S O LV I N G FOR WHY
Cover: Cass Davis, This page: Gillian Fry
Bringing Industry Experience In-House
After using Azure cloud solutions at other companies, Paul Maher returned to Microsoft with a fresh perspective P44
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Upgrade Your Performance
Matt Kobe and his team use 10 data, analytics, and motivational segmentation to help the Chicago Bulls deliver an MVP experience to every fan
Even nearly one hundred years 26 into the company’s existence, Mike Prepelica is ensuring that Revere Electric Supply continues to raise the bar with innovative solutions
BAMTECH Media’s Daniel Shmitt explains why character and reputation matter at the spin-off from Major League Baseball Advanced Media
Chris Zeppenfield and the business intelligence team help delight fans and make the Charlotte Hornets one of the most innovative teams in the NBA
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OrderInsite’s Meghann Chilcott reveals which trends promise to transform the pharmaceutical industry
Shire brings creative solutions and emerging technology to bear in the fight against rare diseases
Steve Hyde explains how continuous education and a passion for improvement drives superior customer service and innovation at Schenck SC
How Jabil put a security blanket around a patchwork of network protections and kept the entire company safe
42 Empower Your Peers
Paul Maher and Microsoft’s 44 Industry Experiences team takes a customer-first approach to marketing Azure cloud solutions Patti Barney builds a culture of digitalization at Florida’s Broward College
Mike Rosello explains the process behind breaking up with a long-standing IT partner and finding a better fit
After time in the corporate world, Christopher Kozlov found the collaborative, creative environment he craved in education
Beacon Hill Technologies’ Ava Wiseman offers a look into the rapidly changing talent pool in Detroit
How the partnership between Oracle and the City of Chicago will lead to stronger, safer services for residents
Chetan Raval updates, automates, and calibrates tech and strategy across Nerium International
Move Ideas Into the World
Data analysis, technology, and marketing combine to drive membership at the American Medical Association
Knight Transportation’s technology team keeps the company, its drivers, and the driving public safer
Carrie Rampp keeps one of the twenty-five oldest colleges in the United States on the cutting edge
Growth and evolution of data processing never stops spurring innovation at InterSystems Corporation
Merchants Fleet Management’s TotalView 88 helps clients access masses of data for actionable insights to save money and drive efficiency
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people & companies index
People & Companies
Alliance Data Card Services, 52
VP of Creative Sean Conner
American Medical Association, 74 BAMTech, 16 Barney, Patti, 49 Beacon Hill Staffing Group, 61 Broward College, 49 Charlotte Hornets, 20 Chicago Bulls, 10 Chilcott, Meghann, 29 City of Chicago, 64 Franklin & Marshall College, 82 Hyde, Steve, 35 InterSystems Corporation, 86 Jabil, 38 Knight Transportation, 79 Kobe, Matt, 10 Kozlov, Chris, 58 Lake Forest Academy, 58 Lichtenberg, Joe, 86 Maher, Paul, 44 Merchants Fleet Management, 88 Microsoft, 44 Nerium International, 68 Oracle, 64 OrderInsite, 29 Prepelica, Mike, 26 Rampp, Carrie, 82 Raval, Chetan, 68 Revere Electric Supply Co., 26 Ricci, Gabriele, 32 Rosello, Mike, 52 Schenck SC, 35 Shire, 32 Shmitt, Daniel, 16 Sladky, Eileen, 74 Wiseman, Ava, 61 Zeppenfeld, Chris, 20
Editorial Director Cyndi Fecher Senior Editor Adam Kivel Editors Joe Dixon Beth Hyland Freelance Editor Sam Edsill Contributors Zach Baliva Galen Beebe Pamela DeLoatch Jennifer Draper Joseph Kay Kathryn Kruse Lior Phillips Jeff Silver Paul Snyder Rebecca Stoner Jonas Weir
Nicole Haas Brandon Havrilka Scott Purcell Drew Thomas Olivia Tuttle
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From the editor
I can’t dunk. Even though I stand at six-foot-seven, I’ve never been able to muster a single slam dunk. That’s a full eight inches taller than Nate Robinson, the NBA’s first three-time Slam Dunk Contest champion, and Calvin Murphy—the shortest player inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s almost a foot and a half taller than ‘90s Charlotte Hornets favorite Muggsy Bogues. Despite being precisely the height of the average professional basketball player, the twohanded windmill and tomahawk jam will forever evade me. I’m guessing a majority of you can relate, but like myself, that doesn’t keep us from appreciating the skills on display, nor the leadership that adds up to wins on and off the court. A lack of leaping ability, however, can’t keep me from having a serious passion for the sport. I dissect every game throughout the season, and I’ll put in a tireless effort at weekend pickup games. But I’ve also been fascinated by the non-athletic routes that others have taken to the sports world. They might not all be obsessed with the sport in which they work, but they’ve certainly chased a passion to contribute to the success of a team. Whether through big data solutions in sports nutrition or training, advanced statistics, or wearable technology, nondunkers around the world are making a major impact on the industry. After speaking with the executives in this issue’s Focus section, I quickly learned that these innovations aren’t only being used in the efforts on the court. In fact, across a variety of sports, functions, and offices, every member of the team works together to provide the most exciting experience to frenzied fanatics such as myself. Although it can be easy to appreciate the high-flying theatrics of the team itself, getting a behind-the-scenes peek into the ways in which the technology office makes it all possible is a fascinating feat in its own right. Sports fans are known for being eager to interact with their team frequently and in many different ways, from attending games to buying jerseys to following the team via social media to downloading the team app. And all of these various touchpoints result in a ton of opportunities for the organization to exceed expectations and delight fans. The executives in our Focus section, such as Chicago Bulls vice president of business strategy and analytics Matt Kobe (P.10) have not only identified those opportunities, but they’ve also developed innovative ways to tie them all together. Teamwork is an essential element of the successful leaders throughout the entire issue as well. In fact, it was one of the most important factors for getting this magazine into your hands in the first place. Even those who may never have thought about dunking can take a lesson from the leadership perspectives in the stories shared here and push their teams to innovate better together.
Adam Kivel, Senior Editor Adam@sync-magazine.com
Matt Kobe’s innovative approach to analytics helps the Chicago Bulls tailor fan experiences based on personal motivation. sync-magazine.com
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WHETHER ON THE FIELD, ICE, OR COURT, every professional sports team strives for that unspoken competitive edge.
Recently, that has meant serious innovation, whether via VR-assisted training or analytics related to performance, nutrition, and even sleep. But technology has spread beyond improving athletesâ€™ efforts and into offices throughout the sports world. Executives from the Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets, and BAMTECH Media explain how cutting-edge solutions, innovative analysis, and teamwork combine to bring even better experiences to fans.
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Every Fan Deserves Every game day, thousands of fans flock to the United Center to cheer on their Chicago Bulls. Matt Kobe and his team are using data, analytics, and even behavioral economics to find ways to offer fans a legendary experience driven by their personal motivation. By Adam Kivel | Photos by Cass Davis
the MVP Experience sync-magazine.com
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While coaches pore over game tape and players put in time on the practice court, Matt Kobe contributes to the excitement a few floors away from the basketball action in the United Center. Rather than throwing down a high-flying slam dunk or shooting a T-shirt cannon, Kobe is figuring out how to use fan insights to help improve the experience of Chicago Bulls fans. The vice president of business strategy and analytics for Chicago’s NBA team is empowering the entire organization to use insights into fans’ motivations and experiences. Kobe leads his team to pair advanced analytics, cutting-edge technology, and innovative approaches into a cohesive focus with dual results. By better capturing, analyzing, and sharing demographic data and the various reasons that fans come to the United Center, Kobe and his team are empowering the Bulls to succeed and offer an even better experience to every fan. ”We’re trying to get to the why for each of our fans,” Kobe explains. “We believe that understanding why a person engages with the Bulls, combined with other details about them, will allow us to customize their individual experience and enhance the fan experience overall.” Kobe and his team have analyzed vast amounts of data that come with running a professional sports organization and broken it down into traditional segments: age, gender, income, location, and the like. However, the Bulls have additionally embraced motivational segmentation. The subject has been a topic of interest in the data world for some time, but can be a challenge to fully implement. Thanks to team members’ history in
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behavioral economics and inspiration drawn from the way other brands were deploying more holistic insights to improve the customer experience, Kobe has helped lead the Bulls to take more direct inspiration from fans’ interactions with the team. “Organizations have talked about the 360-degree view of the fan for many years, but they were missing things such as digital interactions and content consumption—the things related to needs, motivations, and satisfactions,” Kobe says. By way of example, he hypothesizes two season ticket holders that by traditional segmentation might seem identical. They could both be about forty years old, have two kids, and have two seats in the 100-level of the stadium. However, one of those season ticket holders might be using those tickets as a way to impress potential business clients, while the other might take his daughter to every game because they share a passion for the Bulls. If the organization knows about these differing motivations, then it can better target marketing to each and help personalize fans’ experiences to make them as powerful as possible. “We knew who they were and what they bought, but we didn’t know why,” Kobe explains. One of his team members spearheaded academic research on motivational segmentation as a first step. The team is building a strategy focused on four motivational segments sep-
JOINING THE TEAM Matt Kobe’s illustrious athletic career ended abruptly in the 8th grade. “My athletic ability was not fit for varsity sports,” he says with a laugh. “Well, except for golf.” But that didn’t mean that his interest in the sports world waned. The Cleveland native followed local teams religiously and played any game he could get involved in. He also knew he wanted to be involved in sports for his career, but didn’t know exactly how that would happen.
arated by the reason that individuals buy tickets. If they know an individual is an avid supporter of the Bulls rather than someone going to a game for social reasons, then they might expect them to be more volatile in their spending based on the team’s success. At the same time, if they learn someone has bought tickets to see their favorite Bulls player, then they can use that player’s likeness in targeted email marketing. “If our client services representative knows that a season ticket holder is motivated by social experiences, then they might set up a photo on the court. If the ticket holder is a diehard basketball fan, then they might set up a chalk talk with someone from the team,” Kobe explains. “We can start to cater the experiences to the individual. They feel that the Bulls know who they are and we are adding value to their experience. That makes our investments much more efficient because everything we do give is something people really want.” It can be relatively easy to collect information such as fans’ names and ages, but gathering their personal motivation—let alone understanding it—can be a major challenge. There is a known population and an unknown population, and over time Kobe’s team works to convert more unknowns into knowns, he says. One benefit is that he and his team have a relatively small population size: season ticket holders, single-game buyers, and people transacting with the Bulls in other ways. Pairing with technology has been a major part of moving more of those unknowns into the known bucket. But to accomplish this, Kobe and his team needed to establish a foundation that allowed them to efficiently capture data. That baseline included Kobe identifying the precise vendors needed for email marketing programs, a data warehouse, and a strong CRM tool. From there, they needed the right tools to ultimately use that data. To that end, the team needs to both know the
After spending time as a consultant, Kobe’s first foray into the sports world came when he contributed to Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. “I was able to fuse my interests in sports, business, and civics,” he says. When an opening for the Chicago Bulls appeared, he was excited, but it was the team president’s interest in analytics that solidified his interest in the organization. “Across the horizon, some organizations had analytics groups that were aligned functionally, such as ticket sales. But our president positioned analytics as a big priority across the whole organization,” Kobe says. “I saw that as an amazing opportunity to put a stamp on strategy and analytics for the Bulls—and get into the sports world. I couldn’t pass that up.”
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Matt Kobe VP, Business Strategy and Analytics Chicago Bulls
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motivations of the known population and then be able to get in touch with them with plans based on those desires. Difficulties arise when, for example, a person might buy tickets under their business’ name, sign up for season tickets under a personal email, and register for the team newsletter under a maiden name. But the Bulls are working to consolidate records and get a complete picture of each fan. “If someone buys a ticket from Ticketmaster and sells that ticket on the secondary market, we lose sight of that transaction,” Kobe says. “But we’re trying to approach that challenge from the other side. How do we get the people actually in the arena to volunteer their information?” One way in which they’ve made it worth fans’ while is by offering perks. Fans that download the team app can easily upgrade their seats on game nights or play an active role in determining the outcome of in-game activations. Kobe and his team want fans to see that sharing information will result in better content, rewards, and a fun, gamified experience. And on the Bulls’ side, the team will know exactly who is in the building, even if they don’t know who originally bought the ticket. “Coming into the role, I defined success for the team president as having strong relationships with people across all functions,” says Kobe, who prior to joining the Bulls worked as a consultant. “We have all these new touchpoints that let fans know the Bulls are thinking about them. People are also coming to us before they start a project to ask what information they should capture. Together, we’re building out these holistic personas that help us understand our fans, their motivations, and what we can do to more successfully provide them with the best experience.”
THE FUTURE OF DATA Data and analytics are a growing priority throughout the business world, and that’s particularly true in the professional sports world. According to Chicago Bulls vice president of business strategy and analytics Matt Kobe, that’s only going to grow more over time as the field further diversifies and grows more complex. Kobe and the Bulls are interested in three specific developments in the field as it evolves in the near future.
AR AND VR “Altered reality and virtual reality can affect the fan experience. For example, imagine if a fan could hold their phone up to one of the championship trophies and immediately access all of the amazing plays from that season. It creates opportunities for fans to interact with historical elements in new and different ways.”
BLOCKCHAIN “Blockchain has the potential to completely revolutionize the fan experience while also giving power back to the teams and venues. The technology can help teams get a better handle on the journey of a single ticket while also making the transfer and resale of a ticket more seamless for fans.”
BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS “We’re going to see a greater understanding and adoption of behavioral economic principles to complement analytical insights in the coming years. Tapping into human psychology and why people make certain decisions will unlock a host of new opportunities for sports and beyond.”
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How Daniel Shmitt built his multimillion-dollar IT firm, what convinced him to sell it for a leadership role with MLB Advanced Media, and why reputation matters By Zach Baliva
Professional baseball scouts look for more than raw talent. They’re interested in skills such as speed and power, but they know how other, often overlooked characteristics can take a player to the next level. Those traits, such as respect, hustle, reputation, leadership, heart, charisma, and determination, are known as the “intangibles.” Daniel Shmitt, former CIO at Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), has carefully imported those same traits into his work as a technology and business strategist. The intangibles helped him build, grow, and sell a wildly successful IT services consultancy firm before he was called up to the big leagues in 2015. Shmitt led a team that builds and manages all back office support systems for MLBAM, but his passion for technology started in the junior high computer lab. Although his family didn’t own a computer, Shmitt was able to borrow one of the school’s TRS-80s each weekend. “I’d write my own programs and try to push the machine to see what I could make it do,” he recalls. What started as a hobby soon became an obsession, and Shmitt enrolled at the University of WisconsinMilwaukee to study information technology. Upon graduation, he accepted a job as a systems administrator and began managing and building complex systems from scratch.
