NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. This week on the NVTC blog, Aaron Trionfi of LMI shares three business-friendly strategies to increase the value of enterprise architecture.


Enterprise architects have long promised significant benefits to their organizations. Using Enterprise Architecture (EA) practices, they can uncover operational and technical redundancies, pinpoint overspending, and identify technology gaps and other risks. Unfortunately, these promises are often unmet. Why? Lack of simplified, business-focused communications between EA teams and executives.

EAs define the business, as well as the information and technology needed to operate the business. Enterprise architects use frameworks to capture current and alternative future states of an organization broken down into related elements, such as business functions, data, and technologies. Too often, these frameworks don’t yield results that decision-makers can use to better understand the risks and opportunities facing their organizations.

As a result, many executives fail to recognize the potential value EA shops can deliver. To unlock this value, decision-makers must clearly communicate the business questions they want their EA shop to try and answer.

Similarly, enterprise architects must learn to speak the language of their stakeholders. Rather than developing EA outputs that only other architects can understand, they must present results in a form that decision-makers can more readily consume.

Implementing three key strategies will facilitate communication between enterprise architects and business leaders, and improve the success rate of EA efforts. To better support organizational-level decision-making, enterprise architects need to

  • Create a simple model showing how organizational elements relate,
  • Tailor communications for different audiences, and
  • Provide business intelligence-based analyses.

1. Create a simple model showing how organizational elements relate

Most EA frameworks include an EA model describing the data elements. Unfortunately, these models routinely are based on a fixed set of EA products that fail to help answer pertinent business questions. Further, because EA data models are often developed using a Unified Modeling Language (UML) class diagram or entity-relationship diagram, enterprise architects struggle to convey to non-architects the importance of the EA data model for answering business questions.

Instead of enterprise architects focusing on a laundry list of EA products, they should develop an organization-specific conceptual EA data model with many of the complicated modeling elements removed. This simplified model describes organizational objects—such as goals, initiatives, projects, and investments—about which an EA program might collect data. Once the model is created, conversations can revolve around how linking the different data areas allows EA shops to answer business questions pertinent to stakeholders. Figure 1 shows a simplified model and how to tailor a discussion of the model around how it can be used to answer a specific business question.

figure1
Figure 1: A simplified EA metamodel describing the objects of the organization about which an EA program might collect data. The model clearly illustrates the data needs of the EA program and how the data can be integrated to answer business questions. This organizational-level example helped decision-makers manage strategic information technology (IT) investments.

 

2. Tailor communications for different audiences

Enterprise architects need to tailor communications to individual stakeholders. For instance, for financial executives, the communications might focus on how linking investment data to systems and applications can help determine how a reduction in specific investments will impact the maintenance of current business systems.

Conversely, for a functional office providing services, the communications could focus on understanding the impact on services if the staff executing a specific business function is reduced. The vocabulary and frameworks used to describe the architectures must have business relevance.

3. Provide business intelligence-based analyses

Senior executives are pressed for time. EA programs often fail to connect with leaders because they cannot effectively summarize information.

The growth of the business intelligence field gives EA programs powerful tools to analyze data and illustrate results in easy-to-understand formats. For example, the heat map in Figure 2 summarizes the number of applications that support specific business functions related to financial management.

Senior executives can quickly see that the red areas have more business applications supporting them and are, therefore, better candidates to examine for IT redundancies. Traditional EA approaches would yield a complex matrix and force the audience to summarize the data themselves. By presenting an audience with targeted business intelligence, the enterprise architect can deliver information that traditional EA formats cannot to audiences enterprise architects typically fail to reach.

figure2

Figure 2: A heat map showing financial management business functions—color-coded by the number of applications supporting those functions. Red represents more applications, yellow a moderate level,
and green a lower level.

Organizational benefits

Although a departure from traditional EA methods, employing these strategies will deliver significant organizational benefits, including:

  • Information that is consumable by business leaders and architects alike,
  • A simplified and less costly approach to EA
  • Less need for personnel with advanced modeling skills, making EA programs easier to staff.

