What Business Leaders Need to Be Focused on to Drive Culture & Operational Excellence - An Interview with Managed Solution CEO Sean Ferrel

In this video interview, you'll hear from Managed Solution CEO Sean Ferrel as he discusses how and why he got started with IT, his passion for people and how he's created a great culture, and what technology and other facets of business leaders should be focused on, especially with the current remote workforce.

How have you managed to get through and grow from tough times like the one we're experiencing now with COVID?

believe in the concept of taking the opportunity during these times. There's a restaurateur that is talking about taking his business to the next level right now, and during a pandemic when restaurants are barely open that might seem really hard to do, but he makes an analogy of comparing it to a forest and all the trees burn down and there are a few seedlings left and if you just give them water they can grow. So there becomes these sprouting companies. My advice is to ignore the negativity and the doubters and just seize the moment and opportunity. It's important to adapt to the environment and that's what we've done well during these times is just reacting to what our customers need.

What must leaders be paying attention to right now to ensure they're keeping the culture and the company alive?

I do think tech is and should be front and center now. Leaders are trying to figure out how to drive culture from afar and what does that mean - happy hour, activities. A lot of us are finding new ways to connect through the tools we have and be more transparent with employees through video. There are challenges though- there's nothing better than sitting face to face with some in a room and understanding each other and feeling their warmth, their trust, and I don’t think tech will solve that because we need that. It's a challenge but to combat that, I think it's important to stay curious, understand what's going on, not overreacting and doing things with humility. Don’t just worry about what you're feeling but what everyone in your organization is feeling. In regards to tech, I think leaders need to look at all the data they're collecting, and how they can automate processes within their business with the data that they have.

How can they take the great data and get business intelligence out of it so you can make data-driven decisions?

If you don't have the data, you need to figure out how to aggregate that data somehow. It's important to make sure your systems are integrating and putting the data together. It allows you to make decisions around investments and hiring. Collaborative tools are obviously huge now and we're getting hung up on conferencing tool - but how can businesses take it further and integrate communication tools with their data such as documents and files. Microsoft does a great job with this and Google is continuing to do more with this. Lastly, security is more prevalent than ever. A lot of companies are becoming more regulated and being forced to comply with security measures, but we're seeing more hackers out there coming in and grabbing information and credentials. It's not a topic talked about enough because it doesn’t contribute to productivity but if you're breached, your company goes into a standstill and productivity doesn’t exist so it's important to think of these things ahead of time. We've seen businesses lose $250,000 because of one click.

How can people ensure their data input is true and accurate?

We operate a services company. When it was the beginning of COVID, we started looking at our call logs, we saw an uptick in off-hour calls, but the type of calls that come in is what's important. Our help desk puts a ticket in to categorize it and add details. This data's accuracy is really important because it helps us determine what kind of issues our customers are having, do we need to hire, and what kind of technical skillset we need to hire for. Another example, on the revenue side, we tried to figure out what our sales pipeline looked like as businesses were evolving to COVID. It helped us look at the opportunities coming in, and the data needs to be accurate as far as what project or service we're going to provide, then we need to make sure we're staffing correctly for that, whether it's existing or new resources.

With so many options available, how do people choose the right tech for them?

People have gotten hung up on products that they're fans of, but I think we need to look at integrations and how we do things holistically. Each piece of tech can have a role, just as humans do, and the best businesses are operationally excellent with spot-on processes. Fast forward to now, it's become a challenge to sometimes get the information and data connected. We need to be more agnostic with our technology. Think beyond the hardware and tools, and think about the solution and process. I think if we can change our thinking that way, then they'll be successful. And the cloud is really what enables us to integrate things so well.

Any parting thoughts?

There's a consumption gap in technology right now. We have end users that can’t keep up with all the features and functionalities of their applications.  There's just so much that can be done. What I think is happening with the tech industry, is it should become about driving the end-user experience. Even if there's a great product in the market, unless your users are willing to adopt the technology, it's an uphill battle. If employees don't utilize the expensive new platform you bought, then what good is it? We have to make sure the technology we're implementing has a positive end-user experience and high adoption.

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