Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tech Around Town

Enterprise Heterogeneous Data Protection - Live Demo
Speaker: Scott Hetrick
Fri 1-Aug-08 1:00 PM to Fri 1-Aug-08 2:00 PM EST
WebEx Event (Remote Log-in/Participation)

VMWare classes monthly at Platform Labs Training Room
Tue 5-Aug-08 9:00 AM to Tue 5-Aug-08 5:30 PM EST

Battelle & Boundary Systems host COPUG Meeting - with...
Thu 7-Aug-08 12:00 PM to Thu 7-Aug-08 4:30 PM EST
Metro School1929 Kenny Road : Columbus OH mapquest forecast

DACUM Institute
Speaker: Robert E. Norton
Mon 11-Aug-08 8:00 AM to Fri 15-Aug-08 5:00 PM EST
Center on Education and Training for Employment1900 Kenny Road : Columbus OH mapquest forecast

Microsoft Project 2007 - August 11th, 12th & 13th
Mon 11-Aug-08 8:30 AM to Mon 11-Aug-08 5:30 PM EST

Angelbeat Seminar
Thu 14-Aug-08 7:30 AM to Thu 14-Aug-08 2:30 PM EST
Northeast Conference Center4140 Executive Parkway : Columbus Ohio mapquest forecast

10th Annual Business Continuity Planning Conference
Thu 14-Aug-08 8:00 AM to Thu 14-Aug-08 5:30 PM EST

Microsoft Project Server 2007 - August 14th & 15th
Thu 14-Aug-08 8:00 AM to Thu 14-Aug-08 5:30 PM EST

Game Theory – As a CI Analytical Tool
Speaker: Dr. Niall Fraser and Mike McGlogan
Thu 14-Aug-08 9:00 AM to Thu 14-Aug-08 2:30 PM EST
Holiday Inn & Roberts Centre123 Gano Rd. : Wilmington OH mapquest forecast

The Ohio Network of Healthcare Information Assurance-...
Thu 14-Aug-08 10:00 AM to Thu 14-Aug-08 5:30 PM EST

SCID Workshop
Speaker: Robert E. Norton
Mon 18-Aug-08 8:00 AM to Fri 22-Aug-08 3:00 PM EST
Center on Education and Training for Employment1900 Kenny Road : Columbus OH mapquest forecast

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ventech Solutions Wins 2008 Governor’s Excellence in Exporting Award

COLUMBUS, OH July 30, 2008 — Ventech Solutions, Inc., the world’s first CMMI Maturity Level 5 (v 1.2) software company, has received a 2008 Governor’s Excellence in Exporting Award for its success in exporting software from Ohio to Asia. Ventech Founder and CEO Ravi Kunduru accepted the award from Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Lt. Governor Lee Fisher at a July 29 ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse Atrium in Columbus. “I am grateful to be recognized for Ventech’s role in promoting Ohio as a leader in the global markets,” Kunduru said. “This is an important milestone towards our goal of becoming the first Ohio-headquartered global IT services firm with more than 1,000 employees in Ohio by 2012.”
The only Information Technology company among 24 award recipients, Ventech was recognized for success in exporting its CenterPoint™ and Gateway™ educational software, which has been adopted by many educational institutions including India’s third-largest school system connecting nearly 600 schools and is expected to have more than 1.2 million users by 2010.
In presenting the awards to companies that have demonstrated superior performance in exporting and contributions to Ohio's economy, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland said, "Ohio is the eighth-largest exporting state in the country, a distinction largely due to economic partners like our 2008 Excellence in Exporting Winners. I want to thank all the companies for their hard work and commitment to success and their contributions to keeping Ohio's economy strong and competitive." Ohio Lt. Governor and director of the Ohio Department of Development Lee Fisher said “Ohio has a distinguished reputation for being a national leader in exporting. These winners today show the many opportunities businesses of all sizes and industries have to succeed in Ohio.” Since 1986 the Governor's Excellence in Exporting Awards program has recognized companies and organizations of all sizes that have shown superior performance in exporting or heightened awareness of exporting as a vital component of the state's economy.

About Ventech Solutions Ventech Solutions, the world’s first CMMI Maturity Level 5 (v 1.2) software company, is an innovative Information Technology company offering software solutions, services and products to Global 2000 corporations and local , state and federal government clients. A Microsoft Gold certified partner and SBA 8(a) certified firm, Ventech specializes in secure software application development, independent verification and validation, quality assurance and testing, project management, and IT professional staffing. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, the company maintains a regional presence in several states as well as a wholly owned subsidiary in Chennai, India. Media/Industry Analyst Contact: Cheryl Claypoole Tel: (614) 361-5023 E-mail:

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Spotlight on emerging Columbus Tech Companies


Manufactures and sells antimicrobial and sanitation products based on dry-media chlorine dioxide technology. The company’s proprietary devices deliver precise quantities of chlorine dioxide for applications in the food, water purification, health care, consumer products and indoor air quality industries. The First Fifty Fund is an investor in Avantec.


Develops film base advanced material solutions for a variety of high-tech industries. Products are currently utilized in products manufactured or sold by: Avery Dennison, CP Films div. of Solutia, Medline, Hewlett Packard, Western Digital, Dell, Microsoft, Donaldson Filtration, WH Brady, W.L. Gore, Gillette, Schering Plough, Delphi, Jaguar, Daimler Benz and Honda.

Business Leader Interview: Hugh Cathey

This week, I'm talking with one of our technology business leaders, Hugh Cathey.  I was introduced to Hugh by an attorney, Earl LeVere, now at Schottenstein Zox & Dunn.  Earl and I got to know each other through a few Technology Leaders Luncheon events run by TechColumbus.  Since then I have been able to work with Hugh on a couple of different fronts and have always found his insights to be helpful in establishing focus and ensuring movement in the right direction.

You're all over the place. What is the unifying theme of all of the work that you're doing now?
Working with SMB-size companies on growth strategy.  In other words, if the CEO is not satisfied with where they are in their growth trajectory, we probably have reason to talk. 

How did you get to where you are now?
I’ve served as president/CEO of five technology companies over the last 20 years.  The first three are where I learned how to lead a team and respond to stakeholders.  The last two were where I really learned how to drive hyper-growth.  Those lessons combined give me the background to help emerging-company CEOs with understanding how to ignite growth, profitably.

Tell us about a defining moment in your professional development that tested your fitness for the big leagues and how that moment has stayed with you.
Nothing very glamorous, but when I came to Columbus in 1996 to start XO Communications as its president, the primary investor in the company told me I needed to have some outside help in order to grow the company at the rate necessary to achieve our financial objectives.  He “encouraged” me to use an outside consultant who could help me understand the dynamics of exponential growth vs linear. 