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Daniel Shmitt CIO BAMTECH
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In 2006, Shmitt opened his own managed service provider known as Shmitt Technologies. In the early days, he was providing end-to-end support for financial services firms. When he sold the organization to join MLBAM in 2015, Shmitt Technologies had more than one hundred clients and millions in annual revenue. Shmitt says it was an obsession with customer service that set his company apart. “We wanted to become an extension of each client’s business,” he explains. “We wanted to be best in class, and we wanted to take care of each account better than our competition could no matter what.” For Shmitt, achieving those aspirational goals was all about leading by example. If the company did a weekend or overnight migration, he was there after hours, leading the charge. When hedge fund managers required complex monitor configurations, he’d personally string monitor cables and network cords. Because he knew loyalty and long-term business were more important than a quick payday, he’d accept little jobs or even lose money on small office moves that led to repeat business. Shmitt focused on hiring like-minded individuals and imparted these beliefs to each person on his leadership team. In fact, he codified the philosophy in the “Shmitt Technologies 10 Commandments of Good Business,” which were clearly visible in each meeting room, break room, and shared office space. Those customercentric commandments—such as “customers are not an interruption of our work, they are the purpose of it”—set the tone for the entire organization, instructed employees to value every client, and permeated the culture that Shmitt was building. “We would do the things that most people don’t think of. And those small things add up to make a big difference,” he says. Soon, the company earned a reputation for customer service, its leading IT capabilities, and its ability to build complex systems, improve efficiency, and lower costs. Major clients followed, including Major League Baseball, which asked Shmitt to install data center equipment. The initial job led to more work, and soon, Shmitt was sending teams across the country to install iBeacon technology in twenty-eight of thirty MLB stadiums. Soon after, MLBAM’s CTO, Joe Inzerillo, asked Shmitt to join his team.
Shmitt sold his company and made the leap in 2015. When he joined the organization, he was responsible for three entities including Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Major League Baseball Office of the Commissioner, and Major League Baseball Network. He set out to define a road map and set a vision for the backoffice technology that allows the business to run. While Inzerillo kept running the group’s media and streaming side (MLBAM is a billion-dollar tech business that sends live content to MLB.com) Shmitt and a team of forty-five people worked to standardize technologies between the three siloed outfits to create one unified, efficient, and savvy organization that those in the know referred to as “One Baseball.” Although the two-year project was challenging, Shmitt’s experience with his own IT firm gave him the intangibles that he needed to succeed. “When you start and run your own company, you’re responsible for every failure and every success,” he explains. “You have to know a little bit about everything.” A broad skill set helped him lead various teams and subgroups well, and he did so with the same commitment to customer service that underscored his decade of success at Shmitt Technologies. “I always ask my lead people how they want the business to view their team. We want to be seen as the solution providers, and we have to provide consistent, quality work so that when people think of us, they think of the best,” Shmitt says. In August of 2017, the Walt Disney Company announced plans to purchase a leading stake in BAMTECH, a digital company split out of MLBAM. The deal, worth more than $2.58 billion, is expected to pave the way for a new ESPN-branded, direct-to-consumer sports streaming product and other offerings that will become available during or after 2019. The streaming service will bring thousands of sports events to digital devices worldwide. To prepare, Shmitt and his teams are building new back-office systems. In fact, he recently decided to take on a new role with BAMTECH, now acting as the organization’s CIO. A lot has changed for Shmitt since the eighth grade. He’s led a top consulting firm and now works with one
of the nation’s largest digital media companies. He’s loaded the most modern technology into the nation’s iconic sports stadiums. He leads a top team in one of the world’s most famous cities. But in many ways, he feels like he’s still back tinkering with that RadioShack Tandy Model III. “I enjoy building something from nothing,” he says. “No matter where I’ve been in my career, I’ve always loved discovering how technology works so I can then tinker with it to get the best performance possible.”
SHMITT TECHNOLOGIES’ TEN COMMANDMENTS OF GOOD BUSINESS When starting his own business, Daniel Shmitt needed to put together a list of rules that would help drive best practices. Through looking over the lessons he’d learned in his education and career, Shmitt adapted some key takeaways that would ensure Shmitt Technologies would find success. 1.
Customers are the most important people in any business, including ours. 2. Customers are not dependent on us; we are dependent on them. 3. Customers are not an interruption of our work, they are the purpose of it. 4. Customers do us a favor when they call; we are not doing them a favor serving them. 5. Customers are a part of our business, not outsiders. 6. Customers are not people with whom we argue or match wits. 7. Customers are people who bring us their wants. It is our responsibility to fill these wants. 8. Customers are deserving of the most courteous treatment we can give them. 9. Customers are the lifeblood of this business. 10. If you have any questions about how to respond to a client, see #1.
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Chris Zeppenfeld VP of Business Intelligence Charlotte Hornets
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Inside the Hornet’s Nest Vice president of business intelligence Chris Zeppenfeld keeps Charlotte’s NBA team buzzing By Adam Kivel
Charlotte on game day. With every Kemba Walker jab step and silky-smooth jump shot, the hum grows louder, the Hornets faithful eager to see their team make the playoffs and even potentially win its first ever championship. Although most eyes are glued to the court, Chris Zeppenfeld helps put the buzz in Buzz City by keeping track of a dozen other things. “We’re installing new Wi-Fi, a new point of sale system, and a new app,” says Zeppenfeld, the Charlotte Hornets’ vice president of business intelligence. “We have our concessionaire as well as the team. That’s five companies that have to be on the same page to provide the best possible experience for fans.” Getting those individuals working together requires as much teamwork as the Hornets need on the floor.
But from the onset of his career, Zeppenfeld has focused on building strong relationships, business acumen, and technical expertise. Like many kids, he badly wanted to be an athlete when he grew up. Zeppenfeld played soccer through high school, and upon finding he wouldn’t be able to make the sport a career, he needed to find another way into the field. His first stop after earning his bachelor of science in business administration was TeamWork Online, the most used recruiting job board in sports. Company founder Buffy Filippell—the “godmother of sports business,” as Zeppenfeld calls her—had been an executive recruiter for senior jobs such as general manager and team president for sports organizations. After starting her own company, Filippell hired Zeppenfeld to handle the more public-facing aspect of TeamWork Online, working with about seven hundred sports teams to help them identify and recruit candidates for other roles. “Working for Buffy was like an MBA on steroids,” Zeppenfeld says. “I got to learn how all of these teams were structured and how they hired talent.” Still early on in his career, Zeppenfeld needed to develop his own job. The first big breakthrough came when he moved the company’s customer information out of Excel and built a proper customer relationship management (CRM) system. “I had done a little bit of that in college and really found that was my niche,” Zeppenfeld says. “I was very focused on seeing things in a building-block formation and then parlaying that with my analytics background.” After strengthening this skill set over about four years with TeamWork Online, the teams he had been helping source candidates for began installing roles for individuals with CRM and analytics expertise around 2009. The Charlotte Bobcats, as the team was known before returning to the Hornets name, were at the vanguard of that movement and hired Zeppenfeld to revamp its
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GOING ABOVE & BEYOND WITH MICHAEL JORDAN Growing up in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s, Chris Zeppenfeld didn’t have a local NBA team to root for, but he was a fan of the sport. “There’s actually a picture of me in one of those loud ’90s Charlotte Hornets T-shirts,” he says. But like just about every kid at the time, he also had some Chicago Bulls gear. And now he works for the Charlotte team for owner and Bulls legend Michael Jordan. “When I tell people I work for the Hornets, I always get asked whether I’ve met Michael Jordan—and the answer is yes,” Zeppenfeld says with a laugh. “Michael came into our first ticketing meeting after becoming owner, and I was giving a presentation on dynamic pricing, price codes, getting all in the weeds, which vice chairman Curtis Polk was really interested in. Michael wanted to know where we stood in relation to other teams, not the p-value of my regression analysis. That’s how competitive he is. He’s one of the rare athletes that makes a massive personal impact, but also wants businesspeople to contribute their own expertise. He’s also so involved in the community and we get all these opportunities to do volunteer work.”
CRM. “It was an unmitigated disaster,” he says with a laugh. “But we got it working, added new stuff to it, and got other departments on board.” A big part of that buy-in came when Zeppenfeld built out the capacity for the CRM to deliver data-driven plans. He added an analytical wing to his work and then started working on surveys. The role evolved over time to encompass database marketing, data warehouse, the mobile app, pricing, and email strategy as well. “I realized that this sounds like what Fortune 500 companies would call business intelligence,” he explains. Once that realization weighed in, the Hornets started to hire experts in each field so that Zeppenfeld could oversee them and build out best practices.
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Over time, more and more teams and individuals began to see the value that the newly evolved business intelligence team could have on the Hornets as a whole. As its own separate vertical, Zeppenfeld wants to ensure that the team can, in a sense, make revenueneutral decisions and prioritize the projects that will provide the greatest impact. The department also acted as a case study for the way in which technology could push the entire organization to become more sophisticated. “Business intelligence became the experts, so to speak, of getting the data source, transforming it, getting it ready for consumption, and helping make better data-driven decisions throughout almost every department.” One of the biggest challenges that the business intelligence team faces, however, is the fact that a single Hornets fan can interact with each of those departments, though not necessarily with any consistency. That fan might sign up for an email list as Jon Smith, use a credit card with his full name Jonathan Smith at the team store, tweet about the team as JonSmith84, and buy a ticket as Jon D. Smith, but Zeppenfeld and his team would benefit from being able to consolidate those touchpoints under a single identity and get a clearer understanding of each individual. “We have twenty different ways that you can touch our brand and twenty different data sources, and the major challenge is that every source is different and none of them are combined,” Zeppenfeld says. “We have to integrate twenty different data sources, including Ticketmaster Archtics for ticketing, NCR Quest for concessions, Retail Pro for merchandise, Marketo for email marketing, Microsoft Dynamics for CRM, and more. You might have twenty versions of Chris Zeppenfeld and have to figure out how to get that down to one.” In order to do so, the business intelligence team takes a four-step approach. First, the team members need to collect all that data into a data warehouse. Next, they transform the data into a single unified, usable form. Once that is completed, Zeppenfeld and his team can analyze the data to find trends and learn more about individuals. Once that happens, they can present that data to management so those lessons can make for better-informed decisions across the business. Zeppenfeld ensures his team can handle the first three steps and wants to make sure he can use his expertise to take the lead on communication, using visualization tools such as Tableau to ensure that nonstatisticians can
In fact, full-time and internship hires for the business understand the takeaways and have access to the live intelligence time have been split equally among men analysis 24/7. and women.” And although the Hornets have to compete against But every game day, thousands of fans flood into the other teams on the court, the teams share best practices Spectrum Center hoping for a Hornets win and a totalin the business intelligence field. “It’s not like we’re ly seamless experience. If the app says they can order competing against the Atlanta Hawks for ticket sales,” chicken tenders, they want the food to be ready to pick Zeppenfeld says. “From my time at TeamWork, I learned that NBA teams are by far the most collaborative with up from concessions. They want to be able to use their each other on the business side. The NBA even has a Team Marketing and Business Operations group, in which league executives exchange best practices among the teams. One great advantage I have is that I can ask my compatriots what they did when facing similar challenges.” One of the biggest challenges—and opportunities for growth—that Zeppenfeld sees in the professional sports business intelligence world is personnel. Across the NBA, these teams are rather lean and budgets aren’t necessarily the most robust. Zeppenfeld has been able to build his team with extremely talented individuals. In that process, he has identified that there are a lot of individuals that have tenWhile business intelligence grows in prominence in the sports world, Chris Zeppenfeld plus years in the business, has developed a strong, versatile team of talented individuals. as well as a lot of junior analysts in their first few years with a team. However, there’s a gap where there phones when entering at the gate rather than carrying are not a lot of people at the mid-level with about 5–7 physical tickets. “They want the ability to purchase seat years of experience. upgrades and buy special experiences at a touch of a button on their phone. Of course, fans still want engaging “We have to really challenge our junior analysts to develop the skills needed for working with senior mancontent and team articles—and we’re providing new agement,” he says. “It’s encouraging that we’re seeing a features over the course of the early part of the seareally diverse group of new candidates, especially as a son. We want to make sure they can get in to watch the lot more women enter the field. Now that the business game and spend less time waiting in lines,” Zeppenfeld intelligence field is growing, if you’re smart and good explains. “We want our fans to use their phone as a sort with data, there’s a role that offers a good start into an of ‘remote control’ to enhance the experience here at the organization and provides an incredible growth path. Spectrum Center.”
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THINK Upgrade Your Performance
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Revere Electric Supply is founded by Fred Eiseman Sr., whose descendants still own the company.
Revere officially adopts the “Messenger of Service” ethic, inspired by Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere; like the 18thcentury hero, the company is dedicated to rapid and accurate delivery.
A 98-Year-Old Institution Steps Into the
Digital Future 1952
Revere moves into its current location, a 70,000-square-foot building formerly owned by the Farney family, who sold a variety of “medicines” during Prohibition.
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Revere purchases Muntz Electric and installs its first computer system.
