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In this episode, Sheila Marie Volante, the CEO of Seer, discusses the role of IT management in the digital transformation of businesses. She emphasizes the importance of people in technology and highlights the key areas of focus for her organization, including manufacturing, healthcare, IT, and retail. Sheila explains the concept of Industry 5.0 and its impact on various sectors, particularly healthcare. She also discusses the challenges of implementing new technologies and offers advice for small businesses looking to adopt new technologies. Sheila shares her strategies for fostering innovation and staying ahead of technical trends, and she emphasizes the need for organizations to prioritize cybersecurity and embrace AI. She concludes by encouraging leaders to make changes and adapt to the evolving tech landscape.

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Conclusion:

Join us as Sheila Marie Volante shares her insights and expertise on the pivotal role of IT management in driving digital transformation, fostering innovation, and staying ahead in a rapidly changing technological landscape. Her valuable advice will help businesses of all sizes navigate the complexities of adopting new technologies while prioritizing people and processes.

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Transcript

Shaytoya Stresing (00:03.918)

Hello everyone, welcome to our Las Vegas IT management podcast. And I'm super, super excited to have Sheila Marie Bellante with Seir here at our podcast, which we're super, super excited. And my name is Shea Toya Marie.

Shaytoya Stresing (00:22.798)

This is a new podcast, so we're just super excited. We have great people to join us. Welcome, Sheila. You're here today. We're excited. Yes, me too. And just fun stuff is my middle name is Ashley Marie, which I just love that. Yes, it is. It's a tradition, I guess, in my family. We have Marie, Marie, Marie. So I guess I got the Marie as well. Yeah, I'm the fifth generation and then my daughter's Marie as well, which is awesome. Just to, I just want to learn a little bit more about you, Sheila.

And can you just share with us a little bit about your background and how you became a CEO of your organization? Absolutely. Well, first and foremost, thank you so much for having me on today. I love just to talk about more about the future and where did it come from? So your question is on point. So I've been in IT project management and consulting for about, I would say almost 20 years. It started as a kid going to DeVry University and learning about technology.

I was very fascinated about new things that were coming up, gadgets. And so I started there. I graduated back in 2007 with my bachelor's in project management and I started really quickly. I was almost like a commercial. After six months, you start your first journey and it really was true. I started off in construction, learning about scheduling for the UCLA Ronald Reagan hospital. And from there, I learned to adapt to more project management technologies within Microsoft.

I've worked in 13 different industries. I've been in everything from manufacturing to retail to healthcare. And I've always thought about solving problems, helping people as it relates to organization, digitally transform. And throughout my career, I've been able to help save and recover a lot of pain points within project management and how to adopt technologies. And what inspired me to be a CEO is that I saw that there was a big need.

right now in digital transformation, it's the support of the people. A lot of projects fail because everything starts with technology and that's not the case. It actually starts with the people. And so my company is basically running as a new adventure for this new concept of building businesses up from wherever they're at and getting them digitally sound to the new generation.

Shaytoya Stresing (02:44.686)

Got it. And I just love that. This is so true. Like everyone thinks that it's technology, but it's people. Like technology wouldn't be around if it wasn't for people. So that is so awesome. Could you just describe your organization's primary focus and its key areas of operations in manufacturing, health care, and small businesses sectors? Absolutely. So the four driving sectors right now in our industries that are kind of moving in a very staggered way from my opinion and what

I've done in research is that the hospitality, healthcare, IT, retail, these are industries that are starting to lean onto the edge of technology. And the reason why we focus on that is because it's been mostly the people -centric, the most resources who've been more concerned about technology because people have been doing those jobs. And so I think that the reason why we focus on those four industries is that they're going to be the leading feature, I think, for America to move forward, especially in manufacturing.

And so our pivotal focus is to help digitally adopt in that way and by using Microsoft products and services. Got it. So thank you. And so like what inspired you, Sheila, to have a career in IT management? What inspired me was basically what the future looked like. Just to be transparent, there's not a lot of black women in IT given in my 20 years. We are there, but it's very far in view.