I retained a consultant to help me in this regard, and his “over my shoulder” insights were invaluable to our success at XO. 

My take-away from that experience was that I really didn’t have all the answers, and to think otherwise was to invite trouble.  It made me realize that I had to find the answers from others, and to be open to help, and not let my “executive ego” get in the way of progress.

That same recognition is what I look for in a potential consulting client.  If they don’t “get” that, then it’s unlikely that I will be able to help them grow their company.

What is it about Columbus that anchors you here?
Aside from the palm trees and balmy weather?  Well, the thing I tell my left-and-right coast friends is that anyone in Columbus is accessible with no more than two or three phone calls.  I really like that kind of small-town-feel-within-a-big-town part of Columbus.  It has a growing and vital technology focus – which is where my business interests lay.

The weather is a non-issue for me – if nothing else it provides variety.  Warm and friendly people, a fairly cosmopolitan feel.  I consider it “home”. 

What grand opportunity do you see before us in the Columbus technology scene?  What about a challenge that we'll need to overcome to realize the opportunity?
There are a number of opportunities for technology in Columbus; the logistics scene, the Internet apps scene, the healthcare Infosys scene, etc.  The big challenge I see is that local large businesses are not ardent users of the services of the local tech companies – not like it is in my former home-ground of Los Angeles.

If the local big companies were myopically focused on making business relationships with local tech companies, we would see a lot more successes come about. 

I’m not saying there is none of this – but it’s just not as abundant as it could be.

What's in it for the big companies to do this work? Doesn't this mean that they're accepting greater risk if going with a “local” solution?
Yes, there's more possible risk there, but that's really a shortsighted view.  Working locally helps to spur employment growth and overall economic health in a substantial way.  If I'm a local company and I need a technology service, do I go to a local firm or do I go off to an east-coast firm that might be more well-known generally?  It's almost impossible for me to believe that when buying a typical technology service, you can't source it locally.  Sure there are times when you can't, but that's one out of a hundred; it's not the usual case.  Local big business leaders need to think broadly about how their companies are working.  They work with one another, but those executives need to look at how to develop relationships with the younger companies to help them to achieve local growth beyond their own businesses.  You see this happen all the time in Los Angeles.  You see it in Boston and Chicago.  It helps to perpetuate growth.  Austin does this very well.  Dell does business with companies with headquarters there.  Southwest Bell, too.  You see it everywhere.  Here I routinely see companies that I work with having a hard time getting into large companies based here.

What advice would you share with someone working in technology here?
To waste no time in getting deeply involved in the various tech organizations; get out, meet people, ask for introductions to other people – really focus on that from the get-go.  Most every need that someone is going to face can be helped by those connections.

How would you recommend that students—say, high school and college students—get connected to the community that they hope to work in?

It's difficult to get someone in high school to be able to reach out and connect to the community.  The community that will need to hire them a few years down the road really needs to reach out to the schools.  TechColumbus, the Chamber of Commerce, and large companies have programs for people to get involved.  They do that routinely in southern California where I'm from, sometimes through organizations like Junior Achievement.  The reality is that maybe ten percent of the student body would be a candidate for a program like that specifically in technology.  Programs that help students with the inclination to get grounded in early career development will help not just the students, but also the companies that will need people with those skills later.

Do you have any advice for teachers and guidance counselors who are helping younger students to understand their options and to pursue the ones that make sense for them?
Teachers  and all faculty need to know about real options.  Offshore sourcing isn't taking away all of the jobs, but it affects the skills that are needed locally.  Sourcing changes over time.  India isn't the hotspot that it once was.  South Vietnam is now hot.  It all goes in cycles.  Over time, wages in the areas that are hot will go up, and there will be a point of diminishing returns.  Someplace else will be hot and repeat the process.  It's like the manufacturing facilities in northern Mexico that worried people fifteen years ago.  There will be impact from sourcing that is done remotely, but it doesn't take away industries; it changes the way that industries do business.  Whatever the business, hands-on work needs to be done locally.  Anyone discouraging students from pursuing technology for fear of changes due to sourcing is really doing a disservice.

How should we think about Columbus and describe it to others?
Columbus is a phenomenal place.  The ability to get to people is tremendously valuable.  It's just a great place to work.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lesson from Randy Pausch

Earlier this week we had a posting about Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor whose inspirational "last lecture" became such a phenomenon over the past six months or so, and who just passed away this weekend from pancreatic cancer. I just saw the ABC special on his life and felt compelled to add to the previous post.

For those of you who haven't seen the video you owe it to yourself to see it. You can then come to your own conclusions why it's impacted so many people.

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom from his lecture:

1. “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”
2. “It’s better to fail spectacularly then to pass along and do something which is mediocre.’”
3. “Never lose the child-like wonder.”
4. “When you’re screwing up and nobody’s saying anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you.”
5. Be good at something; it makes you valuable.
6. “It’s cool to meet your boyhood idol. It’s even cooler when he comes to you to see what you’re doing in your lab.”
7. “If you live your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, and the dreams will come to you.”
8. "If we do something which is pioneering, we will get arrows in the back. But at the end of the day, a whole lot of people will have a whole lot of fun."
9. "we cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand"

He lived a life where he "left it all on the field" . We could all aspire to be that courageous.

Peace Out,

Did you know? #37 on Entrepreneur magazines Hot 100 companies

From a database of nearly 21 million companies reviewed by Entrepreneur magazine and research provider CentrisPoint, was distinguished as one of the nation’s Hot 100 fast-growth businesses. ranks #37 overall, #2 with sale totals of 213 million, and is the only e-commerce business to make the list at all!

Of the nearly 21 million companies on the preliminary list, only 0.3% made the first cut, and just a fraction of those made it to the Hot 100, including

“This year’s Hot 100 listing reveals the shining stars continuing to drive the nation’s economy forward,” says Karen Axelton, executive editor of Entrepreneur. “These companies, and the entrepreneurs who built them, are making a major impact on the economy with their revenue and the new jobs they create as a result of their growth. The innovation, persistence and passion they demonstrate in industries across the board are vital to the nation’s success as a whole.”

Location: Columbus, OH
Founders: David A. Homewood, 41

Year Started: February 2000
Initial Investment: $17,000

Turned a Profit: 2002
First Million: 2002

2007 Sales: $213 million

Number of Employees:
Day 1: 1
2007: 93
2008: 110*

* Projected by 2009
Company Background
E-commerce provider of online retail business development solutions including data security, global payment methodologies, fraud mitigation, customer service, marketing and, in 2008, affiliate sales channels.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday morning muses - July 28, 2008 - Helping out

Dear Readers,

Please indulge as I go a little off tech topics today...

