WV State Journal, By Ann Ali, email@example.com
There’s no reason ever to write on paper or to type something twice, according to Kent Milholland, president of NeoNexus Corp.
“Most people right now, when they are in the field, write stuff down on paper,” Milholland said. “In the engineering firm they make these fancy waterproof pens and waterproof pads of paper so you can write in the rain. But even if you do that, you’ve got to go back to the office. Someone re-keys that information and puts it into software somewhere else, and that always bugged me.”
Milholland, an engineer by training, spent 12 years working for Columbia Gas, becoming known as a software guru.
“I’ve always had a strong IT software slant, and I taught myself how to program,” he said. “I became kind of well known as someone who seems to be able to get software to work.”
Milholland’s last project at Columbia included a Web system that allowed 10 to 12 different vendors to access Web-based information. The system saved Columbia about $80,000 a month, and Milholland said it easily paid for itself and made him realize he could do the same thing for other people.
“I got a big feather in my cap for putting one out that works, that people use and that makes money,” he said. “I’d been playing with the idea of starting my own company for years, but I didn’t even know what the heck that meant. But this seemed like a good opportunity.”
Milholland said he started by doing Web-data management software, very similar to what he did at Columbia, and then began doing Web-design-something he entered carefully.
“I found out there were alot of people doing it, but not doing it right,” he said. “Like an engineer, I developed a system to do it right.”
His latest endeaver feeds his belief in digital information management.
“Laptop computers work great for travelers who meet at offices or Internet cafes,” Milholland said. “But try running one on the back of a pickup truck at a construction site in the rain while wearing protective clothing.”
He watched the personal digital assistant trends and didn’t think people would really use their PDA’s, but when smartphones- full featured mobile phones with a computer software functionality -came around, Milholland knew it was time to make a move.
“When smartphones came around, I figured everyone carries around a cell phone, but it does other stuff, so now maybe they’d consider using it,” he said. “So it was enough waiting around, and we made a data collection tool that runs on Smartphone.”
Milholland started the project in August 2005, but he quickly found that programmers don’t have to be as efficient anymore, thanks to beefed-up hardware offerings from companies such as Dell and Intel. So he ended up going through two programmers before he found the right one.
The software has only been out for about 12 weeks. It allows field technicians to capture data directly to a digital tool. They can then synchronize it with a computer and move that data directly to where they need it, such as Excel, Word or Web applications. Milholland is excited about the idea of a device with wireless Internet capabilities, because then the synchronization can occur in real time.
“It is that simple and that compatible,” he said. “I went to a trade show in Columbus. It’s attended by the environmental departments of the military… Lots of people stopped by and were saying, “Wow, somebody’s using the smartphone for something other than games.”
Milholland said the software is scattered across the country for tests. He has someone in California who wants to be a re-seller, and he even got the technology in the hands of Environmental Simulations, an engineering firm based in Shrewsbury, England.
Milholland said he had contacts in the environmental industry, so the current software is focused on environmental data. But since people have realized he has the ability to customize any application, he’s been looking at other industries that may need the software.
He said he’s waiting to get real-world testimonials from people who have used the software to save money, but he only has fans at this point, since the product is hot off the presses.
“I’m talking to developers and construction workers, because with this they can approve invoices without having to go back to the office,” he said. “My interest now is building more applications…I think appraisers could use it, I’m not sure. There was an appraiser here last week, and he wrote a bunch of stuff on a piece of paper.”
For more informationa bout NeoNexus, visit wp.proj