Eight-Bot featured in Illinois Technology Association’s Spotlight
Eight-Bot brings businesses into the future. We do that by helping our clients develop solutions to Integrate, Automate and Modernize their business. Whether it is helping them breathe new life to their existing systems with APIs and custom integration or creating mobile applications to put your business in the palm of your hand, we are always looking for ways to make everything awesome.
With Michael Stonis, Founder/President
What gave you the idea to start your company? Did it just “come to you” or were you noodling it for a while?
We had all been working in enterprise software development and integration for the last 10+ years and in just the last few we have had some massive changes in technology and in the demands from the users.
Enterprise software used to mean purchasing some monolithic solution from a big vendor for massive amounts of money. The kind of stuff where you had to structure your entire IT budget around it. These systems were often times closed, extremely complicated and required dedicated resources to manage and understand them. In the end, businesses rarely saw the ROI that were looking for.
It just isn’t the case anymore. With the rise of cloud computing and software APIs, we can break free from traditional enterprise software. Software vendors, like SalesForce, provide businesses a way to get access to their data when and how they want it. No massive installs or long-term contracts. Cloud hosting means we can expand our IT offerings on-the-fly. It’s incredible.
At the same time, software development tools have become extremely sophisticated. The effort that it takes to create enterprise-grade custom software has dropped dramatically. With your same developers, you can get so much more done now.
People are pretty tech savvy now, too. Pretty much everyone has a mobile phone now and being familiar with the Internet is a given. We can’t get away with developing terminal applications and clunky software anymore. They want their company to be as mobile as they are and have their information with them at all times.
I love helping people solve these kinds of problems. So, I reached out to some of the best developers and business people that I knew and we decided to start-up a company to address these needs.
What’s your elevator pitch?
Eight-Bot wants to help you build a better enterprise. We are software craftsmen specializing in the design and implementation of enterprise solutions. We focus on making the right business decisions first and making the right technology decisions later. Help us rethink your business.
What solution does your company provide and who are your customers?
Our primary focus is helping enterprises gain access to their disparate data and utilize it in a meaningful way, helping them save money, drive sales, and just be more successful. Our favorite projects are those where we help companies use their own data in ways that significantly improve employee productivity and satisfaction. We help gain access to data by developing APIs and then use custom development to provide that data in meaningful ways, via web applications or mobile applications primarily.
We have customers in healthcare, construction, finance, property management, and everywhere in between.
What does your company do differently than others?
We look at problems and solutions differently. Where others are trying to sell specific solutions, we look to apply technology in a way that builds on what the enterprise already has. It’s like fracking for oil, without the potential for environmental issues. No one thought there was more oil (or value in our world) in those places, but there is, lots of it. That is how we go into our engagements. Let’s work together to add a ton of value, no need to buy some massive software solution. Let’s work with what you have and look for quick wins and ways to make what you have even better.
Tell us about your core team. Why those roles?
Our core team is made up of our four partners.
Three of us are developers. We are largely .NET and Xamarin mobile development experts with various development specialties.
Since we are a custom software development firm, being staffed with high quality developers is very important to our client’s success. The fourth member of the team has a goal of allowing our three developers to focus on what we are good at, writing efficient code. He focuses on client success, relationships, project management, testing, etc.
It’s our kind of town too, but tell us why Chicago. What is good and bad about being based in Chicago?
Chicago is awesome. There are so many companies and ideas in Chicago. Here in Chicago, we have the ability to spend time and share ideas with some very smart technology experts. If we are looking for complimentary services, they are never far away. Of course, being in Chicago brings the best the Midwest has to offer; a solid work ethic and respect for others. The people of Chicago are awesome. We feel, in Chicago, like we are right in the middle of the action. Everyone loves to come here for meetings and spend a little time in our great city.
How could I talk about Chicago (especially this year) and not complain about the weather. Certainly this winter was brutal. Many rescheduled appointments and difficult travel days. Ironically though, it may be dealing with the crazy seasons that give us that drive and respect Chicago is well known for.
Tell us about your culture. Anything you emphasize?
There are a couple themes in our culture that are emphasized. We work extremely hard, but don’t take ourselves too seriously. It is important to do an awesome job for our clients, but also to let them know that they can have a little fun with us while we crush projects. Obviously, projects can be stressful. If we can help by doing a great job and making the relationship with us simple and fun, we consider ourselves successful.
Personal accountability is key. As a small firm, each of us must be accountable for our responsibilities. We know what needs to be done and will work hard to make sure our piece is accounted for.
So, what’s next?
We want to keep killing projects and building long-term relationships. Whether there is something we can help with today or two years from now, we are here for our partners. This may require some growth planning and surely there will be some pains along the way. Our goal will always be to create something that causes excitement for our clients. Whether it is saving money or generating more, we’ll put the tools in the hands of those that need it to be successful.
You knew it was coming…the ‘magic wand’ question. What’s your #1 wish?
Our #1 wish is for organizations to realize that it is no longer the 1990’s or even the early 2000’s and to see new technology as a very powerful enabler. There is no longer a need to purchase huge catch-all applications that hope to support 80% of the organization. We are not suggesting that anyone go out and hire firms like ours to build all new applications. What we would suggest though, is to let us modernize your existing applications, allowing you to use them in a smarter way.
Even data that once was considered isolated (like Marketing’s rogue Access database) is now fair game. The power of bringing together this data in a way that is meaningful to an organization is awesome to experience. We would love to see every organization experience that feeling…the feeling that comes along with taking a deep breath because things that used to take a week of effort for a single resource, now take an hour…simply because the data is at your fingertips.
We want to see enterprises also utilize mobile more than they do today. Not just to connect with customers, that part is obvious, but more importantly, use it to connect with employees. The productivity gains can be amazing.
What trends do you see in the industry? Any recommendations to those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Regarding trends, we do see a greater reliance on APIs to provide data both internally and externally. People talk about big data all the time. But it is making that data usable and meaningful that really matters. Just having access to all that data is not enough. We see people struggling with how to use all this data now that they have access.
For recommendations, the biggest thing is to be smart about solving problems. Don’t try to do everything at once. Really seek to understand the business you are striving to support and then let them know what you can and should do. Don’t be afraid to push back (politely but with experiences). Often times, organizations want to rush toward everything and never plan the dozens of steps it takes to get there. Help them enjoy the journey, not just the destination. There are big wins along the way for sure. (Sounds a little cheesy I know, but very true nonetheless). Don’t take everything so seriously. The world is serious enough…let’s create awesome things, in a fun way.
What do you see as the top issue facing the Illinois tech community?
Availability of good quality, skilled employees that can write code and help the business community develop a solid direction forward.
This one is all you… anything else you want to tell us about you or your company?
Eight-Bot combines integration, automation, and modernization to add value to an organization. We will use new technology to help you gain access to your data, automate processes, and provide awesome ways of using that data. From mobile applications built using Xamarin, to web applications using SharePoint, we will help that data become a valuable tool for any enterprise.
If anyone is interested in working with or for us, feel free to reach out any time to firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to chat.