I’m joining the Pan Ohio Hope Ride to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s mission to save lives, help cancer patients and their families, and to empower communities.
Will you support me in my ride? I’ll do the pedaling. All you have to do is make a donation.

I’ll be cycling 300 miles from the Society’s Hope Lodge in Cleveland to the one in Cincinnati from August 7-10, 2008. These beautiful facilities provide free, supportive lodging to of cancer patients and caregivers who have to travel for treatment. They have helped more than 15,000 cancer patients and caregivers avoid millions in hotel bills and travel expenses.

This will be a challenging trip. Please help me make the road smoother for those battling cancer by supporting the Pan Ohio Hope Ride.

Click on the following link to go to the contribution page. Just fill in my last name (Blanquera) and follow the directions - click here

or paste this url into your browser

In case you're interested Neal Roberts (who's in charge of the ride) tells me that for the Pan Ohio Hope Ride
  • it's not to late to also register to ride. You may not want to/be able to ride the 4 days, but there are 2 day and even 1 day options!
  • He is very actively in need of volunteers to help during each stage. Two big needs are for SAG support (they bring their car and a bike rack to transport riders who have bonked), and for water stop volunteers (just chill out at a table and provide drinks/nutrition to riders). There are other things to do as well, so anyone who can volunteer should contact Neal directly and he’ll hook them up.
Neal can be reached at or 614-985-6399

Thanks again for your consideration

Peace Out,

P.S. Here's maps of the route

The Four-Day Itinerary
Aug 7, 2008: Cleveland to Wooster
Aug 8, 2008: Wooster to Otterbein
Aug 9, 2008: Otterbein to Wittenberg
Aug 10, 2008: Wittenberg to Cincinnati

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Randy Pausch, 1960-2008

Randy Pausch was an inspiration to many, energetic and enthusiastic about his work and finding opportunities to make computing technology more accessible and useful to people. The Alice program that he was instrumental in bringing about has started to be used to teach programming to children in schools in Ohio—something I became aware of recently through my work with the Ohio Department of Education. His “Last Lecture” (shown nearby) became a tremendous hit for good reason: he stared death in the face and gave his all in a celebration of life. If you haven't seen this lecture, you absolutely must see it.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

As IT Budgets Shrink CIOs Look For Ways to Do More With Less

TechColumbus TechWeek article by Tricia Strahler

According to IDC, a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services and events for the IT industry, IT budgets will see only half the growth in 2008 that they did in 2007, down from 8 percent growth to just around 4 percent. As a result, CIOs are becoming very bearish about their ability to fund projects and are working with multiple budgets to cover a variety of scenarios.

One example of this is the recent activity at TechColumbus’ Platform Lab, which in June experienced its busiest month since its 2002 opening.
Platform Lab is the nation’s only non-profit IT testing and training facility, and as a result can provide a variety of IT testing services at a fraction of traditional providers. Offering services from load and stress testing to strategy and concept validation, Platform Lab has helped companies ranging from retail giant to Cardinal Health to smaller companies and start-ups effectively reduce costs and grow their online presence. Such testing allows IT departments of these organizations the ability to test an idea or strategy in a lab setting before incurring the costs of launching an unvetted and potentially ill-fated strategy.

Funded through a State of Ohio Third Frontier grant, Platform Lab was established to help Ohio businesses be more competitive. Platform Lab offers Internet access exclusively for testing purposes through Ohio’s, which can access the Internet at speeds as high as 10 gigabits.
Through Platform Lab, organizations can access bandwidth at a fraction of the cost of traditional ISPs and at speeds which most could not match. According to Steve Gruetter, director of Platform Lab, flexibility is one of the key reasons that Platform Lab can provide the most cost-effective testing solutions. Rather than provide rigid pricing structures that require organizations to purchase bandwidth for a minimum of 30 days and at the level of highest projected usage, Platform Lab offers per day and per megabit pricing.

Although IT budgets are shrinking, IDC reports that cuts are less likely in security and compliance. In this area Platform Lab has helped many of Central Ohio’s leading healthcare systems establish and maintain compliance to the 2005 HIPAA regulations. HIPAA requires hospitals to establish and annually test disaster recovery plans. Many of the leading healthcare systems in the region have made use of Platform Lab to validate and document the effectiveness of their plans.

“Platform Lab serves as an important strategic business partner with us,” said Aaron Zuber, business continuity and disaster recovery coordinator for Ohio Health. “We have a very diverse range of applications and platforms and because of their pricing structure and flexibility, we are able to test across these platforms in a manner that we would otherwise be unable to afford.”

As IT budgets dwindle, two things seem clear - IT leaders are looking to do more with less and the importance of testing before investing increases as a way to manage risk.

Keeping Technology in its Place

Some articles that I've recently seen in the blogosphere have dealt with acting well. Often, these are articles that discuss basics of etiquette in various settings that are unfamiliar. How to behave in a “fancy” restaurant (with actual cloth napkins) without looking like a complete jerk (“I need this!”—no, not that kind of Jerk). How to impress your date. How to impress her mother. It goes on ad infinitum.

I have been intrigued by the frequency with which these articles discuss not just how to handle silverware but how to handle mobile phones, pagers, BlackBerrys, and so on. It would seem that we are well on our way to becoming a society of nitwits, more focused on responding to the devices that hang around our waists like Batman's utility belt (you knew that I had to get a reference in there somewhere, didn't you?) than we are to paying attention to the person standing right in front of us. I am, of course, now getting into something I wrote about just recently: hyperconnected, multitasking nonsense.

What interests me presently is not just identification of the problem, but how it is that we are able to manage it.

I personally have been around this sort of technology for a long time. My initial forays into what is now typically known as cyberspace were made when Ronald Reagan was president. The first time that I wrote software used by people beyond those who knew me personally came via online distribution (on CompuServe, of course) in 1988. I was a sophomore in high school, and received electronic messages sent to me from people using the software from all over the world. Corresponding so quickly with people from literally the other side of the world was much less commonplace then. Of course I spent long hours in front of The Machine; it's how software gets written. It's how we learn the details of computers' inner workings. I spent my fair share of time engaged in social activity online (I built early multiplayer online text-based adventure games).

There was a time when I made it a point to make myself highly available for people who “needed” to reach me. While I was at Bell Labs, I came across an essay written by a personal hero of mine, Donald E. Knuth. Entitled “Knuth versus Email,” the piece discusses email not only from the perspective of what it does well, but what it does poorly, and how that works with what the esteemed professor really needs to do. The basic thrust of what he was saying was surprising to me—and not something I was quite ready to swallow, given that at the time I was the postmaster for one of the largest domains on the Internet. Before I ran across this, however, I learned two rules about Knuth: 1) Knuth is always right, and 2) If not, see #1. Like anyone whose opinion is different from Knuth would do well to do, I accepted the wisdom and had faith that one day I would understand if I had the good fortune to live long enough.

