Tech Talk: Federal Tech Team Still in Place

The following is excerpted from NextGov:

An Obama-era technology troubleshooting team has continued under President Donald Trump, maintaining projects some experts suspected would be shuttered in the new administration.

The U.S. Digital Service, a task force of professionals recruited from the private sector, was established to tackle some of the federal government’s highest profile and highest risk technology challenges. Today, it has satellite operations in seven federal agencies, including Defense, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services.

The team reports to the Office of Management and Budget and is now part of the American Technology Council, a group of business leaders that President Trump taps for advice on federal problems. The Digital Service (USDS) also works with the White House Office of American Innovation, which is led by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and is aiming to modernize government technology.

Among the recent USDS priorities, according to its report to Congress:

  • A variety of projects for Veterans Affairs – building and deploying a system to process claims for disability compensation; piloting a tool to allow lawyers and judges to review evidence from those claims; and launching Vets.gov, an online portal consolidating thousands of federal benefit sites for veterans.
  • Collaborating with U.S. Citizenship and Innovation Services to digitize the immigration paperwork processing system.
  • Shoring up the federal purchasing process, including an education program to train contracting officers on buying digital IT services.

The USDS web site notes that in support of its goals, “We recruit top technologists for term-limited tours of duty with the federal government. We hope to encourage a tradition of public service in the technology industry that will support the ongoing improvement of government digital services.”

Bottom line: There’s no doubt that there are plenty of opportunities for improvement when it comes to government and technology. Let’s hope USDS can play a positive role in that mission.

Tech Talk: Don’t Overlook the Importance of Job Titles

Matt MacBeth (left) and Don Inmon are ready to take tech-enabled Edwin the Duck to new territories with their ambitious vision for the Edwin the Duck franchise.

Since I started my first company, Purified Audio, in 1998, I’ve learned a lot, including the importance of small details like job titles. Titles might seem like a minor concern, especially at a one or two-person start-up, but the truth is, getting them right is essential to the foundation of any business … especially now, with the exposure of my current venture, pi lab – and Edwin the Duck.

Giving clear and accurate job titles to both yourself as the business owner and the employees you eventually hire sets the tone for your growth and keeps everyone in their own lane. However, there are also some pitfalls to be avoided. If you’re trying to decide what your title is, or the title of your new hire, here are some points to consider about the message those titles send to both your employees and the outside world.

What’s in a name?

In the broader business community, a job title is one of the first things your peers want to learn about you. The job title sends a message about the level of responsibility someone has and what duties they’re responsible for at the business.

For example, if someone is called a manager of some department, that implies they’re in charge of managing other employees, while a director might be a one-person department making lots of decisions. It’s important to consider the connotations of a job title, not just pick something that sounds official, impressive, or trendy.

Chain of command

The other goal achieved by giving accurate job titles to yourself and employees is to establish the organization’s chain of command early on. Whether you’re making your first, second, third or 10th hire, ask yourself what their specific tasks will be and who they will report to. By defining the role and then establishing the title, you ensure the title is comprehensive and specific to their duties.

Lastly, remember that some job titles are accompanied by salary expectations for qualified candidates. Before putting out a call for applicants, make sure you’ve done the research about comparable positions at your competitor companies and know what you’ll need to offer a talented person.

Don’t just talk the talk

Especially at a start-up, the desire to appear robust and competitive can lead to some serious job title inflation. What many entrepreneurs don’t realize is that the disconnect between yours or an employee’s actual life experiences and the implications of a title can be jarring for prospective clients and partners.

For example, if a client thinks they are meeting with your company’s chief information officer, and they walk into a meeting with a 22-year-old who is fresh out of college with no work experience in IT, that sends a message about your business’ competence and legitimacy. Just because someone is your first hire in a specific department or skill set doesn’t mean they should automatically get the highest-ranking title.

Don’t give people job titles they aren’t qualified for. Just keep it real and genuine, and the titles won’t matter so much, because your success will speak for itself.

