Haacker is excited about what is still to come. “Technology is evolving faster and continues to find new models of disruption,” he says. “Artificial intelligence promises to help us with everything we do. Intelligent agents will enable new ways to make us smarter and more productive. Blockchain technology will enable secure transactions with minimal cost and cycle time. Eventually, machines will far exceed human intelligence, but that will take some time. In the meantime, enjoy the ride, and always remain curious and willing to learn new things.” Issue 011
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implement Move Ideas Into the World
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Eye on the Sky CrossCom National CEO Greg Miller positions his company to quickly and effectively cover the technology needs of a vast network of client locations By Chris Gigley | Portraits by Kristin Deitrich
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Greg Miller knows that it takes technology to manage technology. To say he manages a lot of technology would be an understatement, especially considering the fact that he’s the CEO of CrossCom National—which provides technology support solutions to retail, grocery, restaurant, and similar clients that have anywhere from hundreds to thousands of locations. Overall, the company manages about $100 million worth of technology. “Think about all technology, from self-checkout terminals to back-office servers,” he says. “We support, install, and deploy all the technology for all our customers.” Miller is constantly looking for ways CrossCom can leverage its own technology to better manage its support-services people in the field and all its assets while maintaining a strong and clear chain of command. He also gets plenty of help from a diverse and experienced leadership team. Among them are three Harvard Business School graduates, a West Point alum, and a Texas A&M graduate. The average tenure on the team is about two decades. “The industry has changed so much in twenty years, but this group has grown up in this business,” Miller says. He adds that the mix is vastly different from what it was when he took over as CrossCom CEO in 2001. Issue 011
Greg Miller CEO CrossCom National
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The power structure back then was decidedly white, male, and middle-aged. That’s hardly the case anymore. “There are people on the leadership team who are as young as twenty-seven, men and women,” he says. “Our controller is a Chinese national. We serve a diverse population, and the people serving them are really diverse. It wasn’t intentional. We were just trying to become a better company.” The team all works together to make sure clients have seamless integration between online and in-store operations. There are plenty of variables, including client budgets and how quickly they want to grow. Then there is the technology itself. “[Clients] have legacy technology along with new technology,” he says. “The magic is in getting it all to work together.” Miller marvels at how nimble retailers have become as more business moves online. “They might change prices five or six times a day or have specials running throughout the day targeting certain customer demographics,” he says. “What retailers struggle with the most right now is how to manipulate and manage the pricing.” To serve round-the-clock businesses, such as retailers, CrossCom must be available 24-7. That’s where the beauty of its business model comes into play. The industry, Miller explains, used to be dominated by original equipment manufacturers that sold, serviced, and maintained their own hardware. “We shifted what’s happening in the market by taking over large, sophisticated, multiple-product environments and offering a support desk all the way through to the back end and actual maintenance,” he says. An Uber-like workforce is on standby around the world to be dispatched to whatever client location needs help. CrossCom also gives its clients the ability to track these workers and their progress. “All customers get maps they can run on a mobile device showing in real time where our employees are in their chains,” he says. “They can look at the map and see up and down the Eastern Seaboard, for instance, what stores are down, what the status is. It really brings what’s happening in stores right back into the home office.” CrossCom technicians must also diagnose hardware problems quickly and accurately. With a business administration degree from the advanced management program at Harvard Business School, Miller builds mathematical models that help them find root causes, such as a faulty software patch. “What we want to know is what’s causing the problem, not just what happened,” he says. “We use technology to parse information from things that happened randomly versus things that happened discriminately.” Diagnosis, however, is just half the battle. CrossCom technicians must also have fast access to any hardware they need to install to get a client’s system back up and 94 / Sync
running. “More than anything else, we’re a logistics company,” he says. “No matter how good your expertise is, if the parts aren’t there, you’re going to have a problem. You have to have the right parts at the right time.” CrossCom spent this past year expanding and upgrading its Memphis-based facility to support its growing repair, staging, logistics, and warehousing operations. Miller says the company refurbishes hardware so it can always have parts at the ready for quick installation elsewhere. This kind of efficiency will be increasingly important for CrossCom in the short- and long-term future. Miller says the company is adding two large clients sometime in 2017. Having already extended its network of on-site field support to South America, Europe, and Asia, the company is exploring opportunities to grow its presence in China. “We’re setting up partnerships to
“No matter how good your expertise is, if the parts aren’t there, you’re going to have a problem. You have to have the right parts at the right time.”
start the process of doing business there,” he says. “It’s new for us. But when you look out to 2020, we should have meaningful operations over there.” That’s mostly because he expects existing clients to be in China in a more meaningful way. Right now, he says, there is no real connection between clients’ satellite locations in China and the US headquarters. But Miller says he thinks that will change quickly. “China right now reminds me of Japan,” he says. “Rather than ship everything overseas, they’re consuming more of their own goods, just like Japan did in the eighties. From my perspective, it’s great. As China moves into more of a consumption-based economy, that fits right into what we do.” Wherever and whenever, it seems CrossCom technicians will be there, ensuring its clients’ technology is running smoothly. BigRentz is a nationwide leading provider of procurement technology and business services in the equipment rental industry. We partner with customers across a variety of industries to empower them with tools that simplify procurement management, while increasing their productivity. Our technology is built around our customers to deliver an unparalleled level of service.
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Respecting the Human Side of Data Thomas Squeo explains how honoring data boundaries establishes longer-lasting consumer-business relationships By Galen Beebe
Thomas Squeo West Corporation SVP of Digital Transformation and Enterprise Architecture
Thomas Squeo thinks a lot about data. In particular, the senior vice president of digital transformation and enterprise architecture at West Corporation thinks about other people’s data and how he can be a good steward of that data. West Corporation is an enterprise technology company that builds communications systems, and a diverse array of data flows through its systems, including sensitive safety, commercial, education, and healthcare information. Of course, Squeo is constrained by the compliance and regulatory environments that affect each business sector, but his main concern is ethical. “You have to respect that this is our customers’ data; this is not our data,” he says. “We are not monetizing things that are not ours.” This approach, Squeo argues, is not only moral, but it is also business-savvy. He argues it will lead to better consumer-business relations and greater customer retention. Sync / 97
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THE PATH TO TODAY’S WEST CORPORATION
1986 Mary West founded West Corporation (originally West Telemarketing) in Omaha, Nebraska.
1992 The company’s revenue exceeds more than $100 million for the first time.
West focuses mainly on the business of communications, i.e. operations and administration. Opportunities often arise to correlate that information with other data—for example, assessment data for a school district. Although this correlation is possible, Squeo promotes company norms that respect data boundaries. “That’s not the business that we’re in,” he says. “We need to make sure that we don’t get ourselves into a situation where somebody feels, ‘I can, so I’m going to.’” Although Squeo encourages teams to respect data boundaries, he has seen industry norms shift in the opposite direction in the past decade—toward collecting as much data as possible and finding a use for it later—a precedent that Squeo considers dangerous. “If you don’t have a reason to get the data, what are you going to do with it?” he asks. “If you don’t know what you have, how are you going to secure it?” Organizations that do collect an unnecessary surplus of data, in Squeo’s opinion, will not last long. “They might, in the short run, make some inroads, but as soon as somebody understands that that’s what they’re about, they’re going to abandon that service pretty quickly,” he says. While West’s clients are businesses and organizations, its customers are people, and it is these customers for which Squeo ultimately builds. He considers not only the client’s administrative operations, but also the customer’s experience. He asks, “What is their preference, what is their comfort, and how do you make sure that when you’re interacting with them it doesn’t become creepy because you have too much information?” This approach is in the customer’s best interest, but it also serves the clients. “In many cases, the clients have a business or operational need that they’re executing, and they’re buying their services from us to be able to satisfy it,” Squeo says. “If we didn’t respect and care about the end-user experience, I don’t think we would have a lot of retention.” sync-magazine.com
1996 West goes public and is valued at $1.4 billion with 14,000 employees and $300 million in revenue.
2000 West Telemarketing officially becomes West Corporation to reflect the company’s expanded services, which included telemarketing, outbound customer contact for large sales campaigns, and an interactive platform that processed long-distance calls made by users of prepaid phone cards. 2004 Revenue exceeds $1 billion for the first time. At this point the company has acquired Tel Mark Sales, InterCall, and ConferenceCall.com.