Revere Electric Supply vice president of IT Mike Prepelica raises the bar in the distribution business with innovative solutions By Rebecca Stoner
“Technology is what gives us our edge,” Mike Prepelica says. “It’s a big tool in our toolbox.” As vice president of IT at Revere Electric, he’s responsible for harnessing technology to create solutions to business challenges. After twenty-one years at a ninety-eight-year-old company, Prepelica has learned first-hand what a legacy and a commitment to customers provides. But he’s also kept an eye to the future through lifelong learning and creative thinking, staying abreast of new technologies— and using them to keep ahead of the competition. Revere is an electrical distributor, selling anything and everything that goes into the manufacturing process that deals with electrical, as well as electrical materials for buildings, including pipes, wire, switches, and high-tech software. “Distribution is a challenging business,” Prepelica says. As a distributor, the company has to account for the uncertainty inherent in selling other people’s products, as well as the costs of moving, warehousing, and shipping goods. Revere is always working to distinguish itself from other distributors,
Revere begins its e-commerce business.
and to keep costs low. “You have to look at things carefully and leverage resources,” Prepelica says. Intelligent adaptation to new technology has been essential in the push to improve efficiency and speed. The projects that Prepelica is proudest of have made Revere’s technological systems better-integrated, more streamlined, and more powerful—chief among them the installation of new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Prepelica was named head of a committee to select the new ERP for the company, and later handled the migration to the new system. The complex process took more than two years. “The ERP is essentially the software that runs the entire business,” he explains. It enables Revere to purchase products and manage payments, orders, and credit. Glitches could cause major delays and headaches; but handled skillfully, the process ensured managers got what they needed from a nearly one-hundred-item wish list, and allowed them to feel they had ownership over selecting the technology that became central to their workday. Prepelica has also taken on the tricky task of integrating the IT systems of the six companies Revere
Mike Prepelica VP of IT Revere Electric Supply
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has acquired since 2002. Each arrived with its own email platform, phone system, and ERP platform. Prepelica was charged with retaining the best technology practices of each new acquisition, while merging its systems with the ones already in place at Revere. “These integrations allow you to get a lot of cost out of the system and increase effectiveness,” he says. “It allows you to create that sense of community—likely the most difficult part of any acquisition.” Revere’s internal culture plays an important role in helping the IT department flourish. A fourthgeneration family-owned company, Revere is a place where employees tend to stick around for many years; Prepelica himself has been working there for just over two decades. The company fosters an environment of trust and accountability with quick, open communication. “That’s allowed me to operate at a faster speed than some of my peers,” he says. “That allows us to work on the cutting edge.” In addition to the knowledge gained from longevity, Prepelica describes himself as a lifelong learner and credits that mind-set with helping him stay abreast of a rapidly changing field. He’s constantly reading, listening to podcasts, visiting vendor sites, and talking to others to learn about emerging technologies and their potential applications. This allows Prepelica to stay ahead of the curve: Seven years ago, for instance, he predicted the rise of cloud technologies, and began to develop a longterm road map for the necessary transition. He has already focused on transferring commodity technology, such as email, video-conferencing, intranet, and phone systems, to the cloud, reducing the need for expensive and labor-intensive software purchases, backups, and upgrades. It also allows for a streamlined technological integration process. Adding these functions to the cloud, Prepelica says, has freed up resources to be used elsewhere. “Rather than having to worry about the basics, I can now spend my time building up better reports or dashboards for our end-users,” he says. “I spend my time on highervalue-add activities because we’ve moved all these things to the cloud. We’re not just changing things to change them. There’s always an end goal.” The changes that Prepelica and his team have made are based on a lifelong engagement with learning and new technology, as well as the deeply held ideals of a ninety-eight-year-old family company. But more importantly, they are based on a commitment to improving efficiency and ease of use for employees, vendors, and buyers alike. Issue 015
Blueprints for innovation OrderInsite’s Meghann Chilcott reveals which tech trends promise to transform the pharmaceutical business By Jenny Draper
Meghann Chilcott worked as a pharmacy technician while also majoring in pre-pharmacy at college, but her career path took an unexpected, swift turn toward medical tech. “I loved the robot and the machines,” she says. “The pharmacist I worked with recommended that I go into IT.” Chilcott had worked in pharmacy at Walmart and the Sacred Heart Health System before she pivoted toward the world of technology, but without leaving pharmacy behind. Now, she’s spent almost two decades shaping digital environments to ensure that medicines are distributed to patients in need. The IT leader continues to see a dynamic future in the pharmaceutical industry. Last fall she joined OrderInsite, a prescription drug inventory solutions company, where she’s applying predictive analytics sync-magazine.com
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and forecasting. “The big focus now is analytics. It’s all about data,” says Chilcott, the organization’s senior vice president. Previously, as vice president of IT innovation at Fred’s Inc., she oversaw the healthcare technology strategy for the discount retail and pharmacy chain. That’s where she implemented a pharmacy data warehouse and pricing tool, and also saved the company half a million dollars through vendor management last year alone. However, the industry is entering a new phase, according to Chilcott. Previously, companies spent years collecting and storing information in massive data warehouses. Today, companies are employing advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) to make use of the data at a rapid rate and on a massive scale. Chilcott also notes that the industry is increasingly patient-centric, a user-friendly trend that shows no signs of stopping. “Patients have mobile apps to compare pricing on medications,” she says. “They can use mobile apps to refill medications, conduct physician visits, schedule their immunizations, and compare insurance plans.” Chilcott also points to an evolution in the way reimbursements are covered. Pharmacies are now being reimbursed from insurance companies based on patients’ health results. “So, now we’re focusing on how we can keep patients on the therapies,” she explains. “We’re going to see a bigger focus on centralizing technologies, improving our processes, and trying to ensure the patient has the best possible outcome.” Chilcott cites the recent use of 3-D printing of medications, such as Spritam, and how it has the potential to boost accessibility when printed on demand for patients. Plus, smart medications such as sensoryenabled pills gather information once swallowed and notify pharmacists and caregivers. Such cutting-edge Issue 015
ideas are ushering in a new era of personalized medicine. Consider the integration of pharmacogenomics (the study of the role of the genome in drug response) into the pharmacy dispensing process. Pharmacists can offer the testing and then utilize the genetic data for future prescription usage, according to Chilcott. Genetic data can reveal a patient’s risk for adverse effects or the likelihood that the drug is beneficial to the patient at all. Ultimately, it ensures that patients take the medications that are best for them. Chilcott sees AI as a future power player in pharmacy—for example, in the case of clinical trials. She explains that besides cutting costs, improving trial quality, and reducing trial times by almost half, AI is finding biomarkers and gene signatures that cause diseases, recruiting eligible clinical trial patients in minutes, reading volumes of text in seconds, and identifying trial candidates through social media and doctor visits. “Someday pharmacists may act more like keepers of blueprints for medications,” she says. “It will change how wholesalers distribute to pharmacies as well.” To make such advancements, Chilcott believes in teamwork, learning, and execution. As a whole, she urges the need to “be great at whatever you do,” and her background reflects that willpower. Chilcott received a BS in information technology from the University of West Florida, and then earned her MBA. And she’s not done yet, as she’s looking to another way to further bring innovation to pharmacy: she’s currently finishing her second master’s degree, studying biomedical informatics at Nova Southeastern University. “There’s so much more to learn,” she says. Wherever she’s worked, Chilcott has strived to assemble talented teams that aren’t afraid of tackling any obstacle. That requires open communication, she says. “I speak pharmacy. I understand the business,” she says. “I think we’re going to see a lot more liaisons, IT people completely embedded in the business, and vice versa. Without that integration, we won’t understand what each other is trying to accomplish.” Balancing immediate needs with long-term IT strategy can be easy, according to Chilcott. She puts time sync-magazine.com
Meghann Chilcott SVP OrderInsite
aside quarterly to reassess how effectively the team is working toward long-term goals. She recommends having an annual strategy meeting where the business shares its goals with the technology team, which aligns strategy and ensures that the IT strategy is still relevant. She likens her leadership style to mentorship, allowing team members autonomy to make mistakes while giving them guidance when course correcting. Chilcott aims to join an advisory council or board to further contribute expertise to growing companies. And at OrderInsite, she’s already plugged in to the next few years. Chilcott intends to expand the company’s products to propel the ascent to the leading inventory management service for community, specialty, and hospital pharmacies. But today, the IT leader knows she’s right where she should be. “Follow your passion. Don’t be afraid of trying something new or stepping outside your comfort zone. I enjoy waking up every day to tackle new challenges,” she says. “Follow your passion, and you will naturally excel and opportunities will present themselves.” Sync / 31
Unleashing Innovation on Rare Diseases Creative breakthroughs are changing how business gets done at Shire By Jeff Silver
Shire champions people around the world who struggle with rare diseases—an estimated 350 million patients. Up to 40 percent of these individuals are misdiagnosed more than once during the average five years it takes to correctly identify their illnesses. About half are children. To address those challenges, Gabriele Ricci leads Shire’s digital health and emerging technology team, which has a mission to not only create new capabilities, but also to help nurture a new mindset focused on inspired digital transformation. “We’re creating tools that open doors to new discoveries that benefit our patients,” Ricci explains. “They are at the center of everything we do.” Ricci’s team was formed when the company merged with Baxalta in June of 2016. That decision has helped Shire develop and harness innovations that are driving better patient outcomes and helping to keep pace with a rapidly changing healthcare landscape. To create the environment where that kind of leading-edge development happens, Ricci and his team are focused on several core activities. First, they evangelize emerging trends that apply to Shire’s products and business goals by educating business partners on the value those opportunities offer. The team also consults on structured frameworks that can contribute to successful new technology investments. Lastly, the team brokers partnerships among internal staff and outside players; this includes 32 / Sync
scouting startups, working with R&D departments of technology partners, partnering with digital health accelerators, and nurturing relationships with universities and other academic institutions. The team also does extensive internal education and coaching. It recently trained more than five hundred colleagues on advanced analytics, including data discovery, machine learning, and graph technology. This resulted in a twenty-five-fold increase in active users on the company’s advanced analytics framework within just four months. Its efforts also generated more than twenty new leads for artificial intelligence applications in R&D, technical operations, and commercial and corporate services. “Laying the groundwork for a digital transformation is really more of a shift in mind-set and capabilities than it is adopting new technology,” Ricci says. “Our job is to create that mind-set and to raise awareness of the benefits that appropriately applied technology can bring to every part of our business.” Part of the shift is changing how Shire goes about fueling innovation. Ricci and his team have developed an innovation accelerator framework that welcomes input from the business to help address specific challenges. This crowdsourcing approach is currently being Issue 015
Gabriele Ricci VP, Head of Digital Health and Emerging Technology Shire
“We’re creating tools that open doors to new discoveries that benefit our patients. They are at the center of everything we do.”
used to improve operations in some of the company’s manufacturing plants. The digital health and emerging technology team has also developed a tool kit that is used for day-anda-half long ideation sessions. The kit supports the workshops with a structured design methodology that uses predefined materials and challenges to step through phases of discovery, definition, inspiration, creation, commitment, activation, and operation. With up to fifty participants per session, they have already produced tangible results. An insight cockpit was developed that identifies business benefits by combining all commercial analytics into one platform. After a successful pilot, an Internet of Things (IoT) for labs has become the standard for lab equipment management across the enterprise. As product innovations are piloted and refined, Ricci then focuses on developing business cases that will help integrate them into standard operations. Sync / 33
“We collect as much information as possible about real-world behaviors and scenarios to create comprehensive patient personas,” Ricci explains. “The resulting journey maps help us identify ‘moments that matter’ so we can deliver the most useful solutions to patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, payers, and providers.” The Shire Data Marketplace is an internal innovation that is improving the management, development, and accessibility of business intelligence and other resources. The stack is enriched with machine learning, data discovery tools, cognitive services, and new integration capabilities. As a result, it helps identify who is using available data and how the data is being used, and recommends other related data sets. It can even harvest information from IoT sensors, link those data sets into other data assets, and create new resources, like self-service dashboards. Other developing technologies are being explored to facilitate additional new breakthroughs in the very near future. Artificial intelligence has the ability to affect patient outcomes by reducing the time to diagnosis, creating a better understanding of disease progression, offering behavior modification support, and improving market access through digital channels. Blockchain is being harnessed for outcome-based payments and traceability, while simultaneously enabling patients to better control their health records. Mixed reality will connect healthcare providers to important information on rare disease symptoms, treatments, and continuing education. Invisible sensor technology is expected to help create minimally intrusive clinical settings that more realistically duplicate patients’ real-world environments. Eventually, Ricci believes that Shire will outgrow the need for his department. “When the digital mindset permeates the organization and is part of its DNA, we won’t need a group dedicated to focusing on it any longer,” he says. “It will simply be an unconscious part of our values, behaviors, and operations and completely embedded in how we engage with our patients.” Wipro Health: Enabling Clients to Compete on Health Outcomes Winners will be those that build sustainable competitive advantage through better access to, and analysis of, clinical data; through deeper insight about how to improve outcomes; and through more novel collaborations and partnerships to develop new value-adding innovations. Connect with us at Wipro.Health@wipro.com or @WiproHealth on LinkedIn for more information.
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Always Learning Steve Hyde explains how continuous education and a passion for improvement drives superior customer service and innovation at Schenck SC
By Adam Kivel
Growing up in the early ‘80s in Appleton, Wisconsin, Steve Hyde was an immediate early adopter of technology. His father sold computer systems, meaning that new massive IBM computers would wind up in the family home. Though he may not have been immediately interested in a career in technology—“The first thing I thought about was what kind of games I could play on the thing,” he recalls—the Wisconsin native quickly moved on to coding, development, and more. That growing interest led to a job in the computer lab in college, which in turn quickly snowballed into a diverse education and a long career. Hyde has received certifications in cybersecurity and data science from the sync-magazine.com
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a leadership certificate from Cornell, and has held technology leadership roles at organizations such as Manpower and Deloitte Consulting. On the back of all of that development, he has risen to the role of CIO and director of IT services for Schenck SC, an assurance, tax, and advisory firm based in his home state. Despite Hyde’s vast, impressive career, his passion for learning and finding solutions has driven him every step of the way. Hyde spoke with Sync about the principles behind his career, the importance of communication skills for technologists, and his strategy for recruiting and developing top talent at Schenck. Sync / 35
What is your earliest memory of your father’s computer sales career? My dad told me this story about selling to a local doctor’s office. He went into the office and said, “Let’s have a race. I’ll type up this letter on a computer, and you type it up on a typewriter.” Ten times out of ten they beat him. But then he’d say, “Okay, now let’s change the address.” Of course, he would be able to do it in a few seconds, whereas they would have to type up an entire new letter. I really saw the impact of how computers helped people have more control and that they could use them to do some fantastic things. How long did it take from that point before you started working in the field yourself ? During my undergrad time at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, I was assigned a job in the computer labs. I was helping people with term papers and résumés, and still seeing that same type of fear: “I’ve just worked on this thing for the last ten hours, but I think I saved it incorrectly!” And of course after a few key strokes: “You saved my life!” I knew technology was going to be a part of my job, whatever it was that I did. I didn’t think I would be a software or hardware guy, but rather a businessperson who understood technology and how it could help people do their jobs. I wanted to help people get over that fear.
