Biz Chat is joined by Miguel Gomez, senior managing director for the Americas at Transom Group. Miguel holds an MBA, and is a bilingual executive with 20 plus years of international experience with Fortune 500 companies in manufacturing, consumer goods and consulting industries. Miguel provides vision, leadership and management to these teams to drive profitability, growth, visibility and process effectiveness through the architecture design and implementation of technology-based solutions and best practices.
Miguel is a visionary entrepreneur and change agent with a successful track record of building high-performance organizations in multinational environments, creating cultures of continuous improvement, partnership and customer focus, bringing value and positively impacting enterprise performance and customer satisfaction.
Transcript of Biz Chat Ohio’s podcast 1.7: Miguel Gomez
Welcome to BizChat Ohio, the podcast bringing you big ideas for small businesses. Throughout this series, we hope to bring the best of small business news and industry trends from Ohio’s thought leaders, and just maybe something to help you run your small business a little bit better. I’m your host, Cathy Walsh, director of the Small Business Development Center at Lakeland Community College. And I’m joined once again by my co-host and soul sister, Gretchen Skok-DiSanto. Gretchen is the director of Lakeland Community College’s Entrepreneurship Center, and business advisor for the Ohio Small Business Development Center. How are you today, Gretchen?
Oh, I’m doing great, Cathy. How about you?
I’m doing well. Thank you.
Good, good. And it’s not raining, so. It’s been raining like every day straight here forever, so I’m feeling pretty happy.
No, it’s hot and nice outside.
Yeah. So hi, everybody who’s listening today. If I had to take a guess about the amount of people listening to this podcast that feel 100% comfortable with information technology in their small business, I’d probably say only 20%. IT is one of the areas of a business that’s critical for success, but most small business owners simply don’t have the time to become experts on it. Plus, it’s such a dynamic field that encompasses so many different dimensions. So today, we’re hoping that our expert guest can help educate us on some topics that all small business owners have to be aware of.
Today, we are pleased to be joined by Miguel Gomez, senior managing director for the Americas at Transom Group. Miguel holds an MBA, and is a bilingual executive with 20 plus years of international experience with Fortune 500 companies in manufacturing, consumer goods and consulting industries, providing vision, leadership and management to the teams to drive profitability, growth, visibility and process effectiveness through the architecture design and implementation of technology-based solutions and best practices.
Miguel is a visionary entrepreneur and change agent with a successful track record of building high-performance organizations in multinational environments, creating cultures of continuous improvement, partnership and customer focus, bringing value and positively impacting enterprise performance and customer satisfaction. Miguel, welcome to BizChat Ohio. Gretchen and I are so pleased to have us with you today. Or have you with us today. I’m sorry about that.
Thank you. Thank you, Cathy and Gretchen for having me here. I appreciate the opportunity of being with you today, and glad to share with the audience some of the insights I have gained throughout my career.
Great, because we could use your expertise. This is not something Gretchen and I claim to be experts on, so our questions are topics that we are interested in, as well as we hope our small business owners are, as well. And there are so many topics we could talk about today, but the best approach is for us to focus on five topics that are consistently in the news and prevalent trends right now. So I’d like to start by asking you about the cloud. What do the small businesses who are listening today need to know and understand about the cloud, and the value and/or risk it brings to their business?
Oh, Cathy, that’s a great question, and certainly a trending topic nowadays. I would say every small business owner needs to be aware of the following three things about cloud computing. And that’s how I would like to summarize. First of all, we need to understand what is the cloud. Second, why is it important to me? What is it that I can get out of [INAUDIBLE] the cloud? And equally important, what are some of the key risks I need to be aware of?
So let me get back to point number one, what is the cloud. The cloud is a term to describe a set of technology services, either made out of hardware, software, and other systems that are mostly hosted by a third party that is made available to you by a subscription model, mainly on-demand. There’s a number of very well recognized names in this space, such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple, just to name a few.
