And the Award Goes to: Announcing the 2018 Best of Tech Winners

Miss out on OHTec's #NerdOscars (also known as the Best of Tech Awards)? Read below for a summary of who took home awards this year and the reaction on Twitter.

More than 220 tech leaders from across Northeast Ohio gathered at the Tenk West Bank to see which companies would be honored at OHTec’s 12th annual Best of Tech Awards, which recognizes the highest performing and most innovative technology companies in Greater Cleveland.

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    Winners and finalists are listed below:


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    Large Tech Company of the Year

    Award Winner: OverDrive

    Finalists: MRI Software; Park Place Technologies; MCPc

    Small Tech Company of the Year

    Award Winner: Futuri Media

    Finalists: Realeflow; Briteskies; e2b teknologies

    Tech Department of the Year

    Award Winners: n2y LLC

    Finalists: e2b teknologies; Foundation Software, Inc.; Hyland Software

    Best Tech Services Company

    Award Winner: Accellis Technology Group

    Finalists: Briteskies; Park Place Technologies; QualityIP

    Most Promising Startup

    Award Winner: Data Genomix

    Finalists: Convey, Inc.; Votem; Bezlio

    Best Software Device/Product

    Award Winner: 7SIGNAL

    Finalists: Dolbey Systems; BrandMuscle; e2b teknologies

    Best Use of Tech for Social Good

    Award Winners: Cleveland Metroparks (public entity) and n2y LLC (for-profit)

    Finalists: The Cleveland Museum of Art; Cleveland Metropolitan School District

    Best Support of the Tech Community

    Award Winner: OEC

    Finalists: Expedient; Tech Elevator; Inforce Technologies

    Twitter recap

    Missed out on this year’s show? Check below for some of the highlights of this year’s #NerdOscars!


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    Next up: API as a Business Strategy
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  • API as a Business Strategy

    API (Application Programming Interface) is not just for developers any more. While in the past APIs were considered a purely technical concept, the increasingly interconnected nature of the modern computing landscape is changing how we think and leverage them. Today, an API strategy is a key business element for technology vendors large and small. In addition to helping break down silos and accelerate delivery of internal products, APIs play a key role as a business differentiator on multiple fronts:

    API (Application Programming Interface) is not just for developers any more. While in the past APIs were considered a purely technical concept, the increasingly interconnected nature of the modern computing landscape is changing how we think and leverage them. Today, an API strategy is a key business element for technology vendors large and small. In addition to helping break down silos and accelerate delivery of internal products, APIs play a key role as a business differentiator on multiple fronts:

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    • Many corporations look to APIs as a key enabler to launch their mobile solutions. When partnering with an external mobile development vendor, standard-based, well-crafted APIs are key to rapid, successful delivery.
    • Some look at APIs as a developer-friendly, economically successful platform to increase the value of their traditional solutions by integrating them with 3rd party products in order to solve customer needs in new, innovative ways.
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    No matter the motivation, API as a business strategy is here to stay. The companies that embrace this opportunity need to position their API solutions for long term success - treating APIs as a product; engaging the third-party developers in a two-way dialog to win their hearts and minds; and external and internal marketing and advocacy are just a few examples of where the traditional thinking needs to evolve to ensure long term success. It is not always an easy task, often requiring teams to embrace a new state of mind and take a few risks in the process. But the return is more than worth the effort, opening new potential sources of revenue for many years to come.

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    Next up: Ask the Expert: Are You Ready For the EMV Revolution?
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  • Ask the Expert: Are You Ready For the EMV Revolution?

    EMV is a form of contactless payment and is now the global standard for inter-operation of integrated circuit cards, or “chip cards.”  You might also hear EMV referred to as “chip cards,” “chip and PIN,” and “chip and signature.” The term EMV comes from the developers of this technology – Europay, Mastercard, and Visa. Some credit/debit cards already use this technology in the U.S., while other regions of the world such as Europe, China and Canada have been using it for years. EMV uses a small microprocessor that’s embedded into a credit or debit card. Banks and credit card companies want you to use them because they’re more secure than magnetic strip cards.  

    What is EMV?

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    EMV is a form of contactless payment and is now the global standard for inter-operation of integrated circuit cards, or “chip cards.”  You might also hear EMV referred to as “chip cards,” “chip and PIN,” and “chip and signature.”

