Steve Brooke has more than 30 years of experience as an IT executive specializing in solution architecture, software design, development, and product management. As Chief Technology Officer of CombineNet, he is responsible for aligning technology strategy with business strategy to accelerate the development of CombineNet’s SaaS-based sourcing
solutions. Previously, Brooke spent 15 years with three different
technology startups in health care, supply chain, and mobile technology.
This included serving as cofounder and CTO of strategic sourcing
provider Procuri, which was acquired by Ariba in 2007. In 2009, he was a finalist for the Georgia CIO of the Year awards. He holds a BSCS from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. TEQ had a few questions for Steve. Check it out:
Q - As the former cofounder and CIO of Procuri you were on the front lines of on-demand supply management solutions. What attracted you to the opportunities at CombineNet?
Many of the same attributes that made Procuri so successful are in place here at CombineNet, which is the combination of technology
differentiation, organizational and leadership talent, and market opportunity. I was familiar with CombineNet’s supplier sourcing
solution while at Procuri and even leveraged CombineNet’s e-sourcing optimization engine in the early days of the Procuri solution. I was impressed with the technology then, and am even more so today. A key
attraction for me is that CombineNet is in an excellent position for
continued product innovation. Over the past year, the organizational and technology foundation has been put in place to support accelerated product innovation. I believe I can contribute to this product innovation and am excited about the prospects.
I firmly believe that successful companies listen to their customers and provide their customers with tools that help them succeed in their business. CombineNet has a proven track record of providing customers
with successful outcomes to complex supplier sourcing challenges – and I’m talking about recognized leaders in their industries, like Proctor & Gamble, Bayer, A.P. Moller – Maersk Group, General Mills, Coca-Cola.
Q - What will be your biggest challenge as CTO at CombineNet?
A key opportunity, and challenge, is to more readily integrate with our customers' other enterprise systems, particularly given our
Software-as-a-Service delivery model. More than 70% of our customers augment their existing ERP or procurement suite applications with CombineNet, moving data through import and export utilities – we’d like to see that more tightly coupled and automated. We have product planning initiatives underway that will provide such robust integration capabilities to our customers.
Another major focus is on extending our core optimization engine further to drive value in other areas of sourcing and procurement.
CombineNet currently holds 17 patents on our technology and algorithms, so that expertise is one we want to leverage and apply to expanded feature sets.
As CTO, the challenge for me, of course, will be to balance the
sometimes competing product requirements with the necessity to maintain our SaaS delivery model. This will require great discipline and communication, something I learned while at Procuri.
Q - 2012 is fast approaching. What trends do you see developing in the advanced sourcing arena?
I see it gaining broader adoption, it’s not just for the industry visionaries anymore. Technologies like ours are trending as the sourcing
and procurement functions become less "clerical" and more strategic to the business, which creates a need for more robust technology capabilities. It also means that advanced sourcing products are no longer “just for the hardest stuff” – it can go more mainstream into other spend areas to help find new opportunities there for supply chain savings, risk mitigation, and operational efficiencies. We are in a growth sector, so it’s an exciting time for CombineNet and other players in our space.
Q - Thoughts on Pittsburgh as a place to build a tech company?
I believe Pittsburgh is positioned for significant growth as a center for technology innovation. The presence of highly respected universities
in the city (University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University)
provides a great foundation of talent. Further, as the resurgence of Pittsburgh continues, the quality of life, culture and cost of living
advantages provide a significant draw to the area, not to mention the great sports atmosphere.
Q - What one piece of technology can’t you live without?
My wife would tell you it is my iPhone. I can’t go anywhere without it. However, I would have to tell you it is my 54 degree Cleveland wedge.