When business leaders and enterprise architects speak the same language, the success rate of EA efforts increases. Enterprise architects can position themselves as enablers of data-driven decision-making, and executives will finally realize the value of their EA investment.


Aaron Trionfi is a staff member of LMI’s Enterprise Architecture team. He has supported U.S. government agency EA programs for roughly 6 years. During that time, he has developed architectures using multiple frameworks and every layer of architecture. Dr. Trionfi earned a Ph.D. in physics from Rice University and uses this foundation to bring a strong analytic approach to EA.

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Equity vs. Debt Financing: Pros and Cons

September 9th, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In his latest post on the NVTC blog, Matt Rajput of CohnReznick shares his the pros and cons on equity versus debt financing.


Even though there are many sources of capital in today’s market—commercial banks, investment banks, private equity, venture capital, angel investors, mezzanine lenders, crowdfunding, and IPOs—there are generally three forms of financing that technology companies access when they need capital: debt, equity, and a combination of the two.  Choosing one form of financing over another is situational.  Debt financing may be more appropriate for technology companies with assets to offer as collateral, while equity financing may be more attractive to technology companies in need of both financial and strategic investments.us_02_vector[1]

Debt Financing

Debt financing generally requires repayment of the amount borrowed along with interest. However, debt is non-dilutive. This means that if you own 100% of your company before borrowing, you’ll still own 100% of the company after the transaction has been closed.  Early stage companies with less of a proven track record, or companies without sufficient assets to offer as collateral, may find debt capital too costly and the covenants too onerous.

Unless company owners have deep pockets, early stage companies may find debt financing to be difficult to obtain as financial professionals typically evaluate the company’s ability to repay its debt through operating cash flow as a condition of the loan.  And, as many early stage companies have little or no revenue, this presents too great of a risk to the lender.

Equity Financing

Equity financing may be more accessible for growing technology companies.   As opposed to debt capital, equity capital is dilutive.  Once shareholders consummate the deal, they will transfer all or part of the ownership of the business to the equity investor in exchange for capital.   Before an equity transaction can close, buyers and sellers must place a mutually-agreed value on the company, which is usually based on a multiple of actual or projected revenues or operating margin. To obtain the amount of capital that may be needed, a sacrifice of a substantial amount of ownership rights may be required. The upside is that the right investor can introduce operational and strategic resources in addition to financial resources, and this can be a major advantage. A key part of raising equity capital is to find the right investors who have industry experience and acumen, as well as connections, to help grow and improve the business.

Financing Alternatives

Other alternatives exist that offer a combination of debt and equity, such as convertible debt. This alternative begins as debt, but can be exchanged for ownership interests in the company if certain milestones are achieved. Lenders may also request stock warrants or other “sweeteners” in conjunction with issuing debt, so that they can benefit from an eventual sale.

Among other things, lenders or investors want to be sure that technology company owners are committed to the project, they’ve got some skin in the game, and that they are focused on the success of the company. Although an investor may be very supportive and excited about a specific project or venture, in the end, they expect to either be repaid or realize a return on their investment.


Matt Rajput, CPA, is an Audit Senior Manager with CohnReznick LLP and a member of the firm’s Technology Industry Practice. Working from the firm’s Tysons Corner office, Matt has eight+ years of experience servicing publicly-traded and closely-held companies in the technology sector and he routinely provides services to private equity and venture capital backed companies. Contact Matt at matt.rajput@cohnreznick.com. Follow CohnReznick’s Technology Practice on Twitter @CR_TechInd.

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Increasing U.S. Competitiveness in the Age of Sequestration

September 2nd, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. This week, MITRE CEO Al Grasso discusses repatriation as a means to maintain or increase domestic research spending.


leadership_Grassoweb

Al Grasso, President and CEO of The MITRE.Corporation.

