Chris Berk


Henry Schein Animal Health



Jeremy Florea


Stafford Technology


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CIO of Henry Schein Animal Health, Christopher Berk, discusses customer satisfaction and company flexibility as key growth indicators.


Hello, and welcome to the ComSpark podcast, where you will get to meet today's technology thought leaders. To learn more, visit


JF: We are here today with Chris Berk, who is the CIO at Henry Schein Animal Health. Henry Schein Animal Health is an organization based in Dublin, Ohio with 1,100 employees. My name is Jeremy Florea, and I'm with Stafford Technology and I will be your guest moderator today. So, let's get started. Chris, how are you using technology for positive change or disruption in your organization?


CB: So, today we're in a very dynamic industry, as are a lot of businesses. And so for us, technology is a lever to help us compete and change in a market that's very fast paced. One of our strategies since I've been at Henry Schein is to focus on how we interact with both our customers as well as our supplier partners and from a technology standpoint, you know, we have challenges today. It's difficult to integrate. We can't pass data quickly enough. We're asked to, to ramp up a new partner, a new customer, and it takes a lot of time. And so what we're doing is introducing integration technology that leverages cloud services. It leverages IS standards and greatly simplifies what it takes to integrate outside of our organization.

And so, that platform is allowing us now to get in front of the business need. So, instead of them waiting for the technology group to, to catch up and implement some sort of custom integration route, we're now able to provide that as a service out of the box that they can now market to new customers as well as suppliers. So, that's just one example where we're leveraging technology That same philosophy of providing services instead of just delivering technology is kind of part of our core strategy that we're bringing both to, uh, delivery for our internal customers as well as for our customers out across our vet clinics.


JF: Thank you. Chris, how do you measure the success of your IT organization?


CB: So,  we look at a couple different measures. First and foremost, it's customer service. And customer service means both our internal customers within the business as well as our external customers that we're ultimately selling our products and services to. We do a satisfaction survey a couple of times a year. We benchmark against that, we put together plans for how we can improve certain metrics and make sure that we're delivering against those, so that we're constantly improving over time. Another measure a which is a little bit more difficult to give it a number, but we do focus on how are we adding to our business. Again, we're in a very dynamic market. We have to be able to pivot quickly to, to capture new opportunities in the market. And so, we look at how we're able to provide technologies that enable us to be much more flexible and go after different types of customers, provide different types of services to those customers. And so that's another area that we measure.

And then another big one, and this is more about, you know, how we're developing for the future, is we want to be a learning culture. So, we really look hard at, “Are we learning? Are we training our folks appropriately? Are they getting out to different events and conferences?” And then most importantly, “Are they coming back and sharing that information? And are they leveraging and using that information for their current job?” And so we track all those educational opportunities and how people participate as well as how they've delivered that back to the organization when they're back in the office.


JF: Yeah. Thank you. That's very dynamic. How do you want to improve your organization in the next three years?


CB: So, as I mentioned before, agility is huge. So, the market that we compete in is changing rapidly. We're in the distribution business. There's pressures from online e-commerce players, there's pressures from our, some of our larger suppliers that are putting price pressure on the products that we distribute. So, we're continuing to look for ways we can innovate in the market, so that we can capture different opportunities. And so, you know, from improvement of the organization, agility is kind of that core competency that we're trying to deliver. And technology is a huge part of that.

Another challenge that we have is that we are a business that's been around for a long period of time. We have a lot of legacy technology that was core technology to the business 20 years ago that may or may not help us deliver on that agility. And so that's part of our transformation is moving ourselves to technology platforms and services that we can deliver better for the business and enable that agility. I think the other area we're trying to improve is how we use data in the organization. We have plenty of information. We have plenty of historic information. How do we make it actionable? How do we make it more predictive in our business climate? It’s a huge challenge today when a request for information to make a business decision as takes hours, days, weeks, sometimes depending on the complexity of that. And so we're working very hard to actually get that data out into the business with tools that help them, help them use that and analyze that data to make business decisions with the ultimate goal of moving towards more of a true AI or machine learning approach to analytics where it's much more predictive or prescriptive to actually our folks in the field, what they should be doing, how they should be doing it, when they should be doing it. So, it's a very exciting area, but we have a long way to go there.

And then I think the other thing that, and this is more on the people side, is pulling in diverse backgrounds and diverse experiences because that in and of itself in and of itself helps us be a better partner for both our suppliers and our and our customers. And what I mean by that is, you know, we have a strong cornerstone of experienced technologists within the business that have delivered technology literally over decades. We're looking to complement that with people that are coming from startups, people that are coming from service providers, because they fundamentally look at business problems and technology solutions different than people that have spent most of their career within one organization delivering technology and so I’m very excited about how that can help a fuel ultimately where we go and really help get in front of the business.


JF: Yeah. Thank you. Chris, what is the best part of working in Central Ohio? And what are the biggest challenges of working in Central Ohio?


CB: Central Ohio is a great market for talent. I mean, that's first and foremost. Obviously, we have great educational institutions here which has, which helped fuel that. You know, we're in the center of the state, so we have adjacent markets that we can, that we can tap into both from a talent standpoint, but also from a customer's perspective. So, that's very exciting. And definitely leads to having a talented staff that enables kind of our vision. It's a very positive culture in Columbus. Everybody, you know, strives for not just delivering professionally, but also having a good work life balance  and making sure that making sure that they're  delivering for their business, but also taking care of their family business as well. And that’s also unique to the area.

You know, I think,  you know, kind of one of the challenges I see is though, although it is a good size market, we, you know, there are times when, whether it's a large organization, maybe does a large expansion or new organization comes in, it definitely, at least in the short term, can stress that talent pool. And so, you know, we are constantly looking for what's the best opportunity to make sure that our company can compete well within, within that market because there are some points in time where the market is hot. Everyone that is has a technology background seems to have multiple opportunities and we have to be able to compete, because ultimately that's going to fuel our success.


JF: That makes sense. I do think here in Central Ohio, because there are a lot of opportunities, the company's like yours, have to innovate and the positive part there is, you end up with a great culture and you find great things, great reasons for people to want to stay.


CB: Yeah, you're spot on. It's like that's a great point. And in fact, you know, we leveraged the fact that we work in the pet industry, you know, we have, you know, literally people that we've recruited were one of the reasons they've come to talk to us is because they love dogs and they want to be in an organization that's part of that and that is part of our culture and that's something that we can sell that's a little bit different than some of the other organs organizations in Central Ohio.


JF: That's great. Thank you. Well, thank you for your time. This is Jeremy Florea and Chris Berk. To learn more about us, visit Goodbye. Until next time.


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