    Pre-Check

    The term EMV comes from the developers of this technology – Europay, Mastercard, and Visa. Some credit/debit cards already use this technology in the U.S., while other regions of the world such as Europe, China and Canada have been using it for years. EMV uses a small microprocessor that’s embedded into a credit or debit card. Banks and credit card companies want you to use them because they’re more secure than magnetic strip cards.  

    How will EMV affect my business?

    Most cards in the U.S. today do not have this embedded chip. Some cards have a magnetic strip and chip, but eventually magnetic strips will go away entirely. The reason EMV is receiving so much attention is starting in October 2015, all major credit card companies — Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express — have said that if EMV capability has not been implemented on your POS terminals, the merchant will be liable for all counterfeit transactions made.

    This chargeback liability shift will not have a huge impact on merchants that have a low incidence of chargebacks today. But for merchants who are fraud targets or sell high ticket items that can be easily resold on the streets, the shift will have a much greater impact.

    If you are a Card Present environment where you are face-to-face with your customers and are swiping credit cards within a point-of-sale or terminal, or, if you accept payments both face-to-face and over the phone or Internet, the chargeback liability pertains directly to you and is vital that you begin to talk with your credit card processors and vendors now to be ready for the October changeover.  (Note: This does not mean you must be set up to accept chip payments by October 2015. There is no law or statute that will put you out of PCI compliance by not being EMV compliant.)

    If you are a Card Not Present environment where you only accept credit card payments over the phone or Internet, you do not need to worry too much about EMV, but you will want to be aware of the changes and how they could impact your business in the case of fraud in the future. 

    How can I ensure I am EMV compliant?

    EMV compliance is fairly complex, but here are four quick tips to make sure you stay compliant with the liability shift: 

    • Start early – like now. Buy devices and systems you can scale over time. 
    • Communicate with your staff so they understand the change process to ensure a smooth transition.
    • Make a list of potential suppliers, identify the questions to ask them, and choose the one that best meets your needs.  Working closely with a payment solutions provider can ensure you are up to date on any changes.
    • Create a budget – Expense will be driven by options. Choose a provider that has more than one EMV solution.

    Even though there is no legal obligation to comply with this shift, it’s still wise to do so. Your company might be able to sustain the new losses because of your increased liability—for a while. But at some point, not upgrading your EMV compliance will cost you more than upgrading. 

    BRENDAN HICKEY is director of Business to Business Solutions for Solupay Processing Solutions in Twinsburg.

    Want more expert advice? Check out COSE Expert Network, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions to the tough questions they face every day. 

    This article originally appeared in the July 27, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.


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    Next up: Attracting and Retaining Millenials isn’t about bells and whistles…it’s about you and your culture
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  • Attracting and Retaining Millenials isn’t about bells and whistles…it’s about you and your culture

    There’s been a lot of talk about how to attract and retain millenials in 2015 and frankly, that conversation won’t be ending anytime soon. By 2025, they will make up 75% of the workforce…which means it’s time to take a look in the mirror at your organization and ask yourself if you are ready to attract millenial talent. How about retaining that talent after you hire them? For the most part, that answer has been "no" from the people I work with, which led me to put together this list of tips about how to help your organization not only attract the best millenial talent but also retain it.

    There’s been a lot of talk about how to attract and retain millenials in 2015 and frankly, that conversation won’t be ending anytime soon. By 2025, they will make up 75% of the workforce…which means it’s time to take a look in the mirror at your organization and ask yourself if you are ready to attract millenial talent. How about retaining that talent after you hire them? For the most part, that answer has been "no" from the people I work with, which led me to put together this list of tips about how to help your organization not only attract the best millenial talent but also retain it.

