There is little question that success in business is built on smart ideas, those brainstorms in the middle of the night that become great new products and services.
That's the reason SBN Magazine and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield created the Innovation in Business Conference.
This year's event, also sponsored by Andersen, Nextel, LaSalle Bank, Divine and Hughie's Audio Visual, honors 12 individuals -- four Master Innovators, five Visionaries and three Rising Stars -- for their smart ideas.
Picked by a panel of judges that includes Dr. Stephen Gage, president of CAMP Inc., Dorothy Baunach, director of NorTech and Cleveland Tomorrow, Jeffrey Dollinger, executive director of business development for the National Inventors' Hall of Fame, and Don Philabaum, president of the Internet Association Corp., this year's honorees represent a wide berth of innovative strategies, products and services.
In addition to the 12 honorees, whose stories you'll read on the following pages, this year we have designated 14 others as Finalists. Our judging panel found their stories enlightening and deserving of mention for their innovative ideas:
Dennis Barba Jr., e2Grow. Combines local content and online enabling services for small businesses to develop revenue-generating Web presences.
Ernie Hawk and Marcia Harris, KraftMaid Cabinetry. Designed a unique multimedia training program to educate resellers of built-to-order cabinetry.
Nancy Diller-Shively, Cambridge Home Health Care. Home health care provider that employs a philosophy of "happy staff = happy clients."
Dr. Frank Seidelman and Daniel H. Quigg, RIS Logic. Radiology information system software developers.
Doug Weintraub, Centerprise Information Solutions. Provides back office accounting and front office technology solutions with effective implementation and training.
Philip Wenk, Creative Playrooms. Child care centers that provide parents with service rivaled only by mom.
Deb Janik, Village Capital Corp. Since 1998, Janik has helped commit more than $14 million in loan and grant financing to inner city projects.
William Ryan, Master Consulting Group. The impetus behind the creation of the Northeast Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce by providing employee benefits and human resources expertise.
Rachel Torchia, Gateway Title Agency. Developed a proprietary service that helps people who sell their house "by owner."
James Fisher, IdeaStar. Designed two proprietary products -- GalaxyBuilder and CorpMeetings -- to solve clients' back-end needs for front-end problems.
Packy Hyland Jr., Hyland Software. Hyland's OnBase enterprise software integrates document management capabilities in a single Web-based application.
Dr. Ronald Copeland, Dr. Allan Khoury, Kaiser Permanente. Electronically linked its 10,000 physicians and other care providers in 19 states through a proprietary Medical Automated Record System (MARS).
Ed Hollinshead, Websprocket. Designed "smart packet" technology that paves the way for second generation computer architectures and smart networks.
Barbara Brown and Margaret Flynn, BrownFlynn Communications. Full-service strategic communications company that specializes in community education and outreach.