Between that opportunity and all of the degrees and certificates on your résumé, it would seem that learning is essential to you as a person. That inspired my mantra at Schenck: “Give me the impossible; we’re going to do it, and we’re going to have fun as we do.” 36 / Sync
Steve Hyde CIO, Director of IT Services Schenck SC
For so many technology leaders, communicating impact and getting buy-in from the rest of the organization is a major challenge. That mantra must help with that challenge. Definitely. Even when I’ve had to shut down requests for projects, I make sure to have that conversation with people to find other solutions. Maybe they aren’t asking the right questions or looking for the right answers. Are we just fixing a symptom or are we curing the disease? Executives also need to blend responsiveness with being proactive. How do you strike that balance? I could put all my resources on security projects. That might make us secure, but we’re going to have systems failing left and right. That’s where networking with other accounting firms, talking to clients, and reading whatever possible is useful. I make sure to balance our work with education to look to what this industry will look like in the future. Issue 015
JEFF NOOYEN PHOTOGRAPHY
What drew you to Schenck? At Deloitte, I was able to travel and work with some extremely large systems and extremely large clients. I became a CIO at Alta Resources, but within six months, we’d gone from solving problems to things running fairly smoothly, and I craved a new challenge and change. The head of audit for Schenck had lived on my floor during my freshman year of college. When he called me up and described the opportunity to get in there and put a foundation in place for future growth, I was interested. Once I got in there and began enhancing strategic processes, they wanted me to be talking to all of their clients to help them with their own technology needs as well. It’s been a great learning experience to go out to all these companies and see how they do things.
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR FRIEND AND BUSINESS Blockchain , for example, will really revolutionize the way transactions happen. And when it comes to an accounting firm, artificial intelligence can really revolutionize how we look at that transaction for fraud. I need to continually learn and make some educated guesses on how this is going to change within different industries and how that affects our clients. Ever since I became a manager, I’ve been big on continuing education and creating a skills matrix. Do you want to go into networking, hardware, software, development, or project management? Knowing what helps drive individuals can also help drive their education and their long-term plan. Does that impact the way you recruit and retain talent? Our biggest issue is trying to find IT consultants, especially those with an auditing background. We’ve been lucky that our turnover has been extremely low, but part of that luck comes from the culture we’ve built, the benefits we provide, and the team itself. We make each other better. I look at what drives people. What are their dreams, and how can I help facilitate that, educating them on the problems we face and the issues we choose to work on? Technology isn’t always going to work—knock on wood. So, reminding people that we’re not a hospital, that no one’s going to die if we have an outage, but still having that sense of urgency has served us very well. Speaking of challenges—and I’m knocking on wood over here, too—is there any major project or challenge coming up that you’re strategizing for? We’ve spent the last three years implementing a new HR system, a new website, new intranet, upgrades to our time and billing system, and a lot of work on reporting and business intelligence. So, we will have a push to get more out of what we have and also look at new technology out there that can make us more efficient. On the client side, we’re always looking at potential new ways we can help them succeed; we’ve developed a business analytics partnership with business intelligence organization Yellowfin, as one example. Right now we’re looking at communication tools and tracking tools for accountants who are out in the field. We have a lot of focus on security and automation. The analytics realm is going to be a big differentiator as well, as we continue to look for areas of fraud. That certainly ties back to the idea of constantly learning and trying to do the impossible. Definitely. The industry is going to see a massive change in the next five years—and if I know what’s coming, we can help prepare everyone for it. sync-magazine.com
PARTNER STEVE HYDE OF SCHENCK ON BEING As digital currency rises, blockchain has moved beyond the realm of BitCoin and into the technology world at large. The first blockchain was conceptualized in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, but has since shown implications for digitized, decentralized information in a variety of applications.
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Fut 38 / Sync
ure When John Graham joined Jabil Inc. as CISO, he saw a patchwork of network protections being used to varying levels of efficacy. Now heâ€™s put a security blanket around the whole companyâ€”and helped the entire business drive ahead.
by Paul Snyder
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Some companies might sweat over their cybersecurity measures being transitioned from in-house firewalls to cloud services. But according to John Graham, the move wasn’t so much a radical change for Florida-based manufacturing solutions provider Jabil Inc. as it was an effort to optimize and bring its security measures into focus. That didn’t mean the transition would always be easy, but Graham ensured the organization found solutions that brought everyone together. When Graham joined Jabil four years ago, he led implementation of the Z-Scaler cloud service to more than one hundred Jabil facilities throughout twentynine different countries. The move put a blanket around the entire company brought consistency throughout— an important addition for a global company that stores project schematics for the biggest and best-known brands in the world. Immediately, both Graham and his colleagues noted interesting effects. Business and management teams were using various controls that were there to manage people instead of managing the network. But the scenario quickly changed. “We basically built four policy sets for the entire company,” Graham says. “We’d get complaints from business management that their people were not using the IT systems properly. But, our position was, ‘You need to manage the people. We’re going to focus on the malware.’” The advantages are plain to see. The company no longer has to worry about having a particular department or team to upgrade the hardware or operating system. It also provides the organization with flexibility not only in terms of engaging with cloud-service providers, but also in protecting against cyberattacks that might affect the companies with which Jabil works. The transition process was smooth and the cloud service was implemented with speed; the system was functional very soon after. However, Graham notes, the process didn’t account for the organizational change management required in the IT organization. “We did it without having to involve the internal IT team. It was seamless,” Graham says. “Yet, often when there was a performance issue, the team implicated the security solution as the culprit.” 40 / Sync
As such, time was put into training and showing the company’s various teams how the new system works. In doing so, those issues were also quickly put to rest. It also enabled Graham to change some employees’ tasks, enabling team members to focus more of their time on proactively seeking out potential cyberthreats and strengthening Jabil’s IT protection processes. As Graham has settled into his role in the growing company, navigating the different mind-sets within the business and IT sectors of Jabil has been a constant. That’s particularly true when it comes to issues of exposed risk and getting agreement from all areas on how to address and or fix it. “It gets really challenging when you don’t have the acknowledgment and visibility on the business side and the commitment on the IT side to make a change occur,” Graham says. “Bringing both business and IT groups together becomes an imperative in managing risks and improving internal communications.” Graham has learned to have a playbook in place for when issues do occur. “It’s important to maintain several levels of interaction with the business,” he explains. “Everything from board presentations to paperwork relating to risk acceptance and acknowledgment are critical. The playbook doesn’t have to be used very often, Issue 015
AWARD WORTHY WORK
but when it does, it comes CISO John Graham’s work hasn’t only been in very handy.” appreciated by his coworkers at Jabil. The payoff is that In fact, Graham was named Information Security Executive of the Year in 2016 by the Graham’s team is now ISE Southwest Region for his work with the being called on to engage company. Graham was recognized not only with the business in both for creating leverage between enterprise customer and staff meetgovernance control and cost savings, but ings. Because the IT Secualso adding revenue-generating, valueadded services for the company. rity department is only “I really appreciated the acknowledgment four years old, Graham and support from my peers in the industry,” says the significance of Graham says of the honor. “We tend to rising to that level of imbe a pretty close group, and we share information and support each other. For portance in the company me, it was just an acknowledgment of isn’t lost on him. Both the things we’ve done together. It just so technology and Jabil are happened that some of the things I’d done evolving rapidly, which hit the mark for them.” presents new challenges on a daily basis. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “There’s something different to deal with almost every single day,” Graham says. “But I enjoy strategy and problem solving. When you have something changing every day, you’re constantly on the chess board trying to figure things out.” sync-magazine.com
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LEAD Empower Your Peers
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How to Build Large-Scale Solutions in The Cloud Paul Maher, who has recently returned to Microsoft, brings his cloud expertise to the new Industry Experiences team By Jonas Weir | Photos by Gillian Fry
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The question is no longer if a company should consider cloud solutions to meet their digital transformation needs; it’s more about when and how to move to the cloud. Paul Maher, the general manager of Microsoft’s new Industry Experiences team, intimately knows the state of cloud migration. With more than twenty years in the technology industry, Maher has worked across multiple industries on cloud projects both from within Microsoft and outside. In fact, while at his previous employer Milliman, an actuarial services and solution firm in the global life insurance market, Maher and his engineering team built one of the largest software solutions on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. “I’ve worked in industry and built real-world solutions on the cloud,” Maher says. “I have extensive industry experience and a deep technical background from working in the technology industry across a variety of roles.” Today, he is bringing that cloud experience to help the Microsoft Azure engineering team collaborate directly with industry customers and partner, solving their digital transformation needs using the Microsoft Azure cloud. But Maher understands that to be successful with cloud projects, some fundamentals need to be defined and agreed up front, for example: overall project goals, clear architecture design, identifying potential risks, and agreement on clear milestones to track project progress. It’s also essential to have the right skilled resource on the project from the beginning to be set up for success, he says. Maher shared some of the lessons learned after years of working on large-scale cloud projects across multiple industries. 46 / Sync
KNOW YOUR MOTIVATION
It’s important, according to Maher, to be prepared to be challenged by others about your decision to move to the cloud, whether building software solutions on top of the cloud platform or moving IT functions to the cloud. Maher recommends anyone seriously looking into the endeavor clearly understand and be able to articulate why they want to make the transition. This helps your conversations both internally and externally. “Being able to clearly explain why you chose to move to the cloud is a must,” Maher says. Maher recommends having a data-driven approach to the discussion, being prepared to address common questions about cloud such as cost, ownership, control, security, and so on.
UNDERSTAND THE BENEFITS
“The benefits of moving to the cloud are innumerable,” Maher says. They include operational agility, quicker time to market, improved security, reliability, reduced IT cost, reduced management overhead, and a pay-asyou-go pricing model, which Maher finds particularly appealing for Microsoft’s customers and partners. “The cloud provides access to scalable services such as compute and storage with a pay-as-you go pricing model,” Maher says. “The cloud is helping industries innovate to meet their digital transformation needs.” Although the idea of moving to a cloud pay-as-yougo model from traditional pay models is a paradigm shift, Maher believes it provides more freedom to Issue 015
give advance warning if there will be slips in a date from what was originally forecast, Maher says. This can build confidence in your ability to plan and give ongoing feedback about the health of your project. “It’s good to have a North Star,” Maher says. “This keeps focus on your overall project delivery as you track performance against the various project milestones.”
BUILDING CLOUD SOLUTIONS
control costs. It’s important to become comfortable with the model and build a solid understanding of how cloud pricing works. Once you do, you’ll immediately see the benefits over traditional licensing models, Maher says.
As with all IT projects, it’s important to be prepared to provide clear feedback on progress. Whether you’re building a cloud software solution or migrating IT functions to the cloud, Maher says that you should define realistic deliverables and associated milestones. Too often projects set unrealistic deadlines , which can set the project up for failure from the beginning. Ideally, sync-magazine.com
Paul Maher Partner, General Manager, Industry Experiences Microsoft
It’s important to take the time to design and architect cloud solutions correctly considering key components such as performance, scalability, reliability, and security. Maher says this is where bringing in experienced people to help, whether they’re full-time staff or consultants and following best practices is essential. “Learn from the experiences of others who have already been involved in cloud projects,” Maher says. “Building cloud solutions requires both an understanding of the cost to develop and test the prerelease versions as well an understanding of the cost to run the live released solution. Not being in control of your costs is a recipe for disaster that you want to avoid.” Another area to fully understand, Maher says, is the role of DevOps. “DevOps ensures good collaboration between software developers and IT,” Maher says. “DevOps should be focused on automating software for continuous building, testing, and deployment.”
SUPPORTING CLOUD SOLUTIONS
Whomever your cloud solution is for, either internal use or to sell to customers, fully understanding the Sync / 47
MEET THE TEAM
need for security, compliance, and service-level agreements (SLAs) is extremely important. Knowing who is accountable, you or your cloud provider, also is critical. This is important to understand when entering into contract discussions with potential customers if you’re selling your cloud solution and services, Maher says. Another consideration is your support infrastructure. This may differ, Maher says, if your solution is delivered internally or offered as a managed service externally to customers. You will likely need to make an investment in support and operations resource. According to Maher, it’s important to have the right skilled people for these functions and look to automation and tooling as much as possible to support your operational needs.
“If you surround yourself with smart people, you can achieve anything.”
HAVE THE RIGHT TEAM IN PLACE
To be successful building software solutions and moving IT functions to the cloud, Maher recommends defining and having the right team in place from the beginning. “It’s important to have a partnership between business stakeholders and technical stakeholders,” Maher says. “You need to have a diverse and multidiscipline team to deliver across the various requirements of your cloud project.” Above all, Maher says, it’s important to have a mix of experienced professionals on the team to lead and support your cloud transformation projects. That doesn’t mean those with traditional IT roles today will not have a place in the future; it’s merely an evolution of roles.
