TECH THURSDAY: The Internet of Things Offers Strong Economic Opportunity for Indiana


In late September, I had the opportunity to attend the second annual Internet of Things (IoT) conference at the Launch Fishers co-working facility. It was an energetic afternoon with substantial knowledge and information exchange about the future – and it suggests vast economic potential for Indiana.

For those who don’t know what IoT is, Wikipedia defines it as “the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings and other items – embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.”

The IoT event started with a lunch and welcome by Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness who explained to guests – including legislators invited by the Indiana Chamber – the vision of how Indiana can be a global leader in the IoT field. Lunch was followed by a series of “TED talks” by Indiana industry leaders from manufacturing, agriculture, energy and logistics who shared how the connectivity of devices can improve how Indiana grows, makes and moves things.

Executives from Tom Farms, Delta Faucet, Cummins and other companies all talked about what the future looks like in their business, embellished by IoT technology.

John McDonald, president of CloudOne and chairman of the Chamber’s Tech Policy Committee, said IoT technology has “practical economic uses, ranging from farmers measuring soil samples in real time to logistics companies tracking their fleets and checking for mechanical or efficiency issues.” The Chamber believes IoT has the potential to bolster Indiana’s economic strengths in manufacturing, agriculture, life sciences and logistics.

The Chamber supports programs that advance the ability of Indiana companies to leverage technologies and skills that improve innovation in product development and facilitate manufacturing and production advancements, in order to offer superior products and services to the emerging IoT economy. This is especially true when these companies leverage other Indiana companies as the source for those technologies, skills and innovation.

Through the Indiana Technology and Innovation Council, managed by the Chamber, we will work to encourage the use of all available mechanisms, including tax policy, economic incentives, support for collaboration between Indiana companies and promotion of these efforts on national and international levels.

We believe Indiana has the potential be a national and potentially global leader in helping companies elevate their products for IoT. The impact affects both Hoosier companies that supply Internet of Things technologies and skills, such as data analytics, sensors, networks, software, technology consulting and cloud services, as well as those that consume them to make superior products and services for global markets.

Misclassification of Workers and Cost of Surety Bonds Debated

The second meeting of the Interim Study Committee on Employment and Labor took place recently. Committee members discussed a proposal offered by Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) that would address some concerns related to the misclassification of workers specific to the construction industry. Her proposal would create a payroll fraud task force that would identify those commercial and industrial construction projects in which payroll fraud or employee misclassification is suspected of occurring.

The task force would assess investigative and enforcement methods. Additionally, the group would supervise and direct an investigator hired by the Department of Labor (DOL) and assigned to the task force to conduct investigations and enforcement activities.

The task force would consist of the commissioners from the DOL, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and the Department of Revenue (DOR), plus the chair of the Worker’s Comp Board. A task force fund would be created as result of penalties and interest assessed against employers that would be used to administer the investigations. Most of the public did not have access to a copy of the proposal until after the hearing.

The DOL testified that there was already a mechanism for fraud. A web site hosted by the DOL allows for online reporting of any suspected misclassification of workers. The information gets forwarded to the DOR, DWD and the Worker’s Comp board; these agencies then handle each tip accordingly, with all information remaining confidential. It was estimated that there are two to four reports per month. Committee Chair Rep. Doug Gutwein (R-Francesville) did not allow the proposal to be included in the recommendation report of the committee. It is anticipated that Sen. Tallian will draft similar legislation in the upcoming legislative session.

The committee also heard testimony from the Surety & Fidelity Association of America (SFAA) on the pricing of surety bonds on public works projects. As a licensed rating or advisory organization for the states, SFAA develops a manual of rating rules for surety bonds that their members may adopt. Bond companies may either file the rates advised by SFAA or file their own. SFAA serves as the statistical agent in Indiana for reporting premium and loss data to the Department of Insurance. The premium for a bond is based upon the construction contract. The surety’s assessment must take into account the size and scope of the underlying obligation and is designed to prevent defaults on construction projects.

