Indy’s WebLink Celebrates 20 Years Serving Chambers, Associations

weblinkIndianapolis-based WebLink celebrated its 20th anniversary this week. The company provides innovative software and technology solutions for associations and chambers of commerce. A release has more:

“This has been quite a ride,” said DJ Muller, founder and president/CEO. “We’ve not only kept up with the speed of technology, we’ve been ahead of it all the way. WebLink is in an excellent position to continue to grow and succeed in the years ahead.”

“Built on innovation and exceptional customer service, WebLink is a seasoned technology company that runs like an entrepreneurial start up,” said Scott Webber, board member. “They’ve always had the ingredients of a burgeoning technology company.”

A brief history
WebLink began as a provider of software specifically designed for chambers of commerce. The company has since expanded to serve all types of associations, including builders and contractors, housing, healthcare, hospitality, trade, and transportation, and today, has clients in 490 cities and four countries.

Its signature association management software, WebLink Connect™, has more than 15,000 users and 10 million profiles. More than 170 new features were released to the software in the last year, which enables clients to manage members, prospects, events, websites, finances, and communications—all in one place. A new online community for users will be launched later this month.

The company also offers a slate of webinars, eBooks and other online resources, training events, and a certification program.

Today, approximately 800 member-based organizations, more than half of which are chambers of commerce, use WebLink’s cloud-based software-as-a-service solution. The company boasts an astonishing year-to-year average customer retention rate of 94 percent and customer satisfaction rating of 95 percent.

A strong tech neighborhood
WebLink is active in a strong and growing neighborhood of technology providers. High-tech software and services employment grew 18 percent in Indianapolis from 2012 to 2014—the eighth-fastest rate among the 30 cities surveyed. Multiple marketing and technology companies, including Salesforce and Appirio, have recently announced relocations or expansions into the area.

“It’s great to be in a hub of innovation,” said Muller. “Being close to and working with other marketing and technology companies keeps us on our toes and always looking ahead.”

Recent growth
The company grew new customer sales by 63 percent in 2014, earning a coveted TechPoint MIRA Award in Tech Sales and Marketing. Last year, WebLink secured $1.54 million of funding to expand into trade and professional association markets and further its position as a premier provider of association management software.

TECH THURSDAY: Scott Dorsey: Business Leader of the Year

dorsey

EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2012 favorite.

Speaking with those who’ve risen with the tide of Indianapolis-based e-mail/digital marketing juggernaut ExactTarget, a unique picture is painted of CEO Scott Dorsey’s leadership style.

“One of the things I’ve always found so impressive is that he’s an atypical CEO,” asserts director of product management Joanna Milliken, who holds the distinction of being the company’s first official hire in 2001. “When you think of these hotshot CEOs who are very verbose or demanding, (he’s different because) he’s unassuming and has an amazing balance.

“He’s an incredible risk taker, but he’s not rash. He’s compassionate, but he’s not emotional. He can be both very strategic and knows when to jump in and when to be tactical. That’s a combination you don’t often find.”

Dorsey remembers the company’s humble beginnings, striving to emerge at a precarious time for Internet businesses.

“The Internet bubble had burst; money was not flowing into Internet companies,” he conveys. “We were three entrepreneurs with no software experience. The capital-raising process was really difficult. We went down the friends and family route. It was great, but a little unconventional.”

He adds that building software products with no technical background was a challenge, and the trio was fortunate to find strong developers to help with the early generations of the product.

“We really bootstrapped the company; it was thinly capitalized,” Dorsey offers. “Three of us worked without salaries for nearly the first year we were in business. We were incredibly frugal and watched every dollar very carefully. We didn’t have much to work with. That was a good thing though, because we had to be very sales driven, and built a small product – small enough that we could start to sell it and deliver value in many ways.”

Read the full story online.

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

Print

Chamber Exec One of Only 22 Chosen Nationally to Study Education Pipeline

05afa7bShelley Huffman, director of college and career readiness at the Indiana Chamber, has been named a fellow for the 2016-17 Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Fellowship for Education Attainment program.

The fellowship is designed for chamber of commerce executives who work to improve the birth-to-career education pipeline in their communities. Fellows participate in an immersive education and workforce development experience that includes best practice sharing, reviews of case studies, interaction with and learning from national experts, and the opportunity to build a strong peer-to-peer network.

The fellowship is being offered to only 22 chamber of commerce professionals nationwide this year. Huffman was selected to participate “based on her passion for strengthening the talent pipeline and improving regional education and workforce development outcomes,” offers Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) President Mick Fleming.

Through the experience, Huffman, who oversees college and career readiness initiatives and related workforce strategies for the Indiana Chamber Foundation, will develop and execute a specific regional action plan for specific educational attainment objectives set by the Indiana Chamber.