Job titles only get more important as a business grows. At first, most people on a team are usually part of sales and generating revenue, but they might take on other duties too as necessary.

With more staff on hand, job titles are essential to delineate who has what duties and who is accountable to whom. Without that organization, your internal team will be less efficient and outsiders like clients will have a hard time understanding how your business functions.


Author: Matt MacBeth is co-founder and CEO of pi lab, creators of Edwin the Duck. MacBeth and partner Don Inmon were the 2016 Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leaders of the Year. See story and video.

Voice Searches Taking Over

A recent report by iProspect offers a glimpse into the trends and opportunities regarding paid search marketing.

Google AdWords data showed strong mobile growth in terms of both impressions and clicks. Volume on desktops and tablets, however, was down, indicating an overall decrease in demand for those devices. Cost per click (CPC) increased across all devices, reaching the highest CPC recorded since this report’s inception in 2014. Mobile CPC saw a particularly significant increase, up 40% year-over-year, further closing the gap on desktop.

Voice search is quickly becoming the search method of choice for many consumers, says the report. Today, 500 million people use a voice search-powered digital assistant of some kind, and half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

This behavioral shift is ushering in a rise in longer, more conversational queries, causing savvy advertisers to refocus their keyword strategy to ensure it includes question-based keywords such as who, what, when, where, why and how, as well as qualifying phrases such as near me.

Indiana Chamber Key to Opening Door for 5G in Indiana

AT&T Indiana President Bill Soards spoke to Inside INdiana Business about the 5G Evolution. Soards has been an integral part of the Indiana Chamber’s Technology & Innovation Council.

You likely saw the big news from AT&T last week touting 5G service coming to central Indiana. What you might not know is that the Indiana Chamber played a significant role in making that important advancement possible.

“Improving digital infrastructure has always been a top priority for the Indiana Chamber,” says Bill Soards, president of AT&T Indiana. “The Chamber’s new Technology and Innovation Council has helped elevate the growing significance of 5G and other emerging technologies in Indiana and played a critical role this year in helping pass Senate Bill 213.”

This legislation clears the way for a shift in Indiana’s mobile broadband connectivity to the next generation of technology and will enable a more rapid rollout in communities across the state. We lobbied hard for Senate Bill 213 in the Indiana General Assembly and will continue to push for important policies that advance innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Indiana.

The Indiana Chamber achieves victories like this by bringing a wide spectrum of voices and perspectives to our elected representatives. You can help our state go further and do it faster by becoming a member of the Indiana Chamber or increasing your investment if you are already on board. Additionally, please consider taking part in our grassroots efforts to educate state leaders about important public policy issues that impact your organization.

Nominations for Indiana Innovation Awards Closing Soon!

Nominations are open for the 2017 Indiana Innovation Awards until the end of July. Any innovation is eligible to be recognized as long as it has been “released” in some form or fashion within the past three years and the team behind the innovation is headquartered (at least partially for interstate/international organizations) in Indiana.

Past winners have included products, services, technologies, processes and initiatives that demonstrate both uniqueness and success.

Awards will be presented at the October 12 Day of Innovation conference in Indianapolis.

Going On the Co-Working Road

The Fish Tank co-working space in Columbus is leading to a variety of business community collaborations.

Business dreams come in many shapes and sizes. A common denominator is having the resources available to help those dreams come true. And the places to make that happen, like the entrepreneurs themselves, are unique in many ways.Business dreams come in many shapes and sizes. A common denominator is having the resources available to help those dreams come true. And the places to make that happen, like the entrepreneurs themselves, are unique in many ways.

The Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine, in its yearlong series on innovation and entrepreneurship, hits the road in the current issue to learn about the people and places in four communities. They are:

While they vary in size and activity, these and other co-working space share the common bond of bringing people together. I’m confident you will enjoy learning about some of the entrepreneurs who are starting and growing their businesses.

