Meet the Tech Exec: Jason Fischer, CIO, PIH Health

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Jason Fischer
PIH Health

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Jason Fischer is the Chief Information Officer for PIH Health Hospital, an IDS with 2 acute care facilities, home health, over 20 medical office locations, and a Managed Services organization.
Prior to joining PIH Health, Jason spent 7 years as the Director of Applications and Revenue Cycle at CHOC Children’s. During that time, he led the Information Systems application teams, project management office, development, revenue cycle and hospital coding departments. In addition, he was the executive sponsor for both the ICD 10 and Meaningful Use programs for the health system. Most recently, he was instrumental in the opening of a new patient care tower, tripling the size of the previous patient care facility and bringing in many new ancillary service lines. In addition, he assisted CHOC in achieving HIMSS level 6, a testament to the organizations goals for improving safety, minimizing errors, and prioritizing IT implementations.
Prior to CHOC Children’s, Jason gained broad industry experience as an auditor and management consultant with Ernst & Young LLP and Accenture. During his 10 years, he consulted with many of the leading health care systems in the country.
Jason earned his bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Biology from Syracuse University in New York. He is a lean six sigma green belt and CPA/accounting professional. 


If you could have a superpower, what would it be?  

The ability to see into the future. With the healthcare IT landscape constantly changing, there are many shifts in resources that we need to consider, both in terms of people and technology, to be as impactful as possible. So if we were able to see into the future that would be great.

What’s the #1 area of focus CIO’s should concentrate on?  

In healthcare right now, the number one area of focus is security.  With all the breaches that are coming into the healthcare space for patient data and with the increased focus on exploited vulnerability, security is a top priority.  We've been focusing on everything from laptops to network vulnerabilities from an IT standpoint but the most important and biggest risk for us and any organization are the people. We have what we call a Phishing exercise where we send messages out to the organization on a quarterly basis to see who accepts the messages by launching an attachment or clicking on a web link.  This enables us to educate and notify those users thereafter in an effort to reduce continued risk. Because our entry point is our people through email or through other means regardless of how widely deployed our security technology is , any one associate or clinician can pose risk to the organization.

What’s your take on public cloud?  

We use the public cloud for a couple of different purposes right now and are working with a few outsourced vendors.  I think it’s a great, cost effective model for supporting healthcare IT, however I think that there are some challenges with risk and exposure, potentially HIPAA violations associated with data sharing that may take place outside of our control. The cloud has proven to be cost effective and beneficial from a growth standpoint and the public cloud decreases the need from our data center.  But the focus really needs to start with reviewing the risks when we select the vendor. We need to consider if the cost benefit outweigh the risk burden.  As one example, our human resources application suite is cloud based along with a few other niche applications.

Do you feel IT still carries the title of a cost center rather than revenue driver? 

I don't see IT necessarily as revenue driver but I also don’t see it as just a cost center. We are 100% a business partner within the PIH Health organization. That's how this organization sees it and that’s how I see it. We model our strategic plan from the organization’s strategic plan, roadmap and vision, which of course equates to growth, revenue, and quality in the healthcare space. So, while we're not necessarily a revenue driver we absolutely support, and have enabling technologies to support, those business models and the growth of the organization.   

What are you (the CIO) doing to support innovation in the company and its own organization to deliver better solutions?  

PIH Health is focused on mobile technologies around telemedicine, analytics and clinical processes.  Telehealth is a current initiative we're starting up for the stroke service line. We have a mobile solution that we are going to deploy here in the next 30 days for our physicians in the in-patient setting to access labs, radiology results and orders all through their mobile phones.  For management across the organization, we've deployed a mobile application which essentially is an analytics scorecard, where you can view key financial and performance indicators across our two hospitals.  We are also focusing on analytics in general. Analytics in the healthcare industry can be improved. In addition to security, we have a huge focus on using all of this data that we've aggregated for many years now in a meaningful way to help drive business decisions whether they be in the finance space addressing what we should invest in and where we should grow, or in the quality space around patient disease classifications, whether it be asthmatics or diabetics. We have been collecting data (both clinical and financial) for many years and are now starting to use it to drive business decisions across the enterprise.
The other thing that I think is really exciting for us, you may even experience this in your personal life as well, we started deploying a patient engagement kiosk in our physician practices.  Upon arrival, it allows patients to check in without having to wait in line or complete paperwork, or as an option a “pre-visit” check in from a web based platform in the comfort of your own home.  The whole purpose of this is to expedite your patient visit so you can spend more time with your care provider as opposed to completing paperwork that you then have to hand over to a person who has to enter that information into the system before you could be seen. Another innovative approach is our interoperability platform. These allow us to share patient data with other facilities so they could have visibility into your problems, your allergies, medicines and so on. Data sharing is another focus in the healthcare industry right now. We are participating in a closed program with seven health systems in the Los Angeles area as well as a major payer to exchange data across our patient base. The purpose is really two-fold and includes increasing the quality of care for all patients whom are part of that population and managing costs.
  We run on average about 50 projects through our department at any point in time, and these are not just IT projects.  They are organizational initiatives, so we have a lot of examples of things we are doing to advance the business. The whole purpose is creating efficiencies where we can in departments, as well as to determine how we grow and establish ourselves in the community as a care provider that has the highest level of quality and is the most efficient.

We are hearing so much about the internet of things – what does or could the internet of things for your business look like?  

The one thing that comes to mind is connectivity of devices, patient monitoring devices or infusion pumps are currently separate from our IT systems. When you start connecting through IoT we're sending patient data to those devices and they are sending clinical data back to our electronic medical record.  We are just beginning to plan for this level of integration and are researching the security concerns to ensure a safe and efficient connection. As an industry, I think we need to get past the security concerns with some safeguards. The vendors we are working with in that space that support those technologies right now are working collaboratively with us and our EMR vendor toward integration.

Are there any hiring challenges?  

Yes, every day. The market for healthcare IT specifically, for good talent is challenging. It is really hard to find the right fit with the right skill set. PIH Health has open positions all the time. We try to fill them, but it's that balance of finding senior-level experience who have niche knowledge of a particular electronic medical record platform or a particular technology. These people are really hard to find because they are sought after so you see salaries increasing as well, which is good for the economy.  Our department on-site has about 100 full-time employees. We have an off-site support service in Buena Park and 30-40 full-time employees that we utilize in India, so we have a 24/7 IT support team.