2007 West’s revenue hits $2 billion after acquiring Intrado and Sprint’s conferencing services. It is now a Fortune 1000 company.
2013 West goes public after a series of acquisitions that expand the company’s communications services.
2017 West Corporation continues to make acquisitions and expand its services. Today, the company has acquired SchoolMessenger, SchoolReach, HealthAdvocate, 911 Enable, SharpsSchool, Magnetic North, ClientTell, and others.
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Squeo began his career when he joined the US Navy in 1992, and that experience shaped the way he thinks about systems and business development. He gained technical experience as the systems administrator on a ship stationed in Japan, and later, he had a tech support role for fleet-facing meteorology and oceanography applications at a supercomputer center in Monterey, California. The navy provided Squeo with the opportunity to understand application development, configuration, and change management, but it also taught him strategies to advance technology with few resources. He interacted heavily with the open-source community and developed creative approaches to system development that served him throughout his career. On top of that, he learned all of these skills in mission critical contexts. “It’s pretty much as high stakes as you possibly can get,” Squeo explains. After leaving the navy, Squeo worked in the assessment division of McGraw Hill, an education publishing company. He continued to work in education technology at a consultancy, an education assessment company, and two startups before West recruited him in April 2015 to be the senior vice president of technology in its education division. In January 2016, he was invited to join the enterprise technology leadership team at the corporate level. Over the course of his career, Squeo has seen the business landscape change as technology advances to the point where he says that every company is a technology company now. As this change continues, every facet of a company will have to become more technically sophisticated—and not just in terms of individuals learning to code. “I’m not talking about people becoming engineers,” he explains. “I’m talking about people understanding how data flows through their systems and organizations, how it’s governed, and what are good practices from an information security standpoint.” Data stewardship requires not only understanding how systems work, but it also requires a human understanding of both the buyers and consumers who use those systems. “All technology is built by and for people,” Squeo says. “None of this stuff happens without understanding what motivates people to come to work every day.” Issue 011
The Perfect AV Platform Cory Schaeffer and QSC bring AV standardization to the IT departments that need it most By Kelli Lawrence
When budgets consolidate, roles expand, and complications arise, corporate IT can suffer just as any other department might. But for IT, the complications have begun to take a new form—an audiovisual (AV) form, to be more specific. That’s because the challenges that come with meeting room and video conferencing technology—challenges that used to be handled by AV support staff—increasingly fall into the laps of IT personnel instead. It can be daunting work, especially when long-term plans are on the table. “When someone makes the decision to invest in tech in a meeting room, the fear is to think that as soon as it’s installed, it’s going to be outdated,” says Cory Schaeffer, director of system solutions for QSC LLC. “They ask, ‘How do I invest in technology that serves us well over time?’ That’s the question we’re laser-focused on.” Long-term planning is something with which QSC is quite familiar. The company was founded nearly fifty years ago as an amplifier manufacturer, but in recent Sync / 101
Cory Schaeffer QSC, LLC Director of System Solutions
years, it has focused on designing and engineering high-performance AVC (audio, video, and control) solutions. Among them is what Schaeffer describes as “the most powerful and scalable AVC platform available” in today’s market. The Q-SYS Platform was built from the ground up by embracing mainstream IT technologies from Intel, Linux, and standards-based networking concepts. It puts QSC ahead of the curve, but the proverbial rearview mirror also gets a lot of use. “We’re really in a transitional time where many clients are looking less at hardware and more at software-based platform solutions,” Schaeffer says. “Clients lean toward platforms that are extensible and are built around concepts they are familiar with and solutions that allow for easy integration with their existing infrastructure.” QSC’s platform development comes at a time when IT departments are coming to terms with their biggest AVC challenges. Meeting room technologies tend to be cobbled together from discrete hardware components, each with its own requirements and each utilizing different protocols. Enterprise-wide system upgrades are tricky, to say the least. Room management and monitoring are nearly impossible. “It’s really been the wild, 102 / Sync
Wild West out there,” Schaeffer says. In addressing all of these challenges, she knows the importance of the critical counterbalance known as AV standards. “When an IT team is faced with integrating AV into their department, my best advice would be to create AV standards,” she says. “IT already has a set of standards. What they need is to work AVC standards into that. It’s a language they already know, something of which they already know the benefits.” There are, in fact, IT teams that have become early adopters of AV standardization. One example can be found at a large e-commerce corporation, where its AV team has been part of IT for nearly five years, according to the company’s manager of global media services Matt Anders. Another is witnessed by Pete Kolak, a former conferencing engineer at Adobe who now serves as senior manager of conferencing services for an industry leader in building high-performing networks. “In my experience,” Kolak says, “I’ve never worked for a company where AV was separate.” As representatives of enterprises that have already embraced the AV/IT convergence, Kolak and Anders have advice for businesses just beginning this process. First, invest in a “future-proof” infrastructure. Kolak says that as technology quickly changes, IT teams should expect to get 3–5 years of use from infrastructure equipment. “You should also consider solutions that are based on basic IT standards to make integration easier and seamless with your existing infrastructure,” he says. Next, find the right partner. When selecting a vendor to work with, Anders says to make sure they have a strong training program. “Training is one of the biggest challenges of integrating and managing AV equipment,” he says. Finding someone whose technologies have a basic feature set that is familiar is also important. If they don’t have it, find out if there is something you can work together to develop. Finally, develop enterprise-wide technology standards. Many end users consider standardization and total cost of ownership as key value drivers when selecting AV technologies. This convergence has been the newfound ability for AVC to move away from customized hardware solutions toward more central, standardized systems. As an AV/IT convergence pioneer, Anders notes that his company realized the importance of this nearly five years ago. “Not having standards was a disaster,” he says. “We developed our standards from scratch. Now, every single one of our rooms are identical. They all have the same touch panel, same look, same products. An engineer from here or the UK could fix any room globally because they all have the same wiring labels, numbers Issue 011
on the cables, etc. That has really helped support maintenance, phone support . . . everything.” Establishing AV standards will ultimately allow a company to avoid meeting room disasters. By doing the more challenging work up front, end users will experience easy-to-use meeting room technology. This is likely to be all the more important as technology becomes even more sophisticated. “Future platforms will do more than just control AV,” Schaeffer says. “They will track room occupancy, how often a room gets used, how often this or that piece of equipment gets used, equipment warranties, etc. What’s on a laptop or panel today will become more virtualized.” One of the key realizations regarding the development of QSC’s Q-SYS Platform was that the company needed to develop something that reached out to
“When an IT team is faced with integrating AV into their department, my best advice would be to create AV standards. It’s a language they already know . . . something of which they already know the benefits.” IT customers in a more direct manner. “We realized early on that the future of this industry would need a platform that embraced IT’s language,” Schaeffer says. “They would need an open IT-friendly ecosystem that transcends the limitations found in single-purpose hardware-based products.” QSC has spent the past few years paying closer attention to how IT professionals embrace the new AV department, and the company has also worked to become a partner in helping develop those AV standards. This, along with AV savvy, is helping bring the company’s platforms to a bigger audience. “Our AV industry still focuses on the hardware,” Schaeffer says. “And you have to have it—from innovation in beam-forming microphones, touchscreen control panels, to conference room cameras, and so on. But what they should be looking for is a standard, IT-based platform that will both serve them well into the future and be upgradeable.”
