Ruben Reyes: Transformative Tech in a Transitional World

In the supply chain market, technology reigns supreme. The companies capable of leveraging modern technology in every aspect of their supply chain are the ones capable of creating a truly resilient and sustainable business model. However, this is often easier said than done. At Stimulus, we pride ourselves on working with the most dedicated and experienced team of data analysts, business and sales experts, leaders, and marketing executives from all walks of life. It is with these key insights and assets that Stimulus has been able to redefine supply chain technology and create lasting connections with major players in the market for a more inclusive and localized future.

As the Chief Technology and Product Officer at Stimulus, Ruben Reyes plays a highly crucial role in the functionality of the Stimulus Relationship Intelligence platform as well as the development of future-forward tech for the industry as a whole. As CTO, Reyes helps with product strategy, UI/UX, analytics, and managing the engineering teams. He is a results-driven leader with proven achievements in driving digital transformation and developing and launching successful new products from the ground up. But, to truly see the integral role this powerful leader plays in the company and the industry as a whole, we sat down with Reyes to ask him some of the top tech questions we’re sure our readers would love to dive into — starting with his experience in the industry and technology development overall.

Developing Diverse Skills in a Diverse Setting

Although Reyes now works with our team in the United States, his journey began in Venezuela where he grew up and began his career in technology as well, “I’m originally from Venezuela. I trained as an electronic engineer. I have more than 20 years of work experience in a variety of areas. I’ve worked in telecommunications, worked in software development, operations, web development, mobile app development, you name it. 20 years is a long time, so I’ve done quite a lot of things. In terms of parallel positions to the role I hold at Stimulus now, I worked with companies like Comcast managing the development of a suite of roughly 20 websites and a few mobile apps that accompanied them. Some of them were content driven, others were video driven, and even more had a social network component to them. The common element between all of them is that I assisted in the development of software in some capacity.”

At Stimulus, Reyes and the team is building the Stimulus Relationship Intelligence Platform (SRIP) in order to create a more equal and streamlined supply chain management network for all industries. SRIP combines data insights, relationship-building tools, and a proprietary score to help companies make the best purchasing decisions while optimizing and growing their supplier network. Stimulus helps companies to choose the right suppliers and fulfill business objectives by utilizing location-based and diversity criteria to easily compare suppliers. By using relevant metrics and multiple data points, companies can quickly match suppliers to available contract opportunities.

As Reyes explains, this is one of his main specialties and helps him to stand apart from others in the industry as well, “With a strong tech background, my jobs have always been in software and tech but, personally, I believe one thing that differentiates me from other CTOs is that I have the ability to communicate with non-technical people. I’ve always had the ability to have good communication and be able to translate what a non-technical client or a non-technical team members might be asking for from a technical product, then turn around and talk to the technical team and understand what they’re saying as well. Being able to be that conduit where I can have conversations from a technical perspective as well as a business perspective has been my strongest skill for many years.”

In an industry as complicated as the supply chain market, this ability to see the tech products from every angle has helped Stimulus to develop a platform that doesn’t just appeal to data analysts and techies but can also benefit and be intuitive for standard business owners and suppliers as well.

Fueling the Future of Supply Chain Tech With Stimulus

Although Reyes’ experience in the industry is clear, the reason for choosing to work with Stimulus might not be as easily defined. Fortunately, Reyes’ ability to explain his decisions definitively helps to make it clear, “I’m doing all those things that I love about technology and development. In my role, I oversee product management and technology, and that’s what I love to do. I also am enjoying the process of building Stimulus from scratch. It is a very interesting process and it provides me with a lot of satisfaction to see the product evolving. I really like challenges, and the last thing that I want is something that is monotonous or repetitive in my day-to-day work. Challenges can come in different ways, and just going through the process of understanding the challenge, trying to find a solution, and learning new things in the process provides me with a lot of satisfaction.”

However, this isn’t the only thing that brings Reyes joy when working with the amazing team at Stimulus, “Even though supply chain wasn’t necessarily an area that I searched or sought to be a part of, I am incredibly proud of the work we are doing to redefine the industry through tech. After I started working with Tiffanie Stanard, CEO/Founder, I got to really understand the impact that a supply chain has in all kinds of businesses, and I also started to see the vision that she had in terms of how technology is moving to solve the problems and improving how supply chains are managed. I wanted to help actualize Tiffanie’s vision in order to use supply chain management as a way to create a positive impact in our society.”

Reyes strongly emphasized the importance of embracing diversity through the tech work that he is doing with Stimulus as well as streamlining and empowering the industry as a whole, “When we’re talking about diversity, opportunity, and increasing competitiveness, all those things are being redefined and made possible for a more diverse spread of businesses and suppliers thanks to the work we are doing. I’m a believer in the importance of diversity, you can justify it from a moral perspective, but there is a very tangible business case to be made for diversity and inclusivity as well.”

