| Follow Us:


Putting Their Minds Over the Machines

A photo illustration of Tom Loveland, CEO, Mind Over Machines - Arianne Teeple
A photo illustration of Tom Loveland, CEO, Mind Over Machines - Arianne Teeple
It seemed like an innocent question. Ask Tom Loveland why he started Mind Over Machines, an IT solutions firm, 20 years ago and he just heaves a sigh.

"Should I tell the story again?" he reluctantly asks. His story of a few colleges, unpaid school loans, a collection agent and loans from friends is a perfect parable about the force of necessity and serendipity.

"I borrowed money from my friends to pay back the loans. Then, I quit my job so I could be an independent consultant to make money more quickly and pay my friends back. I paid them back and here we are," Loveland recalls.

"That was the great grand vision.Payback my friends and try to have some fun. Mind Over Machines on one hand was very much an accident. On the other hand when I look back at my life and history, what I've done, and who I am it's clear that this needed to happen. One way or the other I would have wound up here," he says.

You Are Here

Here just happens to be at the helm of a company whose philosophy revolves around guiding businesses to the best technology that fits their particular needs. Unfazed by the lightening fast speed of innovation in the IT sector, Mind Over Machine's guiding principle dictates that it is more important to provide clients with the software best suited for their business rather than the most technologically advanced solution.

Mind Over Machines uses a three-pronged approach based on strategy, user experience and development.

"It's a mix of three things. Everything we do has a component of strategic business consulting, helping companies figure out what they need to do and why they need to do it. The second part is what we call user experience design, which is figuring out how people can best interact with the kinds of things we're creating for companies, typically an application or system," explains Joe Natoli, director of User Experience.

"And the third part is designing and developing those applications and systems. But, at the core of everything is solving business problems. Companies come to us with a challenge, issues that they need to overcome," he adds

The three components work together and enable Mind Over Machines to offer its client the best possible outcome. Without discussing strategy, the software might solve the most immediate problem but could still be wrong for the businesses long-term goals. Don't consider user design and no one will use the software. Incorporate strategy and design without having the"chops to build something that's technologically sound" and the solution won't stand the test of time whether its being used by 17 people or 17,000.

"You need all three of those things," Loveland chimes in. "In our experience you need to have all three to be sure you can deliver a good result."

That, according to Natoli, is what sets Mind Over Machines apart from its competition.

Choosing the Right Technology

One of the company's advantages is that they ask their clients questions. "We use technology to make it happen, but that's secondary," says Dmitry Cherches, chief technology officer.

When Mind Over Machines execs meet with a client most of the conversation revolves around whatever their business challenge happens to be -- efficiency, growth, achieving market share, or cost-savings with very little talk about actual technologies.

"We spend a lot of time on those topics before we begin to consider what the gameplan is," notes Natoli.

Although some clients come to Mind Over Machines with specific software solutions with all the latest bells and whistles in mind, by asking the right questions they are able to guide clients to the best solution for their problem, says Cherches.

"If the client is not willing to think about, talk about what the real overall picture is, we may not be the best fit for them. We don't want to come in and just do a whiz bang solution and leave. We're really about delivering value and you really have to understand what's going on and be a partner," Loveland says.

A Successful Strategy

It's a strategy that seems to have paid off. In the past two decades, the company's projects have increased, growing from $5,000 in the first few years to multi-million dollar projects for national corporations today.

Powered by Mind Over Machine's software and systems, Loveland says the company's clients have grown as well, going from a startup to No. 3 in the nation or added millions to thier bottom line. One example of the value of a Mind Over Machine software solution is the loss prevention program it developed for long-time client Ikea, the Swedish furniture chain.

"The solution enables every Ikea store in North America to track each loss incident whether it is related to consumers or employees. If something gets damaged or something gets stolen, the system is smart enough to track all of that stuff and help them report it to the police and prosecute when necessary. It's a tracking system. And the system collects all the data gets collected when the incident happens ," Cherches explains.

The technology has proven so successful that Ikea has decided to deploy the system internationally in every Ikea around the world. Mind Over Machines will create different versions of the system depending on region and in multiple languages.

The company is also partnering with Elantech to create systems for first responders to fill out necessary paperwork, track and communicate with other agencies and teams while on the scene of an earthquake, flood or other disaster.

"What we're helping them develop is a system that will run on a small laptop or small netbook that they can carry and everything they need is automated. So that at the touch of Tbutton they can create assignments on the fly, see real-time map data, and see related incidences. The problem has been around for a long-time but new advances in technology, like Silverlight, Flex and other Rich Internet Applications are allowing us to do somethings that maybe five years ago we couldn't have done," Natoli says.

Location, location, location

In business many times location is a large part of success and that is true for Mind Over Machines, says Loveland. "On the most fundamental level its the business and relationships. We're building a company, building relationships. Yeah, I could pick-up and go do some coding anywhere but we're bulding relationships and histories here."

Baltimore also offers a business climate that is perfect for the company, according to Natoli. "In our business a lot hinges on relationships and that means you wind up having a deeper relationship with local clients, local business people and people we've partnered with and get advice from that we care about. The culture of this town is that there's an awful lot of communication. An awful lot of closeness and you don't get that in every city."

Proximity to DC, federal agencies and contractors is another powerful lure keeping Mind Over Machines in the area.

Loveland says he's developed a passion for the region. "I've really hooked intoafter twentysomething years. There are a lot of people in  the tech and arts community that are really trying to push that boulder. I mean this place is funky. A lot of people don't realize it, but this is the world capital for alternative music. There's great cultural things going on. And we believe in the Dr. Richard Florida thing about the creative class. We're part of the creative class and involved with David Troy and Mike Subelsky, Ignite Baltimore and TedxMidAtlantic and all that kind of stuff to help raise the water level for everybody."

Signup for Email Alerts
Share this page
Signup for Email Alerts