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Innovation at Tampa Bay companies drives gains in jobs, business services, coupons

Margie Manning



Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Initiatives that helped people find a job after Hurricane Irma, get discount offers into the hands of those most interested in them and made collaboration easier between Coca-Cola bottlers are in the running for “Technology Project of the Year” from Tampa Bay Tech.

The award is one of about a dozen that Tampa Bay Tech, Florida’s largest technology council, will hand out at a Nov. 9 ceremony.

The award finalists — Geographic Solutions Inc., MercuryWorks and Valpak — each used in-house teams to create a project with regional, national and/or international impact.

Here’s a look at each of the projects.

Geographic Solutions, a Palm Harbor company that develops and implements online employment software for state and local government agencies, collaborated with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to launch the Disaster Recovery Job Portal, after Hurricane Irma caused billions of dollars in damages last year.

Many businesses were temporarily, and in some cases, permanently closed after the storm. The portal was designed to help residents find employment, and hundreds of thousands of job seekers logged on, the company said. A large number of employers also used the site to create hundreds of jobs  listings, many of which revolved around relief aid, the company said.

The team at Geographic Solutions

Results showed up in unemployment statistics, according to Geographic Solutions.

In the third quarter of 2017, which is when Hurricane Irma hit, Florida led the nation in net private-sector job losses, a decline of about 134,000 jobs.  But by late in 2017, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics job reports showed Florida had a net gain of 214,372 private-sector jobs, “up ticking the state’s ranking from worst to first nationwide in job creation,” Geographic Solutions said.

The company created a similar portal for residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

MercuryWorks, a Tampa digital application and professional services firm, partnered with Coca-Cola Business Services North America to create a technology platform used by Coca-Cola bottlers — the companies that hold licenses to manufacture, market, sell and distribute Coca-Cola products.

The team at MercuryWorks

Coca-Cola Business Services North America (BSNA) is a multi-function business services organization that provides finance, human resources, contact center and other services. Mercury said the platform it designed and developed touches nearly every facet of BSNA’s business, from their clients’ warehouse and delivery trucks to their own highly distributed workforce.

The system that resulted includes interrelated and connected collaboration platforms, extranets, applications, mobile apps, line-of-business apps and databases, Mercury said. It was built to scale vertically and horizontally as BSNA expands its client base and service offerings.

Valpak, a direct marketing company in St. Petersburg, can now provide hyper-targeted data for print, digital, and data services at the rooftop household level using its new custom-built list automation platform, the company said.

In order to create the new platform, Valpak’s franchise network had to shift the way its list data was selected and generated. The franchise network discontinued using third-party data providers, and Valpak transitioned all data services in-house.

It built the new platform using large data sets to rank and score each record, as well as custom algorithms to ensure the best data automatically gets selected and used to target to the household level.

Some of the team members who worked on Valpak’s list data transition and automation project.

The work involved more than 30 team members, more than 150 franchise owners and others from Valpak’s sales, marketing and IT teams.

“The science driving this new capability delivers much better data sets at a lower cost,” Valpak said. “It lays a solid groundwork for Valpak to provide even more sophisticated product offerings and data services in the future.”











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