Huffman is looking forward to the various summits and opportunities to collaborate with national experts. She says this is a very exciting and important endeavor for the Indiana Chamber: “It directly relates to some of the top goals we have in Indiana Vision 2025, our long-term economic development plan for the state, and will play a role in moving those forward.”

Explains Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar: “This fellowship embodies what the Outstanding Talent driver in our plan is all about. Having more Hoosiers receive the proper education from start to finish so they can embark on a meaningful career path will benefit our entire state. Businesses will have a larger talent pool and citizens will have increased quality of life.”

Those selected to participate in the fellowship program represent organizations that are actively engaged in policy, programs and system reform efforts across the birth-to-career spectrum.

For more information about ACCE’s education attainment work, visit www.ACCE.org/EAD.

Digital: A Disruption to Embrace

34813851

The Kauffman Foundation’s Jonathan Ortmans offers thoughtful perspective on entrepreneurship and technology topics. Below is a summary of his latest entry.

One of the great drivers of innovation today is the promise of digital disruption of complex and regulated industries. Digital disruption is not only behind the public sector’s move toward open government and open data, but is also the rise of civic-centered startups that are changing the rules of the game for traditional industries. It is time for a new wave of policymaking that anticipates a whole new set of issues for policymakers.

A new sense of urgency is called for as policymaking for the digital economy accelerates in response to what entrepreneur Steve Case calls “The Third Wave” of the Internet revolution.

As 1776 co-founder Donna Harris explains, “as digitization moves from basic applications like social media and e-commerce to more complex industries like education and healthcare, entrepreneurs tackle harder and harder problems. And that means government is more involved and that legacy institutions will inevitably play key roles … Frameworks established decades ago no longer apply, and leaders at all levels need to be proactive in understanding and regulating for a digital economy.”

Creating new regulatory frameworks for the digital workforce is a challenge. As I discussed recently, a Princeton/NBER survey found that the share of workers engaged in alternative work arrangements (e.g. independent contractors and freelancers) was 15.8 percent in 2015, up from 10.1 percent in 2005. Beyond the safety net challenges posed by the so-called “gig economy,” the impact of the broader digital economy reminds policymakers that they need to write new rules for an era where digital disruptions are giving individuals greater power and freedom to write their own destinies. The possibilities of the digital age include new remote, flexible and on-demand work opportunities – and a clear shift of power from institutions to individuals as transparency increases.

Yet most cities, let alone the federal government, are not ready to leverage digital disruption. Innovation That Matters, a pioneer report in understanding digital disruption in the United States, ranks 25 American cities’ readiness to capitalize on the inevitable shift to a digital economy, and provides metrics that city leaders can use to evaluate their progress in developing their digital economies.

The greatest policy risk of all in digital disruption is ultimately policymakers reacting too slowly or providing what Harris calls a mediocre legacy of a “patchwork of laws and tensions.” There are some exceptions to follow from smaller nations that are leveraging the fact that small is beautiful and also more doable. Nations like Estonia for example, have their top authorities leading their countries digital economies, through initiatives in digital infrastructure and even an e-residency program for global entrepreneurs.

Getting the public sector up to speed with the digital revolution is not an easy process. Internal capacity and cybersecurity are two large roadblocks. And it will take many intra-preneurs in government to make the necessary changes, as well as increased rapprochement to civic entrepreneurs who can help one of society’s most traditional sectors – government – react responsibly and responsively to digital disruption. Let the work begin.

Read the full post online.

JOIN US: Learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

Print

Connect, Make an Impact at D.C. Fly-In

congressIndiana Chamber members go to Washington each September to discuss key policy issues with the Indiana congressional delegation. In 2016, a little politics might be worked into those conversations. Either way, it’s your opportunity to make an impact.

The event is the annual D.C. Fly-In on September 14-15. It features a roundtable discussion with Indiana’s congressional delegation on the opening night. Day two includes a panel of national and state issue experts, followed by group visits to congressional offices.

Expect to learn more and advocate on key issues such as transportation, trade, immigration and the Every Student Succeeds Act.

“It’s a very interesting time in Washington,” remarks Caryl Auslander, Chamber vice president of federal affairs. She points to a few (of many) reasons why: “Indiana will have a new member of Congress with Sen. Coats retiring. And with the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice nominee on the line, the potential for a change in power in the Senate and the Presidential race is extremely important.”

Register today for the D.C. Fly-In online or by calling customer service at (800) 824-6885. Cost is $149 per person, with group discounts available. Each attendee is responsible for securing travel arrangements. Discounted hotel rooms are available for Chamber Fly-in guests at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

Zimmer Biomet is the dinner sponsor. The breakfast program sponsor is Allegion PLC. The hospitality sponsor is Build Indiana Council.

Event sponsors: The Boeing Company, Duke Energy, Hartman Global IP Law, The Kroger Co., Old National Bank and Wabash Valley Power.

Additional sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Jim Wagner at (317) 264-6876.

