Influencer Insights: Andrew Tull

Andrew Tull has been a staple in the Business Development and Start-up/ Entrepreneurship community for over a decade now. He specializes in technology solutions and focuses on integrating strategic business plans for sustainable company growth. He currently works for Tailwind Business Ventures where he helps to provide end-to-end technology solutions to real- world business challenges.  Before partnering with Tailwind, Andrew served in a variety of director and executive positions for companies such as, Switch Inc., Pragma Systems Inc., and more.

KG: What do you think are the biggest changes most impacting the tech industry in Austin?

Andrew Tull: An inability to attract, find and keep quality folks in key roles, most particularly product management, product delivery, and technical architecture and development roles.

KG: Where do you see the tech/startup industry in Austin headed 10 years from now?

Andrew Tull: I believe we will see a continued intersection of larger companies (Apple, Indeed, Facebook, Google) on the tech side. These companies will combine with a number of the key incubators (too many to enumerate) in town to drive forward an ‘Austin 3.0’ that will lead to a new wave of investing, as well as new industries coming to town. When you combine these tech companies and incubators with the massive growth engine that is US Army Futures Command, and the multi-decade significant impact that this group will be having, it speaks to a very bright future for the tech/startup industry in Austin.

KG: Who or what are you “rooting” for in the tech industry right now?

Andrew Tull: No specific companies – our team is focused on helping custom software development with a number of key industry players currently in Austin. I’ll continue to root for continued and sustained growth in a new and diverse set of industries and market verticals. 

KG: How do you most like to stay up to date on tech trends?

Andrew Tull: I’m blessed to be part of a number of startups, incubators, angel funds, and other groups that keep me up to date with the new tech trends happening in and around Austin. 

KG: When you’re not in the office, what can we find you doing? 

Andrew Tull: Spending time with my amazing family, running or volunteering with Texas Search and Rescue (TEXSAR).

KG: What’s the best piece of personal and/or professional advice you’ve been given?

Andrew Tull: Always, always, *always* lead with ‘how may I help you’?

Influencer Insights: Mike Troy

As editor-in-chief of Retail Leader, Mike sets the editorial direction for the publication. He focuses on providing business intelligence to senior retail and consumer goods executives to help them become more effective leaders and drive growth within their organizations. Mike leverages extensive industry experience and first-hand experience to manage content for the publication.

KG: What do you think are the biggest changes (technology or otherwise) most impacting the retail industry? 

Mike Troy: At a high level, retailers are attempting to keep pace with shoppers’ rapidly shifting expectations. Trying to stay on top of constantly shifting customer behaviors driven by new technology is impacting retail in a big way.

KG: How do you most like to stay up to date on trends?

Mike Troy: The best way to stay up to date is to read anything you can get your hands on. Read through press releases, research reports, 10-Ks, S-1’s, conference call transcripts and stuff my colleagues at EnsembleIQ write.  It is also important to learn from peers in the industry. I actively attend key industry events and listen to the thought leaders who are inventing the future.

KG: Where do you see retail headed 10 years from now?

Mike Troy: I have no idea. I’m not as smart as I used to think I was because retail is changing so fast. With technology constantly changing, it’s hard to say where any industry is going to be 10 years from now. The next big thing could come along next week or next month and ruin what sounds like a good prediction today. Directionally speaking, there are some well-established trends in place, but anyone can predict those.

KG: You must get thousands of emails a day with pitches and ideas (including from us!). Which emails stick out to you the most and why?

Mike Troy: I wouldn’t say I receive thousands a day, but the ones that stand out tend to be personalized to my brand. I’m more likely to notice pitches that make it clear the sender understands my style of storytelling.

When you’re not writing or setting the editorial direction for Retail Leader, what can we find you doing? 

Mike Troy: I’m rehabbing a house that is taking way too long and costing way too much.

KG: What’s the best piece of personal or professional advice you’ve been given?

Mike Troy: Tell the truth.

Influencer Insights: Greg Buzek

A Ketner Q&A with Greg Buzek, Founder and President of IHL Group

What technology trend do you see most impacting the field?

The single biggest trend for retail is how they compete with Amazon. Retailers must get to Unified Commerce with a single view of the order and single view of the customer regardless of how they choose to shop. And then they need updated POS technology at the store level to take advantage of these changes. Customers used to HAVE to shop, now they need a reason to WANT to shop your stores. This change is having dramatic impact on the number of stores, the alignment of personnel, and total operations. Retailers that make these changes and create a compelling reason for shoppers to visit your stores will survive and thrive. Those that don’t won’t be here much longer.

How do you most like to stay up to date on trends? 

We read massive amount of news, and talk to a lot of retailers and non-retailers. I like to spend a lot of time on bleeding edge technology sites to understand new technologies and then think through how these might be applied to retail. Certainly conferences and vendor information plays in here as well. But we always look at these things with a minimum 3 year lens before actual deployment anywhere. Retailers are notoriously slow at technology adoption. We have to filter through the “might be” to try and forecast what likely “will be.”

How do you recommend PR professionals reaching out to share news?

Announcements just to announce a product or new person or new office are fine for local newspapers, but what really gets the attention of analysts and influencers are actual customer wins and anything with $$$ in the headline. Customer wins or case studies are most important. Otherwise you are asking us to sort through hundreds of pieces of news and determine what is real and what is vaporware.

What’s the best piece of personal or professional advice you’ve been given?

