Chris Miles is an award-winning entrepreneur. His company has won top honors in the Philadelphia Business Journal’s BEST PLACES TO WORK for two consecutive years, celebrating its most recent big win this year.
Miles is an innovator – passionate about creating technologies that help businesses – and people – accomplish more. He started his first business before he was a teenager. Miles founded Miles Technologies with no outside capital in 1997, working out of basements until he purchased the company’s first headquarters. He built the company from nothing – earning a Hall of Fame place in the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Philadelphia 100 and top awards from NJBIZ Magazine and SmartCEO. He has been featured by newspapers, magazines, business journals and television media for years, including most recently CBS Philadelphia.
To say this technology entrepreneur’s beginnings were humble is a sweeping understatement. His determination and vision, however, were bold and he devoted his professional life – and rising business – on one key mission: Helping people accomplish more by using technology. Now 44, Miles is a leading evangelist for Business Productivity Software – delivering an emphatic message to all businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively by optimizing technology.
Recently, the company launched a cloud-based Business Productivity Software (BPS) system called BUSINESS, a next-generation solution designed for today’s mobile business landscape. Professionals using BUSINESS are able to improve an organization’s ability to collaboratively accomplish its core business processes, including sales, marketing, human resources, customer services, finance, operations and executive management. The company also introduced a partner program for BUSINESS, the BUSINESS Referral Partner Program designed for IT consultants, managed service providers, VARs, accounting firms, QuickBooks Pro Advisors and management consultants.
In aggressive hiring mode, the company employs nearly 150 people mostly at its New Jersey headquarters, although it does have outposts in Boston, New York, Florida, Georgia and Ohio. On a growth trajectory, Miles Technologies started 2014 with a headcount of 114, and hopes to have 150 employees by year’s end. It plans a controlled growth path of 10 percent to 20 percent annually for the next five years.
With a focus on detonating existing business operations by driving the adoption of business productivity software, Miles is a pioneer in the business efficiency landscape. His driving mission is to leverage and create business technology solutions that propel business productivity software to new heights and optimize business functionality for today’s expansive mobile landscape – with a focus on solving the challenges businesses face today with ineffective technologies.
What are the biggest struggles faced today by businesses in terms of efficiency and process control?
Chris Miles: It takes usually many systems – software systems, manual systems and procedures – to fulfill services and products they are providing. Manufacturing, marketing, selling, billing, inventory, it takes so many different systems, everything from customer relationship management systems, sales pipeline tracking systems, accounting systems – all different systems, different levels of collaboration between people. The challenge is, getting all of that to work together in a fashion where it helps everyone involved do their jobs well. I see that as the biggest blockade to efficiency and process control.
Why do you feel businesses still operate with disparate tools, rather than seek out solutions that deliver integration and better internal and external collaboration opportunities?
Chris Miles: Amazing as it is, computers have only just begun to be used in business. That may sound crazy, but it’s not. Only 25 years ago, smaller businesses were not using computers. Today, we have tablets, smartphones and so everyone is literally carrying around a computer. When you think of it, the computer was, early on, an evolution of the typewriter – the dawn of word processing. Today we can accomplish a tremendous amount of functionality, efficiency and the evolution of business with a software package that touches all aspects of a business, and doing it well, is now. People believe this kind of business productivity software exists out there today, but it does not, until now. The beginning of business productivity software is today and it will – and does – change the way businesses operate.
What is business productivity software?
Chris Miles: Different from standard productivity software, business productivity software, or BPS, is a revolutionary new approach for integrating systems, people, and business processes. Its primary focus is to allow people to work better – both individually and collaboratively. It supports and integrates both data and processes for nearly every aspect of business – sales, marketing, human resources, customer service, executive management and more.
Unfortunately, for most businesses, making the move to a comprehensive BPS solution requires an entire organization’s buy-in and a true commitment to wanting to improve all business processes. This can be a formidable scenario, as some companies find it hard to jump away from the de facto standard in terms of business process management, traditional ERP systems. Still, the collaborative aspects of BPS productivity are vast. Exchanging, storing and accessing information is more efficient with BPS in place, resulting in not only centralized information, but also a 24/7 opportunity to collaborate and get business done. BPS is a great way to leverage the cloud to make business better.
What does the cloud really mean for businesses? Is it a mandate for business productivity?
Chris Miles: It’s important to emphasize “The cloud” is a marketing term, it doesn’t actually describe any one service in particular, though providers have definitely tried their best to convince customers that it is. “Cloud services” is a more appropriate term to describe what “the cloud” actually does for a consumer – hosted email, hosted data storage, hosted online backup, virtual private servers, software or infrastructure as a service. Cloud storage as a whole is in constant competition with local file servers. Granularity of permission control, speed of access and security of data are the major facets that cloud solutions have needed to contend with to win market share in the business world. Optimizing customer interaction in a cloud solution is definitely a focus for everybody.
Essentially, at its most basic, “the cloud” allows you to utilize and access documents and services that are “out there” on the Internet, living in the cloud, hosted outside of your infrastructure. Businesses need to work to figure out the feasibility and viability of utilizing cloud services. In a lot of cases it is still smart for some businesses to maintain servers in house because, for whatever their requirements may be, it may make the most sense. Before entering into any cloud-based solution, the business needs to truly evaluate whether or not they will need to significantly change the manner in which they operate. One thing for sure, cloud services are escalating and getting better – better for business productivity and better for business efficiency.
Why do you feel a business needs a project champion when it comes to improving its IT and business software processes?
Chris Miles: The project champion is the person within an organization implementing a project who takes on the burden of ensuring everyone involved is on board and behind the ultimate success of the project. They are responsible for identifying a project’s strategic objectives, working with a project team to ensure the vision for the project is successfully translated into the requirements and solution design, critically analyzing and ensuring best practices, identifying and eliminating obstacles that may threaten a project’s viability within the organization itself and prioritizing project phases based on value. A project champion also allocates and organizes internal resources to ensure the successful implementation or adoption of a project. For businesses looking to move to the cloud or leverage business productivity software, or undertake any IT upgrade, it is imperative a project champion be assigned to measure and lead any initiative.
What do you see ahead for business productivity technologies and what are the emerging tech trends businesses need to watch to stay competitive?
Chris Miles: Think about your own company and think and almost everything you can think of, in terms of operating your company. Now, realize that all you are thinking of can be done today, more efficiently and more effectively, with technology. I am not talking about bleeding edge technology either; I am talking about tried and true technology that exists today and putting that technology to work in your business.
Business productivity software presents tremendous opportunities for companies to leverage technology to better automate all processes, including gains to customer and vendor collaboration and all administrative tasks. Of course, businesses are moving to mobile workforce environments, which carry new technology implementation considerations. The challenge for companies today is to recognize the fact that their businesses really can run better. People can get more done faster and more efficiently. Companies can automate all processes. Best of all, this is attainable with business productivity software solutions. Technology can – and is – raising the bar when it comes to business productivity and robust collaborative tools that enable a business to run at peak efficiency 24/7. In some cases, people just need to recognize this fact – and catch up.
Interesting article Chris. I enjoyed learning more about how your company is staying out in front in a rapidly changing environment.