The process is straightforward: a client brings an idea to Formative Innovations Inc., and Andrew Bromfield’s teams dig deep to understand how that client grows its business, what processes that growth requires, and how well-designed tech systems might automate the client’s existing practices or create new opportunities. “I started this company because I knew technology was an effective tool to help organizations achieve their goals,” says Bromfield, president and CTO of the company.
Sometimes, though, a new solution isn’t required. That’s when Formative will examine the market to find the tools that can set a client apart from other players. Bromfield calls this “building a road map.” While some companies arrive on the scene with a prepackaged solution, his company takes a more holistic approach. “In technology these days, you can’t just build a product and run away,” he says. “You’ve got to have revisions and quarterly road maps to stay competitive.”
The most important part of deploying technology lies in introducing automation. While this may sound like a job killer, Bromfield argues that it’s actually the opposite. “We’re not eliminating jobs; we’re redefining them,” he says.
For example, Formative built a system that automated significant parts of a client’s logistics process. The employee who once handled that process didn’t receive a termination notice, though; instead, she got to spend more time on event planning and management. Since those areas matched her natural strengths, she was happier, and the company saw increased productivity. Bromfield effectively used technology to take a laborious task off of an employee’s hands and give her a new set of more enjoyable tasks.
The example illustrates Formative’s preferred approach. Bromfield and his colleagues like to get to know each client to build a custom solution. “We understand business, and technology is a tool to enhance business,” he says.
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Another Formative client is in medical diagnostic imaging. After analyzing its business model, Bromfield realized more referrals would help the client increase revenue the fastest. So Formative built a system focused on the features that would make the life of a referring physician easier. The system’s smart interface and easy-to-use features enticed more doctors to make more referrals, and this drove the client’s profits up.
In recent months, Formative’s leadership team has dedicated itself to developing products and solutions for workforce and human-capital development. Its first major project was the Financial Services Career Advisor, an interactive website that helps users identify fitting job opportunities within Toronto’s financial-services sector. With it, Bromfield hopes to help people understand what marketable and transferrable skills they possess and assist immigrants, students, and those changing careers. One of Formative’s biggest efforts going forward, he says, will be to help individuals prepare for new careers and advancement.
Human-capital development buoys the economy, and Bromfield wants to boost it further by keeping jobs and resources local. “My industry experiences a lot of offshoring, but Formative Innovations will never participate,” he says, adding that he gets e-mails every day from foreign companies offering cutthroat rates. He refuses, knowing that, in the end, offshoring doesn’t result in much cost savings and ultimately damages the North American economy. “If you consume everything but manufacture nothing, you’re relying too much on others at the detriment of your own economy,” he says. “Sending our IP to be developed by others for cost savings is also really shortsighted.”
Over the next several years, Formative plans to focus on workforce solutions and build many products to help companies attract the right talent. “We’ll provide solutions that empower the next generation of employees to have the skills needed to get and keep good jobs,” Bromfield says. He’s found that polished tech skills matter less and less; organizations want soft skills and prefer employees who understand business and can communicate across various disciplines. By helping to develop these employees, encouraging companies to keep jobs local, and helping those companies use technology to compete, Bromfield and Formative are doing their part to keep Canada moving forward.