These days, I am reasonably connected, but in such a way that I feel no qualms whatsoever about dropping off the grid when the need arises. Vacations, days off, and even specific hours that I have simply reserved for other purposes will make me inaccessible. I find that I am much more highly functional, creative, patient, and generally more pleasant if instead of staying up as late as I can working my way through email, blogs, and whatever else one might be inclined to do on the computer online, I disconnect at an appointed time. It's completely arbitrary. It means that there are things that I would like to do that I simply don't. But what I do, I do well enough to feel comfortable putting my name on it. Quidvis recte factum quamvis humile praeclarum.

It also means that I get to spend some time reading my books every evening. I have time to sit in peace, quietly thinking about what I've read, what I've experienced, and what others have said. And I sleep well, not wound up from flooding my senses for eighteen hours straight.

Even throughout the day, unless there is something specific that I know that I need to be personally involved in watching, I will allow email to come in and to sit there unread. I'll not tell people around me by my actions that my BlackBerry is more important than they are (because it's not). More often than not, it can rest there for a few hours. Or if it's really that hot (and that happens more than a little bit in my business), someone else will also be assigned to the project and can handle communication for the project while I'm taking an hour or two to do something else that's also important.

Getting to this point has taken some work, and there are a few guidelines that I propose to help to get communication under control:
  1. Set reasonable expectations. Don't get people in the mode of thinking that they can contact you out of the blue and get a response in twelve seconds. One business day is probably a reasonable expectation for most situations.
  2. Work in batches. This is antithetical to a lot of people who came to know technology in an always-connected environment, who think that batch-processing is for mainframe computers running programs written in COBOL. The truth is, however, that you'll be much more effective if you deal with voicemail and email in groups. You'll also have the ability to see everything in total and then to set priority. Figure out how much of your day you'll spend dealing with those things, then schedule it and stick with it. This is far more productive than dealing with each message as it comes in, interrupting you in the process.
  3. Set priorities for communication methods. My priorities work like this: someone in my presence gets top priority, a phone call will get next priority, then batch-oriented: email, FAXes, and so on. That, of course, assumes all other things being equal, which is rarely the case. As a general rule, any of these things will be handled at a scheduled time; I don't much deal with interruptions.
  4. Understand urgency vs. importance. Urgency is how quickly something needs to be resolved; importance is a measure of the impact of something not happening. Not everything important needs to be done right away. Not everything urgent needs ever to get done. Find a way to decide quickly what will be dealt with and what won't.
  5. Track reality. Record your activity and see how well you do at the end of the week. You'll likely find that to be realistic, you need to make some changes to your plan from time to time. You'll also likely find that an awful lot of stuff that you don't ever really need to deal with is eating up massive amounts of time.
A few other things that I've taken to do include using various technologies for what they do well, while not completely leaving out the “older” technology that might do a better job of the task at hand. When I need the personal touch in communication with someone, I send a note. On stationary. Handwritten. Sent snail-mail. With a stamp. Sometimes it's not just the information that counts, but how it's delivered that's needed to convey the right message: I did this myself because you're important to me.

How well do you do when it comes to managing your communications technology? Is it working for you, or are you working for it? What strategies do you follow to avoid getting buried?


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Open positions - $100k jobs

1) Application Development Manager- with strong E-Commerce Background- this is for a 1 billion+ company in Columbus that is growing fast. Total compensation (base + bonus) is 110- 123K

2) Project Manager with primarily Infrastructure experience. Must be very capable PM with experience with budget responsibility and proven ability to successfully deliver infrastructure projects- this is a long-term contract role that could lead to a full-time position (if desired). Compensation is 90,000-110,000 salary/ 55-65/hour on a 1099 basis.

3) Project Manager with solid experience with Content Management applications, preferably IBM Content Manager- long-term contract role 1-2 years- 100-120k Salary, 55-70 on a 1099 basis

4) CIO- this is for an early stage technology company that has recently passed some significant and positive milestones. I have a candidate interviewing next week so the position may end up being filled, but if not, I would have the opportunity to present additional candidates- total package will be in the mid-high 100s

Contact Randy for more information:

Randy Dean | Fast Switch | President | W: (614) 336-3634 | | C: (614) 309-8558

Groundwork Group and Columbus CIO forum featured in InformationWeek

John Soat from InformationWeek magazine wrote a recent article which featured Groundwork Group and Angelo Mazzocco - click on the title below to link to the article

CIOs Uncensored: Charities Need Your Skills, And Your Vision

Spotlight on emerging Columbus Tech Companies

OncoImmune, Ltd.

Develops novel therapeutics for cancer and multiple sclerosis through research in functional genomics, immunology and oncology. Focuses on developing innovative concepts from a strong portfolio of proprietary research by its four founders, prominent scientists from The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan.


Accelerates the discovery of new drugs by enabling scientists to achieve excellence in functional genomic research. Scientists come to Phylogeny for help in determining the function of various genes involved in diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Did you know? $800million supplier to commercial vehicle market headquartered in New Albany

Commercial Vehicle Group is a leading supplier of fully integrated system solutions for the global commercial vehicle market, including the heavy-duty truck market, the construction and agriculture market and the specialty and military transportation markets. The Company's products include suspension seat systems, interior trim systems, such as instrument and door panels, headliners, cabinetry, molded products and floor systems, cab structures and components, mirrors, wiper systems, electronic wiring harness assemblies and controls and switches specifically designed for applications in commercial vehicle cabs. The Company is headquartered in New Albany, OH with operations throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Information about the Company and its products is available on the internet at

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Position openings

WebLogic System Administrator (Full time and Contract positions)
Fortran Developers
Java developers and Architects

For more info contact:
Linda Rasmussen

Director, Sales
CareWorks Technologies
5555 Glendon Court
Dublin, OH 43016

Monday morning muses - July 21, 2008 - Going "green" makes "green"

Good morning everyone,

Just got back from a week of vacation in beautiful Boston . What a treat it was to get off the "grid" for a week and spend some time with the family. I gotta admit it took me a few days to stop checking my email and compulsively check my voicemails.

Let me share a story that caught my eye in the Boston Globe. Evergreen Solar signs $1.2 billion contract - Click here to link to the story. Turns out that Northeast manufacturing jobs are in short supply ( and decreasing) and a company called Evergreen Solar (that makes solar panels) has just signed a $1.2 billion order. This order will sell out the capacity of the factory until 2013. The factory will employ over 700 people in high tech/high skill manufacturing jobs (that pay $70 -100k).

