The Fresnel Companies offers management ideas and assistance to its portfolio companies as part of its Enterprise Optimization strategy and the insight and wisdom of its Experts-in-Residence play a key part in the success. One such expert is Don Koscheka, a seasoned strategist in both information technology and business. He is currently a principal at Salt Brook Solutions. Previously, he was General Manager of the technology firm BlueMetal Architects, Inc., in New York, and a leader at Microsoft Corporation for 17 years in both consulting and technical marketing roles, where he consistently used a strategic approach to delivered multimillion-dollar revenue increases.

Don has a broad understanding of computer and device technology, everything from hardware to software. “What I like to do most is look at potential problems or potential solutions, using lateral thinking to figure out how to apply that to the real world,” he says. “The kind of thinking I like to do is take all the facts and put them on the table, to see what the relationships are between them, and see how technology can be applied to, quite bluntly, monetize those relationships.”

As a partner in a managed-services IT consulting firm, Don worked with his partners to develop a plan that would set their company apart. A cornerstone of Don’s strategy is to do real research, and listen to the insights that the data provides. “Customers told us about their experiences. Talking to customers and talking to clients, listening is really important,” Don says. “For example, clients say, ‘I hate when I get nickeled and dimed—if I call to ask simple question, I get a bill. What kind of relationship is that?’ What we heard is that customers want one-stop shopping and they want one price. And it turns out they’re willing to pay a little bit more for that.” The partners listened to the customers’ needs and focused on the relationship.

Don takes the same tack when he advises managers whose companies are in The Fresnel Companies portfolio: Listen to what the data is saying. This advice can be invaluable for companies that are built on the foundation of a great idea, but sometimes may need some help in finding out how to make it really work in the market.

“That’s what most technology people get wrong,” Don says. “They fall in love with the technology. Don’t solve a problem that you think is a problem, solve the problem that the general public thinks is the problem.”