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Celerity's Ken Quaglio Overviews its Pittsburgh presence


Ken Quaglio of Celerity stops by TechVibe Radio to overview its Pittsburgh presence.

Celerity is a business and technology consulting firm dedicated to helping businesses respond to change—efficiently, quickly, and with focus on the customer. It specializes in digital experience, change management, and operational efficiency, and the integration between them all.


We are winding up the show tonight. And you know, I get a little sad. But I'm also super pumped up because we've had this great ride so far, but at same time, like, oh, we're gonna land the jet. But we're landing the jets and pretty cool folks here from Celerity that can cooperate with us today. These guys are doing some really great work. And I'm just really excited to learn more about what he's up to in Pittsburgh, and all that kind of fun stuff.

I mean, they are a significant size company. So thank you, Ken, for being with us. Yeah, my pleasure. So why don't we jump right in? Why don't you give us just a brief intro to sort of set the stage for what celerity is?

Yeah. So rather than give you the usual marketing blurb that you know, this is what we do. Let me give you some context of what how we see the world. Like we we think there's three major drivers that businesses have to deal with. The first is the age of the customer, the customer makes the decision now not the business any longer. The second is the age of uncertainty. And if you didn't believe that before, COVID you're sure as hell believe it. Now. Don't know what's gonna happen and can't plan to three years in their eyes and much less couple of months now. And lastly is this notion of urgency where successful businesses are able to respond to data, turn it into insights, and then change their business. And when you put all that together, what we really focus on doing is helping businesses become more responsive enterprises. And we, we think that that is essential to thriving in a world where the customer is in charge, you can't predict the future, and you got to move at a different speed.

I mean, resilience is has always been, you know, the premise and in the years of business books, talking about resilience, but, you know, resilience to me has taken on a whole new meaning over these last four months and having customer focus and all that. Where do you see, I mean, you must have some good, you know, practices because you've done that over a period of time, but what do you see is changed?

Well, first, you know, I'm not sure that really Resilience is the right word anymore. Resilience is the ability to bounce back. I think what businesses have to do is get ahead of it a little bit. So you take a tennis ball and drop it. You know, resilience is how far does a bounce each time I think we've got to be able to do is respond faster than we've been able to in the fastest. And most businesses weren't built for that, you know, businesses were built to sell a product out, right deal with a world that's, you know, the market in so you got to completely rethink your business. You got to bounce forward. Right. Exactly. You got to bounce forward. That's great.

Yeah, that's, that's, that's a good, that's a good metaphor. So what are you seeing what kind of problems do you work on? What kinds of problems

so you know, we go to market around three core things that are aligned to you know, what I talked about the three drivers, customer centricity, operational excellence, enterprise agility, those are just words. I'll give you an example. So we have a client in the health space that you know is dealing with a resource problem where they've got to find them perfect combination of assets, labor, and patience and create an experience so that all three of those things work in harmony to create an outcome, and we're talking about people's lives. So for them, we built a scheduling system that really takes the patient at the center. But it also gives you a higher return on assets because the equipment's got to be available a higher return on capital, because you've got to get the right labor person, the right clinician, with the right skills in the right place at the right time, and put all that together in a way that can take significant costs out of the business, while improving the patient experience. And then, in this age of uncertainty, when COVID hit it was like a which, which of these clinical areas are we gonna designate as COVID treatment areas versus non COVID treatment areas? So you got to be able to adjust your software, your technology, your business processes on the fly, to deal with new stimuli.

That's complex. That is very complex, like my brain hurt right now. Absolutely.

So this has been this is a good opportunity. For celerity, I would imagine in terms of what's going on right now,

I think so, you know, whether it's COVID, or you know, just to the technology that we've seen, that's disrupting the way that businesses think if you, if you think about where we were five years ago, where we are today, we are on the verge of tremendous change. So everyone keeps talking about 5g. Well, what 5g does, it creates ubiquitous computing, of high bandwidth. And what it means is we can extend what we do well beyond the four walls of a of a Wi Fi or a modem. So for example, you know, this notion of Internet of Things, well, if everything has a chip in it, and every chip has a radio and everything's connected, what does that mean for business, if I'm getting all this deluge of information coming into my company, I've got to be able to quickly parse it, do something with it, and then change my operations in response and then you you layer on quantum computing, which everyone says again, that's far off, that's five years away, and in fact, if you You go to Microsoft, you go to Amazon Web Services today, you can stand up a quantum server, if you will, on the cloud so that you can start using q sharp to start doing quantum development.

Yeah, it's amazing. Crazy amazing. So no longer can I base my work on my intuition.

I you know, it's a great point. I think there's still a place for it. Just support it with data.

Jonathan can tell you I say that. Like, we're just gonna do that. I go, where's the data? The data? Yeah. Oh, Audrey.

Yeah. Okay, great. That's great.

You know, Audrey to that point, though, with, you know, quantum computing helps with what we call combinatorial. optimizations, you take vast variables, and you're able to quickly punch those things and come out with most probable outcomes. I think what we're coming through is this notion of intuition. Where does the human play in this right because we have robotic process automation. Which is going to become an intelligent process automation, which is going to become autonomous automation at some point. So what is the role of the human in the enterprise of the future? And that's a great question.

I think it's just the boss.