The cost of surety bonds on public work projects is generally between .5% and 3% of the amount of the construction contract. From 2001 to 2014 the surety industry collected $380 million in premiums and assumed a total exposure of about $38 billion. Approximately $85.4 million was incurred in direct losses on those bonds during the same period. Representative Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne) suggested that Indiana might be able to self-insure on surety bonds and come out financially a little better. No action was taking on his suggestion.

U.S. Senate: Young, Bayh Speak Out in BizVoice

bayh young

BizVoice talked to both men separately this summer, asking them the same questions on policies critical to Indiana Chamber member companies and the business community at-large. (NOTE: The Indiana Chamber’s Congressional Affairs Committee has endorsed Rep. Todd Young in this race.) 

BV: What is your view on the federal tax code … are there areas you feel need attention? If so, what reforms do you see as the most important?

YOUNG: “We need to simplify the tax code. Washington needs to stop picking winners and losers through the tax code. We need to stop the double taxation of overseas income so that hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. profit can be repatriated and invested in places like Indiana to create jobs and raise wages.

“We need to lower the corporate tax rate; we have the highest rate in the industrialized world – that clearly undermines our competitiveness and has even been causing our major corporations, with all their jobs, to relocate their operations overseas. And we need to lower the individual tax rate so that families and small businesses can participate actively in the economy.”

BAYH: “We need a tax code that is certainly simpler; it costs way too much to comply with it; it’s way too complicated. One of the areas I think we can get some bipartisan agreement on would be in the area of corporate tax reform – to get the tax rate down to make us globally competitive. Currently we have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, which leads to a couple of negative consequences. Number one: A lot of businesses that are globally competitive have stranded profits abroad. I think it’s in excess of a trillion dollars. So by making the corporate rate globally competitive, we would allow them to bring those profits home to invest in their U.S. operations.

“Number two: The fact that our tax code is not globally competitive creates an incentive for foreign companies to buy U.S. companies basically as a tax arbitrage (profiting from differences in how income or capital gains are taxed); it also leads to U.S. companies to re-domicile themselves overseas. By getting the tax rate down and making it globally competitive, you do away with that phenomenon.”

Read the full Q&A online.

Suite Deal: New York Life Partners With Local School


Partnerships between the business community and local schools are nothing new. More and more are taking place in relation to athletic facilities. In Westfield, New York Life has taken a different approach by hosting a special hospitality suite for the last two years at local high school football games.

“We were looking for an opportunity to get involved with the community and let people know of our presence in the area,” says Alex Clark, a representative with the local office of the insurance and financial services firm. “For us, it allows people to see us every other week. They like to work with someone they know, someone who is helping out in the community.”

img_2380The firm hosts various groups – police and firefighters, school guidance counselors and Westfield alumni as examples – as well as winners of a random drawing for each game. The suite area offers catered food, camaraderie with fellow attendees and an excellent view of the game. (Westfield compiled a 7-2 regular season record this year and will open the playoffs Friday at Lafayette Jefferson).

Group sizes have ranged from 30 to 55, with an average of about 40 attendees at each game. The reactions are all positive.

“There’s a lot of buzz. Parents who are coming say, ‘We’ve heard about it, we were curious, you guys have really done a nice job’ and they’re very appreciative of what we’ve provided for them,” Clark confirms. “They’re thrilled and excited. Once they get to come and see the space, they’re really in shock how nice it is.”

New York Life has the benefit of a 171-year corporate history, but Clark notes, “So much of what we do is built on relationships. People can find products and services we offer anywhere. But they choose to do business with us based on the strength of our company and the relationships between our clients and our advisers.”

Tech Thursday: Parker’s Pointers

EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2014 favorite.