What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?   

An orthopedic surgeon. I became more interested in the business of healthcare and had a heavy interest in IT. I balanced that out by keeping my focus in healthcare.

What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/Key Executives about their partnership with IT?  What are they expecting you to look at?  

IT is seen as a business partner. We provide shared services to the entire organization. Our senior leaders understand that to achieve our goals around revenue growth and efficiency,  technology and a technology team that partners with them is integral. That is why we model our IT strategic plan off of the organization’s plan. We're in the third year right now of a plan that we're going to refresh for another three years based on where the organization’s priorities and roadmap take us. From a service line perspective, growth prospective, efficiency and cost perspective, as well strategic advancement, the message is clear that IT needs to be a partner. We're also looking at the offset of those investments as well. Whether it be in people or other areas where total cost of ownership can be decreased, it is important to constantly evaluate the benefits of any IT investment.

Has the idea of using cloud changed your mindset of using outsourced IT rather than keeping in house?  

I don't think so. As I mentioned earlier when we discussed public cloud, we have our HR suite, we also have a private cloud that we outsource for database support of our EMR platform that services this organization. I'm all for it where it makes sense and where we can show a proven track record. We still have two data centers full of server stacks that must be on-site right now for applications we host on-site.  But I do see it as a cost reduction when utilizing larger businesses like our EMR vendors who have larger datacenters that end up costing less. So I fully support it when it makes sense for the business, it’s never an all or nothing decision.

If you won the lottery what would you do?  

I would probably still work. I enjoy what I do here at PIH Health, I enjoy the operations side and more so the growth, so I would probably just continue with the status quo.

If you could give guidance to any CIO, IT Manager Director about how they position their careers what would you tell them?  

I grew up in IT moving through some of the ranks and had an opportunity at different stages of my career to broaden my horizon and not just be niche focused. For any individual who is interested in growing into a larger management role in IT, I would absolutely suggest creating both breadth and depth to get a good feel for what the department has responsibility for and how it runs.  Getting a good feel for what works and what doesn’t is very important. You get to develop your own opinions and your own management style as you grow. I think it’s a lot easier to manage a broader department if you have greater insight into the overall scope of what that department does, so my advice would be rather than being more linear and niche focused, be a little bit broader throughout your career.

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Meet the Tech Exec: Gary M. Devan, CIO, Mission Federal Credit Union

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Gary M. Devan
Mission Federal Credit Union

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Gary Devan is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Mission Federal Credit Union in San Diego.  Gary has been with Mission Federal Credit Union (Mission Fed) since 1991.  MissionFed has $3.2 billion in assets, 30 branches, and 214,000 members. 
Gary is a native San Diegan and graduated from San Diego State University in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in Information Systems.  Gary also graduated from Western CUNA Management School in 1997 with High Honors, and was the recipient of the Charles Clark Award for class leadership and academic achievement. 
Overall, Gary has 42 years experience in financial institution technology with Mission Fed, Security Pacific National Bank, United States National Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, San Diego Trust & Savings Bank, and Great American Savings & Loan. 

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What would you say your top 5 focuses are this year?

First, to improve the experience of our customers, whom we call members, which is one of the hot topics of financial institutions right now and which has always been very important to us. We're focusing on making sure it is an effective, efficient and pleasant experience for our members.
Second, we are focused on regulatory change and ensuring that we are compliant with all the regulations that come down along with that change as well.
Next, Security and information security is always a focus in continuing to address new threats and improving our security posture and protection.
Fourth is management information. Some people will call it big data, and, although we might not need a big data solution, we do need to understand how we can best utilize all the information we have to serve our members and attract new members.  Along with that, we work on exactly how we manage information and present information to operations and management.
The last is basically always an ongoing priority:  Internal efficiencies and the best practices that are aligned with them, or doing better than the best practices.  We are always enhancing our products and services.

What's your take on public cloud?

It certainly is a hot topic of conversation right now that we continue to look at. We use cloud services for applications, with SaaS (Software as a Service) being what we use right now. We are watching other architectural clouds, but we are still not yet convinced that security is better or service delivery is better through the public cloud.  There are two factors that we don't believe have matured enough yet: insurance coverage and defined legal responsibilities.  We haven't seen anything go to court yet on this, so if information is lost, what is our liability versus the cloud provider?  It hasn't been fully vetted out in my opinion; not in the cloud.

Is IT seen as business partners helping to drive revenue?

It's evident with the IT lead as the C-Level position, that IT is critical for success; for meeting business objectives, serving our members and meeting their expectations, lowering expenses, and increasing revenue by growing our membership.  We have about 35 employees in our IT Department out of a total of over 500 employees at Mission Fed, and IT is frequently part of cross-functional teams working on key projects for the credit union.

How is IT driving innovation within the company?

We are continuing to ensure that our technology architecture, network, and security are of high quality. We have service level delivery requirements that we keep things up and running to a very high standard. From a pure IT architecture position, we are the lead in change in that area.  From an applications point of view we do have a committee that IT chairs, with participants from several other senior managers that determine priorities for programming projects.  From an executive level, we validate project priorities and we bring topics and issues forth to that level.  We ensure that if there is something we are not doing to achieve our strategic objectives, they will bring it to our attention.  Now, we are just starting the discussions of crafting an innovation committee.  What we're doing now is making sure our functionality in our electronic delivery channels meet our members needs and are consistent with what the competition is providing.

What does or could the internet of things for your business look like?

It means a connected world utilizing a device that is active and doing things on it's own that you told it to do. It's my watch.  It's my Alexa.  It's any technology and device that will simplify and interact with other devices.  It simplifies life.  Interfacing with Alexa; we are very close but not quite there yet. On your Apple Watch you can check your balance or transfer money, but the capabilities are pretty limited so far.  This is the way the Apple environment works; you will get certain connections just by checking time.

What kind of  hiring challenges have you experienced?

