Feeling a strong sense of urgency is a key to continuous innovation, says Efrem Z. Stringfellow, vice president of the U.S. Central Region for Corporate Accounts at Microsoft.
“Knowing that your competition is looking to gain on you by implementing new technologies” helps fuel the development of new devices and new processes, Stringfellow says.
Based in Chicago and working as a partner for the past three years with Skyline Technologies in Appleton and Green Bay, Stringfellow has had his finger on the pulse of new technologies throughout his 33-year career.
Representing the industry giant Microsoft since 2007, he also looks out a window into the future for what devices and processes many of us will inevitably use in our everyday lives. Stringfellow will deliver the keynote speech at the third annual THINC! event hosted by Insight Publications LLC the afternoon of May 20 in Menasha. The first Insight Innovation Award winners will also be announced at THINC! (see below). In Stringfellow’s talk, sponsored by Skyline Technologies, he will discuss the role of innovation at Microsoft.
The pace of change relative to innovation is only going to get faster, Stringfellow believes.
“I’ve been in this industry 33 years, so I’ve seen the different transformations,” he says. “We’ll see more over the next 10 years than we have the last 35.”
The millennial generation, which has grown up with technology, has high expectations, he says, and employers will need to provide them the tools they expect if they want to retain talent.
“Quite frankly, they are expecting these technologies,” Stringfellow says. “And in order for businesses to remain competitive, as it relates to talent, they’re going to have to showcase that they are equipped to address that requirement. If you don’t have it, they’ll go elsewhere. They don’t have that allegiance baby boomers had when they were coming out of school, to be loyal to a company. That just doesn’t fit anymore.”
What’s intriguing about technology, he says, is not so much new gadgets themselves but how we as humans relate to them.
“How do you leverage the technology as a vehicle to do innovative things around your business?” he asks. It’s a question he hopes to explore at THINC!
Mitch Weckop, CEO of Skyline Technologies, says Stringfellow is in a unique position to help lead Microsoft from a product company to a service and devices company. “It will require innovation in how they bring technology to the client,” Weckop says.
“Efrem has the personal self-confidence and courage to have the ‘B-hag’ (big, hairy audacious goal) about great big goals,” he adds. “We’re all trying to do more with less, and when you move the bar high, or when the ‘with less’ side gap is bigger, it forces you to say ‘We can’t keep doing the same things we’re doing. We have to find different technology, different people processes in order to accomplish greater things.’ It requires you to innovate in terms of how you do your work.”
With Microsoft, Stringfellow is responsible for the central U.S. region that includes 7,400 commercial customers across an 18-state geography. They partner with about 525 companies, including Skyline, that they manage directly or assign resources with which to work directly.
Before he was promoted to vice president, Stringfellow served four years as general manager for sales and marketing at Microsoft, based in Malvern, Penn. He was previously vice president at NEC Solutions (America) Inc., based in San Jose, Calif., leading a team of senior sales professionals, systems engineers and marketing professionals in the sale, installation and implementation of hardware, software and service offerings across North America.
THINC! (Technology & Human Innovation Networking Conference)
3-6 p.m. May 20 | James W. Perry Hall, UW-Fox Valley, Menasha
Apply for first Insight Innovation Awards by March 21.
If your company is doing exemplary, innovative work, you will want to apply for the first annual Insight Innovation Awards, sponsored by Insight Publications LLC.
Insight is launching this contest to shine the spotlight on businesses in the New North that are proven leaders in breakthrough technologies, processes and cultures. They make an important, positive impact on their companies, employees, customers, vendors, industries and communities.
Awards will be announced at the third annual THINC! event in May.
Why an award recognizing innovation? Simply put, it helps businesses grow, says Cheryl Perkins of Innovationedge, LLC, who consults for Fortune 50 companies worldwide and is a member of the THINC! planning committee.
“Innovation drives growth, brings added value and can widen the employment base,” Perkins says. “Long-run economic growth depends on the creation and fostering of an environment that encourages innovation.”
Innovation is the exploitation
of new ideas leading to the creation of new products, processes or services, she explains. It’s not just about invention, it is about applying the innovation in a commercially successful way.
“Establishing, maintaining fostering and inspiring an innovative culture will ultimately drive value to the bottom line,” Perkins adds. “Awards and recognition, like the Insight Innovation Award, can help inspire others and create the right culture.”
Look for more information on the awards application in this issue and on our website, www.insightonbusiness.com (click on THINC!).
The deadline to apply is March 21.