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Data Speaks How experts at Aaron’s are using analytics to help the lease-to-own retailer connect with a new generation of customers By Zach Baliva
Russell Falkenstein Aaron’s VP, Corporate Initiatives
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For legacy brick-and-mortar retailers, embracing the digital age has become a matter of survival. That’s proven to be true for Aaron’s, the popular lease-to-own company founded in 1955. In a move designed to reshape the core business, strengthen online and digital strategies, and entice new customers in the rapidly changing marketplace, the company is investing in business analytics and big data. Customers who visit Aarons.com today will find live chat options, videos, e-mail lists, store locators, multilingual web pages, online payment capabilities, and a comprehensive e-commerce platform. While many of these elements existed before 2014, the company recently made a huge push to take them to the next level. That’s when corporate leaders made a series of bold moves in response to Aaron’s flat net incomes. Aaron’s acquired a virtual lease-to-own partner and ramped up e-commerce efforts. Leaders restructured to save $25 million annually. In the years following, the company closed dozens of underperforming stores, sold its HomeSmart division, and put itself on a new path anchored by a robust online presence.
In early 2016, Russell Falkenstein joined Aaron’s to help the retailer make the leap into the digital age and become the leader in the mobile and digital rent-to-own space. He brought more than five years of experience from New York’s Alvarez & Marsal, where, as a senior restructuring associate, he helped companies mine data and turn information into actionable insights. Falkenstein knows just how powerful good data is, but he knows companies will only realize gains if they use it in the right way. “If you want to make an impact on the business side, the data has to be clear and concise,” he says. “The data has to tell a story. We don’t want to change the decision a business leader makes. We want to change how they make that decision.” The first step involves pooling all data to create a single source of truth. Falkenstein remembers working with an academic client where complicated processes bogged down innovation. Each college at the university used its own system to report student enrollment. But when all those figures were added up, they totaled a number different from what was on record at the registrar’s office. This example illustrates Falkenstein’s point that many businesses and organizations fail to use consistent, accurate, and actionable information. “We take separate data sources and make one trusted system that the business can use to make decisions that will have a real, repeatable impact,” he says. When Falkenstein came to Aaron’s, the company had more than two thousand retail locations across Canada and the United States. His predecessors and colleagues were already working with newly acquired Progressive Leasing to provide virtual lease-to-own options and analyze data in new ways. Now, Falkenstein is optimizing the structure to make sure his company reaps the rewards from combining Aaron’s network of stores, trucks, and associates with Progressive’s network of technology in fifteen thousand retail locations. He’s using data captured by both Aaron’s and Progressive to match price points and product selections to customers’ needs and behaviors based on location. Every retailer struggles with product mix; no one can know with absolute certainty how many of which product to stock at which store at the right time. Now, though, Falkenstein’s team is using an advanced Halo Prism platform, tools like Microsoft Power BI, traffic data from ShopperTrak, and a rich set of customer and product data to compare the performance of one store with another—and against competitors. Additionally, the data science team can track the success of paid marketing campaigns and promotions and produce instant data sets used to assess and adjust strategy. Falkenstein Issue 011
says his team uses the tools to better understand what items specific regional customers are seeking. Armed with the data, the team responds to optimize each location accordingly. To serve existing customers and attract new buyers, Falkenstein and his team have to make the retail experience as easy as possible both in stores and online. They have to appeal to older customers who prefer to shop in-store and millennials who engage online. “We know we have to provide a broad offering and an individualized experience,” he says. “Companies that don’t know how to do business in the future won’t be around.” In his first year at Aaron’s, he’s found new ways to mine the overlapping business areas by testing items and prices online before introducing them into a physical retail environment.
“If you want to make an impact on the business side, the data has to be clear and concise. The data has to tell a story. We don’t want to change the decision a business leader makes. We want to change how they make that decision.”
Delivering best-in-class analytics that enable retailers to improve the in-store shopper experience and drive revenue
In 2017, Falkenstein and Aaron’s will continue to perfect their use of technology both online and in stores. “If we’re not making the lives of our associates and customers better, then we’re not doing our jobs,” he says. Falkenstein measures his team’s success by visiting stores and talking to employees to see if their experience matches the data. In fact, he encourages each person on his team to visit stores several times each year. In the third quarter of Falkenstein’s first year, Aaron’s revenues rose to $769 million, beating the previous year’s period by $1.3 million. Net earnings during the same span increased $5.3 million. As the data scientists and analytics teams from Aaron’s and Progressive receive feedback from the field and see increases on quarterly business reports, they know their work is making a difference. sync-magazine.com
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tful Disru pte
range oved G m s a h enance ningham m from maint n u C o, Tim h tea doing s in ce’s tec , n d a r n u a s In ation ion o innov t e d o ganizat r m o n a gized re-ener By Zach
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The bang of a rocket meant just one thing. Six bulls had been released onto the narrow streets of Pamplona, Spain. Tim Cunningham—a CIO from Columbus, Ohio— made a mad dash, making his way through Santo Domingo and across the Old Town Hall square as the one-ton beasts chased after him. Friends and family members called him crazy for participating in the run, but Cunningham knew the risks. After all, this wasn’t his first run-in with the bulls; he participated two previous times in the festival of San Fermín. Today, Cunningham is the new CIO at Grange Insurance, where he enjoys working as a “thoughtful disrupter.” Cunningham wasn’t an insurance industry insider. He can ask a lot of questions. And he can challenge company leaders to take chances in a predominantly risk-adverse environment. To do so, he shares his experiences in Spain. “I did my homework before I ran with the bulls,” he says. “There’s potential for disaster, but I took the right precautions, got prepared, and put myself in the best position for a successful outcome.” The passionate technology leader began his career at Bank One in 1987 and spent the better part of three decades in the financial sector. But when Grange Insurance—a regional leader in personal, commercial, and Issue 011
life products—called on him to replace a retiring CIO, the opportunity to make a profound difference outside of banking was compelling. As a result, he left a CTO role behind at JPMorgan Chase to join Grange in early 2016. He immediately noticed several key differences. In moving up the management ranks at JPMorgan Chase, he, along with other leaders, were willing to try new approaches and embrace frequent changes. Insurance, on the other hand, is well-known for being risk-adverse and slow to adapt. Wall Street pros encouraged Cunningham to take risks, fail safely, and then move on. In contrast, the insurance industry seemed paralyzed by extensive analysis, overly comfortable with the status quo, and hampered down with a general fear of failure. Despite the inherent challenges associated with a new industry, Cunningham remained energetic. After all, he had been brought in to do a specific job. Grange’s leaders knew their systems and processes needed a refresh—and they knew the entire organization would benefit from a new CIO who could leverage wins from another industry to develop new digital products and reach a shifting consumer base. At the bank, Cunningham was one of about 250,000 employees. At Grange, he’s one of roughly 1,500 employees. He shares a hallway with other company executives and has information and decision-making authority within his reach. Approvals come more quickly, and changes take less time to implement. Grange leaders asked Cunningham to modernize the company’s technology by bringing best practices from the fast-paced, competitive, and innovative financial industry to a regional insurer, so it could move significantly faster with less complexity. To deliver though, he would need to develop a playbook. He would also need a strategy to execute in a new environment that would enable a CIO to more directly influence outcomes and see results. The strategy contained two main components. First, Grange’s tech team would develop and enable new products and services more rapidly in alignment with a defined architecture. Second, IT would support and meet the customer’s changing expectations with modern solutions. It was a broad goal, and Cunningham knew he would have to dive deep into the specifics. But first, he set out to manage expectations and create a grounded awareness of current affairs. “A great tech leader looking to make a positive impact needs to be a truth-teller,” Cunningham says. “It was important for me to promote collaboration, work in a transparent way, and execute on early wins to demonstrate the capability of operating a new model well.” He described his plan to anyone willing to listen, celebrated wins, and translated the message into a personal choice so all involved understood the value associated with possible outcomes. For Cunningham, that started with his IT team. sync-magazine.com
Tim Cunningham Grange Insurance CIO
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“A great tech leader looking to make a positive impact needs to be a truth-teller.”
