Mike Chill, HBM’s VP of Information Technology, recently shared some insights with the St. Louis Business Journal. Discover highlights from that discussion — including how HBM uses technology as a recruiting tool.
When using technology effectively, privately-held companies have an advantage.
HBM’s tech initiatives align with the firm’s business objectives, which are set annually. Large committees don’t choose the tech agenda, which helps HBM and its portfolio companies stay nimble with technology. That’s typically not the case at large public companies, where projects can require many layers of approval — Chill experienced that first-hand while working for a publicly-traded Fortune 500 company. Because privately-held organizations aren’t saddled with those layers, they can adopt tech with speed and flexibility. At HBM, the process for proposing tech projects feels empowering, says Chill. He typically meets with the CEO and CFO to debate the merits of an idea — and if it provides value to customers or employees, the tech project is usually approved on the spot.
To attract the best talent, HBM provides technology that supports employees.
HBM views technology as a tool for attracting and retaining employees — particularly with Millennials and other digital-native generations. Their work expectations are more aligned with their consumer experience, says Chill. That means they expect technology that provides transparent information any time and anywhere. HBM has invested significantly during the last 12 months in its internal technology, including human capital management applications, travel and expense, as well as more collaborative communication technologies.
HBM recently made another investment for employees: It remodeled its offices to create a light, open environment, with shorter workstations. Chill says the company is already seeing benefits from that, in terms of workforce collaboration and the ability to attract and retain talent.
Supply chains benefit from 3D printing today — and in the future, maybe blockchain or AI.
HBM focuses on manufacturing, and its portfolio companies are using 3D printing to successfully shorter design time. They can quickly prototype a product and place a physical model on a customer’s desk, instead of just delivering a picture in a 3D CAD model. And the 3D model helps ensure that part can be coupled with parts from other suppliers if needed. That can help shave weeks off producing a finished product for a customer, says Chill.
He’s also keeping an eye on blockchain, which is based on the concept of a single encrypted ledger. It could dramatically impact supply chain management—specifically when sending data or products worldwide. Blockchain would represent a single source to track that information. Chill recognizes the potential use for the FDA, and for the automotive and aerospace industries — and HBM has investments that would be affected by all three.
AI has the potential to benefit HBM’s portfolio companies too. About five years ago, there was buzz around predictive analytics — which could monitor machinery for possible failure and alert a human, for example. With AI, manufacturing companies could skip that alert step and have the technology to fix the problem without human intervention. That can be very powerful, says Chill.
You can read the St. Louis Business Journal article here.