“The entire Indiana congressional delegation is typically involved in some way in this event,” Auslander comments. “To bring everyone together in the same room is pretty amazing and an incredible benefit for our members.”

All About the Water

87508494

The governors of the Great Lakes states recently approved a request by a Wisconsin city to draw water from Lake Michigan after its existing water supply dried up. But because the city isn’t in the watershed of the Great Lakes, the two Canadian provinces that share Great Lakes water rights say the request should be denied.

Waukesha, Wisconsin will be allowed to tap Lake Michigan for up to 8.2 million gallons per day once it completes a $207 million pipeline project that would draw in lake water and return fully-treated wastewater.

Delegates for the governors of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York gave their unanimous consent to the first formal request to divert water outside the Great Lakes basin during a meeting of the compact council.

The 2008 compact prohibits water from being sent outside the basin watershed. Communities like Waukesha, located over the line but within a straddling county, can apply under a limited exception.

The eight governors approved the request over the objection of widespread opposition. Mayors, legislators, policy-makers and citizens around the Great Lakes have worried about the precedent Waukesha’s application represented.

Waukesha is under a court-ordered deadline to provide safe drinking water by mid-2018. The city draws most of its water from a deep aquifer that is contaminated with unsafe levels of radium, a naturally occurring carcinogen. The city has a population of about 70,000 people.

Kiplinger warns that more water conflicts will flare up, citing California, India, South Africa and the Middle East among the likely areas of dispute.

Health Care Just Keeps Getting Bigger

16446238A few health care economic facts to consider:

  • The United States spends more on health care than any other country – $3 trillion in 2014. That equals $9,523 per person or 17% of gross domestic product
  • In the six years after the recession, health care added 2.1 million jobs, more than the next three industries combined – leisure and hospitality, professional services and education
  • Employment in health care is projected to grow by 19% from 2014 to 2014, adding about 2.3 million new jobs
  • Nearly one in 11 overall jobs is in the health care field. In 2014, that was 12.2 million jobs
  • The top five states with highest percentage of jobs classified as health care jobs: West Virginia, 11.4%; Rhode Island, 11%; Maine, 10.8%; Ohio, 10.6%; and Massachusetts, 10.4%

You Can’t Require Positivity

Question

Apparently it’s unlawful to ask employees to maintain a positive workplace. At least, that’s the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) view of it.

The NLRB board threw out a provision in T-Mobile’s employee handbook that required workers “to maintain a positive work environment by communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships.”

According to the ruling, forcing workers to be positive all the time infringes on their rights to organize, protected by Section 7 of the NLRA. And employers cannot prevent workers from organizing.

Just a week later, the NLRB shot down another company’s employee handbook that prohibits employees from engaging in conduct that’s offensive to other employees. According to the NLRB, the rule “is not accompanied by any other descriptive language that would help employees interpret what types of ‘offensive’ conduct the rule is targeting.”

So what can be learned? “Avoid the temptation to draft broad statements and instead draft provisions under the purview of whether an employee would reasonably construe the provision … limits their Section 7 rights,” attorneys Thomas Chibnail and John Hasman write in National Law Review.

Talent War is Underway

16342368As the economy has improved, unemployment rates have fallen, and employees have become more demanding. Manta polled small business owners about employee benefits and found that they are feeling the pinch — mostly from prospective employees — about benefits plans. According to the poll, about 47% of potential employees put the pressure on about benefits. Employers are also feeling the pinch from their competitors’ plans.

The most common benefit offered, according to the survey, is paid vacation (72%), followed by flex-time benefits (58%), paid sick leave (57%) and remote work options (46%).

A separate study by Aflac confirms this trend. Almost two-thirds of employees polled were likely to take a job with lower pay but better benefits. And 42% of employees said improving their benefits package was one thing their employers could do to keep them in their jobs — ranking higher than a promotion. What’s more, 16% admitted they have left a job or turned down a job in the last 12 months due to the benefits offered.

Finally, employees who are satisfied with their benefits are much more likely to be satisfied with their jobs (96% vs. 68%) and less likely to be looking for a job in the next 12 months (46% vs. 57%).

Making the Proper Contact

37193874The challenge with business-to-business sales is that the purchasing decision rarely resides solely with your contact. Instead, multiple influencers and departments are often involved.

Recently released survey data from LinkedIn provides some insight as to the departments that wield the most influence.

Based on a survey of more than 6,000 buyers and marketers at mid-sized to enterprise-level companies in seven countries, LinkedIn concludes that, generally speaking, the top departments involved in the typical buying decision are: information technology (32%), finance (31%) and business development (26%).

Of course, these results differ greatly by industry. View a chart online summarizing the top three departments per industry sector.

One of the key (and perhaps obvious) takeaways is that the department most involved in purchasing decisions often reflects the industry. In other words, the IT department is most commonly an influencer in the technology industry, while marketing wields the most clout in the marketing and advertising industry, and finance in the commercial banking industry.