A conversation with Elair Brothen, Information Systems Corporation
In this Reader Spotlight, Information Systems Corporation President Elair Brothen shares a little about himself, Information Systems Corporation, and the state of the channel.
Summarize your background/professional experience.
Brothen: I’ve been involved in the office products/technology industry for the past 30 years. First with 3M Company and later starting my own Document Management company beginning in the microfilm area. We later transitioned to the EDMS area and have been a leader in the upper Midwest installing this technology. We have evolved and transitioned which has allowed us to remain a leading technology provider offering EDMS, Workflow, and capture solution to assist our clients.
What is one interesting/humorous/entertaining fact about you?
Brothen: I never give up. As technology changes new doors are opened and we have to adapt and learn to work with these and, in the process, keep our company the leader in offering these new technologies to our customers. We also have to learn to profit from these and keep our valued employees.
What verticals do you serve and what services and technologies do you sell?
Brothen: Our primary and only focus is document management and capture technologies. Our primary vertical markets are local, county, and state government, manufacturing, and education. We market the Opentext solutions along with Captiva Capture solutions. We specialize in workflow solutions for accounts payable and HR. We also work closely with County Court House Clients in providing technology for their record series. We have over 55 county installations in Minnesota alone.
What vendor partners do you work with?
Brothen: Opentext, CANON, KIP, and Nexsan.
What is the best sales opportunity on your 12-to-18-month horizon?
Brothen: We are focused on accounts payable and human resource applications in mid-sized businesses. We feel most have not adapted the technology we can offer and welcome the cost savings we can show them.
What threatens that opportunity?
Brothen: I really can see anything that would.
What could accelerate it?
Brothen: Better marketing on our part. Marketing is the difficult area for small companies like ours. We need to become better at utilizing all tools for marketing ... we are turning back to direct mail at this time. People still open letters and if your content is excellent, they are more likely to read the content.
What is the most difficult aspect of leading an IT service provision company?
Brothen: Obtaining and retaining quality, motivated employees. We work to keep our valued staff with incentives and training.
How are you attacking that challenge?
Brothen: Training, better upward movement, and technology challenges that they can grow their skillset with.
In the context of running your business, what apps/tools/utilities could you not live without?
Brothen: Mobile devices, phones, and better software to communicate with. We utilize Webex all day long — could not live without.
On the flip side of that, what would you be happy to do without?
Brothen: Low margins on hardware sales, internet shoppers — although we really are not impacted that much with internet sales. Every employee in our company sells our message to each and every customer all the time. There is no such thing as a salesperson anymore in this industry; if we are not all selling our story, we will fail.