Editor’s Note: This is a 2013 article, while all the relevant theories still are in play, there’s been significant regulatory changes in the F&B industry that are not addressed here. There’s been significant changes in Cloud based software for F&B Manufacturing and Distribution. And while we’re glad to entertain various consulting engagements in different form, we now partner with companies run by former CIO’s of major corporations for fractional CIO work. We also think this is the first article to introduce Ralph, as the IT guy who will reappear in dozens of posts, podcasts and articles in the years to come. We apologize in advance if your name is Ralph – but he’s an actual co-worker from some time ago and every time we get together for a beer Ralph asks for a nickel every time his name is used. No nickels have changed hands yet, but we did buy him a beer last time.



The world is getting used to SaaS or Software as a Service whereby companies pay a monthly fee for access to software products, usually accessed internetly* and the ability to expand or diminish your licensing based on need.

I’ve long been preaching to my smaller clients, you have to fill the CIO role within your company – you either hire the expertise, assign someone on staff (qualified?) or you’re actually doing it yourself -making the IT decisions that your company will live or die on. It’s not optional – you’ll either do it well, or very poorly, but the CIO role is a vacuum that is filled with something.

The only question is is what will fill that role and how well will it be done.

You could be your own CIO – for the managing executive, there is so much to keep up with in the day to day running of a business – are you up to the challenge of keeping tabs on the rapidly changing technology and software industry?

Sure, Ralph in IT has been your server guy for years – he’s probably pretty tech savvy and can do a mean Google search to uncover new technologies – or I should say, uncover the marketing spin of new technologies. But does Ralph have the experience with multiple companies – does he know what’s working in other, similar firms – and does he work with software vendors constantly?  Can he know which vendors are  implementing great projects and which vendors are just racking up endless consulting hours? Which technologies are bringing in real return and which ones are simply hype and marketing spin?

It’s like I’ve been telling my mid-sized food distribution customers, the guys over at Sysco have a $187 million, 537-person Information Technology (IT) organization (and a killer CIO) and you’re competing with their delivery drivers for the same accounts.

Sysco pretty much know to the half penny what it’s taking to deliver a case of tomatoes to that restaurant you’re both competing for. And Maude’s HomeMade Muffins only has one truck, and a few customers – ol Maude knows her cost profile down to the 17 cents worth of bran in each “Body Burner Muffin Top”.

Meanwhile, you, the midsized food distributor, you’re larger than Maude, but smaller than Sysco. You’re running a company that you know makes money at the end of the month, but with all these crazy salespeople doing anything they can to win the business and no two contracts are the same, pricing fluctuates daily, no hourly. Fuel prices and delivery routes change constantly – and you’re running a 30 year old software program that was never really installed properly? Wow. While it all works out at the end of the month (usually) you can’t tell which contracts your making money on, which products are priced below delivered cost, COGS – that’s all guesswork.

So unless your exit strategy is a merger or takeover in the next 18 months, you better decide how you’re going to compete.

(And we’re not even going to touch on the new regulatory environment challenging the food industries in today’s blogpost.)

Of course your comeback is, I don’t have $187 million to hire 537-IT persons like Sysco. I can’t even afford the $200k+ it would take to hire a decent CIO!

And that’s where we come in.

Like your SaaS model of software, paying small monthly fees and only paying for what you need, we’re unveiling a similar model to help mid-sized companies compete.  You can’t afford a full time CIO, but you can afford our CIO Services.

Under this model, we spend anywhere from several days to multiple weeks onsite with your company. Learning the in’s and out’s, what’s working, what’s challenging, where are the opportunities for improvement, where are the pitfalls and risk.

Working with you and your staff, we prepare a comprehensive strategic IT profile covering how you can stay competitive, technology wise over the next few years.

Do you need a mobile strategy? Social media? Back end software? Is it inventory control or do you just need better reports, dashboards and business intelligence to make better business decisions?

But that’s just the start.

Working on monthly retainer, we help you manage projects, corral vendors, and implement the software tools that are available and within your budget -all that will be cash-flow positive for your business. We also use our in-depth knowledge of your business to keep an eye out for emerging technologies, better mousetraps and the latest competiti

This isn’t about software sales, we’re not in that business.

It’s about making the smart, informed decisions you need to run your business. And giving you the input of a trusted, experienced CIO.

We have some upcoming presentations on the particulars of our CIO Services – if you’re interested, contact GH@genehammons.com or use the Contact Request on the website.

Gene Hammons, MBA is a 15 year veteran of the software industry serving local, regional and global customers with a variety of software technologies and platforms.

*it’s my blog, and the nice thing about being your own editor is you CAN make up your own words – I’ve also trademarked the term “internetly” and you’ll have to send me a nickel every time you use it. Or buy me a beer.