Point number two, why is it important to me? As a small business owner, well, I can tell you that it can bring tremendous benefit if it’s properly [INAUDIBLE] since you no longer need to worry about selecting, buying, installing, operating and maintaining your own infrastructure. That can be truly cumbersome. It also offers flexibility and economy, as you only pay for what you really need, and more importantly, you don’t need to have expertise in-house to help you deal with all of this.
And point number three, what are some of the key risks I need to be aware of? Well, unfortunately, there are some unethical companies out there taking advantage of people with limited knowledge about cloud computing that can turn into serious issues– information hijacking, et cetera. So I highly recommend you to please take a look for advice of serious companies before starting your journey to the cloud.
Yes. Thank you very much. So you mentioned information hijacking. That’s a great lead-in to our next question. You know, it seems we can’t go one day without another national headline about cybersecurity. Right? And it just seems to be getting worse and worse. So the headlines, of course, always focus on larger businesses, right? But we know this is a large concern for smaller businesses, too. So what steps should they take regarding cybersecurity? What do they need to know right now?
Well, that’s a great question, as well, Gretchen. Technology, as I believe, it’s a great asset, and can certainly produce great gains. But as we know, where there is opportunity, there is also bad guys lurking in the dark, trying to take advantage. As a small business owner, you need to realize that the risk is real, and that despite the size or nature of your business, you might be a target. Don’t think that a simple antivirus is enough to stop cybersecurity risks, but rather, investigate further.
There’s plenty of resources, legit resources out there that can lead you to gain more knowledge about what you need to be aware of. There’s some very good cybersecurity suites that can offer a wide range of protection at a very affordable price, because that’s another misconception. We tend to believe that, with a free antivirus, I will be out of risk. And unfortunately, that’s not true. There is another very good option that I would like to pass on to you, as well. That is called SOC as a service. SOC as a service is a whole very wide service offering that can provide you with a very good protection at a very affordable price.
Excellent. Could you repeat that again? That was SOC?
As a service. That’s a service category. And we’re glad to refer our listeners to a few options that are available on the market, as well.
All right, so on to your next question. What are your thoughts on licensing and subscription models when it comes to software and IT solutions? How should small businesses approach these types of options?
Oh my god, this is a whole other world.
[INAUDIBLE] giants have become even more complex in the way they commercialize their services. This is crazy. However, with the right assistance, small business owners can benefit from current licensing and subscription schemes. [INAUDIBLE] these guys, but for instance, if you own Office 365, which is a very common, very affordable cloud solution with lots of power and potential, I don’t know if you were aware that you can have the right to download– you can download up to five copies of the software to have full coverage on your devices. And you’re only paying one. But the point is you need to be aware. You need to get advice on those subscriptions and get a little help to go through it.
So another thing that I’m reading a fair amount about in the news is this concept of the internet of things. OK? So we certainly can’t forget about this. How is this, in particular, impacting small businesses? What do they need to know about the internet of things?
Well, I believe the internet of things can bring tremendous advantage to small business owners. When we think about the convergence of information technology and automation and the smart devices, it has all created a very large, very rich portfolio of new capabilities. And just to mention a few instances, there are radio frequency solutions to handle inventory and keep track of your merchandise throughout the complete supply chain so you know exactly where each one of your goods stand throughout your supply chain. There’s multiple sensors to gather critical information on your production lines at very affordable prices. There is a possibility to fully automate your customer service through bots and artificial intelligence solutions.
My point is that the possibilities are immense, but our recommendation is that you always look for the assistance of experts to help you design solutions that make sense to your business. We will never recommend something that is oversized or that will be overkilling to your operation or that will not produce the gains that you might be expecting to get.
So I just want to follow up, though, on this internet of things. Who would be, like today, like a really good– what type of company should really be looking at that right now? Is there specific industry that, if they’re not using this and not looking into it, that they need to be?
Well, I can think of at least a handful of industries or markets, Cathy, that might be benefited from it. If you have, for instance, an e-commerce site, you don’t have physical presence, but you need to keep track of your inventory. So these RFID solutions might be well-suited to help you gain efficiencies and have a better handling of your inventory. Taking inventory is always a painful process, especially for online retailers, so this will be a good option to have.
