Hello and welcome to the DEFINE:TCHNLGY podcast, where we will look at small to medium sized businesses and the technologies they USE to produce the technology they offer to the world, looking at how business is done through a new lens, asking questions and questioning the answers, with the goal of applying practical knowledge, and even considering the impractical from time to time, just for fun, to change the human environment, hopefully for the better.
What I hope to do with this podcast is to bring good stories of successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders to those who are working on their own businesses and ideas. Bridging the gap of sorts between companies looking to grow from the first stages of success and those who have made it past some of those challenges and are now influencing their respective spaces.
Episode 011 – Udit Mehta – Head, Digital Go-to-Market – Siemens Gas & Power
From the Orlando offices of Siemens Corporation, I spoke with Udit Mehta, who heads the Digital Go-to-Market for Siemens Gas and Power. His work involves developing a short and long-term digital roadmap with an emphasis on innovation, product development and technology commercialization. I met Udit at the Nasa iTech’s Ignite the Night event where he was a judge, evaluating startup ideas pitched to NASA. His energy and enthusiasm demonstrated his passion for technological advancement and helping the entrepreneurial community. His involvement has included serving on the boards of local technology associations, growth stage start-ups, and helping through organizations such as Techstars and Florida SBDC. We spoke of Udit’s enthusiasm regarding technological innovation, his thoughts on where technologies are headed, and how both small and large firms have a role in contributing to the business ecosystems, from the local to global levels. Udit views technology as a productivity multiplier and experience enhancer. Through the creative application of technology throughout different functions of the business, he has been able to form organic teams & interest to work on innovative ideas and concepts.
Episode 010 – Charlie Lewis – CEO BlueWave Resource Partners
This episode brings me to the downtown Orlando office of Charlie Lewis, founder and CEO of BlueWave Resource Partners, one of Orlando Business Journal’s 2019 Best Places to Work. Charlie is also an investor with his other venture BlueWave Investment Partners, an organizer of Orlando Tech and Beers, and supporter of the Orlando entrepreneurial and tech community, and he talks with me about how technology affects and is affected by the recruiting industry. Blue Wave has worked with local employers such as CareStack: who just went public with their cloud-based dental practice management software, amusement-industry e-commerce company accesso, digital health innovator ProAct Health Solutions, and cloud computing service leader Astadia. Charlie discusses the talent needs for companies with AI, machine language, and blockchain applications. Blue Wave uses AI and other automation technologies for applicant tracking, reach-out and sales automation to improve the way they connect those applicants to opportunities. Blue Wave plans to open other offices in locations like Atlanta, and will join them through some innovative uses of video conferencing technologies. The difference between social media and older type of online resource for job-seekers (Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.) shows how technology is affecting the recruiting world. A modern education now involves more accelerators and software development programs, replacing or in addition to more traditional, 4-year university degrees. The speed at which technology changes makes the value of that degree different, although Charlie acknowledges that a degree does still have value, not only to show maturity, work ethic, and perseverance, but also to provide an understanding of basic business concepts. That being said, the focus of what candidates are good at has a higher importance than necessarily what they have learned in school. He emphasizes how going in with a passion to learn is more attractive to many employers. One area where Charlie feels technological advancement is still needed is in the government sector where county, state, city verticals are still the slowest to adopt new technologies. Charlie is helping to support Orange County’s recruitment of a Chief Innovation Officer, which he believes is an excellent step in the right direction. Crowd-sourcing and organizations such as Desk Pass offer new options for workers and investors. From an investing perspective, as Charlie has discussed in other podcasts, he looks to technology as his angel investment group explores new opportunities with faster exits and higher risk/reward factors. Correction to the dialog – the accesso TE2 purchase was $80mil
Episode 009 – John Crossman – CEO Crossman & Co
I had the privilege to sit with John Crossman, another of the Orlando Business Journal’s CEO’s of the year (2018) and CEO of Crossman & Co., the Orlando-based property management and development firm which manages primarily retail properties across 8 states in the Southeast. John discussed the way technology advances the way societies advance. He emphasized the importance of relationships and human connection, and how companies such as Publix, one of Crossman’s best clients, have created relationships with their customers by designing positive technological, physical and emotional experiences. He talked about how the data his industry has been collecting regarding shopping habits and trends, and how some of that data, while reaffirming many of the decisions currently being made in property development, also provide insights into how retail outlets can improve their relationships with current and potential customers. The relationships between online retailers and brick-and-mortar outlets have an interesting balance, and John highlighted how technology influences consumers’ choices, and the end results aren’t necessarily what some popular assumptions may assert. He thinks that as technologies evolved over recent decades, companies such as Blockbuster should have been a viable competitor to Netflix and Sears could have had a serious rivalry with Amazon. Looking at data over longer terms, there may be potential to see a changing trend in retail such as the potential financial demise of such companies or industries. Augmented reality and other new technologies create interesting and new opportunities for retailers, but also have legal implications that have to be considered. Outside influences such as self-driving vehicles, AR marketing campaigns, and demographic changes can create liabilities that developers and retailers may not have considered even just ten years ago. Other technologies affect how communities react during crises, and how building development is considered. The way Orlando’s unique retail environment affects the rest of the country was an interesting insight, with companies such as Darden creating and testing new concepts here, with international exposure through the area’s expansive tourism industry. John also enjoys participating in the online forum “Quora” and is impressed with the way information is shared and distributed through those kinds of mediums.