As the federal government trims support for research and development in response to budget pressure, U.S. competitiveness and productivity could take an unintended hit.  But there is an untapped gold mine that could offset the impact of budget cuts and channel fresh billions into research: nearly $2 trillion in accumulated offshore profits on the books of U.S. companies. One way to maintain or increase domestic research spending is to give industry an incentive to repatriate those foreign-held assets and invest in U.S.-based research activities.

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) draft “Tax Reform Act of 2014” would do so by lowering corporate and individual tax rates, reforming U.S. international tax rules, and simplifying the tax code. While of great interest to policymakers and stakeholders, it is unlikely that such widespread reforms will be enacted soon. Hence, a smaller, near-term incentive is proposed while the debate rages over system-wide reform.

R&D seeds economic growth. A mature economy like that of the United States’ depends on its ability to discover and develop ideas that result in new technologies, pharmaceuticals and many other products.  It’s the key to maintaining U.S. leadership in an increasingly competitive global economy.

The federal government accounted for nearly a third (31 percent) of the nation’s spending on R&D, contributing more than $124 billion in 2009, the most recent year with complete data. While private industry invested $247.4 billion in U.S.-based R&D, private sector R&D is much more focused on development, rather than on basic research. In fact, only 21% of industrial R&D investments (some $50 billion) went toward basic and applied research.

Government has been more willing to invest in basic research, which is inherently more risky because practical applications may not be found until years or even decades later.  But the potential payoff is enormous.  The Internet can trace its origins to a basic research project in the early 1970s at the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The Budget Control Act and Sequestration will likely impose a 10-20 percent cut in government investment in research in coming years, and there is no ready replacement for those dollars.  Meanwhile, U.S. corporations with significant business operations abroad are awash in cash. A 2013 report by analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimated that all U.S.-based companies had $1.7 trillion in accumulated offshore profits. In addition, The Wall Street Journal reported last year that U.S. companies were accruing foreign held profits at a rate in excess of $150 billion annually.

In most cases, U.S. multi-nationals have not demonstrated great interest in repatriating the bulk of these profits due, at least in part, to the 35% tax that would be applied to foreign held profits (minus whatever tax a company already paid to a foreign government). Corporate leaders have long advocated a reduction or elimination of corporate taxes associated with repatriation, arguing that repatriated assets would be applied to job creation and investment in the U.S. However, a U.S. Senate review of a previous repatriation tax break in 2004 showed that companies simply increased spending on stock buybacks and executive pay.

So how can industry incentives be crafted to fill the research gaps created in critical technology areas as a result of reduced federal budgets? The answer: adopt a highly focused federal tax credit, in addition to current R&D credits, for repatriation of offshore profits re-invested in targeted research and development areas. The tax credit could be structured to provide variable benefit levels depending on the allocation of investments to basic and applied R&D in specific areas. So as not to repeat the outcomes of the 2004 repatriation tax break, the proposed tax credits must be awarded on accurate and measurable criteria tied to sustained investment directly associated with R&D spending in the targeted areas.

For U.S. companies to be willing to repatriate assets and invest in U.S.-based research, they must believe they will earn a better rate of return than they would by keeping assets overseas. Investing those dollars in basic research would create a funding pipeline that makes good sense for the country from an economic perspective, for companies and for jobs in the U.S.

If research tax incentives would lead to 20% of annually generated foreign profits being repatriated each year and even a smaller percentage of foreign held assets over a multi-year period, it could have a significant impact on domestic R&D spending. As a first step, a time-constrained tax holiday could be introduced to test the hypothesis, examine the accuracy and measurability of stated investments and refine the criteria for a more enduring policy.

If an appropriate implementation of an R&D based repatriation tax credit can be developed, it would promote continued U.S. competitiveness and productivity growth while also increasing the prospect for high tech jobs across the country despite declining federal research spending.


