For Five Question Friday, we turn to Open Systems Technologies (OST), a company established in New York in 1990, and calling themselves "one of the largest, privately held, staffing companies in the world." Through their brands of Open Systems Technologies, OS Financial, OS Government Services, OS Global, and soon healthcare, OST employs over 1,500 consultants in 16 dometsic and international markets.
Speaking for OST, and answering our five questions, will be John Webber, Managing Director of the Central US at OST. Based in Chicago, his regional responsibilities include oversight, growth, business development, mentoring the recruiting and sales teams, occasional panel member and getting home in time for dinner or sports with his wife and 3 boys. He has had more success at the former than the latter.
1) What is the biggest growth area in your business right now?
The technology field continues to create significant growth across most skill sets, but especially related to mobile, security and storage related positions. Additionally, we are observing a significant amount of growth our Non-IT areas, specifically in compliance, risk and governance as well as underwriting, mortgage servicing and loan processing.
2) What is the biggest drag on your business, the bane of your existence at the moment?
It’s a tie: As companies continue to rationalize technology costs, the ability to harvest the talent that clients expect at the rates we are budgeted for does present challenges on a daily basis, but that is the nature of the business at times and it is our job to help educate our clients on what the shifting market rates are.
"As companies continue to rationalize technology costs, the ability to harvest the talent that clients expect at the rates we are budgeted for does present challenges on a daily basis."
Also, due to our explosive growth, even though we are a recruitment firm ourselves, we are constantly looking for best in class recruiting, business development and account management talent throughout North America to continue to serve our clients at a high level.
3) How do you define success?
Relationships. Having strong client and candidate relationships are the greatest asset our firm can have. Without strong relationships, you have nothing. Open Systems Technologies (OST) started as a small IT staffing firm in NY 22 years ago and built relationships one placement at a time. Many of those relationships grew with us and helped us to expand to 16 offices currently in the US and Canada. These relationships have allowed us to explore and create alternative revenue streams in non-traditional OST business sectors such as health care and government services, two business units that we are incubating and are very excited about. Our success stems from how much we have grown, and how we continue to carry over our expertise into other fields. Our success will be defined by our ability to enter into, and perpetuate, a brand into these growth markets and strong relationships are paramount to success anywhere (and hard work, of course).
"Our success will be defined by our ability to enter into, and perpetuate, a brand into these growth markets and strong relationships are paramount to success anywhere (and hard work, of course)."
4) Name one way you have cut costs or increased profits during the recession?
Although we were fortunate enough to remain strong through the struggling economy, OST spent a lot of time rationalizing our costs and expenses. We spent a great deal of time focusing on how we wanted to spend our money, ensuring that we are spending money on the important things, while cutting out the unnecessary. Data analytics has been the most helpful process. Also, we have become more automated by using a web based onboarding and software system, technology that networks with our clients’ requirements distribution systems, and incorporating data analytical programs into our day to day sales force.
5) What technology do you find indispensable?
The phone! You need to speak with people to really understand what is driving a client or candidate’s decision making process. When I first started in this business, I was told, “Good things happen when you are on the phone.” It’s simple, yet true.
Also, by introducing technology into a provincial business, OST has been able to drill down to the real costs in servicing others. While I don’t want to sound redundant, the technology surrounding data analytic programs is quite indispensable to us. These programs allow us to truly define the total costs associated with servicing a client.
Thanks so much for your time John. I find it interesting as we find ourselves swimming in all this technology, John is the second person in a row to say the phone is their most indispensable tool.
Some things never change, huh?
We welcome your comments on John's takes, and also welcome a suggestion for a future Five Question Friday subject.