The Inc Magazine - Top 10 Best Innovative CTOs to Know: Mark Stross
December 1, 2023
The Inc Magazine
Visionary, technologist, and strategist Mark Stross is a fine example of innovative leadership in the field of technology. He is the CTO of ANC, a pioneer and leader in the video display and digital signage sectors. Born in London and brought up in the United States, Mark is fascinated by how Americans interact with technology. Being a brave and naturally creative person, Mark continues to explore these patterns personally and professionally across his career in the display technology and software industry.
Renowned Technologist and Strategist, Efficiently Accelerating Growth with ANC
Driven to Create an Impact
The phone call that Mark received 25 years ago transformed his trajectory completely. ANC invited him to see seventy narrow digital signs repeated in a strip around the bowl of an arena in action. They followed up by asking, “If you built this, how would you make it better?” This was the beginning of his tremendous career with ANC and the creation of the 360-degree ongoing fascia board; the long, thin visual ribbon boards that currently exist in most major arenas.
He was unaware at the moment that his path would take him to many of the most recognizable locations in the nation to create immersive experiences. The visionary leader dedicated most of his career to pushing the frontiers of ANC’s industry-leading venue technology and their software control system, LiveSync, including the landmark 270-foot display at the Westfield World Trade Center in New York. He is pleased to have built connections with top LED brands, sports teams, entertainment venues, and manufacturers worldwide, in addition to directing a vibrant team of gifted software experts.
ANC: Some Valuable Insights
Over the past 25 years, ANC has been transforming a variety of commercial spaces into immersive and spectacular digital media experiences, from world-class sports and entertainment arenas to famous transportation hubs. Offering the most reliable single-source solution in the business, their diverse range of services combines cutting-edge audiovisual technologies, creative content production, multimedia advertising solutions, deep technical integration experience, and faultless operational execution. Some of their iconic partners include the Seaport District Pier 17 and the Tin Building of The Howard Hughes Corporation, Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Fenway Park, Gainbridge Fieldhouse, and numerous collegiate sports stadiums.
The Inspiration Behind the Initiation
This notable man first believed he was destined for a career in entertainment after graduating from Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design. Todd Stevens, the producer of Major Dad and Friends, was his first client. While producing Mysteries from Beyond the Other Dominion together, Mark began developing technology that would allow television production to be automated. This taught him how to design tools to increase productivity and—unbeknownst to him at the time—eventually led to the creation of core technologies for ANC.
Future Trends in the Spotlight
The speed of technological advancement is faster than human resilience. To stay up to date, one must use modern instruments. Mark advises that leaders need to investigate integration options with their services as new trends develop, like AI technology, since the ability to use and monetize these technologies as efficiently as possible is a competitive race.
Mark’s Perspective: How to Stay Resilient in the Dynamic Industry
Mark believes productivity and the ability to meet deadlines determine your level of competence in technology. However, you need to put your trust in your team to succeed. Every person on the team is crucial; leveraging diverse skills to generate deliverables has been Mark’s secret weapon. Getting caught up in “a great idea” without group debate does not usually create good results.
“I have always been able to create effective teams and foster a collaborative atmosphere, thanks to ANC’s leadership. I believe in devoting time to discovering each person’s superpower; enabling them to reach their full potential. It is only by bringing out the best in every team member that you can regularly create amazing innovations.”
TechByte: The Unique Initiative by the Visionary
People are so immersed in technology in this network society that digital platforms are starting to rule our lives. As a leader, a father, and a technologist, Mark is uniquely positioned to educate and empower people as we navigate this new world.
With thought-provoking insights and real-life anecdotes, he unveils the hidden costs of digital addictions and challenges readers to reconsider their relationship with technology. People are becoming aware of the ways in which businesses, tech companies, and algorithms dehumanize and control us. To regain control, they need a plan that calls on everyone to participate, comprehend the issues, and be the change.
A Diverse and Creative Workforce
In technology today, companies need to increase the number of qualified applicants with knowledge in the field of technology. To encourage bright new minds to enter the sector, Mark is actively working with Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, (Canada) to establish the first college program in digital signage, which will help broaden the pool of candidates.
“I think it’s crucial to be adaptable and meet each creative person on their own terms when it comes to innovation and uniqueness. Managers want the creative individual to submit to the process far too frequently. In my experience, that doesn’t yield very good results. Rather, I want the team to feel invested in the goal, to be respected, cared for, and supported in any conflict pertaining to the workplace. If people know you care, they end up caring, too”, the team leader says.
The Unique Definition of Success
Success is having fun as a team while having an impact. Mark enjoys taking on the impossible and creating a work of art. That is a good day’s work.
A Look at the Gender Pay Gap
There is a diverse team at ANC, but like most companies, Mark feels there is room for improvement. One strategy Mark suggests to bridge the hiring gap in technology is to establish college programs, as women are still underrepresented in this field. There is a great deal of work to be done to expand the pool of potential applicants.
Future Prospects to Thrive For
This year, ANC introduced the first installation of premium 3D graphics in the content management system at PPG Paints Arena, home of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2024, the company plans to broaden the software into a SAAS model available to all its partners. Additionally, the data-driven advertising approach, which enables real-time bidding by sponsors on TV with visible in-arena signage at sporting events, is another innovative and exciting development. For instance, during prime viewing, an advertiser can step up their presence if a game goes into overtime.
Words of Wisdom
Mark reminds us that ‘you are not an island of knowledge.’ Seek out partners and companies that make investments in their employees. We can achieve great things together. No single individual will have all the answers. A culture of collaboration will yield the greatest results in people and products.