THE INDUSTRY EXPERIENCES TEAM
Today, Maher is building the Industry Experiences team at Microsoft. He is focusing his energy on putting together a team that deeply aligns with industry. The team’s goal is to connect and engages with industry by 48 / Sync
The Industry Experiences team is initially focusing on banking and capital markets, insurance, manufacturing, retail, and healthcare while Maher recruits the right industry leads and architects to focus on more areas. To staff the team, Maher is bringing in people who bring a diverse set of backgrounds and skills to the table. “My philosophy is to hire smart people who I know have the ability to be successful,” he says. “If you surround yourself with smart people, you can achieve anything.” INDUSTRY LEADS: • Banking and Capital Markets: Howard Bush has twenty-five years of experience at companies such as; Bank of America, National City Bank, First Union, and most recently Microsoft. • Insurance: Nick Leimer is joining the team from ManuLife and bringing nearly thirty years in the actuarial profession at companies such as AIG, ARC, and Bureau of Labor Statistics. • Manufacturing: With a PhD in mechanical engineering, Diego Tamburini is joining the team from AutoDesk and bringing twenty-five years of experience, including time at companies such Microsoft and Siemens PLM. • Retail: Mariya Zorotovich has sixteen years of experience at Nordstrom, drugstore.com, and most recently Microsoft. • Cross Industry: Eric Griffin has twenty-five years of experience at Coca-Cola, Apple, London Bridge, and most recently Microsoft. CLOUD ARCHITECTS: Giovanni Marchetti, Ercenk Keresteci, and Scott Seely have an extensive background of building real-world cloud solutions in various industries. TECHNICAL WRITER: Joshua Maher has more than fifteen years of experience of writing for popular online websites and publications.
working with partner and customer decision makers, architects, and developers. So, they will focus on providing technical and industry domain expertise and helping businesses be successful using the Microsoft Azure cloud. For Maher, it’s an exciting new chapter in his career and one he’s ready to embark on. “There’s an opportunity to be involved helping industry address their digital transformation needs and challenges,” Maher says. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to help our Microsoft customers and partners be successful on their journey to the cloud.” Issue 015
SOAR Patti Barney looks beyond the traditional technology function to build a culture of digitalization at Broward College By Galen Beebe
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Patti Barney’s career at Broward College began when she was a computer science student in the early 1980s. At the time, there were no personal computers, no library computer stations, and no internet. “Students weren’t learning digitally at all,” Barney says. “Everything was notebooks, pen, and paper.” But for over three decades, Barney has been working to shift the school’s digital landscape. After graduating from Broward, she applied for a full-time programming position at the college. She worked her way up the ranks, becoming the vice president of IT in 2004. But despite her focus on technology, Barney’s passion has always been for serving the students, the staff, and the business. “I’ve been fascinated my whole life about making things work better, faster, and smoother,” she says. “Those were the things that really excited me the most.” As part of Broward’s five-year strategic plan, Barney’s Innovation team is creating a digital storybook that will help faculty, staff, and administrators understand the college’s digitalization strategy. “We want to ensure that people understand what digitalization means,” she says. “It’s not about technology; it’s about the experience a student has in a moment.” The storybook has three volumes—Start, Succeed, and Soar—which show the three stages of a student’s career, from recruitment to enrollment to graduation. Within each volume are chapters that revolve around functions such as interviewing and job placement, and within each chapter are digital moments that show specific ways in which technology can be used to improve student experience and success. Upon enrolling, students choose from eight guided pathways, also called metamajors, which are defined by the state of Florida. The digital platform EAB Navigate guides students through the enrollment process, using predictive analytics to give users real-time feedback. In 2013, Barney’s team began transitioning the enterprise resource planning system from the one they had built in the 1990s to Workday. Like EAB Navigate, Workday uses automated processes to proactively engage and inform students, from recruitment through 50 / Sync
graduation. When a prospective student reaches out, Workday automatically sends them electronic information about the college and links to apply. When students are accepted, the system sends a welcome email and a list of next steps, such as completing financial aid forms. At this point, the student is paired with an advisor who contacts them to set up an in-person meeting. Workday has changed things for recruiters as well as students. With the previous system, potential students received a simple confirmation email and follow-ups came in the form of robocalls. Recruiters had little access to student progress information or data to indicate which approaches worked best. Now, dashboards alert recruiters when a potential student has stopped progressing through the enrollment process. A recruiter can then reach out to the student and answer any questions that they have about the process Along with changing the technological tools, Barney and her team are also changing the culture around digitalization. As part of their strategy, the IT Analytics staff Issue 015
has joined the institutional research department to create a data ambassador program made up of employees from around the college. The first cohort of ten ambassadors is completing a Michigan State master’s certification program in business analytics to prepare them to better use and visualize the data that they gather.
“We want to make sure that people understand what digitalization means. It’s not about technology; it’s about the experience a student has in a moment.” Although administrators have long had access to student data and the ability to run reports, the use of predictive analytics is new. “There was a culture of evidence, but there was never a huge desire to question it,” Barney says. Using tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI data visualization platform, the ambassadors can get the information that they need to understand patterns and replicate results. Recently, Broward partnered with CSPI as its managed services provider for all infrastructure and datacenter operations, and are now in the process of transitioning to a private cloud. “The constant struggle to hire and retain skilled talent is no longer a concern, and we have significantly improved our level of systems, network, and security expertise through this partnership,” Barney says. As they continue to automate and move more services to the cloud, the IT department can focus time and resources on creating personal connections to enhance the digital culture. They’ve created “genius lounges” where faculty and staff can meet with IT team members and ask questions about available technology. “We have made great progress in terms of building relationships with faculty,” Barney says. “Why do we have thirty people that are fixing issues and responding to help tickets? Let’s automate or outsource traditional IT functions and then take these brilliant IT professionals and give them the soft skills that they need to be in front of people, inspiring others to be more proficient with the technology that they use each day.” After spending her career at Broward College, Barney will leave the IT department in November 2018. She has been working with her successor to pave the way for the strategies of the future—to find and train those who have the skills to look beyond the technology and to the people and systems they are serving. “We don’t need basic programmers,” she says. “We need a whole different skill set.” sync-magazine.com
Higher educational institutions must operate with speed and agility to stay relevant in this digital era. CSPi Technology Solutions help our clients alleviate this pressure to achieve amazing business results. As a Platinum HPE/Aruba partner we provide solutions to higher educational institutions that focus on a secure and exceptional student experience.
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The IT Partnership Guidebook Alliance Data Card Services CIO Mike Rosello knows that sometimes the best thing for a business relationship is for it to end, and offers some advice on navigating those tricky situations By Pamela DeLoatch
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Last year, Mike Rosello faced one of the toughest decisions he’d encountered as a CIO: he had to decide whether to break up with a long-standing IT partner, putting the company at significant risk of service disruption, or stay in a safe relationship, knowing it wouldn’t align with his company’s long-term growth plans. Rosello is the senior vice president and chief information officer for Alliance Data Card Services, a private label and cobranded credit card provider and the largest division of Alliance Data, which offers retailers loyalty and marketing services. With one in five people owning a card managed by Alliance Data Card Services (through credit cards offered by companies such as Victoria’s Secret, Pottery Barn, J. Crew, and Signet Jewelers), the division experienced strong growth through the signing of new clients and growth of its existing portfolio of clients. Industry growth was up 300 percent in the last ten years, and Alliance Data Card Services enjoyed double-digit increases in revenue in the last four years. With such massive growth, Rosello needed to ensure the IT services could keep up. “We had to think about where we were as a business, where we were going in the next five years, and if our existing partners were able to grow with us,” Rosello says. After thorough analysis, he realized he needed a new IT partner that shared his company’s vision for dynamic growth. 54 / Sync
Making the Transition
Normally, an outsourcing transition from one IT partner to another is at least a nine-month project, Rosello says. The transition involves switching the mainframe, Windows, Unix, networks, and all the infrastructure technologies and architecture, as well as the help desk. Most companies take extended downtime windows during that time. But Alliance Data Card Services needed to work differently. “We couldn’t conceive of having any significant downtime,” Rosello says. “It’s a growth company and we can’t take a year off.” With 160 clients and over twenty million accounts with credit card customers making purchases 24/7/365, any disruption in the business could be devastating. Rosello insisted on a seemingly impossible goal: 100 percent uptime. Beyond time, Rosello faced even more hurdles. He needed to stay within budget. He had to decide how to handle 123 third-party sub-contracts tied with the current partner. And he had to move the data service center that was being managed by the current partner to a new location in a different state.
Feet to the Fire: A Familiar Feeling
It wasn’t the first time Rosello has found himself in unchartered territory. After switching from finance to IT, he worked in his first technical job as an engineer. Six months after he started, his supervisor left, and Rosello took over the job. “I was not ready and certainly not qualified to do so,” Rosello recalls. He managed multiple accounts, many of them multinational, and felt like a deer in the headlights the whole time. But by working feverishly after hours, Rosello would be up to speed during business hours. The experience was incredible, Rosello says, with a ten-year learning curve compressed into two years. “Once you do it, you know it won’t kill you and you can be successful at it. You kind of get the itch to do it again Issue 015
Mike Rosello SVP, CIO Alliance Data Card Services
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and know you can jump into things without being fully trained,” he says. Still, with Alliance Data Card Services, the stakes were even higher. Although Rosello had support from the top of the organization, he keenly felt responsible for the project’s success. “It was my baby, sink or swim,” he says. “I don’t know if I could have lived with myself if I failed and failed this organization.” That passion has been appreciated by Rosello’s partners both internally and externally. “It has been a real pleasure for our Cognizant team to partner closely with Mike and his team to simplify and modernize Alliance Data Card Services’ IT infrastructure, so it is digital-ready and enables their continued fast growth,” says Venu Lambu, senior vice president and global head of markets for infrastructure services at Cognizant.
The Uncoupling Process
Preparing for the transition took as long as the process itself. For ten months, Rosello and his “army” of team members planned every aspect of the change. Even before the eventual new partner was selected, Rosello, his internal IT staff, a designated project point person brought in from the outside, and a consulting company developed the financial modeling, examining all contracts for legal rights and obligations, identifying assets, and determining all the steps needed for success. The team and the corporate boards reviewed the potential partners, asking tough questions: Are the potential partners growing? What is their performance? What are their audit and compliance findings? Are they cost competitive? Most importantly, can they transition with no downtime? Many of the potential candidates said that they could, but only one provided a road map that convinced Rosello it could accomplish the goal. Alliance Card Data Services selected Cognizant, a business and technology service leader as its IT partner. The card services company had the advantage of having their application stack in-house and having ownership of one of the two data centers, which allowed failover between the old and new locations as the information transferred.
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After twenty stressful months, the transition was complete—under budget, with all 123 contracts addressed, redesigned, renewed, or cancelled. And, most importantly, the transition created no downtime for the business, Rosello says. “From a leadership perspective, it’s my greatest achievement without a doubt,” Rosello says. The work of almost two hundred people from his company and from Cognizant made the success possible. The experience also taught a few key lessons. First, he learned the importance of complete, exhaustive due diligence before deciding to make a change. “You may still have surprises, but you’ll be in a better position to find a solution,” he says. Bringing in the necessary expertise was also important, as no one person could know how to accomplish everything. For that reason, he also needed to be transparent about the process, even about bumps in the road. Making sure employees were comfortable increased their acceptance of the changes. To drive that confidence, he needed to have confidence in his own decisions as well. While it was an incredibly fulfilling and important move, Rosello won’t be quick to make a massive change like this one again any time soon. “It’s a ‘once in a career’type move,” he says. “But a lot of the philosophy used here pertains to any transition.” Cognizant, a Digital Partner of Alliance Data Card Services, is pleased to recognize the achievements of Alliance Data Card Services’ CIO, Mike Rosello. Cognizant (NASDAQ-100: CTSH) is one of the world’s leading professional services companies, transforming clients’ business, operating, and technology models for the digital era. Our unique, industry-based, consultative approach helps clients envision, build and run more innovative and efficient businesses. Headquartered in the US, Cognizant is ranked 205 on the Fortune 500 and is consistently listed among the most-admired companies in the world. Learn how Cognizant helps clients lead with digital at http://www.cognizant.com or follow us @Cognizant.
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Back to After time in the corporate world, Christopher Kozlov found the collaborative and creative environment he craved at Lake Forest Academy By Kathryn Kruse
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Christopher Kozlov Director of IT Lake Forest Academy
Three years ago, Christopher Kozlov accepted the position of director of IT for Lake Forest Academy (LFA), an independent boarding school in Lake Forest, Illinois. In just his first weeks, he saw the school’s email system, phones, and internet go down. Fresh from the corporate world, he found that the education industry reacted far differently to challenges: LFA encouraged creative solutions to custom problems. After years of dedication to team building, strategizing and troubleshooting, Kozlov and his group recently reported to work in a brand new data center. Email has been migrated to the cloud and much of the campus has new fiber cables. Suffice it to say, it’s been a good three years. Beyond designing systems and offering support to users with wildly varying abilities, managing tech for the academy means that Kozlov must explain and justify changes and upgrades for the school’s 113 faculty and staff, with 435 students from 40 countries and 15 states. “Teachers only have forty-five minutes with a class. If their tech fails, that takes a lot away from students,” Kozlov says. “Making sure that we can use tools in a reliable way and being responsive is critical.” Throughout, Kozlov has drawn on his experience in the corporate world to respond to concerns at LFA. One of his central undertakings as director of IT has been to assemble and manage a lean and impactful team. “I look for team members that have something to prove professionally,” he says. And they are proving it. Currently, the team consists of helpdesk administrator Mikel Seidl, LAN administrator Artur Wilczynski, and systems administrator Dave Kassischke. LFA also recently added Anthony White as a technology coordinator, a new position for the school that prides itself on communication with students and educators. Together, the team provides support to over two thousand devices across a 162-acre campus, as well as to the hundreds of people using those devices. To achieve this feat, Kozlov is not just managing the team—he is continuously building its capacity. To that end, Kozlov fosters engagement and ongoing professional development for the entire team. “I am committed to a legacy of change. I have built corporate networks for twenty years, but there are other ways,” he says. Practically speaking, Kozlov understands that team members do frontline work and, if motivated, will identify problems proactively. sync-magazine.com
“I don’t want us to be seen as merely a utility, but as something that is key to the improvement of the school.”
Chicago rose as a metropolitan hub in large part thanks to its central role in the meatpacking industry. One of the major players in that industry was Johnathan Ogden Armour, owner and president of Armour & Company. The organization’s hot dogs remain an American staple a century and a half later.
Kozlov developed this focus on supporting staff learning and development because it’s how he would have liked to have been managed at that stage in his own career rather than top-down structures. “The team works to solve problems. They have buy-in and motivation,” Kozlov says. “It’s great when they learn something new. I don’t want people to just take orders, but to think on their own.” Kozlov’s small, integrated team works, in a sense, like a startup. He calls the team “a kaleidoscope of generations.” Younger staff members learn from the professional experience of older coworkers, and they return the favor with an influx of energy and interest. That energy and passion has shown dividends with the school’s leadership as well. When Kozlov arrived, LFA needed more backend infrastructure, a move for which he needed the administration onboard. After a few big wins, Kozlov has earned the trust and support needed for moves like the new data center. Previously, Kozlov’s team and the school’s servers had been based in Reid Hall, a stunning, century-old mansion built for J. Ogden Armour in 1909. While the structure may be idyllic, it was not ideal for handling the physical realities of tech. The department office and servers lived in what had previously been a bathroom and powder room. “Basically, it was a large closet,” Kozlov says with a laugh. A server room in the basement occasionally flooded and there was no room to grow. On top of space concerns, the campus was running on fiber from 1997 and struggling with the capacity demands of 2017. Sync / 59
Completing the project meant managing the IT team, keeping LFA’s administration and department heads on board throughout the long-haul upgrade, and working with the facilities department, all while figuring out how and when to outsource work. But the move paid off. “We have seen so much improvement. The school sees that the investment is worth it,” Kozlov says. The data center is not Kozlov’s only success. Rather than merely fix problems, the team has increasingly been able to experiment with new technologies. This means they can forecast potential concerns, develop an escalation process, and reach out to department heads with the plan. “We are shifting to be a proactive rather than reactive team,” Kozlov explains. He also hopes to continue that trend towards ever better services for the entire campus. “I don’t want us to be seen as merely a utility, but as something that is key to the improvement of the school.” He has mapped out three-, five-, and sevenyear plans, including strategies to shift the campus’s thirty-five buildings from a central broadcasting network to a more localized system. While he’s keeping flexibility and his team’s input in mind on those plans, Kozlov is certain things will continue to improve: “We will get there.” 60 / Sync
LAN administrator Artur Wilczynski, technology coordinator Anthony White, director of IT Christopher Kozlov, systems administrator Dave Kasischke, and helpdesk administrator Mikel Seidl work together to keep Lake Forest Academy students, faculty, and staff moving forward.
