SCOMSDC Connections Magazine Article

August 08, 2014

ARTICLE FOR CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE

South Central Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council

Embracing Technology

Let’s begin with a few interesting (and surprising) facts. Just ten years ago, the now ubiquitous iPhone did not exist. Just twenty years ago, simple cellular handsets were extremely rare and expensive. Thirty years ago, the World Wide Web hadn’t even been invented. And forty years ago, the graphical user interface was little more than a twinkle in the eye of Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs, who had just seen a prototype of the concept at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research center. Many of the readers of this article will remember the invention of the personal computer in the late 1970s, and—believe it or not—more than a few of us are older than the entire information age. It has all happened in a single generation. Today, digital technology dominates our modern way of life, but it was not always so, and we have been collectively dragged—sometimes kicking and screaming—into a new era dominated by rapid, accelerating technological change.

In 1989, just as personal computers and their attendant networks were reaching critical mass in the marketplace, EXCEL Management Systems was founded to help public sector organizations manage the growing onslaught of technological change. Curtis T. Jewell, the founder and CEO of EXCEL, began by helping the State of Ohio to transform and modernize its fledgling hardware infrastructure, and numerous Ohio state agencies remain clients to this day. EXCEL soon expanded its client list to include Federal agencies as well, including The US Air Force, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

In the intervening quarter of a century, the scale and scope of information technology has exploded, but the essential challenges remain. How can technology improve my organization? How can I use it to serve my people (and not the other way around)? How can I move faster, and smarter, and avoid mistakes? Why are there so many cat photos on Facebook? From the sublime to the ridiculous, technology, like society itself, is about improving the human condition, our quality of life, and, ultimately, the future of our species.

Embracing Diversity

Unfortunately, the most important central characteristic of modern technology is also it’s greatest potential weakness. That characteristic is diversity. Diverse technologies can reach farther and involve more people than ever before, regardless of race, creed, or socioeconomic status. Our society is diverse, our cultures are diverse, and our technological infrastructure must be able to accommodate it all. But that same diversity can also divide us—through incompatibilities, through obsolescence, and through gaps in knowledge transfer. The trick is to emphasize the former and eliminate the latter—to use technology, intelligence, and experience to align people, processes, and tools to a common purpose. This is the essential mission of EXCEL, and it is as vital and important today as it was at the beginning of the information age.

Embracing Partnership

The rapid of expansion of diverse technologies has given rise to a fourth essential component for organizational success. That component is partnership. In today’s economy, traditional vendor/client relationships no longer work as well as they once did. No vendor, regardless of size, can possibly house all of the expertise needed to manage the tremendous technical diversity of today’s information technology. Extreme technological diversity has given rise to the need for extreme specialization, and robust partnerships ensure that specific problems get specific solutions that work well and last. EXCEL has built its business around the partnership model; we work with partners in order to work better as a partner. Technologies provide us with a vast array to tools to solve problems and improve our world. Partnerships help us to personalize those solutions with specific people, and specific knowledge, toward a common purpose.

Embracing the Cloud

With increasing frequency, that common purpose means moving up—to the cloud. EXCEL is at the forefront of this new development, helping organizations exploit the benefits that cloud-based solutions can offer: reduced costs, expanded access, improved consistency, and outstanding business continuity. It’s a new set of technologies with a new set of challenges, and EXCEL is managing the migration and minimizing disruptions for our partners throughout the United States.

A New Generation of Leadership

In 2012, EXCEL welcomed new Executive Leadership to the organization. Mr. Jewell is now joined by a new President, Neonu Jewell (his daughter), and his son, Curtis T. Jewell II, who serves as EXCEL's Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications. Both are veterans of Accenture, LLP (one of the world's largest IT Consulting Firms) and both hold MBA degrees (Neonu also has earned her JD). New leadership brings new vision, new opportunities, and a renewed commitment to innovation and service excellence. The pace of technology is accelerating, but the underlying needs of all organizations remain the same: good people, efficient processes, effective tools, and robust partnerships. EXCEL will continue to help firms to align these in service to the most important common purpose of all: serving their clients, their needs, and their way of life.

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