March 25, 2013 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Working with leading Technology Hardware and Software Vendors, nfrastructure is helping large Enterprises in the World, Design, Build and Operate Smart Technology Solutions that allow them to execute their Business Strategies
helps large enterprises design, build and operate mission-critical
technology infrastructure. Combining proven methods and tools, world-class
engineering talent, on-site technical service in every major North American
market and tightly integrated low cost remote support, nfrastructure
collaborates with customers to deliver sustainable disruptive value. With
industry practices in public sector, financial services, retail, healthcare,
technology, communications, public safety and energy, nfrastructure works
with leading technology hardware and software vendors to provide
comprehensive data center, network, security, unified communications,
end-point, structured cabling, staffing and outsourcing solutions.
Daniel T. Pickett III is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of nfrastructure. Mr. Pickett was appointed Chief Executive Officer in July of 2008 and has served as Chairman of the Board since 2005. Mr. Pickett is also President of Hudson River Capital Holdings, a private investment company.
Prior to joining nfrastructure, Mr. Pickett was Senior Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Banking Solutions at ALLTEL, which he joined following the acquisition of ACE Software Sciences, a software company he founded in 1995. At ALLTEL, Mr. Pickett was responsible for a global customer portfolio that generated over $1 billion in total revenue and for over 1,000 employees. Mr. Picket began his career in 1990 with KeyCorp in Albany, New York. At KeyCorp, Mr. Pickett held a series of positions in technology and operations. He played a key role on KeyCorp’s M&A team, responsible for integrating the retail delivery platforms and networks of more than a dozen acquisitions over a five year period and rising to president. While at KeyCorp, Mr. Pickett was also responsible for the company’s Advanced Technologies Division. Mr. Pickett holds a degree in Industrial and Management Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is also an avid supporter of The American Cancer Society, Hope Club and other local charities. In addition to serving on the The Children’s Museum of Science and Technology (CMOST) board, Mr. Pickett also serves on the board of the Pickett Family Foundation, Vanguard Behavioral Solutions, and Albany Medical Center.
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – March 25, 2013
Mr. Pickett: nfrastructure helps large enterprises, many of the leading brands in the world, design, build, and operate smart technology solutions that help them execute their business strategies.
CEOCFO: What are some of the specifics that companies will be coming to nfrastructure for that they might not get somewhere else?
Mr. Pickett: We have really two aspects to our business: one is our focus on specific industries that we deliver solutions to. For instance, we have a very large practice in the public sector, state government, and different agencies that would make up a state government via the human services agencies, the tax agencies, and the compliance agencies. We help them identify first the role technology is going to play in them fulfilling the mission of their agency. We have a practice in the design business around helping big companies develop a technology strategy. We then in each of those cases have a practice around helping them specifically implement those strategies. Most important, on an ongoing basis we have a practice around helping them operate, manage, maintain, and innovate once they employ the technology to achieve their mission. nfrastructure is differentiated in that we have an end-to-end solution. We do everything from front-end design to helping them build out, and then operate and innovate in all the verticals that we plan. I will give you one more: another example would be beyond the public sector, going to the commercial sector we have large practices in both the retail and financial services space. As we look at for instance retail, which is seriously competitive, it is being impacted by the integration of purchasing online over the internet and still a lot of focus on the in-store experience for consumers; we help retailers get back to the same three disciplines. We help them develop and put technology plans in place that are going to help them better service their customers, deliver a unique and differentiating customer experience, and help them achieve greater efficiencies. In a market where a lot of these companies have locations spread across North America, the implementation side of our practice is unique in that we have engineers in every major market in the U.S. When a big retailer has technology they need to implement across retail stores that might be spread across every state, we have the folks in each one of those markets to help them deliver on that. Once they put in again, we have high availability central command centers that help manage it.
CEOCFO: How do you divide up now between government and commercial or enterprise? Would you like to see the mix changing?
Mr. Pickett: Our mix today is about 50/50. What we are going to see go forward is the mix actually stay fairly similar to what it is today. In the public sector, and we include higher education, there are some really interesting things that are happening. First, if you look at state and local government, there is just a tremendous push on smarter government and doing more with less. There has been a tremendous impact in that space on from technologies like cloud computing and mobility, and from technologies like big data. There are a lot of things happening, so the growth prospect on state and local government is really significant. On the local side, there is a tremendous number of local governments across the U.S., so you see a lot of states working hard to try and consolidate local governments and authority. It is simply because they do not have the scale to operate at an efficient level. They cannot find the people, they cannot put the right process in place, and they cannot implement the right technology. Really the only option they have is to collaborate and figure out how to deliver constituents the services they need at a better cost structure. You look at education also in the public sector, in the next ten years is going to go through a major transformation. The impact of online learning where if you look historically at students needed to learn in classrooms from a professor/teacher that was in the classroom, we look today—students can learn 24/7, 365 from some of the best faculty in the world because of capabilities that are now available online. Some people will say it is a hundred billion dollar plus industry that the whole cradle-to-career education component, and I believe that. When we look at the public sector, there is so much happening that we just think it is a tremendous opportunity. Then if we look on the flip, if we look at our commercial business, retail continues to be tremendously competitive. Banking has gone through a lot of transformation. Each of those commercial sectors if we look at either retail or banking, they are all really faced with the same challenge that that public sector faced. In increasing competition you need to continue to deliver a better experience and do things more efficiently.
CEOCFO: Do your customers typically know what they want and come to you for implementation, or are they coming to you with a problem and asking you to solve it?
