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)


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)


It’s All About the Trust

cReader’s Digest has a long history as one of the trusted, or at least popular, publications. While its overall impact may have declined, it has interesting findings in its recent Trusted Brand survey.

Are some of your favorites on the list?

Seventy-eight percent of this year’s survey participants stated they would choose a brand that’s been identified as more trustworthy than a different brand with equal quality and price. More than 5,000 Americans across the country participated in the online survey.

“Trust is an integral part of the Reader’s Digest DNA and we wanted to continue to capture Americans’ changing attitudes on brand trust, recognizing the most trusted brands in a variety of categories that matter to consumers,” said Kirsten Marchioli, VP and group publisher for Reader’s Digest.

In addition, the study reported 67% of U.S. adults surveyed pay more attention to trusted brands, and another 67% say they pay more money to support trusted brands.

Some of the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands for 2016 are:

  • Airline: Southwest
  • Automobile (passenger cars excluding trucks): Toyota
  • Automobile (SUV/crossover): Ford
  • Bottled water: Dasani
  • Coffee: Folgers
  • Cold cereal: Kellogg’s
  • Computer (desktop/laptop): Dell
  • Credit card: Visa
  • Cruise line: Carnival Corporation
  • Fast food/casual dining: McDonald’s
  • Headache/pain reliever: Advil
  • Juice: Tropicana
  • Laundry detergent: Tide
  • Mass merchandiser retail store: Walmart
  • Mobile phones: Apple
  • National hotel chains/resorts: Marriott
  • National pharmacy/drug store: CVS Pharmacy
  • Nutrition bars: CLIF
  • Soup: Campbell Soup
  • Yogurt: Yoplait

Evaluating the Workplace Seating Chart

10061396After reading the following, people may start thinking about what category they fit in. And managers might consider some potential changes. The conclusions come from Harvard Business School researchers.

Placing the right mix of workers in close proximity to each other can generate up to a 15% increase in organizational performance, according to a study from Cornerstone OnDemand.

The researchers determined that there are three types of employees: productive, generalist and quality. Productive workers get work done quickly, but they don’t necessarily get it done well. Quality workers produce stellar work, but they’re not the most productive people in the office. And generalist employees are average in terms of both productivity and quality.

The study’s authors found that the impact on productivity and effectiveness is most pronounced when employees who are strong in one area but weak in another sit near each other. Specifically, seating “productive” and “quality” workers together and seating “generalists” separately in their own group shows a 13% gain in productivity and a 17% gain in effectiveness. “In short, symbiotic relationships are created from pairing those with opposite strengths,” the study’s authors wrote.

While the impact of seating employees close to each other happens almost instantly, the effects aren’t long lasting if the two groups are eventually separated. Once separated, the positive impact the employees had on each other usually goes away within two months, according to the study.

Logistics, Infrastructure Take Center Stage at Summit


Hoosiers don’t take lightly the title “Crossroads of America.”

It’s a moniker we’ve earned honestly: The state is in the heart of the Midwest and is one of the top manufacturing states in the country. Going hand-in-hand with manufacturing success are logistics and distribution, and the ability for Hoosier companies to move their goods efficiently and through cost-effective means.

We move products by sea, rail, over the road and through the air to national and global locations. More than 700 million tons of freight is moved annually in Indiana, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

As part of the ongoing Beyond the Bicentennial campaign, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce will release an open letter detailing the necessary policy positions for advancing the state’s Superior Infrastructure, as outlined in the Chamber’s long-range economic development plan Indiana Vision 2025. The letter, to be published on Sept. 27, will be the third in a series of four letters addressed to the major party gubernatorial candidates. Each letter details policies impacting the four drivers of Indiana Vision 2025. Additionally, the Indiana Logistics Summit will return to downtown Indianapolis on Nov. 16-17.

Keynote speaker Paul N. Jaenichen, Sr., United States Maritime Administrator, will address attendees on Nov. 17. Jaenichen was appointed to his position by President Obama in 2014 and is a retired career naval officer. He was a nuclear trained Submarine Officer in the U.S. Navy for 30 years, and will be speaking about the National Maritime Transportation Strategy and Marine highway projects.

New to the summit will be a series of educational breakout sessions. These will feature speakers on topics such as: rail, air cargo, barge and trucking industries; going global; innovation; policy; and workforce.

Early discounted registration is open until Sept. 30 (though registration will continue after that date). Visit the web site at for more information and to register.

UPS Offers X-PORT Challenge Prizes


Small and medium-sized businesses with global aspirations have the opportunity to win $10,000 in export shipping with UPS. The UPS X-PORT Challenge aims to help local businesses export to international markets.

“The UPS X-PORT Challenge is an example of our commitment to innovation, global trade and entrepreneurism,” says Bill Seward, UPS U.S. International President, “Less than one percent of America’s 30 million companies export – a percentage that is significantly lower than all developed countries. And of U.S. companies that do export, 58 percent export to only one country. This competition presents an opportunity for growth-oriented businesses to expand internationally.”