The pool and workforce is not sufficient to handle the demand.  We find it very challenging to hire skilled programmers who are experienced.  Over the last 6 months to a year, we have hired people with good education and talent, but less experience than we originally wanted.  So we provide them with a lot of coaching and training.  We do outsource certain projects and bring in software providers to do contract work.

If you could give guidance to any VP, IT Director about how they position their careers what would you tell them? 

I would say always work on relationships.  IT has always been known as the type job where you just focus on the project, not the people.  But IT has changed a lot in the last 10 years.  Technology leadership needs to be in the mainstream of the organization, and the only way to do that successfully is to become a team player.  That means understanding needs and cooperatively building on those needs; act as the consultant and not as the ruler.


Join Founder Sean Ferrel at NexGen 2017 To Learn How Innovative CIOs Are Using Emerging Tech To Transform The Business


Managed Solution Founder Sean Ferrel to Speak at NexGen 2017

The Channel Co. is hosting the annual NexGen Cloud Conference December 11-13, 2017. Swing by booth 211 to visit the Managed Solution team on December 11th!
Promo Code: StratoGator for FREE Registration 
Register here.
In addition, Managed Solution's founder, Sean Ferrel, will be speaking at the event on Monday, December 11th at 3pm in the Platinum Ballroom DE. Sean will be joining a panel to discuss "Customer Perspectives--How Innovative CIOs Are Using Emerging Tech To Transform The Business".
"IT leaders must re-imagine their MSP and solution provider organizations to become cloud brokers and lead the way as Microsoft, Amazon and other publishers help drive future revenue. In this session, next-gen managed service provider Sean Ferrel will discuss cloud marketplaces, brokerage and the long-term effects of managing customers' cloud strategies. The public cloud still offers a whole new world of recurring revenue for partners." 
Today’s IT leaders are under incredible pressure to innovate and move fast not for technology’s sake but for the sake of the business. Today’s technology leaders must help the business deliver a competitive advantage and put innovative tech to work in transformative ways. Solution providers, along with their vendor partners, have spent the better part of the past two years talking about and coping with a period of unprecedented tech innovation. So, the big question is: How are today’s customers adapting to all this change and putting tech to work to achieve their goals. In this session, some of today’s most innovative CIOs and IT leaders will share their insight into what emerging technologies they are adapting, what they want from partners and how they are coping with the rapid pace of change. Attendees will hear from these leaders who are at the intersection of technology and business. Hear firsthand the impact of today’s leading technologies on the supply chain, employees, customers and workers that these CIOs and IT leaders must respond to every day.
Sean Ferrel, founder of Managed Solution, provides strategic vision and direction for the company. His innovative business models and forward thinking cloud strategies have caught the eye of strategic partners and created recognition in the cloud computing community. Sean presented at events including SD AITP Cloud Conference, Scale Matrix Cloud Conference, and multiple Microsoft tech events. He has been awarded as a finalist for SD Executive of the Year and 40 under 40 and also serves on the boards of SD AITP, SDCC Technology, MSEC Technology, USD Alumni and Social Venture Partners & Vistage.


Meet the Tech Exec: Doug Cyphers, CIO, Welk Resorts

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Doug Cyphers
CIO, Welk Resorts

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Doug Cyphers is the Chief Information Officer for Welk Resorts and has been with them since January, 2012. His organization is responsible for delivering all technology related services and solutions which include Software Development, Salesforce Implementations, Database and Reporting, Application Support, Agile Delivery, and IT Operations. Having almost 30 years of experience in IT, Doug has held Executive or Senior Level positions with organizations in industries that include Resort Development & Hospitality, Banking, Payments, SAAS, Direct Sales, Public Schools, Defense and Industrial Automation & Controls. The size of companies he has been involved with have ranged from “Startup” to Fortune 50.  Aside from working at Welk, some highlights have included helping one company gain Inc500 Hall of Fame status, working for one of the largest event and license registration companies in the US, and partnering with the nation’s top credit card processors to implement cutting edge End-to-End Encryption solutions. Additionally, he’s worked with several nonprofit organizations in a variety of roles. Doug has a degree in Computer Science and a Masters of Business Administration, has obtained several professional certifications during his career and was named San Diego Magazine’s 2014 “Top Tech Exec”. 


What’s the #1 area of focus CIO’s should concentrate on?
Partnering with heads of divisions outside of IT.  Without taking the time to get to know these people, what’s important to them and where they plan on taking their area it’s very difficult to become a strategic partner
What’s your take on Public Cloud? 
It’s here to stay.  Most colleagues I talk with see the AWS’s and Azure’s of the world as more stable and secure than their own data centers.  It also provides a level of stability and accountability that is hard to match internally.
What are you (the CIO) doing to support innovation in the company and its own organization to deliver better solutions? 
I go to key conferences that I believe are riding that progressive wave and I do entertain new vendors to see what their products can do.  I make sure that I’m a key player in the company’s strategic planning so that I can share what I see and have experience in the context of helping the company realize a new revenue stream or to improve an existing one
We are hearing so much about the internet of things – what does or could the internet of things for your business look like?
The jury for me is still out on how this area can help.  Sure in our resort operations there are some compelling offerings that may provide a better experience for our customers, but I would like to see them become more mainstream and a business case made for it.  The greatest revenue generating part of our business is our sales which I’ve struggle to find a good fit for in this context.
Are there any hiring challenges? 
Yes.  There is a shortage of highly skilled and experienced people in San Diego.  I’ve been told by many that in some cases there are not enough candidates to fill certain specialized roles.  There’s not a lot of large companies in San Diego comparatively to other large cities. We just don’t have the inventory they do.
What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?
An astronaut, then a doctor that uses technology to cure diseases.
What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/Key Executives about their partnership with IT?  What are they expecting you to look at? 
They always want it faster and cheaper.  The funny thing is that I find that they don’t have enough staff to support all the projects they want to do and many times are the ones that become the regulator of the amount of projects we end up doing.  Being able to react to new directions and priorities is probably what everyone wants.  It’s really a  balancing act between stability, flexibility, scalability and cost
Has the idea of using cloud changed your mindset of using outsourced/Managed Services? 
Yes.  I’m much more open to it.  The same problems though still exist when working with any partner.  You’re still looking at someone who has a great track record, who can do it well, quickly and cheaply… just like me
If you could give guidance to any CIO, IT Manager Director about how they position their careers what would you tell them? 
Become much more of a business manager.  Run your org like a business.  Think like your colleagues outside of IT.  Constantly be looking at things in how they can benefit your company from a business perspective.  Use other people in your org to focus on the deep dark technical stuff.   The really successful guys think business first, then how to harness technology to drive it.  Don’t forget to learn all aspects of your business quickly and stay connected to your colleagues.


