Technology Influencers and Power Players
Part 6 of 12
Senior Director – IT
Yaskawa America, Inc.; Motoman Robotics Division
Founded in 1989, Yaskawa Motoman is a leading industrial robotics company. With more than 300,000 Motoman industrial robots, 10 million servos and 18 million inverter drives installed globally, Yaskawa provides automation products and solutions for virtually every industry and robotic application.
Give me a brief description of what you do.
I am responsible for providing leadership and direction for the IT group, which includes developing and implementing initiatives that improve the company’s efficiency, productivity and customer satisfaction.
What are some of the victories?
Progress is definitely underway. We are using connected infrastructure, thermal traffic sensors, data analytics and machine learning to help optimize traffic. We are introducing our children to advanced technologies in our schools. Many cities are leveraging the web to create digital dashboards for residents to allow for seamless access to information and online submission of forms, reports, permit applications and electronic payments. We are moving in the right direction; it takes leadership, vision, collaboration and persistence among our city governments, schools, businesses and workforce.
What are some of the challenges?
Security, resistance to change and stronger collaboration among the various constituents. Security challenges are extensive and they continue to evolve and grow. We have to win hearts and minds by demonstrating how technological advancement enriches our work and community. The question is this: Are we encouraging collaboration and co-investments across our region that leads to a sustainable culture of creativity, innovation and technology assimilation?
Hightowers Petroleum is a wholesale distributor of gasoline and diesel fuel. We currently provide energy solutions in the United States, Canada, Mexico and South Africa. We have a diverse customer base that includes Duke Energy, Kroger, FedEx and General Motors. We also offer a purchasing card solution for the fleets we service. Additionally, I facilitate technical operations for Hi-mark Construction Group that carries out turnkey solutions on building projects from design to completion, and for HP Energy Company, an energy developer, designer and advisory firm. My responsibility is to provide process improvement solutions and to keep our infrastructure growing in order to scale and provide solutions for our customers.
When I sit in different seats and have my finger on the pulse of everything that is going on, I can understand and communicate the best solution. I talk with everyone; executives, middle managers, accounting staff and sales teams to learn their specific processes and problems.
A company that might be our competitor today might also deliver a product for us tomorrow. Because we are a part of America’s infrastructure, we must stay current. We must go above and beyond to make sure our customers are offered the best and most flexible solutions.
Senior VP, CIO
The Cincinnati Insurance Company
I am often asked to what extent does recreational use of technology drive innovation in business. I think industry is every bit as innovative as the individual market. We see how the personal use of technology drives some things, the shift toward mobile computing instead of traditional computing for example.
What often isn’t seen, however, is what business is driving. Cars are safer now than they’ve ever been and the use of seat belts started largely due to the insurance industry. When we think about where innovation starts, in many cases it starts with the need – where is the pain point and how do we evolve around it?
One of the top challenges facing IT organizations this year is resources. We are entering an age where the IT industry is exploding again and with that we have new technologies coming at a faster pace. Getting people up to speed in new technologies and keeping the pipeline filled is all very important.
There are opportunities within these challenges. I think there is something beautiful about insurance. It is a technically difficult industry to automate, however we’re fortunate that we have the support and funding from the organization to address the technical challenges. This is a great environment and opportunity for IT career people.