MN: How can business owners who don’t have large IT budgets or staff take advantage of current and coming changes in the IT industry in order to drive sales and strengthen their brand?
AYR: There is so much advantage today in IT; it is no longer necessary to maintain a large IT staff or budget. For example, a business owner can have a virtual accounting department that does everything except print and sign checks. All banking can be managed online, accounting systems are in the cloud, [and more]. Furthermore, a business owner can also manage their sales department, do payroll, communicate with customers, all online.
MN: In what ways has the IT industry changed for women business leaders, both as owners and senior managers, at technology firms since you entered the industry?
AYR: Unfortunately, not that much. We still have a lot of work to do to advance women into senior IT positions. However, the news isn’t all bad. We are building a national infrastructure of change agents, people who are committed to increasing the numbers of girls and women who are interested in working in IT. In addition, industry organizations like the Women President’s Education Organization (WPEO) and the National Center for Women and IT (NCWIT) are creating and strengthening initiatives that support women business owners.
It’s also important for women and girls who express an interest in IT to have access to supportive mentors. I’ve mentored many women over the course of my career. I’ve also been mentored through programs like the 18-month Accenture mentoring program that I participated in two years ago.
MN: You spoke at the 14th Annual PUSH Wall Street Conference last year, discussing the “deal flow” paradigm. Explain “deal flow.”
AYR: “Deal flow” is the phenomenon involving a group of people who consistently source and evaluate business opportunities with the idea of collaboration. This can be quite effective in diversifying one’s revenue stream. The purpose of deal flow is to keep the collaborative business environment operating at optimal levels. Generally, the more investment offers and business proposals a company receives, the better financial health that company is deemed to be in. Angel investing and venture capital funding partnerships are types of “deal flow” agreements.
MN: What’s next for Avis Yates Rivers and the Technology Concepts Group?
AYR: I am interested in spending more time advancing my causes: increasing girls’ and women’s participation in computing and introducing computer science to every American high school student as a condition of graduation. As for TCGi, I look to have the firm be successfully acquired over the next couple of years.
Rhonda Campbell, an East Coast journalist, is the owner of Off The Shelf radio and publisher of Long Walk Up and Love Pour Over Me.