Secondly, you can think of small production manufacturers. Throughout the production line, there’s always information, valuable information that is being produced, but we cannot figure out ways to gather the information– defect parts, production rates, machines that are not working properly. Even so, we can jump to the energy management space and start keep tracking of the amount of utilities, electricity, water that your facility is consuming. You can do that, you can achieve that through the internet of things, as well.
I’m sure we could talk a lot more about that topic.
Oh, for sure.
I mean, I’ve sat through some presentations about it, but I think it’s so vast that it’s kind of hard to grasp all at once. So if somebody thinks that their business may benefit from that, I think it’s worth looking into that, and probably googling that term and getting familiar with it, right, because that’s where the future is going. We’ve been hearing about that for a couple of years now.
Absolutely. There’s a concept that encompasses not only the internet of things, but several of the companies that we have been discussing today. It’s called Industry 4.0. So that’s a whole universe that encompasses not only internet of things, but cloud and analytics and a few other trending topics that small business owners should be aware of, as well.
So one other thing I want to talk about is big data and analytics. We keep hearing about that, and there’s a lot out there. And that just sounds kind of scary, I think, to someone who maybe doesn’t want to dive into that. But what should small business owners know about that, how they could use that to their advantage?
Right. You know, every small business owner, every small business generates lots of information. And truly, in my experience, not all of them take advantage of it. Analytics is, in my opinion, the true game-changer in the relationship that the small business owners can gain with their customers. If you’re able to gather data and truly analyze it, then you will be able to produce true insights about their preferences, their trends, their forecasts, what do they like, when do they purchase from you, what’s the rate of complaints that you might get. So that will truly enable better decision-making and a stronger loyalty and, obviously, a thriving business if you’re able to adopt these practices.
So over at the Small Business Development Center, I think it’s fair to say– and Cathy, hopefully you agree with me– we believe in outsourcing. I mean, we buy into the idea that you, as the business owner, you’re simply not going to be an expert at everything, right? So you should outsource to the experts. You know, certainly when it comes to legal, OK, you should have an attorney. And when it comes to your taxes, you should have a CPA. So let’s talk about having an IT company help you with this. I think it’s worth it, but I’d love to hear what you think about hiring an IT company to help you manage your IT systems. Is that something you need to do? And if so, how do you make sure you get the right one?
Right, absolutely. Well, my honest reply to your question is it depends. You know, we have always based our relationship with our clients on a true partnership, always, always looking for the benefit of our customers in the long run. So I would invite the audience to reach out to figure out if, in your particular case, you need to hire an IT company to help manage your IT systems, or if you might only need some specific training or a particular intervention. There are some instances, though, where hiring a third party is actually the way to go. You know, enabling the small business owners to focus on their businesses and letting the experts, just as you said, Gretchen, letting the experts deal with the technology components. But I will always recommend leveraging technology to bring your businesses to the next level.
OK. So follow-up question, when somebody thinks, yeah, this is really– I need help, should they be looking for resources that particularly work in their industry, or what’s the best way to approach that? Is there kind of like a checklist of I should look for this and I should look for that? I personally wouldn’t know where to start.
Absolutely. You know, I think that you need to have a certain level of clarity about what your need is. So first of all, I think that you need to ask yourself, so what is it that I’m trying to achieve? Because sometimes, we jump into conclusions rather quickly. So I would recommend start right there. So what is it that I am trying to achieve, in order to really try to identify or narrow down the options of the technology partners that you might be reaching out to. And then look for particular expertise on that matter that is important to you. Technology is very important, but technology is only an enabler. It always has to come down to what’s the matter of the business. That will help you determine the best course of action.
I’m kind of curious, in your opinion, what are the things that you think small business owners typically overlook, or they don’t think is as important as it is, and it might be putting their business at risk?
You know, from my 20 plus years of experience and throughout what I have seen in my career, I think that the highest risk we all can get into is thinking that you can continue doing things the same way you have done in the past. In this world, the only constant is change. Pandemic just demonstrated that to us. And if we can look for a synonym of technology, technology means a manner of accomplishing a task, especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge.