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UNLESS IT’S GRANGE INSURANCE. Learn more at grangeinsurance.com j
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He began hiring new associates while crosstraining existing employees to deliver better results faster. While he brought change to the department, he was careful to reinforce his approach. “I reminded all IT associates that we were investing in them and their futures,” he says. “Our people are developing new marketable skills, and those skills bring new innovative solutions to the company. That drives opportunity for newer products and capabilities and revenue growth for Grange.” Grange has a rich history that goes back eighty years, but what got the company to where it is today won’t necessarily help it to thrive in the future. “We have to be open to new ideas, approaches, and solutions that benefit the independent agents, the company, and the policyholders,” he says. To develop and enable new products and services, his team introduced an architecture framework that leverages a robust middleware layer. The solution makes changes and updates faster and allows for standardization and reuse across the enterprise. Now, IT is working to introduce cloud-based solutions and layer new services on top of this architecture. These changes are especially important for Grange because insurtech providers are changing the industry through innovative and efficient tech solutions. Those who insist on business as usual will be left behind. To stay relevant, Grange must be nimble enough to meet the demands of a changing demographic. When Grange started, insurance was sold face-to-face. Now, customers search, compare, and shop online or with a mobile device. “If we can’t serve a customer when and how they want, they’ll move on to another company that can do what they expect,” Cunningham says. As a result, he’s leading IT to develop relevant digital platforms. The goal is to improve digital quoting and rating systems to increase accuracy and decrease cycle time for the underwriters and agents. With his transformation plan in place, Cunningham is focused on execution. As he and his associates move forward, they will modernize core systems, mature a robust middleware layer, and help all employees embrace the changes. Additionally, Grange is hoping to uncover new ideas with an innovation incubator scheduled for 2017. “If we inspire new behaviors and creative abilities, we’ll help take Grange well into the future,” he says. “We won’t just be surviving; we’ll be leading and winning.” Issue 011
The Right Solution at the Right Speed A look into the IT plan that helped Southern States Cooperative reboot its sales operation By Zach Baliva
Karen Thomas was simply trying to make her job as an entry-level accountant more efficient. She made friends in IT, started asking questions, and implemented several process changes that sparked an interest in software and set her on a new career path. Today, Thomas is vice president of information systems at Southern States Cooperativeâ€”the company she joined in 1988 as an accounting trainee. In her current role, Thomas is leading the agricultural supply cooperative through a complex retail rejuvenation project designed to unite operations of two hundred retail locations in ten states. By replacing an outdated legacy system, reviewing operating principles and standards, and moving to a centralized solution deployed with virtual desktop infrastructure on SQL and Windows, her team will introduce much-needed consistency as the entire company focuses on staying competitive and relevant to meet the changing demands of the customer. Sync / 109
The multifaceted, multiyear initiative will make a significant impact on the company and the future. Those who know Thomas well aren’t surprised that she’s holding the reins; she’s made finding and executing meaningful process improvements her calling card. In the late 1980s, Thomas’s colleagues in accounting often found her talking with IT professionals and learning software tool sets that she would later apply to make accounting processes more efficient and effective. “I knew that, if I could map out a solution on paper and set business rules and steps in the process, I could use software to remove cumbersome manual steps in my job so I would be free to do more valuable work,” she says. After automating a few simple parts of her job, Thomas found herself poring over detailed information in long, month-end financial reports. That’s when she had an epiphany. “I knew that I could take the same steps to speed up a very long process that we were required to go through each month,” she says. Every month, she struggled to input and reconcile an enormous amount of data. Each time an employee made a minor change, she was required to repeat the tedious work. Thomas used her knack for computers and software to create automated reports that extrapolated data sets. The program generated totals and automatically recalculated every time someone else made a last-minute change. She ran the program parallel to her manual process for two months to demonstrate its accuracy and efficiency. Thomas’s program ended up cutting more than two days out of the monthly reporting process. She officially moved to the information systems side of the business in 1998. Since then, she’s worked in various roles to help all sectors of the business accomplish tasks as effectively and efficiently as possible. Although the business is broad and others come to her team with small and large requests, she prioritizes based on a variety of assigned traits analyzed by committee. Members meet with Southern States Cooperative colleagues to learn about their needs and objectives for each project, and a light project implementation methodology keeps the information systems team agile and responsive. “We want to provide the right solution at the right speed,” Thomas says. “Then, we look for opportunities to use that same solution in other parts of the business.” That cross-functional approach has yielded big results. Thomas has lived through an era in which Southern States was more siloed. But now, integrated IT groups work more closely with the business. If one team requests a document imaging function or mobile application, information systems teams consider introducing those solutions company-wide. Since its founding in 1923, Southern States Cooperative has become one of the country’s largest agricultural cooperatives. About three years ago, company leaders realized that though the organization had evolved, its retail systems had not kept pace. In fact, Southern States’ 110 / Sync
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SOUTHERN STATES COOPERATIVE During the 1920s, Virginia farmers struggled to get seeds guaranteed to grow in the Commonwealth with the poor quality of seeds that were sold by commercial seed handlers. To address the problem, about 150 Old Dominion farmers gathered in Richmond, and with $11,000 and two employees, the Virginia Seed Service was formed.
Karen Thomas Southern States Cooperative VP of Information Systems
main retail system was a custom solution developed more than thirty years ago before a period of significant growth. As a result, it operated as a patchwork of aging equipment with limited capabilities. Others in management asked Thomas to find a solution that would help Southern States meet its ongoing business needs and compete in a digital and mobile environment. Before developing a solid road map for the rejuvenation project, Thomas met with department leaders to understand current and future needs. Then, her team planned the large project to transform the business into a streamlined operation capable of growing sales and fully supporting customers through a portal and other digital offerings. Additionally, the plan called for simplified back-office operations and outlined ways to remove redundant processes while giving managers a stronger view of data across all Southern States Cooperative’s locations. The information systems team conducted a thorough request for proposal before selecting EFC Systems’ Merchant, an agribusiness management point-of-sale software and accounting solution. The retail ERP is online in real time. Given the unique needs of the operation, such as selling chemicals and other products that require compliance and licensures, Thomas is pleased to have found a specialized industry provider. After obtaining approval in January 2012, Thomas and her team went live at pilot locations in the fall of 2014 and have now implemented the retail rejuvenation solution in all company-owned locations. They’re on track to migrate remaining member-owned cooperatives by the end of 2017. The transformation is nearly complete, and early feedback is overwhelmingly positive. The company has grouped locations together in operating areas and identified general managers that oversee each group. With real-time information at their fingertips, those managers avoid long trips to gather Issue 011
In 1925, the company began distributing feeds and seeds and, soon after, branched out to fertilizers, farm supplies, and petroleum products. By the 1930s, the seed service began expanding to other states, and it changed its name to Southern States Cooperative. It reached Maryland in 1934, West Virginia in 1941, Kentucky in 1945, and North Carolina in 1986.