And the challenge to really divest and I'm going to say diverse the mindset, leaders to have us in the room, to speak at the table, to bring a diverse concept as well as new, pivotal way. And that's really what truly inspired me to go in this route. Got it. And I just absolutely love that, especially as a woman myself, and we are also a minority business. So just seeing other minority businesses also, which is an amazing thing. And I love it to see that. So yeah, that's awesome, Sheila.

And, you know, could you just, you know, how was your role evolved over the years and what are some things that, you know, you've seen the most insignificant milestones in your career, Sheila? Yeah. So what has truly evolved is as I started in the early in our conversation, that project management was big. When I first started, it was in the barking, like, you know, you started to hear this buzzword about project management. And so.

Shaytoya Stresing (05:06.766)

Kind of the start of it, although it's been around since the 1950s, since World War II, around that era, I believe. And so what has changed is now people are starting to speak up. I think and vocal their opinion about IT, but they really can't really translate why. And so what's changed in my role from being a project management to change management and knowing the pitfalls of what happens in business, processes and controls, and actually be that liaison, that middle person.

to be able to translate technology requirements and also business requirements to make it more fluid for an organization. And so now I've become more of a consultant and advisor to senior leaders to basically pivot that way towards the future and also help educate them on the nuances about where the technologies are going and help them move forward in their direction as they transform as an organization.

And you do talk a lot about the new technologies, and I'm sure you've seen a huge change within the last, you said you've been 20 years, did I hear you right? Yes, I am fumulating some gray hairs. I do have some depth knowledge about the older school frameworks as it relates to on -prem technology, meaning servers that are in a closet. Some of us might remember those little floppy disks where I used to have to exchange every night.

The concept is that companies are still holding onto that legacy information because they know transformation is difficult. So they'd rather deal with the pain every day or deal with the rest than actually have to do with the digital change. And so companies like ours do push that to the next level. And I want us to be a leader in this space. Yeah. And I personally seen that. I mean, we're low voltage contractors, so we don't see much of it. But I did see that when we were trying to transfer people from

the old phone systems to avoid a lot of the businesses were like, no, we're, we're good with what we have. And then they want to see a staggering. So us, we're encouraging these leaders to just take the elephant one bite at a time. Check technology will transform, but you have to take that first step. And so, so yeah. Yes, that is so true. And then could you also explain what the industry 5 .0 is and what it differs from industry 4 .0?

Shaytoya Stresing (07:25.838)

Absolutely. So I am a doctoral candidate at Capella University and I am in my dissertation stages. And essentially this, the theory of industrial 5 .0 and 4 .0, the differences is that the 4 .0 is more of digitally adapting the hybrid of people and bots, I would say, such as IoT, which is the acronym for Internet of Things, things to help drive more sustainability.

and also reduce waste. So the difference between 4 .0 and 5 .0 is that industrial 5 .0 is to basically eliminate all waste as well as to business process, people, society. And so it's a big job right now. So we're trying to get to industry 5 .0. Here in America, we're pretty behind than other countries such as Japan and Germany and at one point Ukraine. And so, you know, getting companies onto at least 4 .0, it's definitely been.

considered a challenge, right? Because it's such a big change, replacing people, role transformation, replacing people with robots and where do people go? So it is definitely a controversial topic. However, there's places where role transformation has happened throughout other generations of the third and second and first. Today, we don't have switch operators, right? Like 18D that has now transformed because technology has automated this. And so I think, you know, with the change of industry of 4 .0 and 5 .0,

leaderships should have those conversations, you know, often to figure out what their new strategy is going to be for the future. Got it. Understood. And so you're saying that most Americans, business owners, I just want to get a full understanding are still using the 4 .0. Actually, they're kind of like 3 .0. Got it. They're trying to get to 4 .0, right? It's difficult where you would have a robot to do in customer service or in Las Vegas. I have a robot to actually, you know, check in a customer or ask, you know,

to assist their customer needs. That's one example of how a person has been replaced. However, that rep might be very close by to that bot to answer any additional questions if necessary. And that's the workplace in hybrid with robots and that's an in -lots of industry for robots. Got it. And so 3 .0 is pretty much, and I'm just trying to get a full understanding so our audience can understand as well. 3 .0 is pretty much