While I'm the first to acknowledge that TechColumbus is making headway in accelerating the startup community I ask myself , "What is Central Ohio doing to take advantage of its manufacturing heritage and affordable cost base to grow high tech manufacturing jobs?"

We've got a a lot of smart people and idle manufacturing capacity. What prevents us from landing a $1.2 billion dollar solar panel contract? With soaring energy coats you would think that the powers that be would be all over accelerating our jump into alternative energy industries. Does anyone know what we're doing as a region/state in this area? I would think that the opportunity to grow several hundred high paying jobs would motivate us. Evergreen Solar (a Devon Mass company has just shown us that it can be done.

What can we do as a community to accelerate making "green" from going "green"?

Peace out,

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Educator Interview: Ronald Hartung

This week, I'm talking with Ronald Hartung, Ph.D., of Franklin University.

What do you do now?

I have three titles at work. I am Division Chair for Computer and Information Sciences. I am also Program Chair for masters and undergraduate computer science programs. Finally, I am also a professor. Division Chair is less than a Dean but I manage across computer and information science curriculum areas—or herd cats.

You weren't always an academic. How did you get to where you are now?

Many years ago, I was at a U.S. Navy lab and was put into management. I responded by going to school and getting my Ph.D. I taught as an adjunct at Franklin for many years. At some point, I didn't need an industrial salary anymore and since I love teaching, I focused on that. Academia is my second career.

Do you find that your industrial experience makes you more effective as an educator?

I would say that because of my years in industry—and my colleagues' years in industry—we've made strong efforts to create a curriculum at Franklin that balances the theoretical foundation and the practical. That's the focus of Franklin's computer science program. Our degrees are practitioner degrees by design. We make sure that courses build on and support one another, giving a basis for lifelong learning because we know it'll change but they can walk out the door with skills that pay off immediately. The practitioner part of my life gives me a lot of insight in how to do that.

What should organizations hiring and promoting technology practitioners know about what's happening in the world of education?

Much has changed compared to where computer science was twenty years ago. We've specialized the field and we run four degree programs for people who manage infrastructure to people doing requirements, people producing web related systems, and the standard old fashioned software developer. We see that as specialization. If you look at the history of the ACM curriculum, the number of core areas has exploded over twenty years.
At Franklin, we're aiming for a mainstream developer, not a security specialist, for example. A security specialist will still need to know a lot about the inside of an operating system, but today that's much less important for the average developer. We seem to be in era ruled by this little language and that little language, but they're not terribly different until you get into Lisp, Prolog, or some interesting ones—outside of the mainstream. We won't necessarily produce a graduate that can use your favorite language but they should be able to jump from one to another.
It's always hard to find someone who can be able to go into the niche. Mainstream is still Java. We expect that to shift one day but we just don't know where that will go. We're trying to make sure that people walk out the door with teamwork skills and understand how an industrial organization works. You don't teach that by having team projects because that's where strong person does all the work and everyone else looks open-eyed. We need to simulate an industrial organization where you have a team lead, testers, different roles, etc., and each person has responsibility to that team. We've tried to incorporate that in curriculum. We hear a lot about soft skills. My colleagues and I are not so hot on them because our sense is that if you don't have technical skills, no amount of soft skill will save you. We'd love to go to five-year degree program if we could but we can't, so we do the best we can in four years. Those are some of challenges.

What do people who lead graduates need to understand in order to make best use of newly-graduated practitioners?

Recognize that there's a learning curve no matter what your background and that people do different things at different stages in their careers. First out of school they have to get their hands dirty and write code. People out of school are prepared to do that. We try to make sure they understand how to put things together from components, which is major part of today's world: most programmers work with components and stitch them together. It makes software harder to write, not easier!
Second off, employers need to invest in technology people so when practitioners come out of school employers can get them into testing and development—but to get them to grow to understand complex architecture and larger system issues, that takes time. You can't just bring people in, use them for a project and shove them out the door without losing the future talent. Industry needs to do better job of building those people.
I think in today's world you need to come back and study for a master's degree. The master's degree teaches you to put knowledge together, to integrate, and to deal with the higher-level stuff. That high-level understanding takes time and there's no way we can pack that into undergraduate degree. Requires investment from the employee, as well.

What does someone pursuing a degree from Franklin want?

Students are all over the map. Some I talked to are trying to change careers. They may have been in all kinds of things. Someone was administrative assistant and wants to jump off and study software development.
Some are looking for more of an infrastructure job. They want to put networks together and they're happy at that level.
A lot of students we get are career-oriented and looking for job. They're driven that way, so they're trying to get their program done as fast as possible and get right into the field. Some want to jump up a level. In some ways I think many students are looking for how to get the degree, to get into a career, and to get moving.
Some are full-time students looking for internships, into company to do some work and to show what they can do. Some have difficulty doing that because they have families and other obligations.
Students really are all over the map; you'll need to talk to someone to find out where they are.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spotlight on emerging Columbus Tech Companies


Developers of a painless, non-invasive glucose monitor using proprietary analysis techniques to overcome obstacles of spectroscopic based non-invasive instruments. A recipient of $125,000 in First Fifty funds with additional funding from individual angel investors. The company is eligible for Ohio’s Technology Investment Tax Credit (TITC) program.

InVasc Therapeutics

Specializes in target-specific drug discovery with several potential drug therapies at the pre-clinical stage. The company has developed a proprietary approach to drug discovery that uses molecular structures and an application-based platform that dramatically decreases the time and expense of current large-scale “mining” discovery techniques. The InVasc process is the result of university-based research at Emory University and The Ohio State University.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Did you know? World's largest producer of HDPE pipe is in Hilliard Ohio

Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc.
(ADS) is the world’s largest producer of HDPE corrugated plastic pipe. Founded in 1966, it serves the storm water drainage and on-site industry through a global network of 42 domestic and international manufacturing plants and more than 30 distribution centers.

Six billion feet of ADS pipe are in service around the world. You can see ADS products everywhere – from major construction sites with drainage requirements to residences in your neighborhood.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

The entrepreneur test - do you have what it takes

Many people wishing to become small business owners ask themselves whether they really could. The following questionnaire will help you evaluate your entrepreneurial aptitude. You may want to grab a cup of your favorite beverage as this quiz is comprised of 50 questions. Results will be calculated when you complete all the questions.

click here to go to the test

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Getting to Know One Another

We need to get to know one another. We often talk about the “local tech community” in the abstract but aside from the group of people that we see daily as we go about our work, most of us are pretty well isolated from others around town. Fortunately we have our share of mavens—the people who seem to know everyone and do such a good job of connecting people to one another—but I believe that we'll all benefit from taking the time to get to know some others around us. Taking personal interest in the work of one another will help us to advance our community, which is to say the interests of those whose profession and geography make them a part of the “Central Ohio tech community.”