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    1. Tell the truth. What do I mean by "tell the truth?" If you tell a new hire during onboarding that your organization looks to promote from within and gives employees the training and development necessary to be successful, then do that. If you tell them you allow for flexible schedules and working from home, then let them do that. If you fail to do these things, there becomes a major trust issue with the company and the employee. Imagine if you told your kids that they can play outside after school as long as they finished their homework, and every time they finished their homework you kept telling them they weren’t allowed to go outside? They wouldn’t believe you anymore and would be pretty unhappy that they were being sold a bill of goods that they could never get.
    2. Lose control. Many folks are very scared to allow other people to take on projects and execute on them. All you are doing as a company is being dictatorial and not giving anyone a chance to make a difference. If you actually did give the project away and lost some control, this would free up your time to do what you are best at as the owner/CEO/VP of your organization. It also gives the person running that project the ability to show you they are ready to make an impact for you and your customers. Let it happen; it’s very freeing! Millenials want to make a difference and feel like they are making an impact.
    3. Show your face. Step out of your office once in a while and go have a chat with people at your company. This isn’t a novel idea, but it seems that people have forgotten what it’s like to just say thank you or ask about someone else's weekend plans. Millenials need a hug once in a while and it could be as simple as remembering the name of their son or daughter or that they are huge fans of whatever football team they watch every Sunday.
    4. Consistency. Lastly, be consistent and intentional with your emphasis on an open environment that breeds creativity and autonomy. The minute you stop doing that, all of the trust you built with your crew is gone. They won’t believe you anymore, destroying the utopia you’ve been working to build over the years.

    Millenials want to believe and work towards something that is bigger than them. In order to attract them, you need to have your culture in order and it has to be from the top down. The old order was step in line, like a manufacturing organization - keep your head down and you’ll be rewarded in 30 years with a pension and lovely retirement. Those days are over and if you aren’t willing to take a long look at what you’re currently doing, then you’ll never be able to retain the best talent. If that occurs, you only have yourself to blame for not making the changes to grow your company through your people.

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    Next up: Best of Tech: 2017 Finalists Announced
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  • Best of Tech: 2017 Finalists Announced

    And the nominees for the 2017 Best of Tech Awards are …

    OHTec, a program of the Greater Cleveland Partnership that focuses on connecting Northeast Ohio businesses of all sizes through the common thread of technology, has announced the finalists for its 2017 Best of Tech Awards.

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    Winners will be named in six different categories on April 27 during the awards show at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland.

    Nominees for 2017 are:

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    Tech Company of the Year

    Futuri Media

    Hyland Software

    MRI Software

    n2y

    Best IT Services Company

    BlueBridge Networks

    FIT Technologies

    Level Seven

    Vizion Solutions

    Tech Team of the Year

    Accellis Technology Group

    Dakota Software

    n2y

    PolyOne

    Best Software/Device Product

    Dakota Software

    Hyland Software

    MRI Software

    OEC

    Most Promising Startup

    Heureka Software

    Revenue Conduit

    Votem

    Wheedle

    Best Tech Workspace

    Accellis Technology Group

    FIT Technologies

    Technology Recovery Group

    Best Healthcare Tech Product

    iRxReminder

    OnShift

    OHTec’s Best of Tech event takes place during its annual Tech Week celebration, an annual initiative to support and engage the local tech community through education and networking. Learn more about Tech Week by visiting www.techweekneo.com.

    And click here to register to reserve your place at the 2017 Best of Tech Awards.

    About OHTec

    Founded in 1998, OHTec has hundreds of members representing all facets of information technology: software development, IT services, website design and development, custom application development, IT recruiters and others. OHTec is an industry-led, industry-driven membership organization dedicated to furthering the growth and development of our region’s technology-based businesses. Learn more at www.ohtec.org.

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    Next up: Beyond Savings: Energy Efficiency Offers Range of Benefits
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  • Beyond Savings: Energy Efficiency Offers Range of Benefits

    The benefits of energy efficiency are not one-dimensional and extend beyond just energy savings. In fact, a recent white paper published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) identified a number of ancillary positives that arise from a business being more energy conscious.

    The benefits of energy efficiency are not one-dimensional and extend beyond just energy savings. In fact, a recent white paper published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) identified a number of ancillary positives that arise from a business being more energy conscious.

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    In the report titled “Recognizing the Value of Energy Efficiency’s Multiple Benefits”, the ACEEE said previous studies have found such varied positives as:

    • improved product quality;
    • environmental benefits;
    • decreased risk;
    • enhanced public image;
    • improved employee morale;
    • a higher level of productivity; and
    • rising sales.
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    The fact that there are plenty of reasons—beyond just energy savings—for a business to adopt energy efficiency is important, according to the report.

    “Awareness of multiple benefits may sway decision makers who may otherwise be ambivalent about energy efficiency investments. Efficiency program administrators can segment and serve the market by leveraging these benefits,” the report states.

    To read a full copy of the ACEEE’s report, click here. And to learn more about all the ways energy efficiency can help your business, contact COSE’s Energy Team at 216-592-2205 or via email.

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