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.

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)


Indiana Technology and Innovation Council Moving Forward


The Indiana Chamber announced the creation of the Technology and Innovation Council earlier this summer. The goal of the group is to leverage the Chamber’s statewide presence and ability to convene leaders and partners so we can enhance the growth of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology in Indiana with forward-thinking public policies and relevant programming.

Below is an update on the main aspects of the program:

Tech Policy Committee
This committee is in the process of working with leaders of various technology and innovation entities to develop the Chamber’s technology and innovation policy agenda. While many of the policies are updating current policies, such as venture capital incentives, new subject areas are being carefully considered. The committee chairman is John McDonald with CloudOne and vice chairman is Bill Soards with AT&T.

After the committee does its work over the next month, the tech policy agenda for the 2017 legislative session will be affirmed by the Chamber board this November. It will be publically announced at our Technology and Innovation Policy Luncheon on Thursday, December 15.

We hope to augment Indiana’s strong business climate with a renewed focus to better meet the needs of innovators, entrepreneurs and technology-oriented enterprises.

Programs and Trends Committee
Work is underway by this committee to think through what additional programming and information can help accelerate the growth of Indiana’s innovation and technology companies. Indiana has many excellent programs going on around the state and we hope to better connect the dots through the work of this committee. The chairman is John Wechsler of Launch Fishers and vice chair is Kristin Marcuccilli of STAR Financial Bank.

Already, the Chamber has enhanced its technology and innovation communication efforts through its BizVoice magazine and with Chamber members and customers through frequent email communications. It has created the web site, Indiana Chamber Tech, to provide relevant and useful information. Other activities being planned include a technology/innovation road show, a series of peer-to-peer lunch events and an innovation summit. The goal is to help better inform stakeholders around the state with useful programming and information relative to our future economy.

A Worthy Read
One of the most interesting white papers on business I have read recently includes this excellent paper from the Kauffman Foundation titled, A Tale of Two Entrepreneurs. It talks about two different types of businesses (we need both) and some important differences in fostering economic growth. I hope you take a few minutes to read it.

Please contact me directly to learn more about the Tech Council or sign up now.

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)


Internet of Things Conference Highlights Connections

IndyIoT Event Invite

Did you know one of the first devices to be connected to the Internet was a toaster? In 1990, John Romkey and Simon Hacknett accepted a challenge to connect and control a toaster via the Internet. It was a groundbreaking feat 20 years ago – even though today you can buy a toaster that toasts the day’s weather forecast onto your breakfast.

While the name “Internet of Things” (IoT) was not yet coined in 1990, the Internet Toaster, as it became known, falls plainly under the construct of IoT: allowing connection between devices and the Internet, or between devices and devices, or between people and devices, etc.

The IoT has the potential to automate your house (control your thermostat remotely, or send your health vitals to your doctor just by stepping on the bathroom scale) and even link up entire city systems (correcting water quality or regulating traffic flow, for example).

Recently, John McDonald, CEO of Fishers-based CloudOne, addressed the Indiana Technology and Innovation Council’s inaugural meeting at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and gave an example of the potential for IoT in everyday life: your car radio and picking up on the fact that it is 3 a.m. and you aren’t driving as safely as you had been earlier; there is a 24-hour Starbucks ahead and your payment information can be beamed to the store, with your favorite hot drink ready for you when you drive through.

While the possibilities might sound futuristic, Hoosier companies are already working on these technologies.

To celebrate and acknowledge the possibilities, the IndyIoT conference will take place on September 28 from 1-5 p.m. at Launch Fishers.

The conference brings together IoT innovators, and will highlight innovations through 15-minute burst presentations. Speakers include Michael Wollowski, Ph.D., Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Kip Tom, Tom Farms; Michael Coffey, Roche; and Robert Rodenbeck, Delta Faucet Company.

Follow along on Twitter at @IndyIOT or visit the web site at

TECH THURSDAY: Innovation ‘Critical Part’ of Kosciusko Brand

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

George Robertson wanted to know the answer to a pretty significant question: “Why is a small city in Northern Indiana (Warsaw) the Orthopedic Capital of the World?”

When Robertson came on board five years ago as the first fulltime executive director of the Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation (KEDCo), he began researching but didn’t have to look far to determine the answer.

“You see it in the stories of the companies, DePuy Synthes, Zimmer Biomet and Dane Miller (founder of Biomet). You see a trend of innovation and entrepreneurship. … Why is one of the largest automated material handling companies – CTB Inc. – in Milford? It’s entrepreneurship and innovation. And it just struck me that that was a critical part of our brand,” he emphasizes.

Read the full story online.

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