It's hard to develop personal interest in people that you don't know, especially if, like many of us, after a social function of some sort you need to go back to your office and sit by yourself and rock for a while to recover. Nevertheless, it's important for us to know other people. They can, after all, stimulate our thinking in new ways and can do much to help us to accomplish what we’ve set out to do.

Many of you know that in addition to being the founder of a tech-oriented professional services firm (at Interhack), I am an educator (Lecturer, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University), and provide services pro bono to the State of Ohio’s Department of Education a la the “IT Business Advisory Network” that helps to set information technology curriculum standards throughout the state. These efforts bring me into contact with a fairly large number of people—a side-effect of my inability to spend as much time as I'd like in the lab. It seems to me that this is a good opportunity to make good use of those connections.

As I see it, the “Central Ohio tech community” is a broad one. We have the technologists who dream up and develop the new technology in the first place. These include the scientists that perform the fundamental research that leads to the breakthroughs, the engineers that work to turn those ideas into functioning, production-ready systems that can be used, and the technicians who keep things running smoothly.

To get the technology to run through its natural life-cycle, we need people who go about making the work of the technologists possible. These can be administrators of the scientific laboratories where new technology is hatched, the Founder-CEOs who turn technology (that they, perhaps, developed in the first place) into businesses that deliver the goods and services into real customers who pay for what they get. They can also be the business managers who go about getting the technology to work in the context of another business, helping it to do a better job of satisfying its customers.

With this technology being developed and used, there is an increasing demand for the technicians to run it, the engineers to deploy it, and the scientists to dream up the next generation of technology. We need to include the group of people who will help us to satisfy these demands: the educators who help to get children who present particular interest and aptitude into the programs that will help them to become productive members of our community and of society more broadly.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be publishing a series of interviews meant to stimulate thinking and discussion about what exactly we're doing and how we're going to be able to do it better. We cannot advance our community unless we know what our community is. Who are these people that I'm describing? What are their concerns? What are the opportunities that they see? How can we help them to succeed? What are they doing that can help us to succeed in our objectives? These are the questions that I hope to get us to start considering.

If you can think of other people that you think that the local tech community should get to know or want to talk about the work that you’re up to, please let me know by email. Presently, I have enough vict^H^H^Holunteers to take the series into September. If readers find the exercise worthwhile, I’ll be looking for help to keep it going. Look here every Thursday morning for an installment in the series, starting this Thursday with a discussion on the challenges in technology education from someone who has industrial experience before going into academia.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

AeA Releases 2008 Cybercities Report on State of Nation’s High Tech Economy

Central Ohio is leading the state in many key high tech economic indicators according to a recent Cybercities 2008 report released by AeA (formerly the American Electronics Association). Ohio, which the report says is often overlooked as a high tech hub is home to three of the nation’s top 60 cybercities – Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati*. Central Ohio leads the state in many key indicators including the total number of high tech jobs in the region, the average high tech wage, total payroll and many other statistics.

According to the report, 54 of every 1,000 private sector workers in Central Ohio are employed by high tech firms which results in Columbus ranking 35th in the nation in high tech employment concentration. By comparison Cleveland reports 35 of every 1,000 workers as being employed by high tech firms while Cincinnati shows 34 of every 1,000 – ranking them as 56th and 57th respectively.

Although the number of high tech jobs in Columbus decreased 14 percent from 2001 to 2006; that statistic is beginning to trend upward with a two percent increase (900 jobs) from 2005 to 2006. Furthermore, it is indicative of trends across the nation as the industry continues to recover from the bursting of the high tech bubble. For instance, the New York metro, which was the top cybercity by employment, saw nearly an 18 percent drop in high tech jobs from 2001 to 2006. However, from 2005 to 2006, like Columbus, New York also experienced a two percent growth.

But what is encouraging about this job growth is the economic impact high tech jobs have on the region. According to the report, in Columbus, the wage differential between high tech wages as compared to all private sector jobs is 74 percent. The average private sector wage was reported as $40,700 while the average high tech wage was $70,900.

The leading high tech sectors by concentration in the Columbus metro include computer systems design and related services reporting 15,700 jobs; telecommunications services with 6,700 jobs and R&D and testing labs with 5,900 jobs.

Columbus outperformed Cleveland and Cincinnati on almost all key industry statistics except in the total number of high tech establishments. While Cleveland and Cincinnati have 2,280 and 2,074 high tech establishments respectively, Columbus reports 1,920. When taken into context with the total number of jobs in each of these metro areas (Columbus: 40,718, Cleveland 31,624 and Cincinnati 30,207) this may simply indicate that Columbus has fewer, but larger high tech establishments (think Battelle, OCLC, etc.). A trend it holds in common with San Jose/Silicon Valley which ranks only 12th nationwide by high tech establishments due to the sheer size of many of the high tech companies operating there.

The report studied the nation’s largest metropolitan statistical areas with respect to high tech jobs, wages, payroll, high tech establishments, industry sectors and high tech concentration within each of these 60 “cybercities.” The report further broke the nation down into regions with Ohio being included in the Midwest region along with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. What is interesting to note is that out of those 13 states, 12 cities were deemed to be cybercities with three of those located in Ohio – more than any other state in the region. Among cities within the Midwest, Columbus ranked sixth both in terms of high tech employment and high tech wages. .

The full report is available for download at a cost of $125 for AeA members and $250 for non-members. For more information on the Cybercities 2008 report, visit

* For the purposes of this study:

The Columbus metro area includes Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Morrow, Pickaway and Union counties.

The Cleveland metro is considered Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties.

The Cincinnati metro encompasses Brown, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties in Ohio; Dearborn, Franklin and Ohio counties in Indiana; and Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton and Pendleton counties in Kentucky.

Huntington Offers Mobile Banking Services

Huntington Bancshares Inc. has launched Huntington Mobile Banking, which allows customers access to their accounts from their cell phone, smart phone or other mobile device with browser access. Customers can now view account balances and history, transfer funds, pay bills and locate the nearest Huntington branch all from the palm of their hand. For security, the service will utilize the same 128-bit encryption and security technology currently used for Huntington’s Online Banking services. Huntington Mobile Banking will not transmit full account numbers via mobile devices and the bank is offering a Mobile Banking Guarantee which indemnifies customers against unauthorized transactions.

For more information, see the release from Huntington:

Mount Carmel and OCLC make list of top 100 places to work in IT

Congrats to Mount Carmel Health System (#9) and OCLC (#51) for earning a spot on Computerworld's Top 100 Places to Work in IT 2008 list!