The July-August issue also offers:

  • A continuation of the developing success story at Recovery Force. Three external advisors with varying backgrounds share their insights
  • A guest column that focuses on the green Internet of Things
  • Quick Hits that include a business attraction effort in Anderson; another unique space for entrepreneurs in Wabash; and a successful remote relationship for an ExactTarget alum who didn’t want to leave central Indiana

If you don’t receive each of the six bimonthly issues of BizVoice®, you can subscribe online. If you want to reach an audience of 15,000-plus decision-makers with your products and services, contact Tim Brewer (tbrewer@indianachamber.com) for advertising specials and packages.

Tech Talk: Catching Up on Indiana Chamber Activity

A busy June at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce included items of importance to the innovation and entrepreneurship communities. A brief overview:

Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card
The every-other-year evaluation of our state’s economic performance includes the Dynamic and Creative Culture driver. Unfortunately, the statewide statistical measures don’t match up to the progress being seen in central Indiana and other select areas. Indiana is tied for 44th in the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Index and 35th in venture capital invested.

There are strong performances in university business spinouts, foreign direct investment and exports.

Full details and summaries at www.indianachamber.com/2025.

10th annual employer workforce survey 
While the Report Card showed some progress in educational measures, this survey reinforced the ongoing skills mismatch. Two numbers: 47% of respondents left jobs unfilled in the past year due to under-qualified applicants and 79% indicate filling their workforce is among their biggest challenges. Both trends have only increased over the past four years.

The survey also looks at workforce recruitment strategies, training and drug testing.

Details at www.indianachamber.com/education.

Coming Your Way

  • The July-August BizVoice® includes, among other features, visits to four co-working spaces around the state and a column on the green Internet of Things.•
  • Coming in mid-July is the new EchoChamber podcast. Technology and innovation will be one of the featured subjects. Catch a sneak preview at www.indianachamber.com/echochamber.

Breaking Down the Research Efforts

Research corridors are not new. In our neighbor to the north, the University Research Corridor has been a strong performer over a number of years.

The State Science & Technology Institute has this brief recap of a recent analysis:

Michigan’s University Research Corridor, an alliance of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, conducted $1.2 billion in academic R&D in the life, medical and health sciences, and served as a stabilizing force to the state’s economy as one of the only sectors that grew during the 2000s. Those are among the findings of the 2017 URC sector report, which was prepared by Public Sector Consultants.

The report, Leading Discovery: URC Contributions to the Life, Medical and Health Sciences, notes that employment in the life, medical and health sciences sector, which accounts for one in eight jobs in Michigan, is up 18.9 percent since 2000, compared to overall Michigan employment, which is down 9.3 percent.

The URC also was successful in moving discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace. From 2012 to 2016, the following results relating to the life, medical and health sciences sector were found:

• 1,348 inventions reported by researchers
• 380 U.S. patents issued
• 433 new license agreements
• 32 new startup companies
• $142 million in royalties earned

Tech Talk: Don’t Miss Out on inX3 Extravaganza

What is one of the biggest challenges for Indiana’s technology and innovation communities? Many would agree that it’s securing the needed venture capital to take promising start-ups to the next level.

What is a new event to try and overcome that hurdle? It’s inX3 and it’s coming in just two weeks – June 13-16.

inX3 stands for inspire, innovate and invest. Indiana’s leading tech organizations are coordinating a series of events that will bring together entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors. And most of the action takes place at The Union 525 space in downtown Indianapolis.

A special Almost Fail Entrepreneur Reception celebration kicks off the week, which concludes with the next in a series of Indy Civic Hack programs. The two middle days feature a variety of programs – Pitch Competition Finals, Invest Indiana Forum and much more – as well as an AT&T Street Party on June 14.

There’s something for everyone at inX3. Details are on the web site, with app updates available through iTunes and GooglePlay.

inX3 asks the simple question: Are you in? The answer should be equally clear: Y-E-S.