Meet the Tech Exec: Behzad Zamanian, CIO, City of Huntington Beach

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Behzad Zamanian
CIO, City of Huntington Beach

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Behzad Zamanian was appointed as the Chief Information Officer for the City of Huntington Beach (Surf City USA), California in August 2015. In this role, Behzad is responsible for the overall leadership of the Information Services Department including strategic technology planning, development and implementation of technology standards, policies and procedures, project management, budget development and implementation.
Behzad started his career with the City of Huntington Beach is January 2004 as a Business Systems Business Systems Manager and was soon promoted to the Business Systems and Public Safety Systems Manager responsible for the oversight of public safety systems in addition to business systems and enterprise applications.
Before joining the City of Huntington Beach, Behzad held the position of Chief Architect and Administrative Computing Manager for 10 years at the University of California, Irvine.
Behzad has more than 28 years of experience in the field of Information Technology, including the private sector, Fortune 500 organizations, academic and research institutions, health care industry, public safety and local government.
Behzad holds the Certified Government Chief Information Officers (CGCIO™) designation from Public Technology Institute (PTI) and Rutgers University of Public Affairs & Administration. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Cal Poly Pomona and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of California, Irvine.


What superpower do you want most?
Time travel would have been interesting. Think about how technology has grown in the past few decades. 40 years ago, you had a computer the size of this room and now you have an iPhone in your pocket that has ten times more processing powerful and fits in the palm of your hand. It would be interesting to see what technology looks like in the next 40 years. Will that consist of maybe a chip under your skin keeping you connected at all times, diagnosing what goes on in the body, etc. it would definitely be interesting to see where technology leads.
What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a pilot and loved to fly, I think I must have been a bird in another life! I always had a desire to fly and often dream about it, I grew up in Iran and moved to California in 1984. Wondering how you went from dreams of being a pilot to the IT industry? Selecting a career is different for people who migrate to the US, you don’t take things for granted and tend to think of what's available and needed than what you like to do. When I decided to major in Computer Information System, I thought about what’s hot what’s not in 20 years thinking software would run everything at some point, guess I wasn’t so wrong.
If you won the lottery what would you do?
Find a place in Hawaii some place far away from big cities… the island life and retire.
What’s the #1 area of focus CIO’s should concentrate on? 
I personally feel that the most important thing for a CIO is to become s strategic business partner with other units. Being a business partner lets you align your IT mission with the organizations mission and vision and that should ultimately be the goal of every CIO. Some refer to it as “business alignment”. In my opinion, building partnerships with the departments is the key to IT’s success. If I'm able to accomplish what other departments want then that automatically aligns my goals with business.
In terms of initiatives, one thing we are seeing is cyber security becoming the main priority for a lot of organizations. One interesting thing I heard at a recent conference regarding state vs. local government priorities is that priorities aren’t the same for state and local government agencies. For example, states   are still focusing on IT consolidation but local agencies have mostly consolidate to a degree and moved on to other priorities. Cyber security seems to be a hot topic for everyone. The last thing I want is to see our City becoming a victim of a cyber-attack so security is definitely one of the major concerns. In terms of automations and applications, enabling field workers to use mobile devices and providing more citizens engagement online systems, I see that as a stepping stone for connecting IoTs. At some point everything will be connected, city’s assets, pipelines, water meters, cars, roads, applications, etc, and you have the ability to monitor and manage everything remotely. As a stepping stone, richer mobile enabled applications would be the focus for government agencies. Empowering users to do work in the field and connected to a central system. We have developed an integrated work order system to manage Public Works requests but it’s missing the mobile functionality at this time. We are working with a vendor to build a mobile application that enables citizens to submit a request and field staff will soon be able to get the request immediately and respond to the request to take care of the problem.
A lot of people think of cloud as a strategy for IT but I see cloud as another tool to provide better level of support. There are multiple factors when you look using the cloud. Example of those factors are investment in your organization datacenter or the nature of the application, is this an enterprise application, does it require remote access, are there a lot of integration points, etc. Enterprise applications such as ERP software have proven to be more successful on-premises for larger organizations like us. On the other hand, simple applications that require a lot of interaction with customers/constituents such as online recruitment applications can be a good fit for the cloud. Additionally, some agencies like us must comply with security protocols and regulations so cloud isn’t always an option.
Do you feel IT still carries the title of a cost center rather than revenue driver?
I think that depends on the organization the administration view of IT. IT was viewed as a cost center a few years ago but in the past few years IT has proven to not only be potentially a revenue/cost saving driver but also a strategic business partner. During the recession we saw a big change in how departments viewed IT and utilized technology by automating their processes to save costs. Here is a simple example, our community services department used to print and publish magazines every month so we said let's cut the cost by creating a digital magazine on our website where the information was readily available to everyone.
Are there any hiring challenges? Specifically, from millennials?
Hiring as it relates to millennials has not been an issue for us.   Of course millennials have all the information and tools they need to be able to just move on to the next company with a similar position if they don’t like it which could result in you losing a really good employee. Our challenge has been the high cost of benefits associated with government employees.   We simply can’t afford to hire as many full time employees so what I try to do is “smart sourcing”. Outsourcing, use of contract positions, part timer or interns for what makes sense such as repetitive simpler tasks in IT such as helpdesk; and full time employees become smart managers of IT resources and work on mission critical systems that support the core of the organization; this is what I call “smart sourcing”. In my opinion that is the only way to manage technology with extremely limited resources with the ability to scale up and grow. We have 1100 FTEs citywide and about 500 seasonal and part time employees. We had 50 IT employees in 2006 and now only 30 FTEs, we lost about 40% of IT staffing resources to attrition and cuts in the past few years.
What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/Key Executives about their partnership with IT?  What are they expecting you to look at?
Just like any other progressive organization, we, key executives, would like to see better customer service, better internal and external communication, a more robust IT governance, automation, technology to make people and systems more efficient and productive; and most importantly, technology to provide better service to our citizens, visitors, and constituencies.   In terms of projects, cyber security, enterprise systems capable of providing online services, and of course technologies that helps public safety to be more effective and efficient. My role is to partner with departments and be sure to understand business needs and align IT goals with business.
What would be your top three goals for this year?
Cyber security is one of our top priorities, upgrading our legacy systems is another one of our top priorities. We are also looking at mobility, enabling field users to work remotely, public safety functions in particular, police and fire department remote access are some of our high priority initiatives. Providing added remote functionality to our Police and Fire vehicles and expanding mobility is a big-ticket item. We are also trying to look at broadband, perhaps in a public/private partnership model providing high speed Internet access to our constituencies and making the City an attractive option for technology companies. We are looking at laying fiber throughout the city to connect all City facilities and pole tops as the next big real estate market. ISPs will need access to pole tops for mini/micro cell towers and better connectivity. Another priority for us is business alignment, we are here to provide service to citizens and more automation in development services is a priority so we are in the process of replacing our land management system to provide a lot more online services. Online permit request, automated plan check, one stop shop for payment and other citizen engagement services is a high priority for us.
If you could give guidance to yourself looking back before you had the role of a CIO, what would you tell them?
To be patient and try to enjoy the process. CIO job comes with a lot of responsibilities so be careful what you wish for.   It’s a fast-paced demanding role that requires high energy personality.
What advice would you give to others interested in pursuing careers as a CIO?
There are two kinds of people at work, some bring a character to their day to day job and some let their job to define them.   Try to be in the first group, define your job and the environment you work in. The CIO role is about business more than technology, as a CIO you must understand and address business needs and technology is your tool. For me it was a natural move because I was on the business systems and applications side of the house. My suggestion would be to ask a lot of questions and learn a lot about the business, be sure to understand the big picture before attempting to be a CIO. Be very flexible, you want to be able to re-prioritize your tasks at all times.   So if you want to be a CIO, be focused, keep your eye on the ball and you will get there, it's just a matter of the time.