Participants in the UPS X-PORT Challenge can begin the application process online. A local UPS representative will then provide the second part of the application, which gives businesses the opportunity to share their ideas for international expansion. That assessment will define the business’ specialty, degree of uniqueness, global appeal and market challenges. Applications must be received by Oct. 10, 2016.

The top 10 applicants will be invited to attend the “Pitch-Off” event on Nov. 10, 2016, in Louisville. Contestants will pitch their business to a panel of judges from the local international business community. The judges will then pick the top three finalists as prize-winners. The second and third place winners will receive $2,500 and $1,000, respectively, in export shipping.

Agents Identify Top Travel Destinations

Heart Tail

As the seasons change, so do the rankings of top travel destinations. So says Travel Leaders Group in its most recent nationwide survey of travel agents.

For the first time, the top rankings for domestic and international bookings belong to Maui, Hawaii and London. The 1,100-plus travel agency reps name the top destinations they are reserving for the remainder of the year. Results are based on actual booking data.
Two items in the news at various times during the year – Zika and the Brexit vote – may be contributing factors.

“The ‘Brexit’ vote and resulting fluctuation in the British pound has been incredibly favorable for American travelers, whether for leisure or business trips. While London has always been among the top international destinations on our list, this is further proof that travelers are very willing to adjust and seize upon a prime opportunity when there’s increased value in a particular destination,” states Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko.

“Domestically, Maui has long been among the most sought after destinations for American travelers, but had never surpassed Orlando, Las Vegas or New York City for the top spot. Because the Zika virus has had an impact on some individuals’ travel decisions, particularly those who are pregnant, Maui’s positioning has been bolstered by having no cases of locally-transmitted Zika.”

The rankings:

1. Maui, 34.1%
2. Orlando, 32.4%
3. New York City, 30.5%
4. Las Vegas, 28.0%
5. Cruise – Alaska, 25.5%
6. Los Angeles, 19.6%
7. Honolulu, 18.8%
8. San Francisco, 17.2%
9. Chicago, 14.2%
10. Washington, D.C., 12.4%

1. London, 31.0%
2. Cruise – Caribbean, 30.1%
3. Cancun, 29.1%
4. Rome, 23.2%
5. Paris, 17.7%
6. Cruise – Europe (river), 17.5%
7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, 17.5%
8. Cruise – Europe (Mediterranean), 13.6%
9. Montego Bay, Jamaica, 10.8%
10. Florence/Tuscany, Italy, 10.0%

Seventy-nine percent of agents said booking were higher or on par with last year at this time and more than 72% were optimistic about their business for the remainder of the year.

TECH THURSDAY: Overflowing With Potential


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.

For many beer connoisseurs, wasting a frothy beverage is an offense worthy of hefty reprimand. But for bar owners, not getting the last drop to customers is a hit to the bottom line as draft beer generates their highest profit margin.

SteadyServ, based in Carmel, has developed iKeg™ technology, which features a sensor and a mobile app to tell those behind the bar exactly how much beer is left in their kegs. It also communicates when the beer was delivered and tapped, as well as its age. Previous order information, consumption trends and local weather forecasts also help managers monitor beer inventory and sales potential.

The SteadyServ office features an innovative backroom complete with a walk-in cooler, half filled with kegs at the time of this interview.

SteadyServ CEO Steve Hershberger attempts to illustrate the guessing game employees must play when determining keg capacity. He asks the BizVoice® team – a reporter and a photographer – to lift a keg and then estimate how full it is. This reporter confidently guesses 60%. And our photographer? “25%,” he ventures.

Mission accomplished. “A bar’s largest margin is draft beer – typically by a factor of two,” Hershberger quantifies. “So you’re guessing about what you spend the most money on and what delivers you the most product every single week.”

Read the full story online.

Learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Our first meeting was in August, and was well-attended. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)


TECH THURSDAY: Words of Advice from Business Founders

36886821EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2013 favorite.

Lee Lewellen has concentrated on economic and business growth throughout a 30-year Central Indiana business career. Recently, that focus honed in on entrepreneurs – how they have grown their businesses and what they have learned along the way.

In a series of one-hour iFounders’ interviews, Lewellen tapped into the mindsets of 26 Indiana business leaders. They range from “veterans” such as Bill Mays (Mays Chemical) and Jeff Smulyan (Emmis Communications) to “newcomers” throughout the state, including Ryan Hou of LHP Software (Columbus) and Pete Bitar of XADS (Anderson).

“I was just incredibly humbled that these people who are very successful would spend an hour of their time talking about this,” Lewellen states. It was also a reminder of “how much really cool stuff is taking place in the state of Indiana, both in terms of the innovation and some of the connections these folks have all over the word in selling Indiana products, services and technologies. We kind of take it for granted.”

Lewellen points to Greenville-based Techshot, long known for its work with NASA and more recent diversification into different areas. “It’s out in the middle of nowhere doing some really incredible stuff. They’re there because Mark Deuser wanted to be close to where he grew up. You get a different geographic view of where people are doing these great things. It’s all about networks and mentoring.”

Read the full story online.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Our first meeting was in August, and was well-attended. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)