When you’ve built your business on enterprise information management (EIM) and are delivering big data solutions to leading companies, cutting-edge innovation isn’t just a goal—it’s a necessity. Luckily for Adastra, senior vice president of technology Nelio Lucas brings with him more than 15 years of EIM-specific technical experience and a love of technology cultivated since his first interaction with computers at age 13.
Lucas first met Adastra’s president, Jan Mrazek, in 1998, when Mrazek hired him for the Bank of Montreal’s Information Management Group. After Mrazek left to establish Adastra, it was simply a matter of time before Lucas would rejoin his friend and colleague at the new company. Today, Lucas drives Adastra’s technology-related strategy, oversees technical competencies, and defines information management strategy and information architecture for key solution offerings.
with Nelio Lucas
What does innovation mean to your company?
Innovation is mandatory to remain relevant, and this is certainly true in information management. While some organizations may evolve their business model and offerings on a reactive basis, information-related service organizations need to be proactive and ahead of market needs.
Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?
Big data, competing on analytics, and analytics as a service—these services are all aligned with our mission statement and will help our clients achieve the next information management maturity level.
How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade?
There is a greater willingness for organizations to be early adopters and to leverage what is being done in different industries and markets. A major factor feeding this trend is the considerably lower cost of implementing and acquiring innovative solutions.
How do you cultivate innovation within your workforce?
You have to be open to all ideas, even the bad ones. Not every idea is golden, but the person offering it has the potential for so many more ideas that might be. That’s why we focus on developing our people, staying flexible, and listening to them when they have an idea, no matter how small.
How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank?
That’s the wrong question. It should be, “How can a company afford not to innovate?” A company that is not growing or responding to change or coming up with new ways of tackling both old and new problems is doomed to fail. You have to stay nimble and responsive, follow what the industry is doing, and reach out to clients to find out what their concerns are and what their vision is. You can’t be afraid to take up what’s new just because it challenges what you have always done.
The Ontario-based company bills itself as a global information management expert, and with more than a decade of experience, the company has proven itself as a source of intelligent solutions for enterprising businesses in all industries. For successfully and consistently providing its solutions in business intelligence, data integration, data quality, data warehousing, data governance, and master data management to leading companies worldwide, Adastra was named to Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and it has held Platinum Member status in the award every year since 2008.
“In the past, innovation was a function of dedicated R&D,” Lucas says, “but in the 21st century, an innovative company embraces novel ideas and applies them throughout the enterprise.” The only typical aspect to his workday is the constant reading and research necessary to keep up with the industry and Adastra’s niche: EIM. EIM distinguishes itself from other IT fields (network management, content management, etc.) by focusing on the enterprise-wide movement of business-related data from structured databases and unstructured external data sources to reporting mechanisms that support decision making.
Adastra distinguishes itself from other IT companies, not only because of its world-class employees, but because it focuses almost entirely on being the best at EIM. The company trains and mentors its workers, allowing them access to the latest tools and emphasizing the development of solutions that make a real difference for its clients.
“Our approach to innovation is to keep our feet firmly on the ground and take the ‘new’ in stride without letting it derail what has already been built,” Lucas says. EIM is constantly in flux, as new tools and methodologies are introduced regularly. To continue helping clients transform their data into information in the most cutting-edge way possible, Adastra must keep on top of the changes. However, innovation cannot occur without a stable base, so Adastra’s foundations stay the same: organize data and streamline processes to match the way a business strives to operate.
Much of what Adastra does is bridging gaps like the one between the heaps of data it collects and actionable business strategies for a client’s company. “In an increasingly compartmentalized world that is full of specialists, it is increasingly challenging for different specialists to effectively talk to one another because they just don’t speak the same language,” Lucas says. For instance, the business side of an organization makes demands that aren’t framed in a way the technicians understand; in turn, the technology side produces solutions but doesn’t communicate their value or explain processes in a way the business side can understand and put into practice. Adastra has extensive experience in both business and technology, and it serves as the communication bridge to close that gap for its clients.
Constantly improving technology means organizations can access more and more data all the time—but not all data is created equal. Being able to sift through and find useful, meaningful, and actionable data in this information age has become a necessary skill. Adastra works with organizations to use their data to its maximum value, promote business efficiency, and drive innovation. And by applying EIM, Adastra is showing its clients how to use data holistically, improving their entire businesses bit by bit.