Mr. Pickett: That would be one of the ways our business has changed. If we look historically, they would come to us with what they wanted to do already in mind. They would come and say, “This is what we need you to do.” What we are seeing a lot more of lately is them coming to us with a problem and asking us to bring insight to the table so we can help them try and solve the problem. Then of course, because we have a lot of experience in building and operating the solutions that we bring, really helping them to see it all the way through, and the result of seeing it through is where we may have historically three, four, five years ago had a lot of transaction-oriented engagements with customers. We are seeing now more long-term, mutually committed rewarding relationships, and that has helped us because we get more predictability in our business.
CEOCFO: You took over as CEO in a troubled economic time, certainly 2008. How has the company changed under your daily guidance?
Mr. Pickett: It has changed because any CEO is going to put their stamp on an organization. What has happened at nfrastructure is probably just a few very important things. The first is our people. We have really taken the time to make sure we have a culture in place that attracts the best talent across North America, and that we have a team in place that really makes that culture high performing.. If you think about who nfrastructure first of all sells to, we sell to large enterprises, admired brands, so it could be somebody like Google or IBM in the technology space. In the retail space it could be somebody like Adidas or Reebok, in the financial services space somebody like HSBC or First Niagara or KeyBank, so we have customers that have very high expectations. They also have a significant amount of in-house technical capability. We have to bring to the table something that they do not already have inside their walls, and to do that we need great culture and great people that are committed and have the relevant experience and expertise and skill to make a big difference. We have seen a real focus on us having the absolute best team on the field. The second is really putting in place a system, a platform that lets us continue to develop how the business is going to differentiate. We have spent a lot of time on the business platform for this company. I am an engineer by education, so we took the time to look at how we develop relevance in markets, how we develop relevance in relationships with customers or prospects we would like to be customers, how we help them identify and solve their most important problems, how we help them build them in a way that gets the job done at a great price and low risk, and most important again is how we sustain it; how we manage, maintain and innovate once they deploy one of our solutions. I would say if you get the people and put the right platform in place and have a culture around that, and get customers engaging and believing, that is what it is all about. We are located in Tech Valley. That is where our headquarters is, which is in New York’s Capital City, and we are really trying to create at nfrustructure a Silicon Valley atmosphere in our company where people are excited to win with customers.
CEOCFO: Would you give me an example of something that you would deem as unusual that you are able to do, either for an enterprise or for government that maybe people would be surprised you are even able to craft and put together?
Mr. Pickett: Right now, if you look at what is happening in Tech Valley in New York under Governor Andrew Cuomo, we are central to one of the largest high tech growth markets in the world. With the investments that we have made in the microelectronics space, the nanotechnology space, we have an area that really now is the epicenter probably for the next ten years of the semiconductor business. We have progressed from a company that three years ago really did not have any planned semiconductor business to a company that is doing work, our work at designing, building and operating a technology that drives these facilities for the top five players in the world. When I look back at a little over three years ago when we had no business in this industry, today we are a very relevant player. We have a great team, we have great partners, we deliver smart and fast and that is why we are able to dominate.
CEOCFO: How do you get new business?
Mr. Pickett: Going back to the platform, we have some really specific beliefs on what we need to do to acquire the right customers. First and foremost, if a company is to really succeed, you need to work with customers that you know you can have a mutually rewarding relationship with. There has to be purpose behind it. For us it starts with relevance. In the industries that we play and as we recruit more talent to our organization, relevance is absolutely critical so we spend a lot of time educating through public relations in our marketing efforts and educating the industries we play in. Increasingly, we have our people, the best and the brightest out there doing the work that needs to be done to educate people on our brand, because it is important people know who we are and what we do. That is a long-term payback and it takes time to develop that relevance. From there, we have a pretty classic process. We have identified who we need for the target markets we want to do business with. We then have very specific approaches to how we go after those customers. We increasingly work on the relevance. We spend a lot of time making sure that they get educated on successes, so one of the things that has been really beneficial is we have done a lot of work in public relations and marketing to document our success stories. In true engineering fashion, we structured it, so what we do is we talk about the problem that the customer had, the insight that we brought that customer, the execution—how we helped them solve the problem, and then most important the results—what the outcomes were. Insight, execution, results; and through that education process we have found it actually has given us a healthy growth curve. And testimonials and references are always critical—to the reward for good work is more work.
CEOCFO: Why should the business and investment community pay attention to nfrastructure today?
The first is we are in a
space that is just extremely exciting, and the growth prospects for
technology today, the enormous space that we play is just phenomenal. It is
primarily driven by, if you look at the exponential increase in just the
number of devices that are now connected to the internet that are networked,
it is growing at an exponential rate. The opportunity we have is to take all
of those devices and all of those capabilities and design, build, and
operate solutions that capitalize on that. We have a space that is growing
in high double digits. The second reason is we have a tremendously unique
value proposition. Our company is engineered to scale and grow, and we have
a proven track record; have it in success behind us from the customer
successes we have had. We have a growing market and we have very unique
positioning in that market. The other piece is from a competitive
standpoint. There is a lot of room between us and the companies we compete
with in terms of our size. We will regularly compete with companies like IBM
or HP. Their services businesses are AT&T. We might compete with Accenture
or Deloitte. Those companies, they are all very impressive companies, but
they are really big companies. The room between us and a twenty or fifty or
a hundred billion dollar enterprise allows us to go forward with that
unique, smart, and fast execution that we can bring and win deals. We have
some really nice forward visibility that identifies a billion dollars or
more, which is great for all of our stakeholders.
“First and foremost, if a company is to really succeed, you need to work with customers that you know you can have a mutually rewarding relationship with.”- Daniel T. Pickett III
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