“Having a lot of data is great, but you have to be able to take action, and we can do that now because of this solution.”
Over the years, the cooperative continued to expand, founding research programs and farms along the way. In the late 1990s, the company acquired the wholesale and retail farm supply system of farm supply company Gold Kist Inc. and wholesale agriculture business of Agway. Today, Southern States is one of the country’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives. It currently serves 1,200 retail locations in twenty-three states and is owned by more than 200,000 farmers.
data at each field location. They can make responsive and accurate business decisions more quickly. Accountants and other support team members can better interact with retail staffers and store employees as the centralized solution gives many people the same information with a single source of truth. “We have data we can actually act on,” she says. “Having a lot of data is great, but you have to be able to take action, and we can do that now because of this solution. We see what works and what needs work, and we act accordingly.” With implementation nearly complete, Thomas is pushing other projects like an enhanced CRM tool set and a virtual desktop infrastructure that will assist teams in recording and answering calls or finding new ways to cross-sell and up-sell. Nearly thirty years after she joined the company, Thomas is doing what’s she done since day one: using her natural curiosity to improve processes, uncover new opportunities, and drive growth. “I’m doing what I started out doing, but now I have the ability to make an impact from a leadership role,” she says. “From this seat in the IT group, I have the chance to dive in deep and really make a difference.” Sync / 111
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IT as a Team Sport David Lewis recruits and retains team members who can make a strategic difference at the University of Rochester By Russ Klettke
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“My job is to help others achieve their results and be successful so that the university can be successful,” says David Lewis. It’s a tall order, as Lewis, the vice president for information technology and CIO at the University of Rochester in New York, oversees a diverse team of IT professionals across 158 buildings that are home to more than 2,000 instructional faculty and staff members and more than 11,000 students. On top of that, the University of Rochester Medical Center includes an 800-bed teaching hospital and several more facilities, including a children’s hospital. Managing the information systems for this top-ranked university system is a massive task, but Lewis is up to the challenge of creating a modern IT ecosystem for the modern university environment. Issue 011
David Lewis University of Rochester VP for IT, CIO
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How do you define sustainable infrastructure? Lewis: It’s an IT organization and platform that keeps pace with and exceeds the expectations of the institution it supports. A big part of that is the ability to attract and retain great people, which is probably one of the most important aspects of maintaining a sustainable infrastructure. In a market the size of Rochester, you’re the single largest employer. Still, you’re up against several companies where tech talent is also in demand, such as Rochester Regional Health, Xerox, Wegmans Food Markets, Paychex Inc., and Rochester Institute of Technology. Is recruiting a challenge? Lewis: We haven’t had challenges, per se. We’ve made recruiting a strategic opportunity by selling candidates on the university’s values and strengths. We engage team members as empowered organizational owners and responsible decision makers. This creates a more responsive service model for us and makes our employees avid recruiters. We have a saying: “You can bring your whole self to work.” That means we embrace diversity in its broadest sense, and we value everything you bring to the workplace and all of your experiences. We have a program called UR Valued that systematically reflects those values in everything we do as an organization. What are some of the net effects of that, other than perhaps a high retention rate? Lewis: The people who do the real work on the front lines of an organization always know what needs to be fixed if you make clear they are empowered to do so. But they also know they are getting the chance to work in a dynamic IT environment and have a major impact in supporting education, healthcare, and cutting-edge research. Our philosophy also allows staff the opportunity to exercise their individual passion for community service, personal interests, and professional development. Getting back to this idea of sustainable infrastructure, given the dynamics of both a university and healthcare environment, what are the harder parts of your job? Lewis: I would probably never call the job hard in that respect. Instead, I think of it as interesting, challenging, and always changing. There is never a dull moment, and you always have to be thinking ahead. My constant focus is to field an IT organization that scales and is agile enough to respond to the service levels my institution requires. That does entail a lot of moving parts and complexity.
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Specifically speaking, what might that look like? Lewis: I tell my team that I like to focus on three pillars: organization, operations, and strategy, with a service-centric approach wrapped around it all. The organization serves the basis, and people are the foundation. If we are sound organizationally, we can use that strength to create operational excellence. If we are operationally strong, then we can focus on the strategic pillar as well. But you can’t play a strategically enabling role for your institution as an IT organization if you’re running a “break/fix” shop that fails to attract and retain good people. The fun part for me, I think, is about taking the opportunity to bring people together across the university community to collaborate toward a more impactful outcome. It’s about everyone together achieving more than any one person could achieve individually. There is a lot of conversation about effective governance. Can you describe what that looks like at the University of Rochester? Lewis: As the primary hub for IT programs and initiatives, the office of the vice president for IT is responsible for building collaborative relationships across the university to create integrated, secure, and dependable IT systems and practices that support efficient and sync-magazine.com
CIO David Lewis focuses on recruiting an IT team capable of exceeding the expectations of the University of Rochester.
