The Dialogue with Marcus Blair
This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So, here we go with our 161st installment visiting with Marcus Blair, managing partner of Poribar Consulting and Investing whose goal is to help small to medium-size businesses harness the power of data and cloud-based applications. We also consult on operations, Six Sigma, and support manufacturing clients.
Describe what you do.
We develop cloud-based applications to help with data maintenance and facilitate analysis. We also teach companies how to analyze the data they already have to created more targeted marketing campaigns, determine the focus of their service offerings, and improve customer relationships.
How did you get started?
While working for a manufacturing MNC, I realized that larger companies were using data in ways their smaller competition simply couldn't. The vendors are exacerbating the problem by pushing the same product to everyone and charging outrageous service fees that smaller firms couldn't afford. Our entire reason for starting Poribar is to make digital transformation available for every single company. We build right-sized solutions for each customer, and are not selling them a pre-packaged product and then leaving.
What is your background?
Managing the aforementioned MNC's digital transformation taught me more about people than technology. People are the key to making any business transformation work. They have to feel involved and valued, or the technology will sink. It doesn't matter how great the solution is without people to use it.
Who is your mentor?
At this stage, my biggest mentor has been Dr. Jack Feng. He recruited into management, and he helped transform me from an overly energetic, unfocused worker bee to a strategic, globally-minded leader. He is an absolute master of change management, and his lessons on prioritizing cultural change over technological revolutions have served me well.
Describe your customers?
Our passion is helping smaller companies punch above their weight, but we can service any size firm. A typical manufacturer would be on the smaller end of the scale - under $250M in sales, for instance. Our non-manufacturing customers include any firm with data that needs captured, managed, or analyzed, but are too small to have a dedicated department or in-house expertise to handle it. We also develop application for any size company.
What is impacting your business?
The recent Congressional hearing for big tech will directly impact our business. If anti-trust laws lead to the break-up of tech companies - specifically, Amazon and their Web Services - an increase in the cost of cloud storage could come to pass. If Congress chooses to regulate the Apple App Store, it will lead to a shifting environment for application development. Some developers may quit selling applications altogether and work for specific clients, leading to increased competition, downward price pressure, and a decrease in quality.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I enjoy the idea of building something that helps level the playing field. Most firms run on Excel and Quickbooks, and we can help them in ways they never considered. Bringing access to people and showing them what can be possible and helping them be their best selves is the enjoyment in this work.