Shaytoya Stresing (09:49.07)

us manually doing things. Correct. Well, it was the first, yes, it was the first industrial breathing in technology such as AOL, right? We started the new digital push of having computers instead of, you know, sending email across the, you know, USPS. And now we've already embarked in that now, you know, it's the next layer of generation of, of, of systems. And so that's the next one that we're trying to get to. Got it. And with 4 .0, the last few two weeks,

all the IT professionals I've been talking to, I've been chatting about AI, would the 4 .0 be an AI to get a full understanding? Yeah, so 4 .0 is the industrial age of where we're sitting in our spectrum. So there were four industrial for the last, I would say, almost 150 years when this first steamboat came out, right? And that was considered the first mass production of industrial manufacturing. Then it became 2 .0, right? Which then,

automate more like the forward process, right? Of putting systematically putting people together, adding in a little bit machinery. And now 3 .0, where we're kind of moving into or moving out of is more of extending more people in order for that generation to do more work, adding a little bit of technology, but not really artificially intelligizing the process. Now 4 .0 is adding more artificial intelligence, right? To what a person would be.

And then 5 .0 is just fully automation. Got it. Understood. Totally get that. So thank you for sharing, Sheila. And then when it comes to, and like, in what ways is the industry 5 .0 influencing the healthcare industry? And what benefits does it bring to the patient care and hospital management? I think that when we evolved to the 5 .0, my theory or my viewpoint is that our systems and IT is our

the data that we collect is going to be far more intelligent in order to detect cancer, probably detect certain abnormalities within humans to be able to be more proactive and preventive care. I also do see surgeries and things advancing. We already had a DaVinci, which was in the 90s, which is going to probably evolve even more to be fully automated. I think that just in healthcare general,

Shaytoya Stresing (12:08.878)

They're always more advanced than any other industry. I would say side by side with manufacturing, but it's always advancing in medicine, looking at trends quicker, quicker than what the human eye can do. And I think that AI is going to be, I believe, a pivotal, it's going to be an aid to the human than basically a deterrent to the human, if that makes sense. I think it's going to be better for us in the future to live longer by leveraging and using AI in the right way.

Got it. And that sounds like an amazing direction that we're heading. So yeah, that's awesome. Yes, we are. It's just there's a lot of naysayers, right? Like, it's going to replace us. And it's like, well, really, it's going to benefit us and help us grow and foster eliminating the waste. So that's most important. Right. And people will figure out where they fit in that technology. Yeah. And Michael Rada gave him credit. He is the Industrial 5 .0 founder. So he is the one that coined the talk.

Industry 5 .0 and it's all about wasteless work and anything that we can do to piggyback on IT or AI in general to help foster better sustainability practice for wasteless, that's going to take us better to that concept of Industry 5 .0. Got it, understood. And then when it comes to what are some of the key technologies driving Industry 5 .0 and how are they being integrated into your organization?

The first one is Nivea. Nivea is a chip processing manufacturing company that provides the best optimal processing to allow everything that we do for cars to computers to anything that has technology in processing. Nivea is that top layer of how we're digitally transforming today. From an application perspective, we are a Microsoft partner, but we believe that Microsoft is also the pioneer champion as well of

pushing businesses forward. Their innovative concepts are going every day to help bring on better solutions to legacy issues. And they are also going to be a very big pivotal direction for moving us into the next generation. And lastly, I think Amazon, I think AWS is also in that space as well, and Google competitively, but those top four companies are going to help us move forward as well. Got it. And so you did mention Nivea, could you just tell me a little...

Shaytoya Stresing (14:34.958)

bit more about what exactly is that? Yes, so they're chip manufacturers. So they help all the processing. So when your computer is moving, when you have documents or even this platform, there's a processor in the background that's basically doing things really really fast. So if you up -tempo that speed, this allows things to come back quicker, right? It allows things to move quicker and operating better. And so Nivea has essentially pioneered that to process.

quicker than any other chip in the world. Got it. Understood. And then what are some of the... Sorry, you already asked that question. How do you manage the challenges associated with implementing new technologies? The challenges at times is to find open -minded leaders at the table to address their concerns and problems. I think that institutions, including enterprise,

corporations such as Google or such to allow, to allow companies like mine to kind of challenge their next direction. The challenge in that is that sometimes leaders are uncomfortable to spend money and the other challenges going on to the spending money. They know IT is a big cost, so they don't see the value of it as of yet right now. But if they open their mind and allow some concepts to move forward, eating the elephant one by one time, they will eventually get there.