Finding Detroit’s Future Beacon Hill Technologies’ Ava Wiseman plays matchmaker to help the Motor City’s tech companies reach top talent By Pamela DeLoatch
When Ava Wiseman opened the Detroit office of Beacon Hill Technologies, it was an unlikely time and place to start a staffing agency. In 2010, unemployment in the Motor City was 30 percent and the population overall had fallen to just more than seven hundred thousand, the lowest since 1910. What’s more, Wiseman says, the staffing market was already saturated. But as a Michigan native with five years of recruiting experience, Wiseman was familiar with the sync-magazine.com
situation and knew the challenges. Detroit was suffering from the decline of the auto industry, financial missteps, and rising crime and poverty levels, but opportunity was still there. Even as the city filed for bankruptcy in 2013, technology was bubbling. “When I was asked to bring a staffing and solution company to Detroit, I asked whether they were sure they wanted to do that,” Wiseman recalls. “Technology is often the first to be cut, but it’s also the first to come back.” Today, eight years after Beacon Hill Technologies opened in Detroit, the city is experiencing an economic turnaround. And with an infusion of companies from startups to Amazon calling the Motor City home, Detroit has become a prominent entrepreneurial and technology hub. Sync / 61
Throughout this transition, Wiseman and her team have worked to help the growing wave of organizations fill IT jobs. “The market is very competitive,” she explains. “A lot of companies didn’t need staffing, but now, due to the supply being low and the demand being high, they have turned to staffing agencies. People are trying to pull the trigger a lot quicker, especially when they need skilled IT employees.” The challenge of filling positions is likely to continue, as technology jobs are projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026. Additionally, even nontech companies need IT employees as they implement technology for internal processes. Today, the demand for IT employees is 40 percent higher than what the actual market can support, Wiseman says. To that end, merely filling a position is a success for many staffing companies. Beacon Hill Technologies, however, wants to be a true partner, not just a provider of a business transaction. “A lot of what we do is very relationship-based,” Wiseman says. Additionally, the organization adds value by making sure that their 62 / Sync
recruiters are deeply familiar with the local markets they serve. “We customize each branch to focus on what each individual market dictates to be successful,” she says. “That has helped us support our clients so much better. We make a conscious effort to understand the demands, and that’s how we can be competitive to find that top 20 percent of potential candidates.” That said, some companies work with Beacon Hill Technologies only looking to fill a job. However, those that understand the benefit of long-term, strategic relationships that Beacon Hill values have seen increased benefits. If companies truly want to have top talent, Wiseman says, they need to make an investment. That investment isn’t solely financial, but one of time and information, with companies sharing their vision, their culture, and how a job fits into the big picture. “We’re branding their company as they want to be known in the industry. Without being able to sit down and talk with them, it’s very hard for me to sell and paint that picture for possible candidates,” Wiseman says. Issue 015
Ava Wiseman Division Director Beacon Hill Technologies
“Technology is often the first to be cut, but it’s also the first to come back.” Just as technology is constantly changing, so is the IT employment market, especially via the influx of younger candidates. “In the last few years, there’s been a huge uptick of grads or new grads who have only been in the market a year or less,” Wiseman says. She works with candidates who have different work habits and motivations than previous generations to identify what encourages them to ensure a good fit. Wiseman also works with companies to help them embrace the newer employees’ perspectives. Even as Wiseman works with companies, she has come to understand how hard it is to be a candidate. “One of the most stressful things people can do is change their career, and we don’t take that lightly,” she says. But when a successful match is made, it’s golden: “When you help someone make that transition, being able to make that match and see them grow their career, that is awesome to witness.” sync-magazine.com
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Ideally, Beacon Hill Technologies functions as an external HR department. Sometimes that means helping clients identify and address pain points in their internal recruiting process. “The IT market is very large but very well networked. The last thing you want to be is a company that doesn’t have the best reviews,” Wiseman says. “I need a deeper understanding of my client.” This allows Wiseman to represent the hiring company better and address any candidate concerns candidly. Another compounding factor in the IT talent pool is that the top 20 percent of IT candidates are already employed. For that reason, Wiseman also works with passive candidates—those who may not be actively seeking jobs. That typically means further consulting with clients, helping them understand the market and competition to put them in the best position to attract candidates.
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How the Windy City Flourishes on the Cloud 64 / Sync
The City of Chicago unveiled a complex technology plan in 2013. Now, Oracle’s cost-effective, nimble system is helping to bring Chicago’s plans for a smarter, cleaner, safer city to life. by Adam Kivel
In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced The City of Chicago Technology Plan, a first for the city and a major step forward in solidifying the Windy City’s place as a premier technology hub. At its core, the plan aims to integrate into civic life from expanded computer science education and STEM programming for children all the way through to an increase in jobs and economic growth, next-generation infrastructure, and smart communities. As a partner with Chicago for more than two decades, Oracle has been a major contributor of that continued development, helping city leaders such as CIO Danielle DuMerer make their innovative plans a reality. Blockchain strategies, machine learning, and advanced cloud computing aren’t exclusive to private corporations. In fact, some of the most advanced technology is being deployed for the benefit and safety of the public sector. These governmental entities frequently deal with a wide swath of concerns. For example, Chicago’s plan features automated sensors to track the quality of water on the beaches of Lake sync-magazine.com
Michigan as well as a plan to develop an affordable gigabit-speed network. Achieving all of these diverse goals requires partnering with vendors equally focused on making a positive impact. As a leader in cloudengineered solutions, Oracle has helped Chicago think on an even larger scale. “The City of Chicago has realized the value of moving their on-premises systems to a cloud-based architecture in order to cut costs, rapidly address evolving business needs, and leverage the talents of their employees toward the business of government,” says Justin Ventura, state and local government sales representative for Oracle. In fact, the company’s Exadata Database Machine has proven an indispensable tool for systems in use for units ranging from the Chicago Police Department to the Department of Water Management. But throughout all of these projects, the city has made residents the focal point. One such effort has tied to a revamping of the 311 system for city services. “Our goal is to improve our residents’ experience interacting Sync / 65
with government, including by providing multiple channels to access service and information, including text, social media, and mobile applications,” said DuMerer in a recent interview with MeriTalk. The 311 project is also another instance of the city tying together its diverse projects. According to DuMerer, the multichannel system will be integrated with sensing technologies in the Internet of Things. By example, the city’s street lights will all be connected to a management system that will alert the city to an outage even before a resident would need to file a ticket.
“We have to balance investments in new technologies with investments in human and physical infrastructure.” “Advances in technology have unlocked the doors to city hall in a way that was unimaginable just ten years ago,” Ventura says. “Agencies are becoming digital and interconnected. Constituencies are instantly connecting with city and state employees, and devices are providing a constant stream of digital data to help agencies think proactively about citizen needs.” Another important area of tech advancement in Chicago lies at the intersection of transportation and big data. As pollution levels rise and residents make an effort to cut down on personal automobile usage, public transit becomes more essential. Part of making the Chicago Transit Authority a more easily accessible resource has been the installation of bus tracker displays at bus shelters across the city. These digital readouts show riders bus arrival times and have already been installed at about 420 stations. Alongside the increase in public transit, biking has risen in prominence, including the soaring popularity of the bike-sharing system Divvy. Beyond the tech needed to maintain the system, the city has 66 / Sync
taken major steps in making data derived from the bike-share available to the public. To that same end, the city has made data regarding air quality, temperature, pedestrian foot traffic, and more gathered via array of things sensors available as well. This transparent data-sharing is an innovative step toward even further collaborative innovation. The array of things will help researchers and policymakers better understand how cities function and allow Chicago to become a global leader in urban sensing initiatives, according to The City of Chicago Technology Plan. Developing the necessary systems and tools for an entire city’s worth of technology can be a major challenge—not to mention that the realities of residents have to be considered in all technology decisions. “We have to balance investments in new technologies with investments in human and physical infrastructure,” DuMerer explained to MeriTalk. In addition to assisting the city with its own offerings, Oracle has helped Chicago’s technology plan by further consolidating solutions. The city had been using tools such as Taleo for HR and BEA WebLogic for middleware deployment. However, Oracle helped facilitate a way for these various tools to work together. “Today, all of these solutions are now integrated into Oracle, making us the most powerful, unified cloud solution available today,” Ventura explains. Chicago has already made vast strides in its efforts to advance its place as a leading technology ecosystem. Eighteen months into the initial plan, Mayor Emanuel issued a letter extolling the city’s progress, but also noting that there’s still a lot left on the agenda. The goal, after all, remains to “give every child in every neighborhood the chance to participate in the 21st century technology economy.” Oracle has been an essential partner throughout the early successes, and will surely be key to the continuing progress. It will also do so with an eye on reducing impact on the city’s budget, moving quickly, and bettering the experience of every Chicagoan. “Oracle can help transform legacy enterprise systems into a cost-effective, nimble system poised to serve employees and citizens alike,” Ventura says. “We give our government customers a complete cloud vision, enabling agencies to meet the ongoing challenges of providing vital services.” Issue 015
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Instant, Consistent, Chetan Raval stabilizes and revitalizes Neriumâ€™s approach with an eye to automation, chatbots, and more by Joseph Kay
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Chetan Raval VP of IT Nerium
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As a lifelong enthusiast for automation, Chetan Raval loves those automated chatbot pop-ups on websites. “I feel like, ‘Oh! Okay, let me ask my question. I always welcome that prompt because it’s there to get me answers quickly,” he says with a laugh. Raval is bringing automated chatbots and other data-driven, customer-focused innovations to Nerium International, a multilevel marketing organization delivering skincare and wellness products across twelve countries. He calls Nerium a “crucible for entrepreneurship,” which provides individuals worldwide the tools and services they need to develop thriving business and financial freedom. “As an entrepreneur, the sky is the limit,” Raval says. “We facilitate things for your business, and the business is to make people look and feel better about themselves and their financial well-being.” Today, with Nerium beginning to stabilize after five years of explosive growth, automation and data are key to the company’s next stages. But this drive is nothing new for Raval; in fact, he has always been passionate about developing efficiency. As a child in Vadodara, India, he built a solar cooker so that his family could save labor and move to alternative energy sources. He came to the United States to study electrical engineering in 1993, when automation and IT were promising frontiers instead of everyday economic forces. In addition, Raval helped his prior multilevel 70 / Sync
marketing firm expand from its home country into twenty-four others. When Nerium came looking for an IT executive with efficiency and automation in mind, it was clear that Raval was the best possible candidate. In its first year, 2011, Nerium broke $100 million in sales; by the time Raval joined in 2015, they had surpassed $400 million with cumulative sales of over $1 billion. The brand was in four countries and looking to continue expanding internationally. But the fiscal growth threatened to eclipse the maturation of culture and mind-set, and Raval recognized both the hazard and the opportunity. “Because they were growing so fast, one of the ways to fuel and support growth had been to spend money and get things up and running,” he explains. “Now that the company has stabilized, we have to make sure we have a mind-set to increase the longevity of our investments. How can I expand a system and use it for the next three, five, or more years?” Raval recognizes that this is as much a leadership challenge as a technical one. So far, the team has managed to retain the vigor and camaraderie of its startup culture while developing the long view. “You do get questions: ‘We never did this before, why are we doing it now?’ But you answer those questions to make people comfortable and explain how this makes more sense to help us grow faster and better,” Raval says. It all boils down to the people and processes, he explains; the right people with right processes creates a recipe for a strong company. That focus on the human impact continued in other facets as well. In his first months on the job, Raval realized that just like any other firm, Nerium would be better served with increased focus and investment in securing assets. Recognizing the threat to both assets and reputation, he began taking steps to build a robust security culture. Today, the IT team educates the staff to raise awareness, and he is also working with HR to administer video training and assesses individual aptitude in performance reviews. There’s been sustained, measurable growth across the workforce. Nerium’s global expansion also necessitated iterative upgrades to company infrastructure. For instance, Raval soon heard the constant hum of complaints against the company telephone provider, Issue 015
Quality Engineering is a Boardroom Dialogue An independent study by Tricentis indicates that in 2016, worldwide, 4.4 billion people and 1.1 trillion in assets were impacted by software failures.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE GDPR
are concerned about employees’ abilities to keep up and be properly trained in quality thinking
believe quality issues, to some degree, are holding back their ability to compete
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say they Have incurred some revenue loss due to ongoing, quality related issues
In May of 2018, the EU General and looked into the service. He Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) found that their contractor was becomes enforceable. The regulation, both antiquated and unusually crafted over four years to empower expensive; replacing that contract consumers in the management and brought services up to date and processing of their data, includes such statutes as the “Right to be Forgotten” reduced overall IT expenses by 10 and mandatory notifications of data percent. breaches. The new service provides actionable data, enabling the The maximum penalties for corporate violations are steep—up organization to make revisions and to four percent of a company’s further refine service, Raval says. global turnover for the most serious “With the new systems, they’re infractions. As such, Nerium’s actually using the data to monitor technical and legal leadership are working toward compliance across what the agents are doing: average worldwide operations. call times, drop rate, backlog, all of those metrics which we were never “Because we were not in Europe getting before,” he says. before, when we rolled out we could do all the necessary steps—so Nerium is pursuing data-driven, we don’t have to rework things in customer-focused innovations in order to secure information for our their online interfaces as well. The European customers,” Raval explains. company is piloting AI chatbots to With similar regulations emerging in guide users across their website some Latin American nations, Nerium is going ahead to maintain compliant and convert clicks into sales. In the practices worldwide, he adds. “Be backend, IBM’s Watson analyzes compliant with the strictest controls, user tone and crafts responses. and then you do not have to worry Raval says that the system presents about less stringent-countries or areas,” he says. a consistent user experience, accessible globally and at all times, at a reduced cost. Even minute adjustments can have impressive business impacts. For instance, a little investigation into bounce rates and customer data fields revealed that their system was mishandling the pound symbol in shipping addresses, leading to frustrated customers and incomplete orders. After it was fixed, conversion rates leaped. Ultimately, Raval finds that greater automation is in harmony with both Nerium’s mission and his own ideals. Yes, it has a disruptive effect on the labor force— but it creates opportunities for enterprising individuals to develop their skills in new “crucibles” of innovation. “It brings about a change where people need to retool, which is a good thing in my mind. It opens up their minds to learn something new,” Raval says. “The way to grow, for a person, is to keep learning.”
