By Abby Laub
The modern workplace is chock full of opportunities to streamline resources, utilize data to make money, speed up communication and understand future outcomes. But these benefits also present some unique challenges: things like cyber security, data headaches and technology breakdowns.
But thanks to top notch technology firms and good old-fashioned business skills, Central Kentucky’s businesses big and small can run smoothly.
Joe Danaher, vice president of service at Lexington-based Integrity IT, said one of the biggest trends the firm has seen among its clients is the move to “hybrid environments where they are retaining on-premise servers but they are also migrating some applications to the cloud.”
Updating technology – whether that is moving to cloud based environments or installing new security measures or simply overhauling employee workspaces to improve productivity – is a big sticking point for CEOs of large operations and startups alike, and Danaher said one of the biggest examples of where that plays out is when clients move their email from an on-premise server to Office 365, which is hosted in the cloud by Microsoft. He noted that Integrity IT will often manage this migration for its clients and monitor ongoing security to prevent hacking and data backups to avoid loss of important information in the event of a crash.
“Security has also been a growing concern for many clients and we are having more companies contact us after they have had a serious breach,” he said. “The biggest compromises continue to be from phishing and specifically from business email compromise.”
Dean Auger, executive vice president of Data Center Solutions at Lexington-based SIS, said cyber security sometimes is a matter of listening to your gut.
“Go with your gut, and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t open it,” Auger said. “There is a lot of hacking going on out there. We are constantly pushing people to learn about how to protect against it.”
Staying ahead of threats
He said SIS helps its customers identify weak areas in terms of security and even training staff to identify threats.
Danaher added that they find themselves explaining the sophistication of threats to clients so they can stay ahead of the curve.
“We find ourselves still working to explain to clients why a firewall and antivirus are not enough to combat the risks in today’s cybersecurity environment,” he said. “We have developed a robust Managed Security Services offering with talented and experienced engineers who manage more advanced security tools like Intrusion Prevention and Detection Systems; security information and event management systems (SIEM); internet content filters; and sophisticated spam filters. We also continue to provide Security Awareness training to help our clients staff join IT as part of the solution to keeping a network secure and protecting valuable data.”
Clients who are exclusively cloud-based also have their own set of security challenges to deal with, a topic on which Danaher said Integrity IT’s staff constantly works to stay educated.
“We tell our clients it’s really not a matter of if you will have a security incident, it’s when and how prepared you are to respond will help determine the impact to your business,” he said. “We work to not only provide security but also to have a well-planned and tested incident response plan for our clients. Most clients never really consider a security incident as a potential disaster recovery situation so there is lot of client education that is ongoing in this area.”
Integrity IT has a lot of healthcare clients, so keeping information private and safe is crucially important. Their firm also is growing its legal services clientele. The company has about 33 people on it staff.
SIS also has some longtime clients in healthcare, namely Kindred Healthcare. For 23 years it has helped the healthcare services company stay on top of its data and technology needs.
“Most of our clients we’ve had for over 20 years,” said SIS CEO Steve Sigg, adding that new clients are equally as important. Locally other SIS clients include University of Kentucky and LinkBelt. “Our focus (for our clients) is around the data center.”
Some of this still involves educating clients on what’s possible with cloud based services, he said, adding that “it’s an idea that can live in a place.”
Other clients use SIS and firms like it to increase their bottom line and do more with less.
Better technology creates better outcomes
“I think that in today’s world our clients are utilizing technology to create business outcomes that maybe they wouldn’t have utilized technology for previously,” Sigg said. “That’s happening because of the ability to do the analytics around the data, and as they’re consuming and capturing data from lots of different aspects of the business then they are really understanding that data and then driving to different business outcomes.”
Auger added that companies can gain a competitive advantage if they leverage the information they have and use technology to its full potential. Sometimes this means creating automation to save money on manpower, setting up alerts to catch system failures, or being able to deliver products or services to clients faster. These practices have applications in every business sector from manufacturing to creative services, a big one being lean manufacturing. SIS has a team of “automation engineers” to make these objectives happen.
At another local company that does a lot of printing, SIS installed sensors and better monitoring and reading of toner levels to save money on ink and time with preventative maintenance.
