Interactive’s Don Brown and the Bulldog Nation Talk Disruption

Dr. Donald E. Brown,  CEO, Interactive Intelligence; Mr. James Danko, President, Butler University; and Mr. Pete Williams, CIO, Butler University

Recently, Interactive Intelligence CEO Dr. Donald E. Brown met with Butler University’s President, James M. Danko to celebrate our contribution to Butler’s Innovation Fund. Butler utilizes this fund to foster creativity, facilitate collaboration and inspire excellence in the form of grants to students, faculty and staff.

It turns out the successful software entrepreneur and the university president have an awful lot in common.  With more degrees than a thermometer, Brown isn’t your typical businessman; and with firm roots in the business world, not academia, Danko isn’t your typical university president.

The University President: Leadership, Vision and Cultural Change

When Danko is not at campus events or in faculty meetings, he spends time contemplating leadership, the strategic vision of the university and ways he can motivate cultural change.  He works diligently to communicate to the administration, faculty and students about how the use of innovation can positively affect organizational and cultural changes.

Danko is uniquely positioned to engage entrepreneurs, like Brown, who understand that maintaining status quo is the death knell. Danko has challenged Butler’s faculty, students and alumni to engage one another across disciplines, as well as the community for ideas, resources and support.  He wants to release the constraints that faculty and students feel.  He also wants to open the campus to alumni and leadership across the city in order to engage the students.

The Software Entrepreneur: Innovation, Disruption and the Cloud

Brown is likewise no stranger to building and changing organizations.  His first start-up was sold to EDS shortly after he graduated from medical school.  His second company, Software Artistry, was the first IPO in the tech sector in the state of Indiana, which was later sold to IBM.  Now in his third software company, Interactive Intelligence, has a market cap of $1.4b.

Having spent the last four years developing an omnichannel customer engagement cloud solution, PureCloud Engage, in Raleigh-Durham’s Research Triangle Park, he spoke to Danko about the need to separate oneself from the day-today in order to find the creative energy and the will to leap ahead.  Brown shared his view that it is nearly impossible to make bold, strategic moves when your company is managing the norm.  Despite best efforts and intentions, employees must free themselves from incremental thinking in order to create disruptive change.

Joining Forces to Fuel Innovation

Brown noted that Interactive has long valued Butler University as one of Indy’s most important community assets.  Danko shared that every major city has an important, innovative school that is core to the community.  Washington, D.C. has Georgetown; Philly has Villanova; and Indy has Butler University.  Butler’s CIO, Pete Williams, and their VP Marketing and Innovation, Melissa Beckwith have made a tremendous impact in engaging the community.  They have supported the Downtown Speakeasy, a collaborative co-working space which attracts tech talent in large part.  Why? Because Butler, at the end of the day, is in the talent business.

Already, Butler is collaborating with High Alpha advisors and others like Salesforce, on some business strategies.  Brown sees this type of interaction with tech investors like himself, Mark Hill, Scott Dorsey and others working alongside up-and-coming talent with the passion, energy and commitment to succeed as the key ingredients for the tech sector’s flourishing prospects in Indy.

Butler is feeling the positive response, not only from Indy, but across the globe.  Admission applications are soaring in from around the country.  The Bulldog nation brand is strong.  Whether you visit campus to see a game at Hinkle Fieldhouse or take in a musical at Clowe’s Hall or work on business plans with students at the Andre Lacy School of Business, Butler is an incredibly inviting place that is filled with energy and innovation.  Interactive Intelligence is proud to support their Innovation Fund, and to call Butler University a partner

Todd Pedersen

Todd Pedersen

Todd Pedersen is the vice president of corporate affairs at Interactive Intelligence. He currently manages relationships with the corporate community, as well as local, state and federal governments to create competitive opportunities for Interactive Intelligence.