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implement Move Ideas Into the World
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Medicine American Medical Association’s Eileen Sladky details how data analysis, technology, and marketing combine to drive membership and bring powerful messages to doctors and patients alike By Adam Kivel
Every day, the American Medical Association (AMA) advances its goal of making a meaningful difference in the lives of physicians and medical students, and in improving the health of the nation. Its efforts focus on creating thriving physician practices, creating the medical school of the future, and improving health outcomes. While that inspiring mission may seem quite comprehensive, it carries even further layers of complexity. No two communities in a single city, let alone a single state or the United States at large, could be said to have the same needs or expectations. The same diversity enters in when considering the myriad of physicians and medical students under that banner. Tracking all of those data points and analyzing the information is a herculean task. But AMA vice president of analytics and operations Eileen Sladky so believes in the organization’s compassionate mission that she and her team not only do so, they use that information to drive further membership. “Our nation’s physicians are saving lives every day. Anyone and everyone could be passionate about that,” Sladky says. While that might be the case, she 74 / Sync
DIANA COLLERAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Eileen Sladky VP, Analytics and Operations American Medical Association
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“Our nation’s physicians are saving lives every day. Anyone and everyone could be passionate about that.”
has developed an unrivaled skill set to pair with that passion. After years of financial analysis and treasury work in the manufacturing realm, Sladky joined the AMA in 2003, first as the manager of membership program analysis. In the decade and a half since, her expertise and understanding of the organization’s membership led to increasing leadership roles. However, the organization’s recent Membership Moves Medicine campaign has brought a major opportunity to use that knowledge. The AMA has already had six years of continued membership growth, but the campaign acts as a strategic step to help continue that drive. The campaign is rooted in the findings of an AMA team that had gone out on a listening tour to practices and medical schools across the country, learning why certain subsets of physicians had yet to join the organization. From that research, it became clear that the biggest sync-magazine.com
challenge the AMA was facing was a lack of knowledge. “It was clear that we needed to help prospective and current members learn more about what the AMA does on their behalf,” Sladky says. The organization’s scope is, after all, incredibly vast. Though it has only one thousand employees, the AMA’s impact is much larger. The organization has an advocacy arm in Washington, DC, promoting health policy solutions to government leaders. There’s also an area focused on physician licensing, credentialing, and data. The JAMA Network provides world-class clinical research, education, and insights that ensure physicians are shaping the future of medicine and patient care. And those are only a few of the important offices under the AMA banner. The first step, then, was figuring out which elements to educate individuals on. To do so, Sladky focused on strategic segmentation. “We identified four pillars of proof,” she explains. “We have advocacy, education, clinical treatment, and practice innovation. Segmentation really helped with identifying those pillars and how to articulate those proof points.” It also helped determine who to target with the campaign: a segment that Sladky calls “the movable middle.” The AMA has, on one end of its membership spectrum, an audience that renews every year, a passionate group that contributes and believes in the mission. At the other end are individuals who may never be members. But the AMA hopes to make up ground in the group of individuals between those poles. These individuals are open to the AMA, and may have already engaged with the organization, perhaps by reading some of the e-mails or registering to access articles on the JAMA site. “We need to start to persuade them, whether through digital advertising, print, e-mail, or even standard mail,” Sladky says. “We need to show them all of the good the AMA is doing. We need to change their mind-set so when an invoice shows up or they see the opportunity to join on our site, they’re more aware and more receptive to take that action.” However, the end goal of the Members Move Medicine isn’t merely to boost a number in a spreadsheet. The more powerful impact sits in the campaign’s very name. The next step after segmentation and sharing proof points is to highlight the members themselves. “We want to showcase what they have done and how they feel that the AMA and membership in the AMA has helped support their efforts,” Sladky says. The success stories are already starting to pour in. At a national AMA conference, one physician told Sladky that he was so impressed that he wanted to share the presentation with his boss, who hadn’t been a member in two decades. That doctor texted pages of a pamphlet to his boss, who then immediately went online Sync / 77
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DIANA COLLERAN PHOTOGRAPHY
and joined. “That was amazing. Now we’re trying to find out a way to scale that,” Sladky says. “We call it the twenty minute campaign because it only takes twenty minutes for you to hear all the great work we’re doing. Once physicians know what we do, we will move them into the consideration mind-set.” Throughout these efforts, Sladky and her team have had to keep in mind that not every member or prospective member of the AMA will agree on a particular piece of legislation that the organization advocates for, or will want to access educational information about the same subject. The bipartisan organization, after all, supports all specialties in all states across all political affiliations. But having segmented the population and driven advanced data analysis, the AMA can better understand the complex dynamics of the individuals and where they might stand. Especially in difficult negotiations such as the debates over recent healthcare legislation, the AMA needs to have clear, strong, cohesive messaging and appeal to physicians and patients to stand together. By partnering with the advocacy team, Sladky and her team were able to craft specific messages to each segment to drive that consensus. “The moment we would get word from the advocacy team in DC about a potential change, we’d be crafting our next digital campaign to be out within a couple of hours,” Sladky says. “Everything we’re doing is a test-and-learn approach.” The next step is then communicating successes and sharing results, both internally and externally. Thankfully, the entire organization values this sort of metric-driven analysis and is eager to see the takeaways. In fact, the AMA houses an intelligence hub for the entire organization, not just Sladky’s team, to share data analytics work. The organization also held town hall meetings to discuss successes such as the segmentation project. “We want to be collaborative and share. We can all target using that data. We’re all using data, writing, and developing content and resources,” Sladky says. “When I started, I saw we needed a central repository that houses all this data and business intelligence tools that allow different units to access this information.” That move in particular reinforced her interest in technology as a partner in analytics, rather than seeing them as two separate functions. After starting off in analytics and financial work relying on an IT team to develop projects, she had the opportunity with the AMA to work with other technology professionals to build the enterprise data warehouse and datamart from the ground up. And Sladky hopes that the many members of the AMA feel the same support and empowerment that she and her team have. “We’re bringing in a lot of digital talent and finding the right people who have that passion,” Sladky says. “We are very innovative, moving really fast, and driving powerful results.”
DRIVING SMARTER Knight Transportationâ€™s technology team ensures that their work keeps the company, its drivers, and the driving public safer By Tim Cunningham
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According to a recent study by the Association for Safe International Road Travel, about 2.5 million people are injured in road crashes each year, costing more than $200 billion in damages. As a leading provider of multiple truckload transportation services throughout the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico, Knight Transportation was eager to develop ways to keep its drivers from contributing to those statistics—for the organization’s bottom line, but most importantly for the safety of its drivers and others on the road. As a major step toward improving safety, the Knight technology team has looked to implement best-in-class technologies such as in-cab devices to keep drivers safe and keep the company driving forward to further success. Knight Transportation is one of the largest, most diversified truckload transportation companies in North America, and as such needs comprehensive tools to work with its large fleet. Keeping the various offices connected and sharing vital information throughout the fleet is a massive undertaking. However, vice president of IT Joe Kauffman worked closely with Cox Business to ensure that offices across the country were outfitted with the highest-quality telecommunications and internet service possible. Knight’s major scale makes protecting the organization’s data and systems from malefactors another difficult challenge. In fact, a 2017 report from Forbes noted that transportation companies were becoming a far more frequent target of hackers. “Hackers have seemed more preoccupied with penetrating computer systems at banks, retailers, and government agencies . . . [but] recent ransomware attacks demonstrate that the transportation and logistics industry is now on hackers’ radar,” explained author Oliver Wyman. However, Knight has kept cybercriminals at bay since it began working closely with Palo Alto Networks. Throughout Knight’s continued growth and success, Palo Alto’s next-generation security platform has been essential to keeping the organization safe. Another major project found the Knight team focused as much on physical safety as on digital safety. 80 / Sync
Kauffman and the technology office worked closely with the safety and risk management office to test in-cab devices aimed at improving the driving habits of Knight employees and help them see highway conditions more objectively. After testing multiple options, the Knight team found that SmartDrive’s video-based devices would fit their needs. The organization first considered adding camera-aided devices to its vehicles in years past, but weren’t sure that the idea would gain buy-in across the organization. However, Brett Sant, senior vice president of safety and risk management at Knight, knew that it was time to set up a pilot program. “Collision litigation is on the rise—for us and the industry as a whole. We also saw that our drivers were buying their own cameras,” Sant explained to Heavy Duty Trucking. “It was clear that thinking about cameras in the cab had gradually changed.”
The partnership with SmartDrive led to an 84 percent reduction in unsafe driving
After a successful pilot program at the Kansas City, Kansas, office, Knight will implement a SmartDrive device throughout its fleet of around 4,700 power units and five thousand drivers. The device will have a forward-facing camera only, assuaging any concerns about impinging driver privacy. The small, black, cylindrical device connects to the vehicle’s telematics and measures factors such as speed, braking, and turning. The device will also be fully integrated with collision-mitigation systems. Paired with the video the device captures, this Issue 015
Get to know the business side of Cox. data will give Knight more perspective on driver safety. The pilot program proved that the device could help recognize risky maneuvers such as following other vehicles too closely on the highway or braking too quickly. These records will further benefit Knight’s driver-performance coaching sessions in order to address patterns of bad driving habits and improve behaviors. “It helped the drivers become more self-aware,” Sant explained to Heavy Duty Trucking. “An unexpected win during the pilot was the time that our team saved coaching, because SmartDrive focused us on what was actually important versus coaching on everything from our telematics reports.” According to Knight, the partnership with SmartDrive led to an 84 percent reduction in unsafe driving, with accompanying major reductions in the cost of claims. In fact, the Kansas City office in which the pilot program was tested reported the lowest claims costs in the entire Knight fleet, without a single collision recorded by the Department of Transportation. As an additional measure to address privacy concerns, the camera doesn’t continuously store what the driver sees. Instead, incidents of dangerous driving, rapid changes in speed, or other unusual behaviors can trigger the camera to record and capture the driver’s view. Additionally, the driver can manually trigger the camera in cases in which they’d want to record something beyond the safety triggers. But technology can only provide value when used properly, so a big part of the implementation of SmartDrive’s devices came in gaining buy-in throughout Knight’s fleet of drivers. “Our driving associates are embracing SmartDrive because it will help them get better and better at operating the truck as safely, effectively, and productively as they can—protecting their commercial driver’s license and their livelihood,” Kevin Knight, founder and chairman of Knight Transportation, explained in a SmartDrive case study. More than mere innovation, that kind of commitment to the well-being of employees drives all of Knight Transportation’s technology decisions. sync-magazine.com
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Old School Though nearly 150 years old, Franklin & Marshall College thrives on an innovative spirit. Carrie Rampp gives an inside look into the college’s tech mission. By Lior Phillips
Each fall for the past 141 years, a new wave of students arrives on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College. Students fill classrooms and residence halls across the liberal arts college’s Lancaster, Pennsylvania, campus. Vintage architecture and modern buildings stand together amidst the lush greenery. One of the twentyfive oldest colleges in the United States, Franklin & Marshall has seen a lot of growth and change, needing to continuously innovate while sustaining its distinct personality and absolute commitment to its undergraduate teaching mission. No one knows that duality better than Carrie Rampp, the school’s vice president and CIO. “We’ve been around since 1787, and our classrooms, for example, were built for very different instruction than we do today. We need to work 82 / Sync
Carrie Rampp VP, CIO Franklin & Marshall College
DEB GROVE/FRANKLIN & MARSHALL COLLEGE
with our faculty to understand that transformation,” she says. Rampp works every day to ensure that all of the college’s students, faculty, and staff members have the technology they need to succeed. Franklin & Marshall’s advanced academic offerings range from bioinformatics to digital art, astrophysics to film studies—and as the years pass, each area of study has its own unique technology requirements. Beyond meeting classroom needs, Rampp and her team want to provide hands-on opportunities with tools that students need to advance their education, the kind of technology that would prepare them for a future in their respective industry. A recent example of that has been a significant investment in 3-D printing capabilities. “Students and faculty members in any discipline now sync-magazine.com
have an easy path to thinking about a 3-D assignment or project,” Rampp explains. “We didn’t make that decision thinking of ourselves as a small private liberal arts college IT department; we see ourselves as the creators of a gateway to a whole range of technologies that give our students opportunity.” Rampp herself followed a similar trajectory; while working in a university library and studying history in graduate school, she became particularly interested in early web-based technology and its potential for research and communication in an academic setting. She followed that passion in 2000 with her first exclusively technology-based role, manager of web communications for Middlebury College. She and her colleagues were looking for creative ways to solve problems, and Sync / 83
IS ONE OF
PARTNERS. Our campus community appreciates that they are barnone service and customeroriented. We in IT also value
that they are future-oriented and creative. We value working directly with them to get the maximum value out of our technology investments.” – Carrie Rampp Vice President and CIO Franklin & Marshall College
Quality Is Essential To Every Organization. 84 / Sync
Also known as the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, Stanford’s d.school is a design thinking institute aimed at bringing students, faculty, and more together in a hub for innovation, collaboration, and creativity.
technology offered transformative possibilities. After roles in library leadership, technology leadership, or a fusion of the two at several institutions, Rampp joined Franklin & Marshall in 2014. In this new role, Rampp, her team, colleagues in other offices, and college trustees work to prioritize and address the technology wants and needs of the college. “Each day can run the gamut from small challenges to large topics, strategic work to operational work. It’s exciting,” Rampp says. But in all matters, the team focuses on how technology can facilitate learning, rather than merely on the technology itself. To be successful, they have to keep technology running to ensure staff get paid and the Wi-Fi keeps running, for example. “Throughout my career, the unifying factor among every colleague has been a deep passion for education,” Rampp explains. “There’s a certain amount of time spent understanding, maintaining, and improving infrastructure, but once those things have been done well, the most exciting part of the job is getting to do work closely tied to the academic mission.” These education innovations have been of great interest to faculty and students. One cutting-edge example of this is a newly built Lightboard Studio; the Lightboard is a suspended pane of glass which, through embedded LED lights and properly aligned cameras, allows users to record videos in which they can handdraw information and interact with diagrams and notes as if they’re written in air. “The Studio provides our faculty and even our students with a way to create highquality recorded content for lectures, student projects, and more,” Rampp says. In addition, other classrooms have been updated to make them webinar-capable and flexibly configured to facilitate different teaching styles. Because they all share that mission for advancing education, technology teams across the education sphere frequently collaborate and share best practices. One of Rampp’s Franklin & Marshall staff members, for example, attended Stanford’s d.school summer design thinking bootcamp with a team of Franklin & Marshall faculty as part of the college’s creativity and innovation initiative, and then cotaught a course on the subject for students. “The focus may not have exclusively been on technology, but it was great to play a significant role in teaching,” she explains. Using the d.school framework, students were challenged to creatively solve real-world Issue 015
“Throughout my career, the unifying factor among every colleague has been a deep passion for education . . . The most exciting part of the job is getting to do work closely tied to the academic mission.”