cost-effective distribution of information throughout the university community. IT governance has given our community a forum in which to come together and share information about their IT needs, challenges, and initiatives in a way that creates opportunities for collaboration and efficiencies. From a senior leadership perspective, it has created a holistic view of the university’s overall IT portfolio and spend. Through the IT governance process, we have identified and acted on opportunities to rationalize IT investments in support of implementing new and updated services. IT security, networking, and authentication services are recent examples. What’s the net benefit to the University of Rochester in that? Lewis: We provide our senior leadership with the ability to make informed choices in a very dynamic and ever-changing investment that includes research, healthcare, teaching and learning, and administration. In the twenty years I have been at the University of Rochester, we have built out the entire IT ecosystem across the board into the modern environment that is required today. But, what makes the University of Rochester special is its people and the highly important missions we serve. I never think of myself as being in IT but, more importantly, in education and healthcare. Sync / 117
Wired for the Future
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Without CEO Paul Griswold, a larger phone company might have swallowed up Finger Lakes Technologies Group years ago. But instead, he turned the family’s company into a regional fiber-optic powerhouse. By Russ Klettke
Since about 2000, the story of broadband and cellular access for older and more rural Americans is a tale of success. Whereas only 42 percent of rural citizens once were Internet users, that number rose to about 78 percent over fifteen years, according to studies conducted by the Pew Research Center. But at least in the Central and western New York State regions—which includes approximately fifty cities from Buffalo to Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton, and northern Pennsylvania—the story has a surprising author: Paul Griswold, CEO of Finger Lakes Technologies Group Inc. (FLTG). Griswold is the fourth-generation president of this family-owned firm, a local telephone company bought by his great-grandfather in 1920. Few companies have remained in family hands for this long, as farmers have moved from dialing on ten-digit, rotatory phones connected by copper phone wires to checking weather apps and commodity pricing on their smartphones connected to rural cell towers that reach the Internet through fiber-optic cables. Griswold shares credit with his company and some key customers. The critical, larger customers are banks, hospitals, and educational institutions like Cornell University, the University of Rochester, and its hospital system. The company is also a VoIP partner with Cisco Systems. This is quite different from Griswold’s greatgrandfather’s phone company. Perhaps, though, the same things that drove what was originally called the Ontario & Trumansburg Telephone Companies—a telephone service to rural customers that Ma Bell (Bell Telephone Co.) overlooked—are what drive it Issue 011
today. It’s always been about reliable, best-in-class communications access. Arguably, Griswold’s father and grandfather didn’t have to deal with changes as fast as they’ve come in the past twenty years. However, they did face challenges he hasn’t, like the ice storm of 1940. “It was massive,” Griswold says. “There were so many wrecked lines; it flattened our outside plant. We lost revenues for more than one year, but we rebuilt.” And they keep on building. The twenty-first-century fiber-optic network, in fact, takes advantage of the FLTG legacy of phone lines on poles and in public and private right-of-ways. The firm also has a breadth of administrative capabilities that are needed to establish, expand, and manage such a system. That said, the path to 2017 was hardly clear and sure. “We modernized all along, despite the fact we were rural,” Griswold says. There were once scores of family-owned, independent phone companies across the state. Over time, many sold out because expensive adaptations to technological challenges were required and not everyone was willing to take it on. Modernization seen on the user side—from rotary dial to push-button phones, and later a dial-up ISP that graduated to fiber optics—was met with the evolution of technology that Griswold provided. However, modernizing a system that currently covers 2,500 miles is no small decision. Installing fiber-optic cable costs between $25,000 and $30,000 per mile, which can be hard to make profitable. “Towns within FLTG’s rural markets are 1520 miles apart,” Griswold says. “You have to connect the sync-magazine.com
Paul Griswold Finger Lakes Technologies Group Inc. CEO
businesses to each neighboring town.” This network, funded entirely by FLTG, needed large customers to get things started. The two biggest catalysts to FLTG modernization were Cisco and Cornell. “We started selling Cisco products in 2000,” Griswold says, sharing how the quality of the company’s engineers has been an asset in building that partnership. The company was the first in the state to install Cisco IP Telephony Systems, which allows flexible telephone solutions for customers. Just as important, Cornell needed a network to connect remote research facilities for its agriculture school. When FLTG inked the Ivy League university’s multimillion-dollar deal, it transformed the company—and the surrounding community. Businesses in Ithaca, New York, where Cornell is based, got access to a world-class fiber network that was affordable thanks to the university installation. The same thing happened later for the residents of Rochester, when the University of Rochester and its hospital affiliate needed fiber-optic connectivity for multiple buildings spread throughout numerous cities. The rapid pace of change in connective technologies, including the advent of wireless, isn’t daunting to Griswold. A confirmed gadget geek, he’s personally an early adopter. “I am the first person to get things like the Apple Watch and iPhones,” he says. “I like to see how it works and how easy it is to understand.” He is also attentive to technological changes and details that affect his business. It’s part of what enables FLTG to evolve in sync with the IT capabilities of large and small customers, including using the company’s fiber network to serve far-flung cell towers. In 2016, the company added more than ten cities to its network, and the growth plans for 2017 are just as aggressive while other providers are retracting. Another way FLTG leverages something from the past into technologies of the present is the company’s Finger Lakes Technologies Group Park. Sprawling over eight hundred acres in Romulus, New York, the retired Seneca Army Depot includes sixty-four blast-hardened, ground-level, earth-berm storage bunkers that were originally built during the Cold War era. The company now leases them out for colocated data centers and warehousing functions. Turning something from a past era into a modern asset is something Griswold and FLTG know how to do— probably because he and the company have the right attitude. “I love change,” he says. “It keeps us adaptable to the new technologies that are coming out.” Sync / 119
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Outsmart the Bad Guys CIO Anil Cheriyan pushes SunTrust Banks to innovate for clientsâ€™ sakes while keeping cybercriminals at bay By David Baez sync-magazine.com
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Anil Cheriyan is in the business of balancing simplicity with danger. The banking industry’s digital transformation has dramatically increased convenience for consumers, but it’s also made fraud easier. As CIO of SunTrust Banks Inc., a purpose-driven organization with $205 billion in assets, Cheriyan constantly weighs consumer convenience with risk, security, and fraud and uses technology to position SunTrust as a leader in advancing financial well-being. That ambition is embodied in the bank’s onUp movement, which empowers people to take steps toward financial confidence through the money management tools, advice, and tips SunTrust makes available to everyone on onUp.com, regardless of whether or not they are a client. On the site, consumers can find valuable information on everything from building a budget to testing their financial IQ to preparing for the financial aspect of having a child. SunTrust set a goal of capturing five million onUp participants in five years, and as of February 1, it already surpassed the one million mark. As the company continues to focus on educating consumers and attracting new clients, it’s hard at work exploring new technologies to improve its processes. At the end of 2015, SunTrust leaders decided they should create an enterprise function that provides an integrated road map for digital capabilities. Within six months, they had come up with fifty-five “digital client journeys,” ranging from client onboarding to opening a new account to digitally issuing credit cards. After review, SunTrust moved forward on fourteen of the highest priority journeys. “We prioritized those critical journeys by focusing on the need to enhance the client experience and differentiate SunTrust’s capabilities,” Cheriyan explains. “For example, in client onboarding, we are highly focused on meeting our clients’ needs and making it more simple and convenient for them to bank with us.” Cheriyan is also dedicated to establishing more of an operations mind-set, looking for efficiencies, consolidating locations, and clearly defining processes on an endto-end basis. Technology is key to accomplishing that, he 122 / Sync
says. The bank has launched pilot programs to streamline processes via robotics or process automation. “We believe that if we apply robotics to our major business processes, there is a significant opportunity to become more effective and efficient,” Cheriyan says. “This allows us to focus on meeting even more client needs and improving the way we service and interact with clients.” Cheriyan is also using technology to help the bank’s capability-building process become more agile through an initiative called the Business Accelerator. He says that SunTrust has hundreds of technology projects going on at any given time. Some of these are based on the old “waterfall methodology,” in which IT development process is seen as flowing linearly, from conception to implementation and maintenance. But a good portion now includes agile projects that are approached with an eye toward flexibility and modularity. SunTrust’s goal is to have the majority of its projects run through the accelerator.
MOBILE MEDICINE While managing the many IT projects happening simultaneously at SunTrust, Cheriyan has also found time to serve on the board of St. Joseph’s Hospital, which runs a program called Mercy Care that brings medical attention to the region’s homeless population. Mercy Care’s mobile clinic goes out each week day to provide primary care, behavioral healthcare, and screenings for breast and cervical cancer, HIV, tuberculosis, and vision. The rolling clinic visits shelters, churches, and other organizations that serve the poor and homeless. Three times a month, Mercy Care also provides mammograms on a mobile coach at two locations and as often as possible at health fairs. Cheriyan recently spent four hours with the Mercy Care physicians and St. Joseph’s CEO to see the work up close, and he plans to do the tour again in the near future. “It was a great experience to watch and participate in the caring for the homeless,” Cheriyan says. “It helped me to understand how homelessness affects all different aspects of their lives.”
“While the technology makes it easier to do certain things and it’s great for the convenience of our clients, it also makes it easier for the bad guys to do what they do. There is an intense effort on our part to protect our clients’ money through appropriate cybersecurity tools.”