Moving forward, SIS is building its analytics and IOT practice.
“We really believe that understanding the data, being able to manage it and the automation around all of that is a huge, huge need in the marketplace,” he said. “If we can help those clients around analytics and the internal processes they can improve their outcomes.”
Services for four-legged friends
Business Services can also benefit businesses that help pets. Hippo Manager, a new cloud-based veterinary practice management software, originated from several strategic moves.
“Building our software from the ground up, we were able to comply with all human security and privacy guidelines set forth by the HIPAA act and have been able to create veterinary software that is actually HIPAA compliant,” said Hippo Manager Communication and Marketing Director Rebecca Price. “Being in the veterinary industry and not human health, being ‘HIPAA compliant’ and using our software for animal health, HIPAA/HIPPO made sense.”
Hippo Manager also “recognized that the market is cluttered with veterinary practice management software solutions that all use some form of ‘vet’ in their name, allowing for little brand recognition and differentiation,” she said. “So, in combining the security and privacy standards our veterinary software was built with and aligning it with an animal health market looking for practice management solutions, Hippo Manager was born.”
Similar to human services, there is a trend in practice consolidation into corporate groups in the pet services industry. Lexington proved to be the perfect place for Hippo to launch its new service.
“It’s a great city that offers tons of amenities comparable to cities that are much larger,” Price noted. “With a highly educated workforce, it lets us ‘punch out of class’ without the drawbacks of a more expensive labor market. Lexington has a booming software community and we wanted to stay here to grow with it.”
And the marketplace is ready for the pet-related service. With more than 2 million patients served from nearly 300 practices in 19 countries and more than 300 million in inventory sales, Hippo Manager is poised for triple-digit percentage growth through 2019.
Sometimes even the best business services ideas need help to get off the ground, and Price said the region’s services helped their company grow. Hippo Manager received “considerable help from numerous groups in the community,” she said. Its support network included the Kentucky Innovation Network, Bluegrass Angels, Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, Awesome Inc., and Dinsmore Shohl for legal advice.
All of them “have greatly contributed to our success, without their support we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have,” Price said.
More businesses will continue to need startup support and services as the economy continues to grow in Central Kentucky and beyond.
Lexington and Central Kentucky has one of the nation’s most educated populations, with 40 percent of those 25 years or older have at least a bachelor’s degree and 19 percent an advanced degree. As a result, the city is emerging as a technology services and startup town but also because city, civic and commercial leaders, along with non-profit business incubators, focus on attracting and assisting high-tech companies. A variety of financial and development incentives also support creations of these new, high-paying, sustainable jobs.
In 2013, Lexington became the second city in Kentucky, behind Louisville, to create its own economic development fund. The $1 million Lexington Jobs Fund was set up to attract and retain high-tech jobs via loan for up to $250,000. And the award winning Commerce Lexington has its own set of business services to support startups and “old timers” alike, including several incentive and funding sources geared toward tech companies.
The region is home to specialty networking and creative groups like IN2LEX, Bluegrass Biotech, RunJumpDev and more. And co-working spaces, like the newly expanded Base 110 in the heart of downtown Lexington, offer businesses and sole proprietors new ways to do business without steep overhead office fees.
THE CLUB AT UK’S SPINDLETOP HALL
3414 lron Works Pike
Lexington, KY 40511
THE HILARY J. BOONE CENTER
500 Rose St.
Lexington, KY 40506
The Hilary J. Boone Center at the University of Kentucky and The Club at UK’s Spindletop Hall serve the University, Lexington, and surrounding communities.
The Boone Center is perfectly situated between the Singletary Center for the Arts, and the new Academic Science Building on Rose Street. With beautiful décor, as well as ample outdoor space that includes a courtyard AND gated terrace, the club hosts corporate functions, weddings, and more. Spindletop Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As such, it provides the fairytale setting for weddings in the classical mansion, as well as an ideal space for business events complete with complimentary high-speed internet and all other technological needs for meetings. With something for everyone, recreational opportunities abound in a perfectly serene environment for members, including swimming, tennis, basketball, Pickleball, croquet, and more, with upscale casual dining poolside and in Roxie’s, the member dining room.
Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI)
250 West Main Street, Suite 900,
Lexington, KY 40507-1724
Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI) is the largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Kentucky, providing coverage to more than 23,000 policyholders in all 120 counties of the state. We provide exceptional underwriting, safety education and claims services to our policyholders. This, combined with our competitive pricing, responsible financial management and a focus on innovation makes KEMI the provider of choice for Kentucky businesses. We are proud to have earned and maintained an “excellent” rating by A.M. Best.
165 Barr St.
Lexington, KY 40507
SIS proudly serves Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia with a focus on Data Center and Cloud Solutions. We’re at our best when we understand our client’s business from end-to-end. This deep knowledge allows us to identify and resolve pain points and develop long-term partnerships that produce seamless results. These deep client partnerships permit SIS to deliver meaningful solutions throughout the entirety of the digital transformation journey, from mainstream enterprise technologies to forward-looking and next generation platforms.
3080 Harrodsburg Road
Lexington, KY 40503
We specialize in Cyber Security, Managed Services and Project Management in nearly all sectors of business with a strong history in Healthcare. Our expertise strengthens and protects your organization, customers and brand. Our solutions help your business reach its maximum potential. Trusted Technology. Stronger Security. Better Business.
Making hiring EZ
The all-new EZgig is a gig economy staffing app that lets employers offer jobs and workers accept the work with their smartphones. Some 1,300 candidate employees came into the EZgig portal in the first 12 weeks. It facilitates the process of hiring temporary employees by vetting and activating employers and employees alike for specific jobs that require an understanding of and ability to perform specific tasks and skills. EZgig is based in Lexington.
Taking it high tech to support enterprise
It’s not news that Central Kentucky’s business services firms are taking it to the next level with their technology offerings, providing services for business locally and globally. But their ranks continue to grow, and city and regional leaders are working hard to increase the area’s knowledge economy while giving better services to those already doing business here. Sometimes this means providing new innovation for corporations, and other times it means providing space for research to formulate better practices.
In some cases, this even means using outer space to improve life and business. Based in Lexington, Space Tango’s mission is to utilize the microgravity environment as a “new frontier for discovery and innovation”. Space Tango explores it with different industries, ultimately to improve life on earth. In March of 2018 the University of Kentucky partnered with Space Tango to send UK research into space. An agreement between Space Tango and UK’s Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) formalized shared income from technology resulting from microgravity research. By working together, the company and university seek to maximize commercial pathways for UK inventors in life sciences and biomedicine.
Another innovator in the Lexington tech scene is MakeTime, which connects CNC machine tooling shops and customers with small-batch and specialty jobs. The company became so successful so quickly that in July 2018 Xometry, the nation’s largest on-demand manufacturing platform, announced its acquisition of MakeTime. The acquisition brought together the country’s two top manufacturing network platforms, and the combined company will operate under the Xometry brand name while keeping offices in Maryland and Kentucky. The acquisition allows Xometry to grow its national partner network of manufacturers from 1,100 to over 2,300 while gaining MakeTime’s enterprise product expertise and features their Autodesk Fusion add-in and Shop Advantage program.
Central Kentucky’s entrepreneurs continually prove their innovative ideas and bold risk-taking are paying off, but often times they need support as they are starting out. An increasing number of centers are opening to help small businesses, creatives and sole proprietors get a leg up. Sometimes this means business advice, loans or simply an affordable place to open up shop. Open less than two years and already expanding, one example is downtown Lexington’s Base110. The space was founded by local business people and offers month-to-month leasing options and top notch amenities to creatives and tech specialists alike. Base110 also hosts helpful events like Startup Advantage and networking opportunities.
Other longtime shared office spaces and support networks include Base163, Awesome Inc., The Plantory and Your SMARTOFFICE Solution. There are even specific services designed to help the region’s agricultural needs and equip farmers with tools to succeed and do business. The premiere example is Blue Grass Stockyards, the 70-plus-year-old business in Fayette County that rebuilt after fire destroyed its building that generated $600 million a year in business. It is the largest cattle market group east of the Mississippi River.