Written By

John Vancil



Written By

John Vancil



Stay up-to-date with OST blog posts.

July 22, 2016

Design to Data Center – Aligning to the Cadence of Business

What does OST mean when we say our services range from Design to Data Center – Aligning to the Cadence of Business? Sounds great… has a nice ring to it… rolls right off the tongue… but is there any meat behind it? Is there any meaning captured inside of that statement just yearning to get out? Well, yeah – turns out there is!

Let’s break it down a bit…

Design to Data Center

When we say that OST has services from design to data center, we are really talking about our breadth, our capabilities and our mindset.

We look at our client’s business and their needs and we recognize that the world is changing – and it is changing fast!

We recognize that the sheer rate of technological innovation combined with the fact that it is a rare company that is not moving to digital, puts our clients at some risk. After all, they still have a business to run and they still have their normal day to day world to deal with, and on top of that they have to figure out a strategy to keep them current and drive competitive advantages.

We see that what used to be simple technology and application efforts are now all bound together in an ecosystem that stretches across the internal and external boundaries of the company. Typically. these need to be worked into a clearer vision.

We see that it is no longer enough to ask a few questions and propose a solution – we need to be both deeper and broader at the same time in our work.

We recognize the direction that the industry is headed, and identified that the right way for OST to address the needs of our customers is to do two things:

First, we needed to expand our design capabilities. Design is the beginning of the process. It is the human centered, empathetic approach that allows for a strategic direction which strongly fits the “why” for whatever we need to do. It lays the groundwork for the solution set and provides an enforcement of the vision which allows for strong alignment and success. There are those in the prognostication business who will tell you that human centered design will become the most important skillset or function for businesses as they digitalize over the next few years.

Second, we needed to change our approach to the world. Looking at things through the lens of design provides an alternative approach and effort based strongly upon research and people. We have heard this described for years as “design thinking” and there are entire schools of thought which have grown up around the subject. Locally, there are some large companies who have made design thinking a core part of their vision and mission – and to their great success. We want to be a company that brings a design aesthetic to many of the things we do, both for ourselves and for our clients.

Recently, OST acquired VisualHero – a highly respected design studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan to help us make this vision a reality.

A great example of Design to Data Center is the emerging world of the Internet of Things, or IoT. Lots of information has been published on the OST blog lately about IoT – so I will not labor to dig into that or describe it past the acknowledgement that an IoT effort will touch an incredibly large part of an organization and their clients. For OST, an IoT effort most likely starts with design – with the effort to develop the strategy. Product design, user interface design, strategic design and high level technical architecture are all going on at the same time and reliant on each other. Closely following and still intertwined are the platform selection, data design and  application development (web and mobile) needed to hook everything up and derive the value from the information that is collected. Next is the capability to manage huge amounts of data and extract valuable insights from that data. Last is the ability to roll out the offering, continually update and improve the offering and manage the offering in production. From the OST perspective this IoT path involves almost every service discipline we bring to market. Design, Data Analytics, Application Development, Data Center/Cloud, Security and Managed Services. The capability for OST to bring a single, experienced team to bear on such a broad effort is the key to the value we see in being able to go from Design to Data Center.

Aligning to the Cadence of Business

Simple enough here… we have to be fast and flexible and responsive in order to provide the highest level of value to our clients. OST needs to be able to easily navigate between traditional IT (mode-1) – which is focused upon stability and security and consistency and predictability – and the newer “mode-2” IT which is all about being highly iterative, failing fast and being creative and innovative. OST needs to be able to help our clients navigate the mode-2 model and then help them take the successful mode-2 efforts back over into mode-1 – over and over again! We also need to be a step or two ahead of our clients in understanding technology and what is coming down the pike from a technological innovation perspective. We need to provide leadership to our clients and we need to be the ones who help answer their questions almost before they know they have a question – because they need to move FAST!

Our only constant is the ever-increasing rate of change!

Q&A: Creating the IoT Cloud Architecture & Data Analytics Platform Behind Herman Miller’s Live OS

Yes – but what about Pokémon Go?

Indeed! What about it! How cool is this technology anyway? Here is a real world example of augmented reality taking off like a rocket ship right under all of our noses! Never mind the social phenomenon of thousands of people wandering around downtown flicking at their phones – this is an awesome exhibition of layering technology over our real world and making it work! This is another example of where OST is working to stay ahead of the curve – we have been working with the Microsoft Augmented Reality HoloLens since its initial release. We are looking at how it works from a technical perspective as well as examining how this technology could be leveraged for our clients.

Here is one example – imagine you are a manufacturer with a highly customized product which you work hard to track around your facility. Layering the information from the order, the ERP system and the client, on top of any piece of product you looked at through your “glasses” or your smart phone could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced labor costs. This would allow the people who typically wander the plant today “in search of”, to work on more productive things, while also driving an increase in efficiency and a shortening of time to market for your goods. A definite competitive advantage for those who get there first!

Okay – gotta get out of here and find me an Articuno! I heard there was one down by the 6th street bridge…


Come back next week for Part V of the IoT series.

OST is one of the few AWS IoT Competency holders in the world. This distinction points to our unique expertise in connected products.



Stay up-to-date with OST blog posts.

About the Author

John Vancil joined OST in 2009 to build and lead the Project Management Office (PMO), and in January 2011 was named Director of Professional Services. In this role John has responsibility for all Professional Services delivery, including the Data Center Solutions Practice, ERP Practice, Security Practice, Application Development Practice, Contract Programming and Managed Services team. John is also responsible for the OST PMO and Project Management services.

Over the past 24 years, John has filled a number of roles in Information Technology. After earning his BS in Computer Science from Tampa College in 1989 John spent 7 years in various development and leadership roles at Electronic Data Systems (EDS). Following EDS, John led the Development and Support teams for Matsch Systems while also finishing his Masters of Science in Information Systems Management degree from Grand Valley State University. A stint as the IT Manager for Baan Education in the Americas was followed by twelve years as the Vice President of Information Technology at Nucraft Furniture in Grand Rapids, immediately prior to joining the OST team. John currently serves as a member of the Compuware ChangePoint User Advisory Board.