problems as part of the course. Projects for the course had students working with modeling tools, 3-D printing, and more. “That feels like transformative work that you want to be doing,” Rampp says. The team also provides a site license for Lynda.com—a company that offers lectures from experts in subjects like software development, web development, and design—so that students can learn on their own in addition to in the classroom. “We want to remove barriers,” Rampp says. “My department can only be an expert in so many subjects, but we want to provide as many resources as possible.” All of this hard work has led to increased recognition of Franklin & Marshall as a place for innovation. In fact, the National Science Foundation awarded the college sync-magazine.com
one of its highly sought-after cyberinfrastructure grants to support the buildout of the college’s network to support data-intensive research. “It allowed us to take our campus up to a 10 Gb/s connection and join Internet2,” Rampp explains. Franklin & Marshall can now move large sets of research data at rates on par with even the largest research institutions. By offering future-focused technology tools, small class sizes and low student-to-faculty ratios with copious undergraduate research opportunities, Rampp emphasizes that Franklin & Marshall excels at providing students every possible opportunity to learn and grow. “The students, the faculty, everyone knows each other. This creates unique opportunities to do some great things together,” she says. “It’s a small community and that creates interesting opportunities. Technology is a part of everything that we do, from decision-making to teaching.” Sync / 85
At the Eye of the
PERFECT STORM Joe Lichtenberg explains how the industry’s growth and evolution of data processing never stops spurring innovation at InterSystems—and how the IRIS data platform is the pinnacle of the company’s forty-year history by Paul Snyder
Software developer InterSystems is at the heart of products used by millions of people around the world. Its software is used by major healthcare providers, top Wall Street firms, and even a multitude of public safety organizations. That kind of ubiquitous use can carry a certain amount of anonymity, but with the recent launch of InterSystems’ IRIS data platform, that should change dramatically. “In terms of customers, revenue, and implementation, we dwarf most of the data management companies out there,” explains Joe Lichtenberg, InterSystems director of marketing, data platforms. “The work we do, in large part, promotes our partners’ success and helps them become more successful.” 86 / Sync
Joe Lichtenberg Director of Marketing, Data Platforms InterSystems
To that end, the InterSystems IRIS data platform gives users the capability to capture, share, understand, and act upon data while eliminating the need to integrate multiple development technologies. As a result, InterSystems IRIS applications require less code, fewer system resources, and less maintenance. Users will then not only be able to analyze larger quantities of data in real time, they’ll also be able to make intelligent programmatic decisions based on all of those data assets. That means that the software creates obvious value for any organization from any multitude of industries. “We’re very strong in healthcare, but solutions built on our platform are also processing 13 percent of the worldwide equity trades Issue 015
every single day,” Lichtenberg says. “There’s so much data that financial services organizations need to drive their portfolios and to comply with ongoing regulations.” Those regulations require financial services to analyze an increasing amount of data in order to reduce risk and force calculations to happen pretrade instead of at the end of the day, when those steps had traditionally occurred. It’s a lot to ask, and there’s no room for error when it comes to their data processing systems. Luckily, the IRIS software provides solutions for that “perfect storm” of confluent concerns. InterSystems IRIS is the culmination of a longstanding response to consumer demands. As security and data demands have grown in recent years, it will help organizations grow with that change and even think to the coming next steps. “Every organization that we talk to has security at the top of its list of critical requirements,” Lichtenberg says. “The challenge is to get a panoramic view of the data assets inside your enterprise and combine them with data inside and outside your firewall in a rolebased, secure manner.” That plays out differently in each of the industries that InterSystems touches. For example, in healthcare, the trick is to keep patients’ records secure and accessible only to those who need to see them. In the financial world, it’s not only keeping a lock on various Wall Street firms’ portfolios, but also making sure the data is constantly up to date with market changes that can happen several times a day. And as data sources grow more complex and organizations have to combine very different sources into one warehouse, InterSystems’ software is becoming more adaptive. At times, those complex data warehouses can include clean, numeric data as well as seemingly random notes added into a field. To that end, InterSystems has diligently innovated in fields such as natural language processing, which can infer meaning and sentiment from unstructured data. Evolutions such as these can be particularly helpful when working toward new trends in data analysis. Data systems in 2018 are not only about providing the answers a client needs, but anticipating needs before they even become apparent. That can make being a successful software company daunting work; it’s hard to try to create a plan for sustaining success that looks even two or three years into the future for any organization, let alone in a field that changes as rapidly as data analysis. Yet InterSystems has not only survived, but thrived in a world that demands a hyperfocus on what’s happening right now as well as safeguarding for the future. That success comes, Lichtenberg explains, from focusing on both delivering solutions for other businesses and listening to their stories, challenges, successes, and needs. “The customers always provide the guidance that InterSystems needs,” he says. That continued innovation and awareness keeps the company atop a growing field of software developers and an everincreasing amount of data. sync-magazine.com
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The Whole Fleet AT YOUR FINGERTIPS Thanks to its new TotalView solution, Merchants Fleet Management is helping clients access masses of data for actionable insights to save money and drive efficiency By Margaret Dunn
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Essentially every company, in essentially every industry, has looked to the promise of big data for the next advantage in a highly competitive world. The most agile, competitive organizations are finding whatever opportunities they can in that information highway to get ahead. But not every organization has the resources or expertise to find them. Merchants Fleet Management recognized an opportunity to help its clients achieve those successes with TotalView, a solution that seamlessly fuses the company’s long history of strategic fleet management with clear, compelling analytics dashboards. Whether it’s the prime area of business or merely a single facet, thousands of companies across the United States operate vehicle fleets. Since its founding in 1962, Merchants Fleet has helped streamline and optimize that element of business for its many clients. Whether focusing on leasing and insurance or telematics and GPS tracking, Merchants Fleet is helping fleet managers at more than eight hundred companies cut costs and increase efficiency. Each of those clients could be tracking massive amounts of data, relating to everything from fuel spend to maintenance information. Fleets also need to be frequently tracked and maintained across the United States at any given moment. Fleet managers also need to track information relating to handfuls of vendors. And although some small businesses have taken the initiative to track and collect data, unlocking key takeaways and finding overarching trends in their midst presents another massive challenge. To help these small-business owners and meet the increasing demand for more sophisticated data tools, Merchants Fleet developed TotalView as a way to keep those streams of data contained in a single, actionable platform.
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“This industry game-changing technology provides actionable data and analytics delivered through easyto-use dashboards and reporting, providing the ability to manage total cost of ownership for fleet managers,” Merchants Fleet CIO Ken Kauppila explained to CIO Review. “We have put real ‘data science’ into establishing great information and analytics for our customers, suppliers, and employees from thousands of input data sources and source systems.” In order to build the solution, Kauppila and the Merchants Fleet tech team partnered with Pariveda Solutions and Tallan to develop a custom, comprehensive platform. The developers used the Microsoft .NET Framework as a way to connect the essential data assets, meaning that the entire lifecycle could be displayed in a way that even non-experts could understand and determine next steps. In fact, the TotalView project acts as a natural extension of Merchants Fleet’s generations of fleet management expertise, bringing advanced recommendations and industry knowledge to the fingertips of each customer. In addition to the custom data dashboards, the program allows users to generate drill-through reports, gather hundreds of pieces of information on each vehicle, optimize vehicle choices,
“This is not a self-serve solution. We’re providing more data and more solutions, which is just augmenting our ability to interact with our customers.”
and easily access invoices. Although other tools might make some of this information available, none offer the ability to gather it all in a single place. But perhaps most important for an industry based on mobility, Merchants paired TotalView with a mobile app, meaning that fleet managers can get their hands on information anywhere in the world. Clients have the ability to customize their dashboards to each focus on a single element, such as fuel and maintenance, which can then be run and monitored individually or concurrently. Similarly, clients can set reports or alerts that can be automatically sent at predetermined intervals. And rather than only deliver a top-tier tool to their clients, the Merchants Fleet team ensured that the organization would have professionals on hand to assist with further making the TotalView insights actionable. In a sense, TotalView allows Merchants Fleet to solidify its innovative nature while offering new ways to connect with the company’s best-in-class customer service. sync-magazine.com
“TotalView is how we compete now,” Dan Hannan, Merchants Fleet’s executive director of strategic consulting services, explained in a recent case study for Microsoft. “Since we launched TotalView in 2014, we’ve identified savings of over $25.5 million in life cycle management costs for our customers.” While those savings represent a major success for Merchants Fleet’s clients, the tool has also allowed them to make better informed, more strategic decisions for the future, ensuring even further savings down the road. Those numbers are also only the beginning of the success for Merchants Fleet itself. According to the Microsoft case study, the organization has also increased sales by 15 percent since the launch of TotalView, a sign that potential clients are seeing its value just as easily as fleet managers are getting a view of the solution in action. Building the platform took a lot of time and work. Two of the biggest challenges were recruiting top talent to Merchants Fleet and for the technology team to build trusted connections throughout the organization. However, Kauppila stressed “IT transparency” as an essential skill for a technology leader, particularly when undergoing a major project. “Driving accountability through all levels of the IT organization and changing the attitude, approach, and sense of urgency were base building blocks that were put in place to start the transformation,” he told CIO Review. Whether with their clients or the other stakeholders in the organization, it’s clear that no amount of focus on technology has softened Merchants Fleet’s commitment to building relationships and driving positive change. In fact, if anything, it’s made those commitments stronger than ever. “We wanted to make sure that TotalView was an extension of that personalized strategy and not a replacement of it,” Hannan told Automotive Fleet. “This is not a self-serve solution. We’re providing more data [and] more solutions, which is just augmenting our ability to interact with our customers.” Capax Global has been fortunate to witness, firsthand, a transformation inside Merchants Fleet Management through Ken’s laser-focus on quality and continuous improvement. The result is a fantastic feature expansion of the TotalView platform that wouldn’t have been sustainable otherwise, and the undeniable impact that is having across the industry.
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Much like professional sports organizations, companies thrive only when their individual contributors come together and help each other succeed. Four executives from this issue share their keys to making teamwork an essential quality of their organization.
We set goals together at the beginning of every year. Each individual knows their part in our overall goals. Looking at the long-term plan helps us understand what we’re striving for. Our culture rewards learning and growth, and team members aren’t afraid to raise their hand if they need help. We all understand the roles we play in helping Schenck SC achieve the goals we’ve set.
STEVE HYDE P. 35 CIO, Director of IT Services Schenck SC Steve Hyde’s passion for education has led him to many degrees and certificates from the University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, Harvard Business School, and more. He joined Schenck SC in 2014 and has brought that passion to the entire organization.
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We need strong team leaders to create an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity, promotes different perspectives, and fosters new ideas. We use teamwork in our organization to nurture transferable skills, as priorities continuously change and our workforce constantly needs to adapt to meet new demands. We introduced the concept of a liquid workforce that flexes skills and resources as needed. We also use a “digital toolkit” to facilitate teamwork across the organization. In our ideation sessions, for example, the process of collecting ideas, clustering, prioritization and execution, is very collaborative and designed to advance different perspectives and skills. Our virtual ideation platform is designed on the same principle, but for a broader audience that can leverage a different scale of skills, cultures, and backgrounds.
GABRIELE RICCI P. 32 VP, Head of Digital Health and Emerging Technology Shire Gabriele Ricci brings more than a decade and a half of experience to bear at Shire. His specialization in adept management , experience in healthcare innovation, and Lean and 6Sigma methodologies have led to great success at the worldwide organization.
JEFF NOOYEN PHOTOGRAPHY (HYDE), DAVID ELMES (RICCI)
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
Teamwork is encouraged every day because it generates out-of-the-box thinking, encourages individuals to be part of achieving the goal, and gives everyone a sense of empowerment. Creativity thrives when people work together. Teamwork is encouraged by promoting collaboration among teams to spark new ideas and showcasing the benefit of teamwork and keeping everyone informed of the results which their contribution helped achieve. Encouraging teamwork across the organization has resulted in the establishment of strong relationships among coworkers. It helps everyone communicate more freely and openly, as well as to motivate each other to work to their strengths and talents.
CASS DAVIS (KOBE), DIANA COLLERAN PHOTOGRAPHY (SLADKY)
As a manager, the biggest things I can do to encourage teamwork are hire people with complementary skill sets, build trust and respect amongst my team members, and demonstrate to them that I too need their help. Without that foundation in place, it becomes challenging to foster impactful teamwork. Our team routinely meets to discuss challenges we are facing and draws upon others’ expertise to help solve them. We consistently remind each other that each of us has many good ideas; but when combined with other people’s knowledge, those ideas can become great.
MATT KOBE P. 10 VP, Business Strategy & Analytics Chicago Bulls
EILEEN SLADKY P. 74 VP of Analytics and Operations American Medical Association
Matt Kobe joined the Chicago Bulls in 2014 after a successful tenure as a manger within Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy Practice. His expertise helps the team make stronger data-driven decisions across every function throughout the organization.
Eileen Sladky has a passion for using the power of data and information to drive decisions. She has honed that focus at the American Medical Association since joining the organization in 2003. Recently, her work has aided the AMA’s Membership Moves Medicine campaign.
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DATA ACQUIRED Facts and figures we learned from the tech leaders in this issue
$ $ $ $
Between 2011 and 2015, Nerium Internationalâ€™s sales totals quadrupled, growing from $100 million to $400 million.
Now ninety-eight years into its existence, Revere Electric has paired lessons learned over its long history with constant innovations.
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Shire helps diagnose an estimated 350 million patients with rare diseases across the world, with their medicines available in over one hundred countries.
Approximately two and a half million people are injured in road crashes each year, costing more than $200 billion in damages.
The Walt Disney Company announced plans to purchase a leading stake in BAMTECH for more than two and a half billion dollars.
Alliance Data Card Services works with 160 clients and more than twenty million credit cards on a 24-7 basis.
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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.
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