Here a little detail on those two great organizations:

Mount Carmel Health System -
Founded in 1886, this health care system serves the greater Columbus area and central Ohio; it has its own nursing college and trains medical students from Ohio State and Wright State universities. The organization encourages its staffers to develop their particular area of strength or expertise, recognizes individual and team accomplishments, and offers work/life balance programs. Training opportunities include technical, managerial and personal education classes. The group has regular celebration gatherings, including the Spring Breakfast and Buckeye Chili Cook-Off. - click here for more

Employees at this nonprofit computer library service and research organization have their choice of three different retirement plans. Employees can participate immediately in the Thrift Plan by contributing up to 25% of their monthly compensation on a pretax or after-tax basis. The company matches each employee's contribution on the first 6% of the annual base compensation at a rate of 35%, which vests at a rate of 20% for each year of service and is fully vested after five years. After two years of service, employees are automatically enrolled in the OCLC retirement plan. Every month, OCLC contributes 7.15% of the employee's base salary to the plan. All contributions are immediately vested. Employees are also offered a supplemental 403(b) plan. - click here for more info

A special congrats to Cindy Sheets and Gary Houk - they are the world class leaders of those IT organizations.

Peace out,


Top 10 ways to use LinkedIn

I've been more than a few times:

"What's the best way to use LinkedIn?"

Following is a top ten list (ok 11 ) ways to use LinkedIn. This was authored by Guy Kawasaki (of Apple and Garage Technology Ventures fame) on his blog. Further details regarding the how's of list can be found at
  1. Increase your visibility.
  2. Improve your connectability.
  3. Improve your Google PageRank.
  4. Enhance your search engine results.
  5. Perform blind, “reverse,” and company reference checks.
  6. Increase the relevancy of your job search.
  7. Make your interview go smoother.
  8. Gauge the health of a company.
  9. Gauge the health of an industry.
  10. Track startups.
  11. Ask for advice.
Peace out,

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

BI Developer Position - Thanks Ben

Hello everyone,

We're looking for a kick butt BI developer to join our award winning Progressive Medical team. If you or someone you know is interested please read on.

Job Duties
Program to the SQL Server database using SSRS.
Provide maintenance on load functions from Oracle data sources to SQL Database.
Write and maintain stored procedures for SQL Server Database.
Provide advanced tuning and administration to SQL Server Database.
Implement Business Intelligence tools as necessary.
3 to 4 years SQL Server experience, including experience with SSRS, data loads and writing stored procedures in SQL.
2 to 3 years experience in Java or C#.
Experiential knowledge in SQL Server 2005 and all tools for administration and reporting.
Microsoft Certification and knowledge of XML and datamodeling would be a plus.

Please visit our career web site at for the job title of Programmer Analyst II - SQL Server/BI.

Peace Out,

Spotlight on emerging Columbus Tech Companies

CellSignals, Inc.

CellSignals applies its proprietary technology in chiral synthesis to develop lipid mediators pertinent to intracellular signal transduction and cancer biology. Currently CellSignals’ product line has grown to more than 40 chemicals covering a variety of inositol polyphosphates and phosphatidylinositol polyphosphates. Our customers are cancer researchers from all over the world.
In addition, employing our synthetic expertise and current strategic drug design based on molecular modeling, CellSignals is actively developing small-molecules, orally bio-available therapeutics for the treatments of breast, skin cancers, and leukemia. Several potential therapeutic agents synthesized in our laboratory have proven effective in vitro. With this new development, CellSignals is proud to embrace its new role in drug discovery.


Develops and sells skin biopsy, closure and repair solutions that markedly improve patient outcomes and enhance practice economics for dermatology, cosmetic surgery. The technology was developed by surgeons at The Cleveland Clinic and is fully owned by CleveX.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Did you know? Columbus based company protects 100% of Fortune 500 company business

From the rack-mount UPS that keeps a small business network running to the power and cooling systems in the world's most critical data centers, Liebert technologies create the infrastructure that information technology depends on.

With a string of innovations that include the first rack system with integrated power and cooling, the first commercial use of dual-bus technology and the first scalable supplemental cooling solution, Liebert has consistently anticipated changing business environments and responded with solutions that improve the performance, availability and manageability of IT systems.

Whether you are building a new data center, upgrading a small business network or deploying new technologies in an existing facility, Liebert technology from Emerson Network Power delivers the reliability, flexibility and efficiency you need. That's why every company in the FORTUNE 500, and thousands of other businesses around the world, rely on Liebert technology to protect their business-critical systems.


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Interview with an Entrepreneur - Stuart Crane - Definitive Homecare Solutions/CPR+

Contributed by Jeff Beeler – Managing Partner - Sync Creative

Stuart Crane is Co-Owner of Definitive Homecare Solutions/CPR+.

Tell me a little about how D.H.S. and CPR+ came to be.
I was a database application developer when I met Jeff Johnston, a home infusion therapy RN, in 1991 and over the next two years we created the first version of CPR+. In 1993, we formed Definitive Homecare Solutions (D.H.S.) to bring CPR+ to the home infusion therapy industry as an easy-to-use software application. Our first customer began using CPR+ in 1993 and since then, over 1200 Home Infusion, HME, Respiratory Pharmacy, Specialty Pharmacy, and Ambulatory Infusion centers in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam have implemented CPR+.

What drew you to healthcare as a profession in the first place?
My partner, Jeff Johnston, was a practicing nurse and he needed a software program to track patient information – my interests and background are in software, databases and technology – it just so happened that the application of software that I came into doing was for pharmacies and nursing.

How does someone that starts in healthcare make the switch to technology?
The key is to focus on how technology can be applied to healthcare, specifically how technology can be used to IMPROVE patient care, improve efficiencies of the business of healthcare, etc.

It seems easy for technology companies to overuse technology as a customer service tool, how has DHS avoided that potential pitfall?
DHS focuses on the value that the technology provides to the end-user / customer and not so much the technology itself. We look at the “soft-side” – the “human side” of technology and how technology is applied.

What's the one thing that you feel has been most instrumental in DHS’s success?
Doing as much as possible to improve the product and our processes as a company – and to always contribute the most VALUE while minimizing the amount of resources required to PROVIDE that value.

How can Columbus, as an emerging technology center, continue to grow and prosper?
ontinue to foster investments in technology companies, and then allow the successful ones to share their experiences.

What's the smartest thing you've done in business.
Making our products as EASY TO USE as possible, AND as EASY TO BUY as possible.

The smartest non-technology thing you've done is business?
We have kept a personal connection with all of our customers.

Are there any areas of life where you feel technology should not apply?
Children’s books.