Always leave a situation better than you found it. Whether a customer relationship, vendor relationship, or simply borrowing a tool from someone….leave the other person better off than when they found you.

How did you get involved in the industry? 

Before college, I worked at Hardees, Sears, Skyline Chili and a small restaurant in Cincinnati called J&Js. Once I went to college and graduate school, my first job out was with NCR and I was given that challenge of competitive analysis of the industry. This was an incredible blessing based on what I do now since most new hires only learn about their company, I was forced to learn about all the other companies in the industry. This served me well when I created an analyst firm 20 years ago.

What are three things we wouldn’t guess to be true about you? 

I dotted the i in Script Ohio performed by the Ohio State Band (wasn’t supposed to), I still may be one of the only Catholics to sing in the Mormon Tabernacle choir for a day and I got kicked out of my college dorm as a sophomore in college.

What do you think is the biggest change occurring in the retail industry? 

The decoupling of IT Spend for this year based only on a figure of last year’s revenues. Most retailers still look at IT as a cost of doing business and thus tie this year’s spend to last year’s revenues and growth. Those retailers who do that fail to see that Amazon has changed the game.  66 million U.S. homes now have Amazon Prime Accounts with Free 2 Day shipping. Amazon is an endless aisle retailer that is almost always in stock, supported by Amazon Web Services which is the largest and greatest value Infrastructure as a Service platform. Retailers that don’t realize that IT transformation is not only needed but critical to survival and don’t spend the required funds for turnaround will simply not be here 3 years. 

What do you do for fun?

I’m an avid sports fan. My son and I have for the last several years done a college football tour around the country. We love to go to different schools and enjoy the traditions and the game.


About Greg Buzek

Greg Buzek is the Founder and President of IHL Group and one of the Founders of the Retail Orphan Initiative, a charitable foundation that seeks to help the 400 million orphaned and vulnerable children around the world. In 6 years, RetailROI has been involved in 80 projects in 17 countries helping an estimated 158,000 children through clean water, education, computers, language training and care. Noted by RIS News as one of the “25 Most Influential People in Retail” and the National Retail Federation in 2015 as one of “The List of People Shaping Retail’s Future”, he has a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from The Ohio State University, and 25 years of experience in retail market analysis, business planning, product development, and consulting with Fortune 500 companies. In 2011 The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute honored Greg with the first ever Paul Singer Award that recognizes business and governmental leaders for going above and beyond their defined roles to advocate for better adoption and foster care policies worldwide.

Influencer Insights: Susan Reda

A Ketner Q&A with Susan Reda, Editor at STORES Media

What technology trend do you see most impacting the industry?

Machine learning. As I understand it, machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence; the machine learns through applying algorithms to data and the more data, the more the machine grows in knowledge. Retailers who use machine learning can better understand what people are looking for. Ultimately it will lead to more accurate speech recognition, computers that can understand images – even helping to build self-driving cars (though that scares the heck out of me). Anything that helps retailers to better manage the piles of data they’ve amassed and improve decision-making will have a positive impact on retail so I’m keeping an eye on this.

How do you most like to stay up to date on trends?

I read everything I can get my hands on– often to my own detriment in terms of time management. Still, I think it’s important to set aside some time each day to read “favorites” and allow yourself the time to follow links and follow your mind’s eye. There have been so many instances where doing so led me down a path I would not otherwise have explored – and typically it’s to my benefit.   

influencer-insights-susan-redaHow do you recommend PR professionals reaching out to share news?

While I’m the first to lament my ever-overflowing Inbox, it remains the best way to reach me. That said, if I haven’t responded and the email demands a timely response; I prefer a follow up call rather than resending an email two or three times.   

What’s the best piece of personal or professional advice you’ve been given?

Bring your “A” game as often as possible, but when your plate is overflowing learn to prioritize what’s an “A” what’s a “B” and even “B-“ will have to suffice.   

How did you get involved in the industry? 

I studied Journalism at St. John’s University in NYC and my first job was with a small trade publication called Hosiery & Underwear Magazine. You haven’t lived until you’ve come up with ten stories about hosiery for each issue! Slowly I branched into coverage of other women’s apparel categories and after one-too-many “x is the new black” phrases I made the jump to covering the business of retail. I’ve been very fortunate to cover this industry for decades.

What do you think is the biggest change occurring in the retail industry?

In a word, disruption. There has never been a time where so much was changing at once. Retailers and vendors alike are on an endless trek to keep up and, if they’re lucky, to set the pace.

What do you do for fun?

I’m all about family time. Now that my children are adults and have moved out, I seize any and every opportunity to meet up with them for a visit or a dinner. And when they come home, I spoil them rotten. My other guilty pleasure is watching hockey. I’m a huge New York Rangers fan.


 

About Susan Reda

Susan Reda is Editor of STORES Media, the official publishing division of the National Retail Federation. She is responsible for developing all content for the magazine and additional STORES properties. With a passion for all things related to retail, Reda researches and writes multiple stories per issue, exploring the big-picture ideas, issues and innovations bubbling up in the industry. With years of experience researching and reporting on retail, Reda has written about topics ranging from digital trends and CIO priorities to organized retail crime and big data. Before joining NRF, Reda was an associate editor at Apparel Merchandising magazine, where she covered the women’s apparel beat, including juniors, swimwear and intimate apparel. She began her career as a writer for Hosiery & Underwear magazine. A Long Island native and resident, Reda holds a B.S. in journalism from St. John’s University.