Technology Influencers and Power Players
Part 8 of 12
VP, Product Development
Assurex is a personalized medicine company, focused on mental health. We test genetic mutations for patients. The doctor sees that a patient is struggling with a medication or not thriving with the med like someone else is. Our test gives the doctors insight to how the patient based upon genetic mutations will do on psychotropic medications. It is done as a cheek swab. They stick it in the mail and it arrives to our lab.
Do you view business as a customer or partner of IT?
Both. We support all of the IT infrastructure here. We build internal systems to support our internal teams such as the customer service, lab, billing and many other teams to build in efficiencies to support our rapid growth. We also have built our highy secure clinician portal where over 90% of our orders are placed. We transfer data between systems. Technology helps people enjoy their job more. We are a partner. We are a customer. We are a customer service organization. We have a clinical portal. We work with the science team to make tests better. The answer is definitely BOTH.
What’s the state of business technology in the Greater Cincinnati region? How do we compare to other cities nationally or globally?
In the last 10 years Cincinnati has changed dramatically. Startups have flourished. The support we have received from Cincy Tech, City of Mason, state of Ohio, and many other investors got us to where we are today.
How do you determine whether or not an idea is worth pursuing?
I ask, “Is it going to help someone out; a patient? An employee? A doctor? Is there a market for it? Is it unique?” There are some great ideas out there. There are many problems to solve. This company is very innovative.
SugarCreek Brandworthy Food Solutions
Tell me what SugarCreek does.
We make bacon for all the national brands, raw and fully cooked. We also make meatballs, sandwiches and snack trays. We recently opened a plant in Indiana, a 420,000 square foot plant. It is actually three plants within a single shell. The brand loyalty at stores has been turned upside down. Add that to that the fact the internet has disrupted the supply chain and the way they reach consumers. Small food companies have started their business on the web. They are small and agile compared to huge behemoths with huge bureaucracies.
What are some of the victories?
We do a lot of development of our own software. We’re very lean for the amount of responsibility we have. I am fortunate to have some extremely talented people. I try to make sure they have the tools to get the job done. We have become fairly well known in the technology industry for being cutting edge.
Are you surprised at the rate of technology’s growth?
Today every business is a technology business. The rate of acceleration is shocking. Managing it is the key.
I am often asked what is the state of business technology in Greater Cincinnati. The assumption is that we are the sleepy Midwest and we are way behind. I would argue, however, that we are not. I do think Cincinnati has missed the boat in not talking about what we’re doing from a technology space. We have Amazon here, we have Apple working with Northern Kentucky University and we have The Brandery and Cintrifuse with lots of technology behind what they are each doing. We have Fifth Third investing in tech companies and startups, both locally and nationally. There’s a whole lot more going on here than most people realize, but we might be behind the curve because we have these things in islands rather than collaboratively across the marketplace. We have an opportunity to leverage all that we are doing and make a bigger splash for our community by tying it all together.
I am also asked if I view business as a customer or a partner of IT. The honest answer is that it’s cultural. Smart businesses will view IT as a partner, whether it’s their own internal IT or outside vendor partners. There isn’t anything business is going to do going forward that is not going to touch technology in some way. A smart business is figuring out how to partner and IT has to learn how to be a partner, not a hindrance. There is a real shift taking place in that arena and the role of the CIO is changing to be at the table as a true partner and to understand the business. Now you have new titles like chief technical officer, chief digital officer, chief marketing officer. All three roles are wrapped around each other so it’s hard to know where one stops and the other starts.
Opportunities are limitless if we continue to collaborate with each other and continue to use the tools in the ways that we can only begin to fathom. IOT – the Internet of Things – that is the next big wave.
You have to have that top IT person in a seat at the table and you have to have your top executives willing to look into the future to ask: “Where are these millennials going to take us?” They will be the customers of the future, whether B2B or B2C. Businesses must have a strategy to think forward and to think differently to be able to interact with the new customer.