Meet the Tech Exec: Drew Martin, Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Jack in the Box Inc.

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Drew Martin
Vice President & Chief Information Officer
Jack in the Box Inc.

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Drew Martin is Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Jack in the Box Inc.  He oversees the information technology functions across the enterprise, including both Jack in the Box® and QDOBA Mexican Eats® brands. 
Mr. Martin joined Jack in the Box Inc. in 2016 with extensive experience in similar leadership positions with prominent companies like Sony, PepsiCo, Accenture and most recently, Lytx Inc. where he was Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer.  Before that, Mr. Martin was Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Sony Electronics.      
Mr. Martin is also the founder of Silicon Beach Advisors, Inc and co-founder of Seenager, Inc.  He serves on the IT Advisory Board for Sharp Healthcare. 
Mr. Martin has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Cornell University. 


When you go out to eat, what do you order as your side?   
Curly fries!


What song best describes your work ethic?   
Tom Waits, Get Behind the Mule.


If you were stranded on a deserted island what you would bring and why?   
A Stand Up Paddleboard for fun … and to get home eventually.


What superpower do you want most?   
That one is easy … time travel. I could go back and make sure some bad things didn’t happen.


What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?   
I wanted to be a writer because my parents were both writers.


What’s the #1 area of focus CIO's should be concentrating on?   
Initially, I focus on building relationships and partnering with stakeholders, but ultimately I concentrate on getting aligned on strategies and priorities.  In our case, we've really shifted to more franchise-owned restaurants.  We need to provide our franchisees with solid IT systems and capabilities.  We approach this like we’re a professional IT services provider to them.


What’s your take on Public Cloud?   
I think the challenge with new technologies, whether they’re public cloud, big data or artificial intelligence, is always about understanding the potential and how to apply it to what you're trying to accomplish as an enterprise.  It's not about getting caught up in the hype or doing it just because everyone else is. Within public cloud there is certainly game-changing scale leverage, but it also creates new challenges around security, integration and custody of data.  It's something that every CIO is at least looking at, if they're not already doing something with.


Do you feel IT still carries the title of a cost center rather than revenue driver?   
IT is still a cost center from an accounting point of view, but we should also have a revenue driver mindset.  IT should be extremely focused on ROI and supporting sales growth.  Also, I think what’s changed is that these days, digital is part of the product and customer experience.  There's hardly a product I can think of where the customer experience doesn't have some element of digital in the product offering and we’re no different in that regard.  That’s forced IT to get out of a predominately support role and more engaged with helping to enable the digital guest experience.  In our industry, Domino's says they are a technology company that happens to deliver pizza and Starbucks has invested a lot in its mobile app user experience.  Our industry is just like others in that it’s clearly investing in IT to drive revenue.


What are you (the CIO) doing to support innovation in the company and its own organization to deliver better solutions? 
To deliver better solutions, I’m trying to make sure we’re engaged in the conversations around innovation.  We have to be collaborative and balanced in our approach.  CIOs can't be too far out ahead of the conversations.  We can’t do innovation for innovation’s sake or fall in love with a particular technology. It has to be in the context of what the strategic objectives of the company are.  On the other hand, when CIOs aren’t involved in those conversations, companies can get caught having issues with speed to market, security, integration or support.


What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/Key Executives about their partnership with IT?   
Senior management is trying to provide clear direction to the entire company and set the tone. Our company mission is to Nourish the Pursuit of Dreams. On the Jack in the Box brand, the purpose is to Make Busy Lives Better and Qdoba’s to Bring Flavor to Life. The messaging coming from key executives is for IT to partner to deliver on this corporate mission and on the brand promises.