The main issues that Reyes believes Stimulus can help companies overcome through their tech developments are the comfort of exclusivity and the feeling of burden that diversity is often associated with, “As humans, even people that are not necessarily intending to be exclusive are just doing what is the most convenient, easy, and fast — but that’s not always the most inclusive or diverse choice. We tend to work and talk to the people that we know, and the people that they recommend. So there is a natural inertia to just keep working with the people that you already know. And if you’re starting from an environment that is not diverse, you will continue to see that lack of diversity. On top of this, many times, these diversity and inclusion programs feel like a burden because we are asking procurement managers and others in the organization to meet certain quotas of diversity and inclusion, but they don’t necessarily have the tools to make that happen easily. That’s one of the things that we want to improve with our product to be able to streamline and simplify this whole process.”

The Delicate Journey From Idea to Product

As a Chief Technology and Product Officer, Reyes must be capable not just of developing a product but helping it transform from a simple idea into a fully successful product that perfectly aligns with the wants and needs of the industry and users. As he explains, it’s a very delicate journey, “It’s a very fine balance. There are two extreme approaches that you can take when you’re going from idea to product. Firstly, you can choose to do the bare minimum. This option focuses on making sure that at every stage you complete the bare minimum and you don’t move forward until you have absolute validation that the product is what people can and want to use. Then you use feedback and the development of new iterations to perfect your product over time. On the other hand, you have the exact opposite where you spend all the resources and time to build an amazing product before it even launches. Personally, I think it’s all about navigating that process of going from start to launch and then beyond launch. You have to bring forth your own ideas and there’s a risk that you have to take in investing in creating things, but you shouldn’t go too far that you put the company at risk without validation that it will actually work. On the opposite end, if you go too safe, it will take forever and you might not ever catch up to the market as other competitors that see the idea are willing to take more risk. So, I see it as a balance of those two areas.”

Reyes also explained how the actual design and development of the tech product takes great consideration likewise, “From a technical perspective, and related to balancing, you must ask yourself how robust and how detailed you want to be when building things technically. There are many ways in which you can build somethingThere’s the ‘duct tape approach,’ which is like, ‘let’s put it together, let’s make sure that it works, but it doesn’t necessarily have to have all the elements that make it robust, help it to perform well, make it scalable, and all those things that you want in a larger scale operation.’

So you have that approach, which focuses more on quantity over quality, but as you’re moving out of those very early stages, and you start getting paying customers and investors, you need to start transitioning from that mindset into the mindset of building things the right way. You need to have the necessary security system in place, the necessary robustness, reliability, and scalability. Knowing and identifying how to shift gears into the more robust and formal way of building things as the program evolves is what helps companies to succeed and grow without scaling setbacks.”

The Integration of Tech for Supply Chain Success

Although technology development is something that every industry is heavily focused on nowadays, the supply chain market is finally beginning to streamline every process with these data-centric and diverse software solutions. As Reyes explains, technology will impact not just the small day-to-day operations of this industry but the larger scale of tech evolution in the market as well, “The way I see the role of technology in supply chain management is in the larger scale of a technology evolution. You’re probably familiar with the term CRM, customer relationship management, and ERP, enterprise resource planning. Those are the early systems of businesses that were automated way back in the 90s. Another area that saw a lot of development was HR-related functions. This included recruiting, evaluation, benefits, etc. Essentially, the whole lifecycle of an employee was defined by tech and data. Supply chain has been an area that has not seen that technology development and is now coming up from behind at last. If you’re a small business, the idea of you having a CRM system is a given; there is HubSpot, Salesforce, and many more to choose from. When you think of supply chain management, it’s not the same. So, I see the role of technology in this industry impacting the ease of supply chain management for companies of all sizes from a macro perspective in that way, and that’s why Stimulus is thriving because the need for this tech is there just begging to be answered.”

However, as Reyes explains, this can’t be possible without intuitive UI/UX principles being highly considered and implemented in the production and development process, “We’re big believers in usability, and that’s why we put a lot of emphasis on UI/UX. There are great tools out there that fall to the wayside just because nobody wants to use them or because they’re cumbersome to use and take too much effort to navigate. We have to provide our users with tools that they want to use. From a functionality perspective, it has to have the things that they need and want in a simple format. You probably have done these repetitive tasks where you have to click something five times or open a link in a new tab just because of UI issues. Little things like that really add up to the perception that users have of a tool. And if we can create a good experience for those users, then they’re going to use the tool more, and they’re going to get the benefits out of the tool as well.”