here and at Sear, we have challenges on that as well. It's just having someone listen, right? Just to see what their business problem is and how we can solve it by implementing people, process and technology standards to really shape them up for the future. Got it. And so what are you doing to get people to understand the value of moving forward with that? Yeah, so we offer actually just two hour, you know,

I would say sessions, right? To understand the business problem and articulate kind of maybe a new solution for their issue and help them provide with the roadmap. Roadmapping is so essential. Organizations big and large, sometimes they just throw technology, say, does this product work? Does this product work? And then, you know, after a hundred products in their ecosystem, nothing works. It's because no one really has strategized, you know, what really works for our environment. And so we help.

Shaytoya Stresing (17:00.142)

pull them into that to help them think a little bit better and to reduce their waste of spending. Spending so much thinking that product is going to save the world, that they really haven't did the due diligence to allow businesses to right the problem, figure out the solution, implement the solution, and then kind of, I would say, monitor the solution before going out to buy another product. And so that's what we help our clients do.

Got it, and I totally understand that. As a small business myself, it's like there's so many different products and we want to try them all, but as we try them, of course, that does cost money. So I'm glad to hear that you actually sit down with your clients to help them with that. Agreed. So that's a good thing. we do. Here it's here. Yeah. No, that's awesome. Yeah. And I just love that. Plenty of times that we've sat down with a small business for ourselves. You know, sometimes you just throw money hoping that...

thing works, but it doesn't always, it isn't always the case. Correct. And that's where we find kind of the resistance is like, I don't want to spend that much on professional services because is this product really going to work for me? We're like, right, let's try it out. And what makes us different in the game is that we're subscription based. So we are not tied to what's the traditional statement of work, you know, in your field, you'll get a kind of a request statement of work. It's itemized and IT it's been that same way. And it doesn't work at all.

the challenges is that is difference between, I would say your industry and our industry, we get maybe a questionnaire that's done and maybe just a little bit of time to know their environment, to be able to make a quote. And at times we come back to see their environment fully and it's not good, right? So we have to go back and say, hey, we need a change order. Cause you know, we're gonna need more hours to accomplish this work. And so as a former project manager, I would hate that, right? Because

kind of misled them. And so here at Seir, we don't do any statements of work. We kind of look at that as a dead business practice. And so we're rejuvenating that to say, hey, we have subscription base. We'll give you a buck of hours. It gives us more fluidity and we're able to actually deliver according to what we're looking for without any surprises, right? And we're helping you across the way. So that's one of the differentiators that we have here at Seir, that any other industry current or any other

Shaytoya Stresing (19:23.278)

competitor today. Got it. And I absolutely love that. So just being a subscription base, so people, that's awesome. And then how can small businesses, wait, she let you add something? Yeah, I was going to say, we also, it's geared for small to enterprise. We have scale, right? What that would look like. And we know that small businesses like yours, you know, sometimes it's difficult. Like, I don't have that much, but how can I bring value and bring back ROI to you?

So our subscription base is melted at a tiered level. Got it. And then when you say a small business, is it like one employee to like, like. Yeah, around I would say 20, 20 employees and up, right? Small businesses, they don't grow, right? They just stay staggering and they stick to the same technologies, right? So our levels around 20 employees and above foster those changes. That's kind of our suite. Got it. Awesome. And then how can you give.

How can small businesses leverage the principles of industry 5 .0 to enhance their organ, enhance their operations and competitiveness? They first have to be real and realize what they are in current state. They have to document it. They have to process it and write it down. That's the first thing. The second thing, get an outside consultant, have somebody else take a look at your operations and help advise you to those next things in your world.

I see often that companies don't have a plan, right? They're operating well, but they don't have a plan to actually, you know, take the risk to execute that, to do some, you know, concepts, things of that nature. So I advise institutions to get a consultant's firm, preferably within their local area to help them drive that change. Or if not, if you can't find one, we're here for you. Got it. Are you guys just local here in Las Vegas or are you... We're local here, we're national. So I have...

eight consultants across the United States. I also have an offshore team in India that's about 15. So we're also around 20 employees overall. But we're located right there on 4th Street, right next to the federal building. They're usually Monday through Thursday. So I have no problem going to anyone's location here in the Valley or in Southern California, in that matter, and to see how we can solve their issue. Awesome. Thank you for sharing.