Approved for Public Release; Distribution Unlimited. Case Number 14-3037

Alfred Grasso is president and CEO of The MITRE Corporation. His affiliation is provided for identification purposes only, and is not intended to convey or imply MITRE’s concurrence with, or support for, the positions, opinions or viewpoints expressed.

©2014 The MITRE Corporation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. This week, Elizabeth Harr of member company Hinge Marketing shares five reasons social media impacts your business in a measurable way.


With numerous social media platforms to keep track of — each their own little world with a specific set of participation standards — it’s no wonder that many marketers are asking “is this worth it?” Between the tweets, shares, status updates, pins and likes, maintaining a strong social media presence can be time consuming and confusing. Social Media Examiner’s latest industry report revealed that marketers spend a minimum of six hours per week on their social media accounts — nearly an entire day’s work.

It’s understandable that you’d want to see measurable impact from your technology firm’s social media marketing if you’re putting in all that effort. social-media-tree-icon
Perhaps the easiest way to answer the question of “is this worth it?” is to look to your clients. How are they researching their technology needs? What factors are they considering when making a purchasing decision? Where are they looking? More often than not, your buyers are starting with a basic online search, glancing through the first page of results, and checking out their options from there.

Combined with a well-rounded digital marketing strategy, social media can add the extra boost your technology firm needs to get you on that first page of search engine results. Once prospective buyers find you, social media can play a role in closing the sale. And to really drive home exactly why social media marketing is “worth it,” here’s a list of benefits that can help improve your bottom line.

5 Ways Social Media Marketing Benefits Your Technology Firm 

It Boosts Your Search Engine Rankings

Your buyers aren’t likely to look past that first page of results. Luckily, a strong social media presence can help your technology firm be one of the first options they see. Having more backlinks to your website helps to improve your ranking and social media is the perfect platform to share those links and increase your search engine optimization.

It Increases Referral Traffic

Thanks to Google Analytics, you can see exactly what types of posts on which social media platforms are driving traffic to your site. Learn from your results and focus on the types of posts that are generating the most visitors.

It Helps Establish Your Brand

When a prospective buyer finds your website, they’re probably going to poke around to see if your priorities and personality match their own. Social media is a great way for potential clients to get to “know” your technology firm. The information you share can help position you as a trusted authority in your field.

It Can Build Your Contacts List

You can use your social media accounts to promote premium content that drives visitors to your website. In order to download the content, ask visitors to enter in some basic contact information to build up your email lists. Sticking to requiring nothing more than a name and email address will help increase your conversions for the content.

It Can Be a Great Promotional Tool

Promoting offers on social media requires you to walk a fine line. Your followers don’t want to see an excess of promotional content, but you can still publicize offers as long as they’re mixed in with predominantly informational content.

Though the time commitment of social media marketing might seem overwhelming to your technology firm at times, employing it as part of your digital marketing strategy can help you acquire new clients. Between increasing your online visibility, driving traffic to your website and establishing your credibility in the industry, social media is, without a doubt, “worth it.”

Check out Hinge’s free Social Media Guide for tips on increasing your social media footprint.


Elizabeth Harr is a partner at Hinge, a marketing and branding firm for professional services. Elizabeth is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive with a background in strategic planning, brand building, and communications. She is the coauthor of Inside the Buyer’s Brain, How Buyers Buy: Technology Services Edition and Online Marketing for Professional Services: Technology Services Edition.

 

 

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NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In his latest post on the NVTC blog, Marc Berman of member company Vector Technical Resources provides tips on how strategic staffing decisions can lead to greater project success.


In our post-recession economy, doing more with less has become the norm for organizations of all sizes, across all industries. Nowhere is this struggle felt more than among IT departments. As companies become more dependent on technology, IT staff must balance an increasing workload among a host of budgetary constraints.

Understaffing is one of the biggest problems facing IT departments across the country, and it’s a problem that often finds managers stuck in a vicious cycle. When there is not enough staff on hand to complete a project on time, overtime is often mandated. That means an increase in stress, workload, and in payroll budget. Staff morale and productivity can suffer when they find themselves forced to take on too much work.