Are there any hiring challenges in general?   
It's always a challenge to get the right skill set and match in terms of culture and career objectives. And the best candidates usually have several options, so having a fun and engaging corporate culture can really help.  In hiring for IT, it's also important for us to have a clear idea what's core to what we do and where we'll partner instead of hiring.  Candidates want to understand that along with the broader IT vision so they can get comfortable and excited about what it could mean to their potential career path with the company.


How is hiring millennials different from traditional hiring?  
From an IT perspective, we have to provide tools the millennials are used to.  This includes things like chat, cloud based email, and collaborative team sites. I'm personally very comfortable on primarily using email to communicate whereas millennials may want to operate differently. Millennials are also very interested in the social aspect of the job so we need to make sure the tools are engaging and allow them to collaborate with their peers while also getting the job done.  Of course, we hire a lot of millennials in our restaurants. We have to provide them with mobile capabilities that help make their busy lives better.  This includes capabilities like being able to check their schedules and swap shifts with peers on their phones and not have to always call into the restaurant manager.


If you could give guidance to any CIO, IT Manager Director about how they position their careers what would you tell them?   
Over the years as I've mentored people, any conversation that starts with title or money issues tends to be problematic. Have passion around impact. People who come in and want to do better, make the enterprise faster, smarter and add more value are the people that I have great conversations with and lead to better professional outcomes. Lead with those ideas on how to have more impact and good things tend happen from there for the company, the department, the team and of course for the individual’s career.


Meet the Tech Exec: Jonathan Behnke, Chief Information Officer, City of San Diego

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Jonathan Behnke

Chief Information Officer, City of San Diego

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Jonathan Behnke is the Chief Information Officer for the City of San Diego. He has over 20 years of IT experience managing and implementing technology for a broad range of industries including public sector, contract services, oil, construction, automotive, distribution, consulting, and manufacturing.
In Jonathan’s current role he is responsible for the technology strategy and operations for America's eighth largest City including data center, network, voice, public safety wireless communications, web services, enterprise applications, portfolio management, cybersecurity, GIS, and data analytics in support of over 10,000 users and 1.4 million citizens.
He also serves on the Board of Directors for SanGIS, a joint powers authority between the City and County of San Diego responsible for maintaining a regional GIS land base and data warehouse. In support of CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services, he also serves on the California Cybersecurity Task Force. Jonathan is also a member of the MetroLab Network Smart Cities Initiative, Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, The Municipal Information Systems Association of California, San Diego Infragard, and Metropolitan Information Exchange representing a group of CIO’s from the largest cities and counties in the USA.
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What’s the #1 area of focus you are personally focused on?  
We have so many initiatives and projects underway, I can talk about the top tier. Top things: modernization and expansion of services to San Diegans. We rolled out a mobile app called Get it Done San Diego. It allows residents, neighbors, and community members to report things like potholes and the reports to go straight into our backend system. It's really quick for San Diegans to take a picture of an issue and send it to us. The request is routed to the correct department and when the City completes the work they can take a picture and send back indicating that the work is finished. We're seeing a great level adoption and high level of satisfaction for the app. We are looking at broadening the functionality to other areas. The app does geotag issues and we have it plugged into our GIS systems to produce the issue on maps for City workers. It's really efficient for the City and our residents because we’re crowdsourcing the reporting of issues. Many neighborhoods are really excited about this are walking through their areas reporting all of the issues they can find to improve their neighborhood. San Diegans win by getting their issues fixed more quickly and the City wins by crowdsourcing the reporting more quickly. The Get it Done app has been out since this last May. Last March a new city website was launched, which won Best of the Web Award from the Center for Digital Government for ease of use. We surveyed over 5,000 San Diegans to develop the new website. There is now a set of drop-down menus to fast-track our residents to the information that they need. We have another initiative to replace PDF Forms on the website. Instead of downloading forms now we have a new solution that converts the PDF’s to online forms to fast-track the entry into our back-end system, making things more efficient for San Diegans and the City employees. We are also working on making permitting available online and looking to release that sometime later this year.
As we roll out these capabilities, we are also working on a single-sign on portal for residents to get to multiple city services. We make Cyber Security a priority in everything that we do and are constantly managing new threat vectors. Anytime you are traversing through the internet, there are all kinds of vulnerabilities and new ones appear every day. The City requires all 11,000 employees do annual cyber security training. You can have a rock solid system but it only takes one person to get a phishing email and all the cards fall if they click on it. I have heard about incidents in other companies where someone finds a flash drive in a parking lot with a child's picture on it. Someone will pick it up and take it to the computer and plug it in to see if they can find the owner, releasing a payload of malware into the company’s network. We got an email last week that was signed by a student from a local university. It said they were doing a cybersecurity survey and it had a link to respond. We knew it was a scam because we get emails like this all of the time. We have also seen ransomware as a growing problem. A legitimate website gets hacked and when someone goes into the site and it dumps malware onto their computer. After someone encounters ransomware, we'll get a phone call that says, hey what's BitCoin? We know immediately it's ransomware with a message on the person’s screen that says to give the hackers BitCoin and they’ll get their data back. We approach cybersecurity from multiple angles. We've got tools in place that isolate compromised computers from our network and then reimage the computer. Cybersecurity is a 24/7 job.
If you won the lottery what would you do?  
I think about the people that completely self-destruct, so I wouldn't do that. I think I'd give it back to the community somehow. I would build a new football stadium and bring the NFL back to San Diego.
What superpower do you want most? 
I would say flying because I commute from North County. I take transit to San Diego and get work done during the trip, so it's great to take the transit down here. They do a great job. A lot of city people take advantage of that.
What’s your take on Public Cloud? 
We look at government compliant cloud offerings and cloud providers out there. We currently do some work with Sales Force apps. The "Get It Done" app is based on Salesforce technology, using their government cloud. We also have a private cloud, using our own infrastructure allowing us to spin up virtual machines quickly. We have a lot of efficiencies built into the private cloud already. We use Amazon and Azure for business cases that are a good fit for that and continue to evaluate cloud offerings for Back Up and Recovery.
We have a hybrid environment. We see a lot of our new applications being SaaS applications. If we have big projects need infrastructure for a short time it might make sense to use cloud for that because it's no longer needed after the project is done. It gives us some agility to provision those resources quickly and then we haven't had to make a capital investment.
We've been on Microsoft Office 365 for 3 years. We are one of the largest municipal governments on Office 365 and we were one of the first out there. Our police department is not on Office 365 yet as we are just getting through CJIS compliance. CA law enforcement requires CLETS backgrounding for employees accessing CJIS information. Chula Vista PD was just approved by the State last month for Office 365 and now the door should be open for approval for other agencies, so we expect to get our police department on Office 365 soon. Currently, we've got an on-premise system and a cloud system in our hybrid environment, so we've got the challenge of getting the two synced up. We were on the early edge of large organizations going to the Cloud -- Office 365, and there was a little hesitation at first because we wanted a high level of confidence.
We also want to get the user’s home drives moved over to Microsoft OneDrive. That is something I’d like to do this fiscal year. We've got to work out the logistics to get ourselves there, but we see a lot of benefit to that.
If you were 80 years old and speaking to your younger self about life what advice would you give? 
My theory is if you make it 80 then you're playing on house money after that. I would say live life to the fullest and pass along your knowledge to the younger generation about your mistakes as well as your successes.
Tough question: Side salad, curly fries, sweet potato fries or onion rings?  
I would pick the side salad but if I need that rush I'd go with curly fries. I'm a huge carbs person.
IOT what does it mean to you?  
We hear from a lot of vendors in the technology sector and when we talk about it as a local government, IOT is discussed alongside Smart Cities. There is a lot of discussion about improvements to transportation, development, and energy. We see a lot of potential for the City and surrounding governments to partner and make life better for our residents, neighbors, and community members. The city announced a partnership with Google WAZE, and are looking at how we can use that data to really improve transportation. Our traffic engineering department can take that data and potentially implement changes. The City also has a project to deploy LED streetlights, and some will have sensors to generate new data and drive analytics that the City can make improvements from. If the regional governments can take advantage of IOT and aggregate that information into a single source, there are some great possibilities. You can take analytics and data from multiple organizations and aggregate it and put up a heat map, and do some really cool things. The city has an open data portal releasing a lot of data sets to the community. As we look at IOT, we really look at a lot of future potential, data and analytics, which could ultimately bring improvements to the everyday life of citizens.
What are your top 3 concerns in technology today? 
Security, mobility, and the cloud.