Anil Cheriyan SunTrust Banks CIO
Another cornerstone of the company’s recent innovations is embracing the cloud. When SunTrust launched its cloud initiative two years ago, it focused on improving the utilization of its core infrastructure. Now, the bank has expanded it to the Business Accelerator, too. “We felt the need to expand the cloud initiative beyond development test and infrastructure and leverage broader APIs and platforms-as-a-service,” Cheriyan says. “We wanted to use it to change the dynamic and speed at which we can deliver our capabilities. The cloud initiative is now embedded in the Business Accelerator initiative. We’re looking at which workloads get moved and how to migrate and integrate them.” Cheriyan points out that with all the benefits of convenience the digital revolution brings, there is a flip side that requires vigilance. An example is the advent of digital deposits, where consumers can take a photo of a check and deposit it digitally rather than going to the sync-magazine.com
bank in person. He says that while image recognition technology has brought down error rates dramatically, banks still need to stay vigilant on newer methods of check fraud that leverage this new technology. “There are bad guys out there,” Cheriyan says. “We have to hone our ability to find them. While the technology makes it easier and more convenient for clients, it also makes it easier for the bad guys to do what they do. There is an intense effort on our part to protect our clients’ money through appropriate cybersecurity tools.” Things are happening fast, and there’s no turning back. Cheriyan says that if he looks ahead five years, he sees the digital revolution continuing to transform the bank and its customer experience. “I think we’ll use more data to assist our clients to become more proficient in managing their finances,” he says. “We will leverage process automation and robotics to be more client-friendly and responsive. Our technology and operations teams are already more adept in enabling this digital transformation.” And even though technology is part of his job description, Cheriyan says that it’s important to step back every so often and remember that technology is simply a tool. “We need our technology and operations teammates to be conversant in the drivers of our clients’ financial well-being,” he says. “While it’s important to understand the relevant merits of Google versus AWS, we are more keenly interested in helping our clients reach financial confidence in a stress-free, convenient way. That’s the talent transformation we are in the process of making.” Sync / 123
Where Luxury Lives Online Anthony Milano works to make the e-commerce experience for HUGO BOSS customers as thrilling as their physical stores By David Baez | Portraits by Kristin Deitrich
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More and more each day, online shopping has made going out to shop for clothes seem like a thing of the past. However, HUGO BOSS is determined to show that online and in-person shopping can go hand-in-hand. That’s why Anthony Milano and the company’s e-commerce team are working tirelessly to make online shopping just as easy and luxurious as shopping in a physical store. As vice president of e-commerce, Milano’s focus is on HUGO BOSS’s e-commerce channel, which includes digital retailing, marketing, and retail innovation. “Whether it’s looking into mobile opportunities or into different retail technology vendors, anything that falls into the digital realm comes from our team,” Milano says. Since HUGO BOSS’s e-commerce site launched in 2010, Milano and his team have enhanced consumer engagement with innovations like integrating live chat for customers to have questions answered and concerns addressed, and in an effort to drive that web traffic to physical locations, they have designated spots on the site where consumers can set up in-store appointments. Milano will also establish a channel that creates personalized shops for customers based on past click-through behavior. “Getting more advanced is a goal for us,” Milano says. “Like with all digital retailing, we try to present the customer with what they are looking for at any touch point.” Issue 011
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PREMIUM PROFESSIONAL Over the past six years, Anthony Milano has been quintessential to the digital evolution of HUGO BOSS, one of the global market leaders in premium and luxury apparel. After launching the online store for the United States in 2010, he continues to drive doubledigit growth in both topline sales and profitability. In his current role as vice president of e-commerce, Milano leads all digital commerce initiatives, from executing merchandising and marketing strategies, to enhancing online user experience and maintaining B2C operations. Milano oversees platform development, including third-party implementations, and leads the conception and execution of the US omnichannel pilot program. He is also responsible for all digital drive-to-store initiatives, including the relaunching of the digital CRM platform and establishing 1:1 predictive marketing strategies. Since 2007, he has held other executive level roles at HUGO BOSS, including business development manager and director of e-commerce. He holds a degree in marketing and management from New York University Stern School of Business.
Customer service has been key in helping Milano get HUGO BOSS’s digital traffic to its physical stores. Milano’s team will communicate with customers via the aforementioned online chat and relay information to in-store employees. “Making the connection from digital to physical stores is key because we are able to leverage the experts in the field,” he says. To clarify this, Milano details a story in which a customer in Australia was on a live chat and needed a dress shirt for a wedding for which he was traveling to Hawaii. The BOSS Waikiki store didn’t have the particular shirt in his size, so the store contacted the BOSS Rodeo Drive location, which did have the shirt and sent it to Hawaii in time for the wedding. “We would have lost that transaction and the customer completely if we didn’t have the digital interface that started the whole process,” Milano says. Other customer service examples include “ship-tostore,” where customers can buy online but can have the item sent to a HUGO BOSS physical location near them, for instances in which the ordered item wasn’t the right fit, for example. “A $1,000 suit is a bit of an investment for most people, and to not exactly know your fit can make purchasing difficult,” Milano says. “With ship-to-store, you’re at the store with the expert and you have the ability to return the product and exchange it for something that’s more fitting.” Milano has also seen tracking customer behavior improve HUGO BOSS’s overall success. Working with its digital CRM platform, AgilOne, HUGO BOSS stores customer data, tracks their browsing behavior on its site, and couples that data with past buying information. Milano’s team can then create customer segments and profiles based on this information. 126 / Sync
“The number one advantage is the propensity-tobuy modeling AgilOne provides,” Milano says. “When a customer frequents the store and also visits the site, we know he’s ready to buy. He’s engaged and at the bottom part of the funnel. The question is, how can we engage him even more? Are our resources better used with him than maybe a reactivation initiative for one of our lost customers?” HUGO BOSS also has its sights on expanding its reach in terms of providing a luxury experience. Currently, those efforts included loading its site with video content and extended product descriptions of higher-priced items like handbags and handcrafted dress shoes. “You have to add some value so the customer feels a little more assured purchasing at such a high price point,” Milano says. “That’s kind of the goal there: keep on putting out data-rich content and keep creating more around that.” Issue 011
Anthony Milano HUGO BOSS VP of eCommerce
Regardless of the method, HUGO BOSS just wants customers to buy its products on a consistent basis. As long as that’s the goal, Milano and his team will continue to provide as much information as they can to help the company decide the best way to make that happen. “I think we’re just trying, in a difficult retail climate, to figure out what our customer is looking for, who they are, and what they’re about,” Milano says. “Instead of just saying it and making certain concessions, you have to replatform a mentality around this, and that even comes with technical platforms. How can you look at the customer differently, and then how do you start making decisions differently based on that information? That’s something I’m trying to bring to light with the team here, both in-store and online.” TradeGlobal is proud to partner with Hugo Boss, a company leading the way in innovative retail and personalized customer experiences. Anthony’s vision has helped guide the evolution of the Hugo Boss brand’s identity through its online presence and across all touch points.
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INNER CIRCLE Meet the seasoned executives, intrepid entrepreneurs, and bold thinkers whose ideas shape this issue and address the promise of technology in the enterprise
TOM ANDRIOLA, P. 52 University of California VP, CIO
ANIL CHERIYAN, P. 121 SunTrust Banks CIO
THOMAS DRUBY, P. 22 CornellCookson VP of IT
JOSEPH HEMWAY, P. 47 Pratt Institute CIO, VP of IT
Tom Andriola brought more than two decades of tech experience to his role at the University of California. Previously, he managed healthcare informatics at Phillips Healthcare. He also holds a bachelor’s from The George Washington University and a master’s degree from the University of South Florida.
