Jeff Wilhelm was promoted to the role of chief technology officer at Envision Technology Advisors LLC in early January.
Wilhelm, who joined Envision in 2010 as the company’s director of engineering and project management, has more than 10 years experience developing large scale enterprise data management platforms.
A graduate of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Business Administration, Wilhelm talked to Providence Business News about his new position, Rhode Island’s economic climate and what the company has planned in 2013.
PBN: You were recently promoted to Envision’s Chief Technology Officer, what are you most looking forward to in your new position?
WILHELM: Besides a deep and driving passion for all things technology, I have a keen interest in helping companies become more successful in what is a challenging business climate.
At Envision, we spend a lot of time identifying a technology mix that doesn’t just try to solve a specific problem, but gets at a broader set of challenges that a company is trying to address. While technology alone can often help address a specific point-of-pain or provide a solution that adds efficiency to a process, we like to step back and try to understand the big picture. That big picture may help provide the context for a holistic approach that could be a mix of data analytics, business process optimization, social media strategy or responsive web design, efficiency initiatives, and of course a technology component that brings meaningful business value.
I also have a real interest in helping Rhode Island companies be successful. I started my career with a small Rhode Island company (MarketModels) that was on the PBN “fastest growing companies” list for a number of years. That company eventually went through a successful acquisition, which showed me that technology can be a real differentiator for a smaller organization that is trying to expand nationally or internationally.
PBN: How do you think your time as Envision’s Director of Engineering and Project Management helped prepare you for your new position?
WILHELM: The two years I spent as Director of Engineering and Project Management at Envision helped me learn the culture of Envision more than anything.
We are incredibly fortunate that Envision has some of the most dedicated and talented engineers and designers I have worked with in my career. We have a great leadership team and a founder that is passionate about technology, as well as great vendors and partners that we work with. I personally had a deep pool of business and technology consulting expertise to pull from coming in, but learning the culture of Envision is what I think best prepared me to take on this new role.
Additionally, in the last two years I was able to have a number of really meaningful interactions with non-profits, educational institutions, and companies all around the state. I was able to hear from them the challenges they face and their vision for their businesses and the state as a whole. Those interactions helped shape the vision I have for this role and the vision I think the leadership team has for the direction we want to take Envision.
PBN: What exciting things does Envision have planned for 2013?
WILHELM: We have a three-pronged approach to growth in 2013. First, we have an inward-facing training program that enables our employees to continue growing in their careers. This is incredibly important to us because individual growth is a big part of what has helped Envision also grow as an organization.
Second, we are continuing to grow our product mix, managed service offerings, and partnership opportunities to ensure that we are building what our customers want. When possible, we are trying to partner with other Rhode Island companies to present a unified offering to the benefit of our customers and we are always evaluating what product and partner mix will allow us to deliver the most innovative solutions to our clients.
Third, we are working hard to continue our positive impact on the community here in the state. Envision’s employees volunteer with a variety of organizations, teach classes at some of RI’s most respected higher education institutions, participate in Leadership Rhode Island, and are stewards of what we want the future of Rhode Island to embody.
PBN: The economic climate in Rhode Island and across the country is still harsh, what do you think has helped Envision flourish in spite of such challenging conditions?
WILHELM: We try to take a more holistic approach than a number of our competitors. Yes, we can engineer a virtual environment or a new phone system or some storage. We can create web sites that are beautiful and optimized for a wide range of mobile devices. Those are certainly services that we excel at, but our primary focus is a big picture approach to understanding the goals and strategy of our clients. This helps us to ensure that the overall set of recommendations we make fit into a broader plan.
We know that dollars to invest in technology, design, and business consulting are often in short supply in the current financial climate. If a company can find an ROI or an OpEx savings, or if a productivity gain can be shown as a direct result of a business initiative, then that is something companies want to know about and we are well-suited to make that case. One example would be our managed services offerings. We understand that our clients have to balance technology investments with employee retention and growth initiatives. As a result, we have worked hard to make our managed services offerings a less capital-intensive way for our clients to still bring something new and innovative to the table for their employees. The company can benefit from advances in technology while also helping to increase job satisfaction and aid in overall growth.
PBN: What advice do you have for small-business owners who don’t know where to start developing a technology strategy for their company?
WILHELM: Don’t be afraid to ask what your peers in the state are doing. People are surprisingly willing to discuss both the good and the bad that they have seen. Beyond that, reach out to a company like Envision that has experience helping organizations of all sizes leverage technology to grow the business. We have worked with a wide variety of institutions in every vertical and have subject matter experts that can speak to the specific challenges you might be facing. More than anything, we want to be seen as trusted business advisors, not just a shop that you call with one-off questions.