Well, that’s exactly what it is, a constant flow of trying to do things differently, more efficiently, more effective. We cannot be complacent that the old ways will continue to be successful today or in the future. So I would recommend please be on the lookout of the new technology, of the new trends, the new ways of doing things in your line of business, and do an honest assessment if you need to do a change. And do it in an orderly and pragmatic manner, and reach out for help, if need be. But don’t get stuck in the past or in a constant similar way of doing things. That would be my advice.
I mean, I think that’s excellent advice. I mean, I know when I’m working with clients, I’m always saying, hey, what’s your trade association, or is there a magazine or a few that are geared towards your industry? You always have to make sure you’re reading those magazines or connecting with that trade association, going to professional development that’s offered, because if you’re not, it’s so easy to get behind, right? It’s so incredibly easy to get behind. And then before you know it, there’s no more business left because your competitor has taken it from you.
Well, that’s what I was going to say. If you’re not at least aware of what the trends are or where things are going in your industry, your competitors probably are aware. And so you’re going to look so out of step with whatever is going on in your industry. And I think that’s a dangerous place to be, because once you’re looked at and seen as somebody who’s not keeping up with whatever the topic might be, you’re going to be seen as out of touch, out of date, and maybe not the greatest business to be doing business with.
It doesn’t have to be scary, you know? That’s why you get experts, you know? We’re not tax people. That’s why we hire CPAs to do our taxes. So same thing. You find experts who are good at this and who can guide you with it. And I think that goes for technology profession.
Absolutely, Cathy. If I may offer a piece of advice, look for your providers. Every small business owner has a supply chain, has a list of providers. Our providers can become a tremendous reference for what’s to come. And they’re for free, because they are interested in selling you, they are interested in instructing you and enlighten you with the newest and greatest. And many times, we just overlook an opportunity and don’t pay attention to it. So I think that’s for free, and can give you very good insights.
OK, Miguel, I’m going to admit to you and Cathy and everybody else listening today, I’m personally not very comfortable with IT. When something goes wrong, all I know what to do is to shut down the computer and restart. I’m really comfortable with that. I get really nervous, though, when you’ve got to start pulling things out of the wall, and hey, is my stuff still there? But your comments today really helped me get a better grasp of some major IT topics. I think you were very clear and concise, and I really appreciate you being with us today. I hope the folks that are listening feel the same way I do. I have a feeling they will. So thank you. Thanks so much for sharing your IT knowledge with us.
We have your website here, which is transom-group.com. And we’re going to include that information in our show notes, which is on our website. And Cathy is going to give that address here in a second. But before we close out today, are there any other online resources you can talk about for small businesses who want to make sure that they’re staying up to speed on major IT trends?
Oh, for sure, Gretchen. I appreciate the time, and really enjoyed speaking with you today, and hope our listeners find value in what we were able to talk today. Please, I would like to refer you to our upcoming blog that will have a special section for small business owners and everything about small businesses. Our blog, it’s on the same website slash blog, and will be available in the next couple of weeks.
We’re going to make sure that we do have that in our show notes, so if anybody is looking for that. So again, thank you so much, Miguel, for joining us today. This podcast is made possible by the Ohio Small Business Development Center and Lakeland Community College. Stay up-to-date with the latest podcast episodes by signing up today of bizchatohio.com to receive our latest shows and premium content delivered right to your inbox. And visit bizchatohio.com for the latest blogs and freebie content. Or look for BizChat Ohio wherever you get your podcasts, whether it’s on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Spotify. And please subscribe so that you don’t miss an episode.
If you have a business question or an idea for an amazing guest or business topic, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to learn more about the SPDC at Lakeland, please visit our website at www.lakelandcc.edu/spdc. Our center offers no-cost business advising in the areas of business planning, access to capital, marketing, and other business topics, and we’d love to hear from you. If you’re joining us from outside the Northeast Ohio region, you can also visit americasspdc.org to find a center close to you nationwide. Thanks for listening. Join us next time for another great episode of BizChat Ohio.