Kent Parker’s story is not unique. He grew up in Indiana (a sixth-generation Hoosier in Gibson County), attended school here (the University of Evansville with a 1983 degree in mechanical engineering) and began his working life (three years with United Technologies Corporation) in Indianapolis. Parker returned (with a home in New Harmony and numerous business and civic involvements) years later after a highly successful career that included key roles at Caribou Coffee in Minneapolis and Ariba (a software and information technology firm) in Sunnyvale, California.

The entrepreneur and investor admits, “I never once considered after I left Indiana in 1985 that I would come back here to try and make a living. It just never crossed my mind.” But Parker is back now.

BizVoice: You mentioned that people are the most important factor for growing successful businesses. Does Indiana have enough people – entrepreneurs, members of the workforce?

Kent Parker: “I think there are. Entrepreneurism is locally driven. It requires an entrepreneurial community; within that community, there are layers of people and their roles. When we started Caribou Coffee, the managers and employees we hired – not classic entrepreneurs, but people with skills who were interested in this new kind of activity, new kind of company and the excitement around that.

“What makes an entrepreneurial venture successful is the ability to attract the people who are motivated to have the kind of career experience that truly is much different than working in a larger company or long-established company. You need this entire ecosystem.”

Read the full story online.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)


Chamber to Study Committee: ‘Why Jeopardize Our Tax-Friendly Image?’

The much anticipated study of combined reporting, performed over the summer by the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) Office of Fiscal Management Analysis, was recently outlined to the legislative Interim Committee on Fiscal Policy.

As a refresher: Combined reporting would impact companies here with operations outside of the state. It tasks these businesses with adding together all profits for one report. Indiana’s current system of separate accounting allows for each subsidiary to report independently based on its location.

The study was required by SEA 323, which passed last session. That legislation also directed a study of the related issue of transfer pricing. Both LSA studies were presented to the interim committee and have now been made available to the public.

The combined reporting study, however, was by far the more comprehensive and was the primary subject of discussion at the interim committee meeting. The report includes examples that demonstrate how a switch to mandatory unitary combined reporting would have varying impacts on taxpayers.

Depending on their particular circumstances, some taxpayers would see their tax liability increase while others would see it decrease. The end result being that the overall effect on the tax revenue stream is unpredictable.

Using data from numerous states and applying econometric techniques, the LSA economists estimated that Indiana could see an initial spike in corporate tax revenue but that it would “only be short term and will decline to zero in the long run.” The study also recognized that while the change could be beneficial in addressing some current issues, such as transfer pricing disputes, it would raise a multitude of new administrative burdens and complexities; most notably those associated with the core difficulty, “determination of the unitary group” – exactly which affiliated entities are ultimately to be deemed part of those that must be combined. In other words, going to combined reporting only trades one set of problems for a different challenge of substantial magnitude.

Studying combined reporting is itself a complicated and difficult task. The LSA did a nice job of putting the issues in historical and practical context, identifying the issues and analyzing the potential impacts. What it could not do, because it isn’t really its role, is fully evaluate how a change could disrupt the progress that has been made over the past 15 years in improving our state’s business climate. Governor Robert Orr concluded in 1984 that combined reporting would be “extremely detrimental to Indiana’s economic growth.” In his open letter to all corporate taxpayers, he offered his assurance that Indiana “does not, and will not, require combined reporting.” That position proved significant in attracting the large manufacturing facilities built by multi-national companies that presently employ thousands of Hoosiers across the state.

Why would you want to reverse this course, abandon the certainty that comes with 50 years of tax law and jeopardize our image as the most business-friendly state in the Midwest and among the top in the nation? This was the core of the Indiana Chamber’s testimony to the interim committee. As for those who view a possible change to combined reporting as a means for dealing with what they label a “compliance issue”, the Chamber committed to work with them. We will need to find less drastic ways to address their concerns and identify ways to respond to the situations they believe represent noncompliance.

It should be noted that concerns with transfer pricing issues seem to have served as the impetus for much of the larger discussion of combined reporting. Consequently, focusing on those issues would provide the potential for reaching resolutions, without a major structural conversion to mandatory unitary combined reporting. In fact, Appendix A to the Transfer Pricing study points to several possibilities that deserve further exploration.