Anil Cheriyan completed all of his studies at Imperial College London, eventually earning a research degree in management science. He worked for EDS, PwC, and IBM before joining SunTrust in 2012. He spent three years on the board of directors of TechBridge Inc., and he speaks Italian fluently.
Thomas Druby has been working with technology for more than thirtyfive years. Over the course of his career, he’s received awards such as being recognized as a Premier 100 IT Leader Honoree by Computerworld.
Joseph Hemway has worked in high education IT for more than twenty years. In his decade at the Pratt Institute, he has lead numerous tech initiatives to modernize the renowned arts college.
RUSSELL FALKENSTEIN, P. 104 Aaron’s VP, Corporate Initiatives
GERRY HUNT, P. 41 Oklahoma City University CIO
With a degree in finance and marketing from the George Washington University School of Business, Russell Falkenstein honed his skills analyzing data at Alvarez and Marsal before joining Aaron’s in 2016.
Gerry Hunt’s mother was a banker who taught him how to manage his finances at age sixteen. He saved up so much money that he was able to pay, in cash, for his undergraduate degree with no student loans. Hunt also previously served from 1996 to 2001 as OCU’s assistant basketball coach to the women’s team, who garnered three national championships for three seasons: 1998-1999, 1999-2000, and 20002001.
BILL BEANE, P. 18 Parker Hannifin Senior Director, Corporate Technology Ventures and Innovations Systems In 1986, Bill Beane graduated in the top 10 percent of his class at West Point. He then went on to work as an operations research analyst for the US Army and as an engineer for Integrated Device Technology Inc. He’s been at Parker for nearly a decade now.
TRACI BONDE, P. 34 Dublin Unified School District CTO @tr_bo In addition to being a California Educational Technology Professionals Association-certified chief technology officer, Traci Bonde continually shares her knowledge and experience in the educational realm at makingmakersinedu.com.
ANDREA CAMPBELL, P. 74 Keuka College CIO Prior to joining Keuka College, Andrea Campbell worked in IT at Kodak and the University of Rochester. Outside of her role at Keuka, she volunteers for the YMCA and is a cochair of the Upstate New York College Collaboration CIO Consortium.
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DANIELA CRIVIANU-GAITA, P. 65 Dynacare CIO At this position since 2014, Daniela Crivianu-Gaita formerly held executive technology positions at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and County Hospital of Timisoara, Romania and was an associate professor in the Medical Informatics Department at the University of Medicine Timisoara.
TIM CUNNINGHAM, P. 106 Grange Insurance CIO An Ohio State Business School alumnus, Tim Cunningham spent nearly three decades in the banking industry before assuming his role at Grange Insurance.
GINNY DAVIS, P. 10 Technicolor CIO Technicolor CIO Ginny Davis has been part of Technicolor since 1996. As CIO, she has played an instrumental role in bridging Technicolor’s analog past with its digital future. A serious sports fan, you can find Davis camped out in front of her TV every Sunday during football season.
NICK GRECCO, P. 70 First Advantage CIO Nick Grecco has managed, developed, and implemented technology solutions in some of the world’s most demanding industries, including insurance, healthcare, banking, and finance. He ended three generations of Grecco men serving as New York City police officers when he decided to pursue a career in technology.
DAVID LEWIS, P. 114 University of Rochester VP of IT, CIO David Lewis has been with University of Rochester for more than twenty years. In 2006, he won the CIO Top 100 Award for Innovation and Growth.
DEAN HAACKER, P. 86 The PrivateBank CTO In addition to his storied career in technology, Dean Haacker is passionate about charity. He is on the Leadership Giving Council for United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.
ANTHONY MILANO, P. 124 HUGO BOSS VP of eCommerce Anthony Milano has been with HUGO BOSS for nearly ten years. He started at the company in 2007 with a degree in marketing and management from New York University.
GREG MILLER, P. 92 CrossCom National CEO Before becoming CrossCom’s CEO in 2001, Greg Miller was an independent business owner. Miller is also an Air Force veteran who holds degrees from Oklahoma State University and Harvard Business School.
CHRIS ROTHBAUER, P. 38 SP+ VP of IT Infrastructure Chris Rothbauer is based in Chicago. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, he developed an interest in network engineering as an undergraduate, and later, he worked for several consulting firms. When not virtualizing systems and improvising data solutions, he enjoys spending time with his family and playing racquetball.
RANDY SENN, P. 67 SCANA Corporation SVP of Administration Randy Senn is an adventurer. When he’s not working at SCANA, he can be found scuba diving, bicycling, or golfing. He’s been with SCANA for nearly forty years in roles from business and accounting to IT. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business.
THOMAS SQUEO, P. 97 West Corporation SVP of Digital Transformation and Enterprise Architecture @squeot With both a bachelor’s and master’s from Golden Gate University, Thomas Squeo is a member of the Software Industry Information Association, Association of Computing Machinery, and other technology- and educationoriented organizations in the San Francisco Bay area.
SCOTT STRAHLER, P. 28 David’s Bridal VP of IT Infrastructure, Security, and Operations Scott Strahler is celebrating his fifteenth anniversary with David’s Bridal this year. Outside of work, he volunteers for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley.
TOM TANASE, P. 78 Bowlmor AMF CIO Tom Tanase has more than twenty-one years of experience innovating in the hospitality technology space, starting with his own POS Solutions company in 1996.
KAREN L. THOMAS, P. 109 Southern States Cooperative VP of Information Systems For nearly thirty years, Karen L. Thomas has been working for Southern States Cooperative. In that time, she’s held many positions from accounting to her current position as VP of information systems.
TODD WILSON, P. 58 Clif Bar & Company SVP, IT After twenty-eight years spread across organizations like Mattel and Corporate Radar (as well as a stint in Oslo, Norway, at Fast Search Transfer), Todd Wilson joined Clif Bar & Company in 2013. He earned an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in history at UC Berkeley. In his spare time, Wilson is a pilot, snowboards, and travels.
KAREN XIE, P. 44 Blue Shield of California VP of Enterprise Architecture and Health Innovation Technology Karen Xie has more than twenty years of experience in the healthcare industry. Prior to Blue Shield of California, she was the vice president of architecture and innovation at Trinity Health. During her sixteen years at Trinity Health, Xie led the establishment of various information technologies.
GARRET YOSHIMI, P. 82 University of Hawaii CIO Garret Yoshimi studied electrical engineering at Purdue University and has held many leadership positions over his thirty-year career. When not at work, he has an unusual hobby for someone from Hawaii: snow skiing. Yoshimi and his family head north at least once a year in search of the best Canadian slopes.
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DATA ACQUIRED Facts and figures we learned from the tech leaders in this issue
weddings a year in the United States.
Using onePrattâ€™s text messaging program, Brooklynâ€™s Pratt Institute has delivered information to as many as
students at one time.
The percentage of rural citizens utilizing the Internet rose from
Clif Bar & Company has announced plans to build a -square-foot bakery in Twin Falls, Idaho.
The University of California system has
SunTrust Banks handles
percent in 2000 to
in customer assets.
percent in 2015.
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Sync is a magazine for and about technology leaders. We share compelling stories from tech executives about how theyâ€™re harnessing the power and potential of the digital revolution to grow their teams, their companies, and their careers.
BI G I DEAS IN TECH NOLOGY LEADERSHIP