Reyes also explained how UI/UX data analytics should be top priority when developing tech as well, “In terms of data and insights, we believe that UI/UX should come first. We want to make sure that people are using the tool, and the more people using the tool, the more data we’re going to be able to track on the tool. We’re collecting that data, and that’s what is going to empower insights which we can then feed back again into the whole process to make life easier for our users. So, it’s all connected.”

Reyes then ended by explaining how the Stimulus’ platform will make the user experience even better than the competition, “There are some areas of information where we think that we’re going to be unique. That has to do with the concept of opportunities. Going back to diversity and inclusion opportunities, one of the things that is important, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses, is the ability to know ahead of time when opportunities will become available. For example, let’s say that I need a supplier to supply me with 500 pizzas every Thursday. Obviously, I need a pizza shop that can handle that amount of work. Now, I may be looking at a potential list of suppliers and some of them may look like they don’t have the capacity today. But, we can create new opportunities if we have additional information about the suppliers. While they may not have the capacity right now, we may be able to see that they do have all the things in place to be able to make that leap alongside your company in a month or two months. So, there is a lot of areas of additional data not traditionally found in company profiles that we think will make a big difference and overcome those challenges of discovering new suppliers.”

Learning Sustainability at Every Business Level

As a leader with diverse experience in large fortune 100 companies as well as startup environments, Reyes shared what he feels both large and small companies can learn from each other to create a sustainable business model moving forward, “The one thing that many startups and small businesses miss is the need to create repeatable processes. You want to make sure that whatever you’re doing is being done right and is documented and done consistently — for two reasons. One is that you want to make sure that whatever you’re doing is being done consistently and in the same way every time. As people change in the organization, you want to make sure that the new people follow the same processes. That’s one of the things that happens particularly with startups once they begin to become successful. They have the need to hire people and the quality and standards fall away because they lack a way to communicate to enforce those processes, procedures, and methodologies.

The other part of having those things documented and making sure that they are repeatable is that you can evaluate them and improve them. If there isn’t a reason and a standard way of doing things, then it’s very hard to evaluate if something is working or not working or to find areas of improvement. When you go to very large companies, it seems like there is this bureaucratic process, but there is a reason for this. Not everything that seems bureaucratic about large companies is just there for the sake of being bureaucratic but rather because it ensures that there are certain safeguards, that processes are followed, and that there is a paper trail.”

In the same sense, Reyes believes that large companies can also learn from their smaller counterparts, “For large businesses, it’s very common to hear that they are not as agile or nimble as small businesses. If a large business has an idea or they want to develop an idea, they need to have a separate group that doesn’t operate with the same burdens as the regular standard operations of the company. This group should have a startup mentality of getting things done quick and dirty. At the end, sometimes what large companies end up doing is just purchasing startup companies to achieve this flexibility for new ideas.”

The 3 Main Challenges of the Industry — and how to Overcome Them

The final topic that we chose to cover with Ruben Reyes was the main challenges that the supply chain market currently faces as well as how he believes companies can overcome them. In response, he explained, “The first part is supplier discovery. It’s finding those suppliers beyond word of mouth. What people usually do is go to Google, go and ask their family, go ask a colleague with a similar job title, or even ask a different company. As such, they end up working with the same people that they already know. Related to that comes the selection process. How do we evaluate potential suppliers? How do we compare them? You’ll be surprised to see in very large companies that this process is done with Excel files. They just ask a bunch of questions and they have all the answers along with a criteria specified for each question. Then, they have some sort of point system for each question and they tabulate the points to select someone which is hardly simple, effective, or streamlined. It’s something that we want to fix with Stimulus to provide our customers with tools to streamline that selection and comparison process.

Finally, the evaluation process. Evaluation has to do with performance. Once the supplier has been hired and they start doing work, are there processes for keeping track of their performance? Or, is it something that is just a subjective opinion? One of the interesting things that Stimulus is bringing to the table is not just giving you tools for that, but creating feedback loops of all of these with each other. For example, with the selection process, one of the things that we’re building is the ability to have this library of questions. That has two benefits. One is as a supplier, I don’t have to go in and answer the same question over and over again. But then, from a buyer perspective, imagine that you come in and you prepare your questionnaire for suppliers and as soon as you put it there and start adding the companies that you’re considering, there’s already a bunch of questions answered. That’s just one example but our processes should help with election, comparison, and evaluation all at once making it perfect for simplifying supply chain management for all parties involved.”

All in all, we are inspired by Ruben’s very experienced and unique perspective on tech development and production from all angles. We are happy to have him on the Stimulus team and look forward to our continued success and growth. To learn more about the Stimulus Relationship Intelligence Platform (SRIP) check out getstimulus.io today.

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Stimulus, Inc.

Stimulus, a relationship intelligence software that helps companies build more valuable vendor and supplier relationships.