With 20 years of experience in the industry, Jeff Wilhelm, founder and CEO of Infused Innovations, Inc. is partnering with small and medium-scale businesses to help them adapt and responsibly leverage emerging technologies. Infused Innovations’ goal is to accelerate every organization’s ability to digitally transform by implementing “modern workplace” technologies, focusing mainly on security improvements in three key areas – modern authentication, data and device protection, and threat protection. Ultimately, Infused Innovations helps organizations to refine overall workflow, entire operations, and strategic automation. Jeff, as CEO of Infused Innovations, and an inspiring leader of a successful company, shares his journey with us.
Every leader has a unique definition of success. Tell us about your thoughts about success and why do you feel that?
I consider a day where I learn something new to be a success. I have told people before that if there is ever a day I wake up and I’m not curious about something, I need to make a career change. More importantly though, I try to instill that excitement, curiosity, and passion, in everyone I work with. So, I would say that success, to me, means that I am surrounded with intelligent, creative, and curious people!
Leading a company to success is not an easy road to take. What inspired you to take the step of faith? What laid the foundation of Infused Innovations, Inc.?
I started Infused Innovations because I was frustrated with the transactional nature of traditional technology services companies, and the lack of ongoing relationships and strategic engagement that I had seen. So many small-to-medium businesses are hungry for strategic guidance, whether business, technical, security, etc. and don’t have partners that want to help them in a holistic way. The relationships we have with our clients makes every interaction feel more like a partnership than a transaction, and we thrive on that.
Challenges make you stronger. What is your take on this? What were the roadblocks that taught you valuable lessons in your professional journey and helped the growth of the company?
Everyone has challenges, some are visible, and some are not… some are self-imposed, and some come from the outside. I recall early in my career feeling very defensive in my communication style, I felt like I had to “force” approval or acceptance of my ideas, instead of letting the value speak for itself. I had a boss who called me out on it in a way that made me realize I was creating my own roadblocks. Having mentors and advisors where there is mutual trust, transparency, and partnership has made a huge difference in my career. I have taken my appreciation of those people in my life, and now try to shape my own professional journey by giving that same sort of guidance to others.
Tell us in brief about the products and services of Infused Innovations, Inc.
Infused Innovations accelerates digital transformation for small and medium-sized businesses that are interested in driving organizational improvement through innovation. Through both strategic and tactical consulting, our delivery of services helps clients optimize and advance their business productivity, sales, new product development, and current offerings. We take a holistic, security-first approach and as a Microsoft Gold Partner we deliver the full cloud technology stack in a way meant to push progressive organizations forward.
Our offerings are broken into three major categories:
- Secure Intelligent Workplace is made up of managed services and delivery across several disciplines (workplace, cloud, innovation, security, data intelligence, etc…)
- Accelerators are pre-packaged delivery of transformational technologies and services that we have pre-curated into best practices and can be delivered for quick customer impact.
- Advisory Services are ongoing strategic engagement of our executive advisors (across business, process, technology, security, marketing, operations, etc…) side-by-side with a customer.
What are the growth strategies that you implemented for the expansion of the company?
As long as I am hiring people that are smarter than me, can challenge me, and are not afraid of progress, that has been a good strategy thus far. We have been careful to try and grow without taking on debt and have been fortunate that we have very little turnover of customers or staff. I find, especially in a company that is virtual and has staff all over the country, that it’s more important to look for staff that have the right cultural and philosophical alignment and treat that as importantly as their skill set.
What marked the beginning of the company as a recognized brand in the industry?
Much of our recognition is due to our security stance (we treat security as built-in to every solution from the first conversation, not bolted-on at the end), our vocal embrace of zero trust framework and philosophy in the industry, and our ongoing partnership with Microsoft. Some of our staff take thought-leadership and community involvement seriously, and that helps raise our profile as well. We have also been fortunate to work on some amazing projects (healthy oceans, bridging the digital divide, mental health, etc.) that have had their own positive press that we have benefited from.