Episode 008 – Ben Beachy – CIO Florida Polytechnic University
Anyone who has driven between Orlando and Tampa has likely noticed that “futuristic building” near Lakeland and asked “What is that?”. It’s Florida Polytechnic University‘s Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building, and I was fortunate to grab a conversation with Ben Beachy, Chief Information Officer of the 5-year-old institution. Ben has been with the University since 2018, and has taken on the challenge of connecting the faculty and students in a uniquely innovative environment. Ben talks me through his perspective on technology as part of the learning process. Creating a balance of the technology tangibles with those intangibles of how students use, apply and make a difference with those technologies. We both agree that the transition from this is evolutionary, but Ben would be interested to see a comparison between students using paper-based books and the University’s fully digital library, and it’s ubiquitous bring-your-own-device policy, and how over time the newer model affects learning. Florida Poly is, under Beachy’s direction, piloting a wider reaching access for students both on and off campus while maintaining the proper security and robustness for the networks involved. He talks about how the University’s Information infrastructure has similarities to health care, finance and business institutions, along with the education space, and how there are different rules, regulations and procedures in context to them all. As the University grows, while developing enough server power and cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning systems to meet the demands of students and faculty alike, one of Ben’s unexpected focus points is, believe it or not, the challenge of making sure adequate conduit runs are planned into the construction designs to allow for future needs while adhering to the budget constraints of Florida’s public University system. He understands that while wireless technologies are becoming more and more important to student daily life, the hard-wired infrastructure. Another part of the pilot program involves application streaming solutions such as AutoCAD and Adobe Suite programs, requiring internet connectivity bandwidth the single most important resource from an IT perspective. Ben sees the Internet of Things and the connection to data collection as a bridge to improve academic productivity and student life in ways that are positive and transparent, ultimately supporting student success. Connecting with the business community is an important part of the University’s mandate, and Beachy is looking for more opportunities to grow and foster relationships with local and regional industries. The research institutions being grown at Florida Poly make the transition between academic and commercial research more seamless and productive. The student population serves a as a huge potential resource for University’s success, notably from the Data Analytics program. Beachy would be interested having the students and faculty work together to collect the myriads of data available regarding campus life, create programs which can use it to improve techniques for developing and improving both curriculum and the student experience.
Episode 007 – Kelli Murray – CEO MedSpeaks and Health Innovators
After hearing her speak at RE:VIZE , I was eager to get the chance to sit down with Kelli Murray, CEO of Medspeaks and Health Innovators, over coffee at Winter Park’s (Florida) beautiful Alfond Inn for a discussion on the technology of healthcare administration, concentrating on data, innovation and where new technologies are making a difference, and where there may be challenges and opportunities for growth. The subject of electronic medical records, and how that data is gathered, stored, shared, and used, brings Kelli’s entrepreneurial mindset, as well as her passion about this growing and important technology to the forefront. She discusses how the challenges of wrangling EMR databases into useful tools across multiple services and healthcare organizations are a daunting, but clear opportunity for the right company looking to make their mark in that sector. As an investor in startups and an adviser to tech companies, Kelli gives insight on the things those firms should pay attention to and how some of the ones she has invested in, such as TSO Life, improve and grow by looking at how big the problem they are addressing is, and could they become a part of a larger corporation, bringing in technology and methodologies those companies are looking for to grow into new and emerging markets. Kelli also has strong feelings regarding Florida’s and specifically the Orlando area’s record in healthcare, ranking 48th in the nation for healthcare according to a Commonwealth Fund Report, (Orlando’s metropolitan ranking of 250 can be found here) however she remains hopeful that the local tech and startup community can work with larger institutions to improve that situation, and Orlando can bring innovative solutions to rest of the world.
Episode 006 – Marc McDonald & Diane Court – COO & CSO Leap With Alice
It is always such a joy meeting up with the creative and innovative team from Leap With Alice. The infectious enthusiasm of co-founders Alfonso Morales, Caesar Medel, and Zack Pierola shine in everything they put into this Augmented Reality and Blockchain-Digital Rights Management startup. For the podcast, I got to sit down for a few minutes with Chief Strategy Officer Diane Court and Chief Operations Officer Marc McDonald to discuss how this disruptive new technology can transform the classroom without disrupting the budgets and resources of schools and teachers. Diane is a very familiar face in the Orlando tech and startup scene, and served as founder and Executive Director of Orlando Tech. She has mentored countless startups, but her passion behind the way Leap With Alice is approaching education, and the availability of technology to future generations really comes through. We discuss the proposed partnership with VR leader Magic Leap, some methods of AR content creation, including the recently released (and free) apps Wonderly and AliceLens (available for both Android and iOS), and the role Blockchain technology has in DRM. Using as a model content exchanges such as Teachers Pay Teachers, LWA is creating their own exchange where they are building on their philosophy of leveraging emerging technologies to reimagine how we view education. LWA has developed a partnership with the University of Central Florida Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute to create a deeper connection within the education community.