Lakeshore and Technology

From Fortune 500 to family stores, Collective Idea covers wide range

Holland-based software company’s clients include health care, big business and data companies large and small.

April 28, 2017
| By Pat Evans |
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Coming together to help a company streamline its operations is Holland software company Collective Idea’s goal.

Since 2005, Collective Idea has provided custom software for companies ranging from Fortune 500 household names to the mom-and-pop operation on the corner, Collective Idea President Daniel Morrison said.

He said the 31-person firm is in growth mode as it continues to take on both B2B and B2C customers with web and mobile software requests.

Collective Idea works with clients ranging from event registration help to health care, big business and data companies.

“Customers are pretty broad,” Morrison said. “But we’re building products for all of them.”

For many of the larger clients the firm works with, Collective Idea is called upon to solve an issue with a process or a redundant system, Morrison said. Rather than integrating existing systems, Collective Idea builds new software to take care of tasks from front to back.

“Everyone has a bunch of systems to log into now, and most of them are terrible,” he said. “We go in, solve some problems and help make them work more efficiently. A lot of times, they know where the bottlenecks are, but we can go in and find new opportunities to streamline and eat up other systems and build new solutions to help get their job done faster.”

Other clients desire more consumer-facing products like a mobile app. In those cases, Collective Idea will help hone an idea for a client, build a prototype to prove it out and grow it to scale where it’s usable for an everyday customer.

Technology is to a point where most businesses need to integrate it into their operations, which is why Collective Idea is seeing its business grow, Morrison said. The knowledge of technology often has changed the conversation he has with clients.

“A few years ago, people would come in and say, ‘We need an app,’ but didn’t have money to create it or didn’t really need an app but a mobile-friendly website,” Morrison said. “Now, people know not necessarily a solution, but to ask what makes their business more efficient.”

Collective Idea’s growth largely has been fueled by existing customer demand, as they are demanding more time from the firm, Morrison said. Collective Idea generally works with 10 active customers at a time, with projects ranging from an eight-month timeframe demanding eight employees work on it full time, to a project with one person working on it occasionally.

The clients are based coast to coast.

The revenue size for Collective Idea projects range from multimillion-dollar, long-term engagements to a $20,000 prototype.

Even the smaller clients are asking for more from Collective Idea.

“We’re trying to keep everyone happy and trying to grab every opportunity we can,” Morrison said.

Because of the increasing requests by the customers, the company has added more team members and brought certain tasks in house, such as design.

Along with building software for clients, Collective Idea also can offer strategic planning to companies.

“We can go in and help a company navigate the waters and figure out if they need to hire a team or if we can be their team or just offer a virtual or interim CTO,” Morrison said.

The opportunity to save a client from having to hire a team of tech workers could be a life raft in today’s hiring market, Morrison said. Collective Idea benefits from a good amount of quality technology workers in Grand Rapids, along with a low cost of living and high quality of life.

“Nationwide, demand is really high and everyone is trying to hire,” he said. “There is a fight for quality talent. Everyone is having trouble hiring, and that makes it good for a company like ours that can go in and navigate that and get a company through a time with not a lot of talent in-house or a strategy to grow that.”

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