How do you ensure a culture of integrity and innovation in the company? What are the core values of Infused Innovations, Inc.?
I love this question, because I would rather have a company with shared vision, mutual respect, caring, etc… even if it means being 10% less amazing in the technical space. The good news is that in my experience, this sort of work culture brings out the best in everyone, and there does not have to be a compromise. But the staff knows that our core values prioritize being a good human over being a good technologist. As far as driving innovation forward, everyone on staff is encouraged to be vocal about what their interests are, what is causing them curiosity, what passion projects or causes matter to them, and how we could help in their own personal growth. I don’t think there is any training opportunity we have turned down, even ones that are not directly related to our areas of focus!
How does the company stay abreast with the increasing competition in the industry?
Because we have such a strong internal culture, and have no problem partnering with other organizations on specific deliverables when needed (it’s more important for us to deliver amazing things to our clients, versus forcing everything to be executed on internally) we don’t get too concerned about competition. As long as we can make our clients happy, ensure our staff is enjoying the work they are doing, and grow at the same time, we just focus on getting the right staff with great cultural fit.
How has Infused Innovations, Inc. influenced the industry with innovative ideas?
Our advocacy around — and push for businesses to embrace — a zero trust security philosophy was earlier and more vocal than most in our space. Our partnership with Microsoft and the accelerators we designed around their security stack, helped clients quickly implement these best practice recommendations. At a time when businesses were grappling with sending staff home due to COVID-19, and how that could be done safely and securely, we saw quite a bit of interest in our approach. At the same time, we were focusing on digital transformation advisory services with many of our customers. Historically those services were financially unattainable for many small and medium-sized businesses. With our expertise in security, data, modern workplace, experience platforms, and other related elements, these holistic and directional conversations became very well received.
What has been the best recognition that the company received? Tell us about the best client feedback you received that made you proud as a leader.
Any time a client raves about our work, or the work we do for a client has a positive societal impact, I consider that forward momentum. My favorite feedback from a current customer CEO was in March of 2021 when he told me that we “aren’t charging him enough” for the “transformative work we are doing for the organization.” If that doesn’t make you proud of the collective team (and I say that because it involves engagement at all levels of both our organization and theirs) I don’t know what does. Of course, we have been recognized in other industry publications (both locally and nationally) and receiving an Inc 5000 in the middle of a pandemic was also wonderful validation, but it’s client feedback that really makes me the proudest.
What are your responsibilities as the CEO of Infused Innovations, Inc.? How do you keep your employees motivated?
My main responsibility as a CEO, besides helping the team set direction for the business, is making sure the staff is happy – happy with the work we’re doing, happy with their roles and contributions, and happy with the clients we are guiding. Infused Innovations is an amazing partnership, internally and externally, and everyone on staff contributes to that success. Because of the contributory role everyone plays, we have staff that feel empowered to independently step up in their own ways to build the culture and motivation! For example, Melissa recently implemented a fun weekly “quiz” for the staff to learn more about each other, as well as a recognition system where anyone on staff can publicly acknowledge the amazing contributions of any other person on staff (with real money in the mix)! Or Erica’s evening baking sessions that draw a crowd, even virtually during a pandemic. I guess my contribution to keeping staff motivated is giving them the freedom and support to try new things, and make sure they know I’m as excited to participate as they are!
What is your vision for the future of Infused Innovations, Inc.? How do you plan to extend the company services, globally?
My vision is to focus on healthy and sustainable growth, in a way that ensures we have a culture and philosophy that persists… and ultimately a staff that is curious and creative. Innovations and excellence are important, but not at the expense of building a great workplace where everyone feels welcome and supported. Our focus is on expansion within North America (currently we have staff, primary partners, and consultants across 14 states), and although we have served accounts with locations in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Asia Pacific, our goal is managed and strategic growth.