What's the biggest misconception about:
I am so smart and I got straight A’s. (I had a 2.3 GPA)
your company?
We are a very small company of 10-20 employees (We have 55 and $10M in annual revenue)
your products?
They are strictly for homecare pharmacies (they are also for home medical equipment providers)
your competition?
They are just as big as us (they are 1/7th the size).

Name two songs or artists you have on your iPod that should never be on the same playlist together?
James Taylor and AC/DC

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Jobs in Technology - 7/7/08

Some recent title postings at - check it out

PHP Developer: Contract-to-Hire

B2B Software Sales Executive

.NET Developer

Business Intelligence Analyst

Perl Web Application Developer

Java/JSP Web Application Developer

MySQL Database Administrator

Web Application Tester

Web Analytics Analyst

Web Designer

These companies are hiring:


Vortech's Group


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Monday Morning Muses - July 7, 2008 - On World class service and winning the gold

Good morning everyone,

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July holiday weekend. As many of you may know I have the privilege of working for
Progressive Medical (PMI). Progressive Medical is an incredibly entrepreneurial company that genuinely does a great job of taking care of both its customers and team members. Over the last 12 years we've had 35%+CAGR and continue to earn our market leadership position. In honor of the upcoming Olympics and PMI let me share with you a lesson passed on by Dave Bianconi, the founder of PMI.

…..In any case, it will be more important than ever that we provide superior customer service. Everything we do that affects our clients must be forethought … not an afterthought.

I would like to read to you something that Helen Bradburn sent to me on this subject. It is titled “Win the gold”

At the Berlin Olympics in 1936, Ralph Metcalfe broke the world record in the 100 meter dash. However, unless you are a sports enthusiast you have probably never heard of Ralph Metcalfe. This because the same day as Ralph broke the record, another runner, the great Jessie Owens went on to beat him. Jessie won his race by just a fraction of a second to set the world record in the 100 meters and ultimately take the gold medal. It is said that “you don’t win a silver medal, you lose the gold medal.”

The difference between “good” and “great” in Client Service is much like the difference between silver and gold in the 100 meters. In addition, it is no different with the quality of service we provide. The good service that the client expects and World-class service that the customer notices lies in the details and the ability to provide superior, WOW and unexpected service. It means doing what you say you will, when you say you will, how you say you will and at the price you promised. Plus a little extra tossed in to say, “I appreciate your business.” World –class service must be learned, measured and practiced.

Coaches, as well as businesses, know that the difference between the gold medal and the silver medal lies in the fine details that are done consistently and done well. Think of the variables that can mean a tenth or a hundredth of a second in a sprint. Now, consider the variables that you provide on a daily basis to ensure the clients of PMI receive World-class service and that we bring home the gold medal. After all, this is the year of the Olympics!

Happy Monday
Peace Out,


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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Available technologies from OSU tech transfer

High-Impact Firms

New businesses can be very exciting.  Not only do they provide interesting challenges for the founders and other employees but they can provide tremendous returns for investors who come in at the right stage.  Customers can benefit, too, by taking advantage of products and services that might not be deliverable from other firms on the market.  Of course, the government types take an interest, not only for the same reason that other customers might be, but because businesses that do well mean tax revenues.

Research has been done to study the dynamics of creating businesses and the impacts that those businesses have.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has just published a study entitled “High-Impact Firms: Gazelles Revisited” in which businesses responsible for most employment growth are identified.  By defining “high-impact firms” in terms of both significant revenue growth and expanding employment, authors Zoltan Acs, William Parsons, and Spencer Tracy are able to study available data to develop answers to questions like “What are high-impact firms before they become high-impact firms?” and “What happens after their high-impact phase?”

Quoting the Overall Findings:
High-impact firms are relatively old, rare and contribute to the majority of overall economic growth.  On average, they are 25 years old, represent between 2 and 3 percent of all firms, and they account for almost all of the private sector employment and revenue growth in the economy.
That's pretty interesting stuff.  Who would have thought that the biggest contributors in terms of growth of revenue and jobs are firms that old?  (It's not all about startups!)  A few other interesting things can be found in the highlights, but there is one in particular that struck me: Low-impact firms do not grow on average.  Given how rare high-impact firms are, I can't help but wonder what all of the low-impact firms are doing.  Think about it: if only three percent of firms are high-impact, what are the rest doing?  This seems to suggest that unless you intend for your business to grow at a healthy clip and set about making that happen, you're not likely to grow at all.

Another finding that struck me was that high-impact firms can be found in many different industries; these firms “are not limited to high-technology industries.”  Something that I would like very much to see is for a study to dig down into those data.  It might well be true that the high-impact firms can be found in industries beyond high-tech, but I cannot help but wonder how much impact high-tech is having on those firms in other industries. In health care, for example, there has been for a long time a massive underinvestment in information technology.  The systems that many are working with are positively ancient, primitive in design and implementation, silos of information that cannot communicate meaningfully with anything else, horribly insecure, and then if you look hard at them, you'll start to see some real problems.  While some might lament this state of affairs and think that it's only a matter of time before the sky falls and the industry implodes, others might see the situation as an opportunity.  Indeed that's just what is happening and some organizations in health care are starting to realize tremendous returns by starting to look at their information technology investments more rationally, seeing not just the expense of running a good infrastructure but the opportunity that can be exploited with a good infrastructure in place.  Are these the firms that are high-impact in this study?

Other kinds of information could likewise be gleaned by looking at these high-impact firms.  Finding commonality among them might well help to extract some guiding principles that could be used to help more firms get into the high-impact category.  I have in mind something like Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras.

Finally, I dug around in the tables to find where Columbus ranks.  Appendix A shows the Dun and Bradstreet Birth Rates, 1998-2001 by Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA).  Columbus ranks seventy-fifth overall, with 5,861 births total (including all three sizes measured: 1-19 employees, 20-499 employees, and 500+ employees) out of 51,390 firms overall in Columbus.  I confess that this did not strike me as particularly impressive.

What I did find is that Columbus does quite well where it seems to matter most in this study: high-impact firms.  Appendix B shows High-Impact Firm Distribution by Large MSAs, where Columbus ranks seventh overall.  A total of 2.43 percent of firms in Columbus are scored as high-impact.  Even the number-one-ranked Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News MSA comes in with 2.58 percent of its businesses classified as high-impact.

It gets even better in Appendix E, High-impact Firm Distribution by Large Counties.  Franklin County, Ohio scores third overall, with 2.51 percent of its firms classified as high-impact.

So there you have it: we do have firms here that are enjoying real growth in terms of revenue and in employment.  Questions remain, however, on where these firms are coming from, and what role technology is playing in this growth.

What do you find interesting in this study? What questions would you like to see further explored?

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