View the combined reporting study and transfer pricing study.

Workers’ Comp Rates Being Reduced; Will Save Millions for Indiana Businesses

Earlier this month, Indiana Department of Insurance Commissioner Stephen Robertson announced the approval of a 9.3% reduction for workers’ compensation rates to be effective January 1, 2017. The reduction is the biggest rate decrease Indiana has seen in 25 years.

This reduction will result in savings of approximately $82.7 million dollars for Hoosier businesses.

The Indiana Comprehensive Rating Bureau established this recommended advisory rate by taking a two-year review (2013-2014) and estimating going forward.

Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical costs associated with workplace injuries and provides wage replacement benefits to injured workers for lost work time. The frequency of such claims is down both in the state and nationally. These lower rates are also likely a result of workplaces generally becoming safer.

For many years, the Indiana Chamber has fought for rational, reasonable laws; we are glad to see the Department of Insurance recognize the current climate and take this positive step. The savings are significant and will help encourage additional growth in the business community.

Business Dining Etiquette Essentials

Business meals are more than just talking shop. They are a way to distinguish your demeanor from the dinner table to the boardroom. You can be the best in your field or tops in your company, but if you mess up the business meal, no one is going to be impressed. What do you need to know about modern table manners to make a great impression?

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural consultant, an international protocol expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She says employ these seven business dining tips to present yourself in the best manner possible and ace every business dining experience that crosses your path.

  1. Invitations: Remember that the person extending the invitation is the host and is responsible for payment of the bill. When receiving or extending invitations, pay attention to special dietary needs. The host may ask about food allergies or sensitivities, kosher, halal, gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free diets. Be sure to RSVP or reply within 24 hours with any dietary restrictions.
  2. Guest Duties: As a guest, observe the host for cues. For example: place your napkin in your lap after the host; the host does so first to signal the start of the meal. When excusing yourself between courses, the napkin is placed on the chair seat soiled side down. At meal’s end, place your loosely folded napkin on the left of your plate after the host does. Don’t refold it.
  3. Silverware & Service Signals: Once silverware is used, including handles, it doesn’t touch the table again. Rest forks, knives and spoons on the side of your plate. Unused silverware stays on the table. If you are resting between bites, place your fork, with tines up, near the top of your plate. To signal the server that you’re finished, place your fork and knife across the center of the plate at the 5 o’clock position. Service signals also include closing your menu to indicate you’re ready to order. If you are browsing an open menu, the server has the impression you aren’t ready.
  4. What should you order? Ask the person who invited you (host or hostess) for suggestions on the menu. Ask them to make suggestions or for their favorite dish. Listen carefully because they will provide a top and bottom price range based on the entrées they recommend. Then select a moderately priced item or one of the dishes they recommend.
  5. To drink or not to drink? If the host orders alcohol, and you don’t wish to drink, you simply order the beverage of your preference without an explanation. “I’ll have an iced tea with lemon please” or “Diet Coke please” and continue to browse the menu. You are under no obligation to consume alcohol at lunch or any other time of the day. Polite dining companions will not comment or ask questions. If they do, simply ask, “Pardon me?” and look at them intently. They will realize the impertinence of their question.
  6. Connections & Conversation: It’s the host’s job to keep conversation going during the meal; and guests must contribute with courtesy. Just don’t monopolize the conversation, rather ask questions and express interest. Light topics include books, travel, vacation, movies and pets; avoid politics, sex and religion. If you need to talk to the server, don’t interrupt the flow of the conversation. Rather, catch the eye of the server if you need assistance, or slightly raise your hand. If they are busy, softly call their name or “server?”
  7. Tipping: The host is the person who extended the invitation, and they are responsible for paying the bill. Consider these U.S. tipping guidelines: bartender: 10-20 % of bar bill; valet: $2.00-$5.00; coat check: $1.00 per coat; server: 15-20% of bill; 25% extraordinary service; sommelier: 15% of wine bill. The tip should reflect the total price of the bill before coupons, discounts or gift certificates.

