As TierOne’s managing partner for five years, Richard Reding keeps up to date with technological trends and serves on the board for the Association of Information Technology Professionals-Ozarks Chapter.
SBJ: We’ve heard remote workforce and communication technology has been fast-tracked by several years due to the pandemic. Do you foresee that leveling off in 2021?
Reding: It has been fast-tracked, and that is undeniable. With the tools that we have now, you aren’t required to be in the office. So much of what you can do, you can do remotely. Things were going that way and leaning that way, and this definitely sped that up. More of a hybrid model will be deployed … where it will probably be unlikely that the entire office is all in the office at the same time. You’re going to have more flexible work schedules. People still crave human connection and collaboration. Another thing that I think will happen … is less headquarters or major workplaces. There will still be a presence, but what I think you’re going to see is less giant buildings and more little satellite offices. They’re going to bring the work to the people.
SBJ: Federal litigation and executive action targeted technology firms like TikTok and Facebook in 2020. Do you see this being pushed to the point where larger companies would have to be broken up due to antitrust litigation?
Reding: I think it’s too soon to tell. With the shift in the executive branch and possibly Congress, it’s certainly something that we may see. The question here is where do you draw the line between free speech and security, between efficiency and privacy? Those are difficult questions that vary from person to person.
SBJ: City Utilities is partnering with CenturyLink to bring additional gigabit internet speeds to the city. How do see that impacting the local economy?
Reding: Philosophically, technology is the great equalizer. In the COVID era, it’s been a key component of a solid education strategy for our kids. I think this is a good business decision for them, as well as City Utilities. I do think it’s going to have a really positive impact on our community. The internet is a critical necessity. It’s an all-important utility, arguably as essential to the modern human as clean drinking water. As we enable more remote work, as we decrease the importance of location for people, … I think we will lose less talent to the bigger markets and the bigger companies. As somebody who traveled a long time – I was in the military, and then I traveled for work – I was basically gone for several years. I moved back in 2012. I’ve lived in a lot of places, and Springfield is pretty special. As long as we enable our community to be on par … I think that it’s going to do amazing things for our economy.
SBJ: What about rural broadband? There’s been a huge push for that, with hundreds of millions in federal funds coming into this area. Are we at a turning point?
Reding: Yes, absolutely. The advances in satellite and 5G … that is really what makes this a reality for workers to be anywhere, even where hard-wired solutions have been problematic. We’ve seen just an insane amount of leaps and bounds with satellite over the last few years.
SBJ: How is the technology workforce trending?
Reding: We hired three people this year in the middle of a pandemic. It’s tricky. There is a critical need for security professionals, as opposed to your traditional (information technology) people. There’s a lot of people that got into that, and we needed it. But now the market’s pretty well saturated.
A baked goods vendor at Farmers Market of the Ozarks expanded to a brick-and-mortar operation; the first lending center for Old Missouri Bank opened; and London Calling Pasty Co. added a new food truck.