Jim VanderMey

“Paddle boarding requires a constant sense of balance and awareness of your environment because you’re constantly in motion. This is kind of like my work — everything is always changing and you have to adapt.”

Chief Innovation Officer, Open Systems Technologies

Jim VanderMey is the Chief Innovation Officer for Open Systems Technologies (OST), providing technical leadership and product strategic planning for the organization and its clients. “OST has the ability to help our customers think about coupling analytics, mobile application development and the Internet of Things. We have taken sensor data from industrial equipment that generates more than 25 million rows of data per day, collected it in a data warehouse and then created analytics that help product designers and service managers reduce cost and improve quality while simultaneously presenting that information to the consumer or end-user via a mobile application. It creates new value for the customer, the manufacturer and OST.”  

VanderMey is a self-confessed healthcare technology geek. “We do fantastic work in healthcare: helping hospitals setup reliable infrastructures for their electronic health records, app development, building portals, advanced analytics — all with a vision of improving the life of clinicians and impacting patient well-being. The work we do in this space matters to people. Personally, I gather a ton of information on myself through devices that attach to my phone: EEG (brain waves), ECG, blood pressure, respiration, weight, activity — and I am trying out a smartphone-attached otoscope to see if there is a more convenient way for parents of young children to engage with their doctors in the treatment of possible ear infections. Technology is changing healthcare and OST is right in the middle of this.”

“Dan Behm and I started this company together and have reinvented it several times over the last 18 years. Our products and services are always changing and evolving. This requires deep technical and math skills for the analytics and data and a deep understanding of human behavior, sociology and design thinking to develop great applications and products. When we marry them together, it gives us a remarkable capacity to solve problems.”

VanderMey recalls as a teenager reading a series of articles about building your own computer in Popular Electronics magazine. From there, he purchased a RadioShack TRS-80 and an Apple II. He started to learn coding and began to program for retail environments, doctors’ offices, insurance companies and nonprofit organizations. “Through programming, I was able to work my way through college and was on a path to the ministry. Upon the advice of my advisors, I switched paths and pursued a tech career but I still fall back on my background in pastoral ministry all the time. It helps me communicate with people, and my work at OST is a different venue for doing that.”

VanderMey comes from a non-traditional background. “I have a degree certificate in pastoral ministries from Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music (now part of Cornerstone University), but feel that most of my education and training has come through experience. For over 30 years, I have done tech work and consulting for insurance companies, healthcare organizations and manufacturers.”

“I encourage people not to put themselves in a box. Creative people can be technical and technical people can be creative. When these two disciplines are combined, that’s when we can solve problems, make a difference and create something of value.” 

– Interviewed by Matthew Totsky