Julie May is CEO of Bytes of Knowledge, a West End Avenue-based full-service provider of technology solutions for small-to mid-sized businesses. Recently, Nashville Post Managing Editor William Williams met with May for a chat.
Bytes of Knowledge is helping many clients with building mobile presentations on the fly utilizing iPads for sales purposes. I understand this is being done, for example, in the health care industry. Your thoughts?
There are so many industries interested in sales presentation software for tablets for many reasons. Tablets are portable and eye-catching, there’s a built-in “cool-factor” that draws people into conversations, keeps them engaged longer, and presents companies in an innovative light.
We have noticed a change in the body language of our clients and prospects when using our tablet sales presentation. They seem more curious and are actively listening and learning. They want to touch the tablet and interact with the presentation.
Using a tablet helps a sales team present the company’s brand and value proposition in a consistent way. In addition, a mobile sales presentation is “green” and can be considerably less expensive than printing, distributing, reprinting and updating sales collateral.
We think the most compelling reason is that mobile tablets support interactive presentations with ever-changing content.
The same device can be used to check inventory, take orders, schedule service calls and even to collect payment. This eliminates duplicate entry, reduces human error, expedites the order process exponentially and provides the ability for more detailed reporting.
Your company is working with clients to develop apps through iPads and iPhones and for Android-based phones and tablets. How useful is this?
We manage mobile app development the same way we do other software projects. Our goal is to create a useful app that fits our client’s needs and to be good stewards of their money and time.
We start by understanding the business objectives driving the mobile application. This includes how and where the app will be used, what device or devices it should run on, how often it might need to change, and how the app will be distributed. If the goal is to release through an App Store, we’ll talk about pricing, marketing, in-app purchases and options for free vs. premium versions.
We use a storyboarding process because every pixel is precious. Internet connectivity, back-end administration and even battery life are topics during design.
We then move into actual programming and development. We create the icons and art, develop the database and write the programming code. We communicate weekly, sometimes daily, to keep our process transparent and integrate user testing to ensure quality and refine the user experience. We then take the app live.
What are some key trends facing your industry?
With wireless connections and data plans becoming more and more prevalent, people expect to connect anywhere and everywhere: at work, a coffee shop, the gym, in the car, at a party or a sports venue. Convenience is paramount.
Right now the leader in the tablet market changes almost daily between iOS, the platform for the iPad, and Android, which operates on most of the other tablets. The operating system is somewhat contingent on the demographic that is using the device. Blackberry appears to be losing market share to Windows- and Android-based platforms. The best bets at the moment for tablets are iOS for iPad and Android for the Samsung Galaxy, Asus Eee models, Motorola Xoom and HP Touchpad, to name a few of the most popular. I bought a Kindle Fire for my 73-year-old dad for Christmas, and it was a breeze to setup. I am happy to report he is using it daily.
You recently handled some work on a program, indirectly channeled through the U.S. Department of Defense, related to post-traumatic stress disorder. How did that go?
We’ve been working with the Military Health System for a number of years, creating custom online training materials (eLearning) for their 75,000-plus health care professionals worldwide. We already had created a training course for case workers to help them better recognize signs of PTSD, substance abuse, depression and suicide when we were selected to create interactive presentations on the latest advance in PTSD treatment — Virtual Iraq.
Although it sounds like a cross between computer gaming and science fiction, Virtual Iraq is a fully immersive virtual reality environment that allows the psychotherapist to recreate the sights, sounds, vibrations and even smells of combat engagements in Iraq. Medical studies have proven that Virtual Iraq, when used in conjunction with talk therapy, substantially improves
the lives of soldiers suffering from PTSD.
Our work on the training led to a gold medal in the 2011 Computerworld Honors Program.
What do women leaders bring to the table in this sector?
You might be surprised to find that there are some great women running technology companies in Nashville. Nancy Schultz at NorthHighland Consulting and Beth Chase at C3 Consulting are perfect examples.
Nashville is driven by relationships, and focusing on relationships is an innate characteristic of women. Women are also natural communicators and facilitators. These abilities aid in sales, customer relations and human resources.
Business today requires collaboration among employees with a shared vision and unified goals. It allows women the ability to communicate strategy and vision and quickly adapt to change.
Women are dynamic and able to manage the day-to-day ebbs and flows in a business. Combining that with the ability to nurture while also being strong, grounded decision-makers makes women naturals in this role.
The ability to understand the math behind the business is key too. This includes not only the financial implications of projects and the fiscal soundness of the company, but also the math behind the technology.
Finally, technology is still predominantly occupied by men. I know a lot of women are filling roles coordinating and leading technical projects and designing creative support. What I have found is that men like to work with intelligent, reasonable business partners and co-workers regardless of gender. Working with women in technology might just be a refreshing change from a typical day on the battlefield.
How is Nashville improving its perception as a vibrant technology community?
The state and local governments are aligned and working on widespread initiatives that aid and assist in educating and retaining technical talent in Tennessee. This is starting as early as high school in the Academies implemented by Metro Nashville Public Schools.
Getting businesses to start and stay in Tennessee is a critical component as well. TNInvestco was started to invest in and create businesses with a technical thrust in Tennessee. Local business incubators are popping up everywhere, and they often come with initial funding startups having investment capital.