Right, right. Right. That's where,

you know, you do need someone to do a little bit of orchestration, right. There's gonna be I think the orchestration is still where we play best. Right? Right.

So that's, that's really cool. Are you seeing what industries are you seeing since you're in FinTech? You know, you're in financial services, your meal? Where are you seeing the biggest shifts? In terms of like, if you were just to punch out one year?

In one year?

Yeah. So obviously, I mean, we all watch what's been going on with healthcare and the adoption of telemedicine and telehealth, and is that going to be you know, this is the question, this is where uncertainty comes in. Is telemedicine really here now? Are people going to stick around With it on the other side of the COVID, or we're going to go back to office visits.

Sticking with it, man, I'm just saying I'm with you, but you don't know, right? Uber is a good example. Um, well, people want to get into a car that two dozen other people were in it before them, you know, is that the way the future is autonomous vehicles the way the future? I think that if you take those industries that have been very slow to adopt technology to change the way they work, financial services, healthcare, they are in the midst of figuring out is this really the tipping point? Is it going to be different forever? And so the opportunity so what's what's Pittsburgh for you? So you're in Washington, DC, but you have offices in a few locations. So tell us about Pittsburgh. We've been there 16 years, we've done work for clients who were actually built the business around Highmark, when we first opened our office there. We worked for Eaton and BASF and gastro So okay, so With pantheon of clients there Can I mean, that's why we have here is to help him solve some really serious challenges and it makes your job I assume a lot of fun.

It's a blast. And you know, we've built it into sort of our center of expertise around legacy application monetization. So all these businesses that built applications 1015 years ago, to serve a very specific purpose, we can re architect and reconfigure and make them cloud based and make them more agile and flexible. And then she moved to a more of a services sort of architecture. And that's our center where we do most of that work. So, you know, we're very fortunate our offices in cranberry right now, but we've got people that kind of come out of Carnegie Mellon, you know, we have an office in Harrisburg as well. We've done work for the state of Pennsylvania. It's a great place to do business. It's a leading edge for robotics, as you know. You have there's a website celerity celerity. Calm with the sea. Are you hiring? We're always hiring. You're always hiring. Interestingly enough, people ask the question, what's happened to the business and COVID? First thing is we made a very quick shift to work from home, we're probably going to stay and work from home through the fall, sometime, there's no hurry to go back to the office. It's been seamless. It's worked great. And our existing clients have not only stayed with us, they've expanded their footprint with us. And we've been able to sign new clients as well, which, frankly, we were a little bit surprised by. But I think it's because of what we do and how we do it.

I mean, they know you're solving the tough stuff, right, you know, efficiency, and it's about relationships. Obviously, you've had both. And but you've got to keep the client focused on what's going to be on the other side, right? So everybody hunkers down and it's capital preservation and cost takeout, but there's going to be another side so make sure you don't lose track of the other side.

No solid advice. That's great. So is there anything else you think we should know that some of your sweet sauce In terms of celerity, the celerity sweet sauce, I like that, you know, we, we just went through an exercise internally and say why did people buy from us and why do they stay with us? And you know, the first answer you get is our people make all the difference. And we said, Yeah, great, everybody says, but we tried to peel that back a couple of layers. And what we came to was, you know, our clients, we have an NPS score and net net promoter score 68 which in the services businesses, amazingly high so we said, let's forget what we think ask our clients and our clients and we just trust you to do what's right for us. And we said, you know, that's great that you can't ask for anything more than that. And then the second thing we said well, there's a problem with that because when you go out to a new client, they don't know you so how do they trust you?

Hey, look at those guys, you guys love us take our word for it.

That's what we're working through right now is getting those clients that know us and love us right shout on you know from rooftops use these guys. They're good guys.

And so If people are interested in their own career, how would they get to work for you? What would be some advice?

Well, I would say, you know, make sure you're inquisitive, and you have a passion for service. That's number one. We're servant leaders. And, you know, you know, if you really want to come to a company where it's about the client, not about you, then we're the right place to cry, and about working with great people.

Yeah, thank you enough for being with us today.

You've been here for 18 years in Pittsburgh, which I think is just so awesome. I mean, obviously, Pittsburgh is a growth area for you guys. And I'm just curious, like, we've got about a minute or so left is wondering like the future in Pittsburgh, you know, obviously, you're hiring and so forth. And you see more business coming. What else are we thinking about? Yeah, so there's there's two reasons you're in a city. One is the market itself and the other is the opportunity to create a base and delivery center that you serve globally. So, you know, our intent is to continue to expand in the greater Pittsburgh area, use that as a global delivery center to support our clients that are trying to deal with the big, hefty problem. Around, really the legacy application monetization in the combinatorial optimization, I just love saying it so I had a pretty good match.

But say that 10 times fast I can't do it. Yeah, awesome stuff, man. Thank you for hanging out with us. We're just so glad slurries in Pittsburgh doing what it's doing. It's definitely one of the anchor tenants of Pittsburgh tech sector. That's and we're, we're glad to be there can't imagine being anywhere else. But we're gonna end it on that note, Ken, thanks for being part of this. And I just want everyone to back into tech by radio next Wednesday night. This is Jonathan. Thanks and stay well. This is Audrey Risa are more about the Pittsburgh tech than a PGH and check out celerity at Celerity calm as well, too. Thanks, everybody.

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