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Managed Solution is conducting interviews as part of an outreach initiative to share trends and engage technology enthusiasts in the southwest.


Meet the Tech Exec: Brian McCarson, CTO IoT Strategy and Senior Principal Engineer Strategy and Solutions Enabling Division of IoTG, Intel Corporation

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Brian McCarson

CTO IoT Strategy and Senior Principal Engineer Strategy and Solutions Enabling Division of IoTG, Intel Corporation

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Brian McCarson is the CTO of IoT Strategy and is a Senior Principal Engineer at Intel Corporation. He has a Master of Science in Materials Science and Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University. Brian specializes in system architectures for IoT, data extraction, data visualization, innovative data analytics, and multivariate problem solving. He leads the Technology and Standards Team within Intel’s Internet of Things Group Strategy and Solutions Enabling Division and is the system architect overseeing the Intel IoT Platform.


According to your 3 videos that you published on, where does Security fall into the 3 Phases of IOT? What are your concerns at each stage? 
In the first phase of IoT (Connecting the Unconnected) security is relatively easy. You have one object or “Thing” that is stationary and someone has to manually install something to bring the Internet and connectivity to that “Thing”. The physical process of bolting the connectivity on to the back of a pump or putting that into a car establishes the security or trust you need. You can then provision that device, connect to it, and give it an IP address and track it pretty well. It gets exponentially more complex as you start moving to the different phases of IoT. In the later phases you have questions like, “what happens when a device is self-provisioned?”, “what happens when a device wakes up and wants to optimize its environment and use another data source next to it?” and “what happens when a device figures out how to change its configuration and settings to optimize performance?”. That is a much higher degree of complexity than you would see in Phase 1. The best example I can give from that is autonomous driving.
Imagine this scenario: one of the most interesting value propositions for autonomous driving is this idea of platooning. It's kind of a cool concept. You get on a freeway and as soon as you hit the on-ramp your car basically takes over and you're just sitting there watching Game of Thrones or something on your tablet and your car pulls right onto the freeway for you and it starts platooning with other cars on the freeway. It can basically operate with maybe a 6-inch distance from the bumpers in front of and behind you. You will have a stack of cars all lined up together just going 80mph down the freeway, reducing drag within a tunnel of air resistance and you'll get better fuel economy and reduced commute times. But that involves being able to trust the cars in front of you to tell you what they are doing. The only way platooning works is if you can trust that if the car in front of you sees a hazard it will communicate with everyone else in the platoon chain in time for them to respond. But when you commute to work you're not going to plan your commute with your neighbors so you can platoon with someone you can personally trust. This has to have a seamless connectivity to all the other vehicles and has to happen across multiple makes and models of cars not just certain vehicles. Multiple manufacturers, networks, and passengers need to agree to cooperate and you have to trust that just because you're communicating with other cars you're not allowing them the ability to drive you into a barricade if someone with malicious intent joins the platoon.
It's so much more complicated in Phase 3 when you are considering what information a system will have to share and who it will be allowed to seamlessly communicate with.


What about as far as external threats?  
Imagine that someone didn't like a city or the type of people that lived in that city. If they can hack into even a handful of vehicles that have a Level 5 automation capability where there is no steering wheel, no gas pedal, and no brakes and takes full control, you are completely at their mercy.
That is an interesting challenge that we have to be able to overcome with autonomous driving. How do you allow for seamless communication between vehicles and still be protected from hacking? Many people are thinking about how to do it. We will probably have to build multiple layers of protection.
So, the first layer could be a hard-wired, functionally safe system within the vehicle that has its own private in-vehicle network and allows you to have all the sensors and actuators controlling things independently and nothing can interfere with that. The next layer could be the informational awareness layer where you are sensing the external environment beyond what the vehicle’s sensors can see and you can take those bits of information and then filter as you need to.
That partitioning can be done now. You can have one-way firewalls where no data can come in but data can go out. But part of the problem is that manufacturers are making more vehicles with wireless and wired connections for additional access to media capabilities. One could argue that there needs to be a strong separation between media-based electronics and vehicle control-based electronics in your vehicle architecture.


