When the digital revolution began in the late ’90s, Brian Manning ’96 recognized the rumblings. He was project manager for the launch of Barnes & Noble’s online music store, which made the front page of The Wall Street Journal.
These days, Manning’s mission is to help businesses not only change, but thrive in the digital sphere. Centric Digital, the digital transformation company he and Jason Albanese co-founded in 2009, claims the number 34 spot on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. in 2014. It occupies the top spots in New York state and New York City.
“The world is going through a transformation in which traditional businesses are moving to adapt,” says Manning, president and chief digital officer. “We look at the trends, help them benchmark against best practices and competitors, and shape their strategies.”
Clients include health care companies, retail stores, finance companies, media and entertainment companies, and nonprofits.
For the world’s largest nonprofit health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, Centric helped consolidate separate websites that had emerged as the organization adopted digital marketing as a key element in its fundraising efforts. While it was moving in the right direction with digital marketing, multiple platforms required a lot of maintenance and made it difficult to integrate new features.
Manning, a mechanical engineering graduate, has always been adept at solving problems. “People say, ‘You have an engineering degree, and you’re not even using it. That’s such a waste.’ Absolutely not,” he says. “Engineering teaches how to break down and solve problems, which is the No. 1 skill you need in business—and especially consulting—because all clients have problems.”