Shaytoya Stresing (21:44.11)

Of course, what advice would you give to small business owners looking to adopt new technologies and stay ahead of the rapidly evolving tech landscape? Yes, get with a person that is not in your industry, that's outside in the technology sector. Build those relationships with small business senior IT firms, right? Build and grow with them and ask the questions, right? Ask the stupid questions. I know it's...

You know, some folks are like, what is AI? I've heard that a couple of times. Like I've heard this thing and I'm afraid, right? Because everyone has a concept of the buzzword. But I would say, don't be afraid. Ask the questions and challenge yourself. Just remember, personally, I'm not an accountant. So I'm going to go ask the advice of our accountant. We don't have to be the jack of all trades and master of none. It's important for us to have partners and liaisons that are smarter in that field to advise us in the right way. You know what, it's so true.

Yeah, because I mean, you can't if you're a jack. I've heard it before. If you're Jack and all trades, you're you're an expert at none. Agreed. And I thought that is that we can be all I mean, when you start a business, you'd want to do everything, but you kind of rely on and that's also too full. You rely on your folks and you're building relationships at the same time. So when it comes to as you're scaling and growing that one company that was once small is now medium. They're going to think about you. They're going to know you. Why? Because you've been growing with them.

So it's kind of a two -fold. You're doing that only marketing, but you're also getting advice with those companies as well. Exactly. As a CEO, what strategies do you employ to foster innovation and stay ahead of technical trends in your organization? Yeah, so we foster learning within. We have an internal program called Sears Seminary. And this program, essentially, we learn new technologies and techniques. We foster innovation within our teams. So for example, we do leverage Microsoft Teams.

And I make sure to purchase the highest applications of land within Microsoft to making sure that our team is not only, we call it eating our own dog food, but we're able to also translate that to other industries that might have a supporting need when we do get the lead or contact and such. And so every week we highlight anyone has something new. And so we're able to foster learning with them. And that's how we're able to keep up.

Shaytoya Stresing (24:06.222)

Right now I'm sure I'm sure is a lot and I know you keep mentioning that you're a Microsoft partner like what does that exactly involve? Yeah, so being the luxury of being a Microsoft partner is that we are partnered up with Microsoft help deploy products of their product product staff to their customers and various industries. We help support as we mentioned beginning of the call healthcare financial services, IT, small business to basically digitally adopt their Microsoft staff.

within those organizations. And so going through the process of being a partner, we are modern work certified or badged in a sense, which means that Microsoft, we've proven ourselves kind of worthy to have the badge and title. And it's basically just another layer of how we're delivering excellence to our customers. Got it. And then with Microsoft, exactly what is it that you guys offer? So we offer a migration support as well as adoption and change management. Everyone knows us.

throughout the Microsoft partner community. Adoption and Change Management is basically a team helping fostering change within an organization by pro -sign model. And so we help foster, adopt, and learn for the business users as they're introducing to this new technology. So our team is skilled, not only in various different industries, but we're there kind of like hand -holding all the stakeholders through that digital process. And so we help technologists basically implement better.

Companies that don't use adoption, sometimes they don't have a good adoption rate, meaning everything that they put in effort kind of goes down, right? They're not getting the best influence for the business to digitally adopt and change. So that's what Sears is known for in the community. Awesome. And then how do you guys ensure that your team stays updated and skilled in the latest technology? I know you did say you have multiple locations, not just here in Las Vegas.

So how do you keep your team as a whole updated with the technology? Yeah, so we also have them go get certified through Microsoft different certifications. And so as they come through, we have different skilled resources that will go to either get certified and or go through a certain training online. So which is great. And so we apply that and we make that reinvestment to our team. The meaning because we need to make sure that they have the latest and greatest across the board. Got it. Understood.