What superpower do you want most? 
Manipulating time, time travel would be the best.


What is computing in the Fog? 
Fog is probably one of my favorite subjects. Before I can explain my thoughts on Fog I need to explain my thoughts on the Cloud. The thing that is great about the cloud is that it makes it easy for almost anyone to afford having data center capabilities at their fingertips without having to buy their own ridiculously expensive data center. You can allow people to have little packets of data center compute and storage usage and have a kind of communal data center business model. Facebook is a great example of that. They buy and manage enormous data centers and you only use the tiny little portion that you need for your links, networks, and photos. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are also great examples of that model and they offer a great economic value proposition that allow individuals or even startups who could never afford the initial costs of building their own data center to jump right into the market.
There are some problems with the Cloud however.
There are some limits in physics and economics that are really hard to overcome. For example, if you own a retail store and you need to stream 4k or 8k resolution video because you want to be able to look at the video and analyze it in real-time so that you can know the demographics in your store and decide how you want to advertise to your customers based on who the people are that are walking through the door. To do this takes A LOT of high-resolution video data. Streaming all of that to a remote data center is very expensive and time consuming and the economics don’t always make sense for a Cloud-based system architecture.
The same is true for fully automated vehicles. If you are having your autonomous car drive your child to school and it sees a hazard, you are going to want that automated car to decide to apply brakes immediately and on its own and not have to dial up to ask if the Cloud if they should apply the brakes. The time latency of making decisions when you have to send information to the Cloud is another problem.
When it is foggy outside that means the clouds are down at ground level and immersed around you. Fog Computing is a metaphor for bring the power of Cloud Computing (which by definition is remote) down to where users and “Things” are in an immersive way. Fog is around us, it's immersive. If you think about an autonomous vehicle it's a data center on wheels, even if it doesn't have a wide area network connection it can keep you safe without it. Fog is interesting to me because it can solve key problems: cost of data transmissions, reliability of access to the cloud, and the latency or time it takes to make a decision. Fog is not for every application. But for some it can completely change the way they operate.
The cost of computing, connectivity and storage is dropping so fast because it is commoditized. Take a single transistor, the same kind that sits in in the brain of your tablet, smartphone or laptop, it can switch on and off up to 10 billion times in a second. To put things in perspective, if you wanted to switch a light switch on and off 10 billion times it would take you over 200 years without any sleep, food or bathroom breaks. Yet the cost of producing those transistors is less than the cost to grow a single grain of rice in rural China. The cheapest unit of food on the planet is more expensive to produce than the most complex unit of compute. That's the phenomenal reality of the compute and connectivity we have in the world today. Fog computing is now becoming practical whereas 10 years ago it would have been cost-prohibitive. I get so excited when I try and imagine the possibilities. It's going to be interesting to see how our homes, schools, workplace and the rest of our daily lives will evolve with Fog technologies coming to market.


What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid? 
I wanted to be a paleontologist from a really early age. I was completely obsessed with dinosaurs when I was a kid. I was born in New Mexico. My grandpa was an outdoorsman and I would go out rock hunting and gold mining with him. I got my undergrad in Geology but unfortunately, there just weren't any jobs at all at the time I graduated. I switched my direction and decided to go into Materials Science and Electrical Engineering and this helped me switch to the semiconductor industry.


What song best describes your work ethic?  
My go-to jam before giving a presentation is always Dr. Dre because it gets me pumped up. For my last Intel talk in China I had them play the intro to "Nothing but a G Thing" as I walked out on stage. But the song that best describes my work ethic would probably be something from Radiohead. Maybe "No surprises" by Radiohead. The lyrics are kind of interesting and that's my favorite band and that song was my ringtone for a long time.


If you were giving guidance to someone in engineering what advice would you give them?  
I'll give a few answers to that question.
Here is my technology answer: I think as a society, we've figured out a lot of problems with connectivity, compute, and storage and have many of those issues worked out. We haven't figured out how to replicate the human mind and the things we take for granted. You can walk down the street and see someone walking towards you and your brain automatically registers that it is someone you recognize but you don’t necessarily know why. Your brain scanned and registering the shape of their facial features, the way they walk, the way they carry themselves and decided that you recognize them as one of your friends. We take for granted how easy that is for us to do, but we are still figuring out how to do that with computers and cameras. But some of the advancements in compute technology around cognitive neural networks, machine learning and deep learning are helping get us closer. In the field of science called Biomimicry, we are starting to replicate some of the ways biological systems like arrays of neurons have structured themselves and see if we can apply those natural methods to the way computers think. The whole field of artificial intelligence to me is one of the most fantastic technology areas in the coming decades.
How do you teach a computer to do much more than if/then statements? Teach it patterns, and sub patterns. Teach it to observe and learn and make its own if/then statements. It's a very different way of approaching the science of computing. We used to only assign computers to do mundane tasks and workloads. What prohibits us from assigning computers do the miraculous? Apply computing technology to perform complex analysis of someone's DNA and their blood profile and discover they are at risk for kidney failure. Then recommend changes to their diet and medications/supplements to protect their health. Why can't you employ a computer to do more of that advanced thinking. If I was in college I would focus on AI machine learning and deep learning and not much else.
This is the marketplace answer: What differentiates scientists from engineers is that scientists ask questions and test hypotheses to learn. Engineers use science and those same methodologies to solve problems. If learning and advancing the knowledge humankind has of our universe motivates you, then academia is likely the best path for you. If you want to be addressing the market issues that people are facing with their daily lives, learn what isn’t working and what can be improved with technology to address those issues, then engineering may be a better choice for you. Addressing market problems with end users in mind is the best way to make money in business, combine that with the right technology and you have a recipe for engineering success. I tell all my employees that I'm not interested in just doing cool experiments or inventing cool technology. I'm interested in solving real end user and real customer problems with technology. I like the combination, that's where the most interesting magic happens.

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Managed Solution is conducting interviews as part of an outreach initiative to share trends and engage technology enthusiasts in the southwest.