Screening Data Center Providers: Discerning a Provider that Won’t Let You Down


For companies looking to quickly expand their data center capabilities without building out their own facilities, outsourcing is increasingly a favored, no-brainer option. While outsourcing options abound, pinpointing the one that best fulfills your company’s needs and long-term goals without wasting resources requires careful consideration of numerous factors.

Choosing a data center provider based purely on budget and short-term wins would be a costly mistake you’re guaranteed to regret when the apparent savings bite back in technology misfires, unreliable performance and extended downtime. Save yourself the headache and dollars by screening potential providers with the following criteria—key attributes of a data center that won’t let you down.

1. Certifications
Data centers are generally evaluated by the Uptime Institute and classified based on the performance of their infrastructure, uptime and other factors that determine reliability. With each Tier level, I through IV, the data center’s infrastructure costs and operational complexities increase, according to Uptime. Also, Tier IV centers are required to demonstrate a higher level of uptime. Uptime Institute recommends that companies analyze their business applications and needs when making a decision on data center providers.

2. Compliance
It’s critical that a data center provider keeps you in compliance with regulations specific to your industry. Many companies face audits, including SSAE 16, NFPA, TIA-942, HIPAA, FISMA, FDA, PCI/DSS and Sarbanes-Oxley. It is imperative that the data center provider you choose possesses expertise with regard to these audits.

3. Data Center Location
One of the most critical factors of a reliable data center provider is location. Access it to determine the history of natural disasters in the area, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. Other factors that can influence the data center’s resilience and ability to bounce back from crisis scenarios include proximity to other businesses and first responders, like police officers and firefighters.

4. Facility
The data center building should feature state-of-the-art equipment, cooling and updated infrastructure, including structural reinforcements. It also should be well guarded by security officials.

5. Redundant Power/Cooling
A quality data center includes quality generators, uninterruptible power supplies, power delivery, utilities and cooling infrastructure systems. When screening providers, ask specific questions about Service Level Agreements (especially about uptime); electrical and cooling; redundancy power architecture; backup systems; monitoring; and transformers.

Since 2001, Lifeline Data Centers has earned a reputation as a leader in data center compliance, uptime, and innovation—including a notable recognition as one of the 20 most promising data center providers in 2016 by CIOReview, citing Lifeline’s 99.999% uptime, multi-layered security systems, highly compliant processes, and “superior and compliant” workspace. The company is also currently undergoing the arduous task of becoming FedRAMP-authorized—the highest level of clearance to house government and military data.

Find out if Lifeline is the provider you’ve been searching for. Visit Also read the Chamber’s recent BizVoice magazine feature on the company.

Want to learn why EMP shielding, FedRAMP certification, and Rated-4 data centers matter to your business? Download Lifeline’s infographic series on EMP, FedRAMP, and Rated-4! Read online.

TECH THURSDAY: Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year


EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2015 favorite.

I sit down with Dustin Sapp at the TinderBox office overlooking Monument Circle in Indianapolis. The morning sun streams into the lobby, illuminating the walls as some of the company’s nearly 60 staffers mill about.

Sapp is a busy man. In fact, we rescheduled our initial meeting because the “low-key” day he’d sat aside quickly became less so. This is the reality of a tech CEO.

Donning jeans and sipping a morning coffee, he appears quite comfortable and very at home in his surroundings – at least not overwhelmed by the pressures of being a head honcho. And discussing his career path and his affinity for his family reveals a man who’s quite content, yet hungry to keep moving his company forward. The excitement of starting a venture and the dedication to making it thrive are part of his wiring.

“Every minute you spend in this kind of environment matters,” Sapp reveals. “The sense of empowerment that comes with that – and the feeling of despair when things aren’t going well. It’s rare that you can experience all of those emotions (in a professional position).”

Read the full story online.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)