Shaytoya Stresing (26:30.606)

Also Sheila, thank you so much. What future trends do you guys foresee in the IT management, especially rated to the 5 .0 that professionals should be aware of? Yes, the latest trends is the risk of AI, meaning that AI is not going to solve world hunger right now. I think that in IT, they must kind of going back to looking at

their ecosystem environment, making sure they can go through the journey before deploying AI within our organization. What I mean by that is that everyone's running to want AI, but their house is not in order. Their cybersecurity is not in order. Their devices are out of date. They're still running on -prem products. So I think that IT traditionally has been very desegregated, meaning...

they work in silos, I think that the future will just basically automate that all in one in the near future where technologists will become experts in the exports of what AI can bring to the table. Got it. And then you did mention the security issues with AI. Could you just go a little bit further with that? Yeah. So one great thing about artificial intelligence is that the more data that is being known, it's starting to teach itself, right? About common issues, common threats, common

problems and that we're now in a digital age where safety is first, right? Security is first. I'm not going to say there's the best product in the world to prevent all that. However, governance policies help improve technology, cybersecurity things within the ecosystem. So essentially if organizations take a step back and be real to their governance policies and the products they have in place, then they can be able to really

bring their security levels even higher to prevent attacks and things of that nature. AI can help that and to prevent that by going to hunt these people, right, who are trying to attack them. So these are some new concepts that are coming out that organizations are starting to realize that they need to kind of invest into their overall process and infrastructure as well as cybersecurity in AI.

Shaytoya Stresing (28:47.63)

Got it. And so it's something that's coming out. Do we have a timeframe of when it will actually be available? for cybersecurity? Yes. Or just the product name? Yeah. So Microsoft Co -Pilot Security is out already. Organizations that are more enterprise are starting to test it out to really understand overall how are they risked or rated within their industry. And so even smaller business can also take it to Microsoft.

did take out the restriction for smaller organizations, because they were kind of testing it out themselves. But I would say it's a great investment, especially what happened with the MGM and seizures issue, right? There was a really miscue, right? And it's all going back to your governance policy. So organizations that are looking to figure out how do I improve my posture for cyber to allow AI to generate better for my business, definitely I would advise them to give me a call. Awesome. And so that is something that you could help

assist people with? Yes. Awesome. Great. We'll be sure to make sure we add your information so people are aware. And then how do you envision the role of IT evolving in the next five to 10 years within the sectors you work in? I think that automation is going to change the roles of how AI is applied today. I believe that we're going to become more of quality engineers, meaning that we're going to review the outputs of what

AI gives to us as humans, as individuals, and be able to make better conscious decisions, not just only in IT, but overall in the organization across the board. Got it. Awesome. And we're going to change. What did you say, Sheila? Then we're definitely going to be changing. So as I mentioned in the earlier switchboard operator, we don't see that anymore. Yeah. We are evolving as the people in IT now is evolving with us. Awesome.

That's great. Is there any additional information or advice you would like to share with our listeners regarding 5 .0 and its impact on various sectors? Yes, I do. I would say leaders that are in this space that are listening, I would say it's time to make some changes. Those companies that do not make the change might die overnight, as we all have seen companies such as Circuit City, Blockbuster, Sears, as big as they were.

Shaytoya Stresing (31:13.102)

They did not meet with the times. And so it's important to be in the know and the new technology spend. And if not, you know, there is a higher risk of the businesses to fall. I don't mean to be put a Debbie downer, but that is reality. And so if you're having problems and you're not understanding why is this for me or how is this for me, we're here at Sierra. We take off that burden for you and not only educate you, but also show you the way of how to move your businesses.

Got it. Awesome. So pretty much reach out to you guys so you guys can assist them with staying ahead of technology. Absolutely. Awesome. And then where can our listeners find more information about your work and connect with you online? Absolutely. So we do have our website at seersolution .com. We're also all over LinkedIn right now. We're part of the Microsoft partners.

So I believe it's microsoft .partner .com slash partners. We can find us there as well. And so yeah, if we have a call button, you can reach out to us directly and we'll be more than happy to reach to work with you. Okay, awesome. And I'll be sure to put that in the description.

Thank you so much, Sheila, today for hanging out with me and having a conversation. I'm super excited to learn. I appreciate it. Thank you. I am so inspired by you. I want to send you more. I got so many people I can send to you because what you are doing, keep it going. Okay? Keep going. Okay? And yeah, I would love to get you some additional folks. And I think that this is a good way forward. I love your energy. Keep it going. Awesome. Thank you so much.

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