Even Out the Workload

Most companies have ebbs and flows when it comes to productivity and workloads. During some months, staff may be slammed with work. Other months, you may find your team sneaking a game of Candy Crush to pass the time. By taking on temporary, contract workers during the busy times, work can be spread out among IT staff. This reduces overtime pay, and eliminates the problems that come from overworking a team. When the busy time ends, the contractors move on and you’re left with your core staff. Often, you can develop relationships with contractors so that they will want to come back during the next busy cycle. Working with repeat contractors means you spend less time training and onboarding your temporary team members, saving your department even more time and money in the long run.

Work With Subject Matter Experts

Many times projects require workers who have a highly specialized skill set. Rather than forking over money to pay a specialist full time (typically far more than you’d pay a full time generalist), utilize experts who will work on a temporary, contract basis. Specialists often like this type of arrangement because they can always be working in their area of expertise. Organizations benefit from their skills, but when the project is complete, the contract relationship ends.

Avoid Bad Hires

Making a bad hire can be extremely costly. If you make the wrong choice and have to start all over again, not only does it cut into the budget, but it also cuts into the overall productivity of the IT team. Choose wisely when adding a new member to your IT team.

 

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How to Use Equity to Incentivize Employees

July 31st, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In his latest post on the NVTC blog, Matt Rajput of CohnReznick shares his insights how to attract and retain employees through equity compensation.


Technology company executives are continually challenged with how to attract, retain, and motivate key employees. Technology start-ups, in an effort to conserve cash, are known for streamlining operations and offering employees thin compensation and benefits packages until they land on more stable financial ground.

One idea for attracting and retaining employees is to include an equity component as part of the complete compensation package.  This can be in the form of common stock, stock options, profits interests, phantom stock, and other forms of equity.

Issuing equity to employees is a great opportunity to give employees a stake in the future of the company because the value of their stock, stock options, or other equity instrument is tied to the performance and growth of the company. This concept of ownership also creates inherent advantages as employees who become owners themselves (or have the option to become owners) will work harder to improve the business, because it will drive more value to their options.

Equity compensation promotes employee retention as vesting terms or restrictions typically require employees to remain with the company for a certain period before they are fully vested in the equity. For example, an employee can be given 100 stock options, in lieu of or in addition to an annual bonus, but the options have a four year vesting term requiring the employee to vest in 25 options each year. In this circumstance, the employee would have to remain with the company for four years to fully recognize the entire value of the 100 stock options. If the employee were to leave after two years, they would only be vested in 50 stock options leaving 50 options on the table.

Equity is also a very important carrot that can be used to attract talent.  In a competitive market, the ability to offer a prospective employee a stake in the upside of the company’s growth could be a differentiator in closing the deal.  Even if the company has the ability to pay market salaries, many astute tech executives continue to look for an equity stake.

Another attractive element of this type of compensation is that it is a cost-effective way to offer employees additional compensation that may be worth a great deal of money in the future as the value of the company improves over time.

However, implementing an equity compensation plan does not come without challenges. Some employees may not want to wait a few years for a liquidity event to receive the compensation for the work that they are currently performing. Long vesting periods, tax consequences, and high exercise prices are all characteristics that make equity issuances less satisfying to employees than cash compensation. Additionally, non-public companies may have a hard time getting employees to realize the value in an equity instrument that cannot be easily turned into cash.

Despite these pitfalls, many companies, both public and private, continue to utilize various forms of equity compensation to keep their employees motivated, well-compensated, and engaged.


Matt Rajput, CPA, is an Audit Senior Manager with CohnReznick LLP and a member of the firm’s Technology Industry Practice. Working from the firm’s Tysons Corner office, Matt has eight+ years of experience servicing publicly-traded and closely-held companies in the technology sector and he routinely provides services to private equity and venture capital backed companies. Contact Matt at matt.rajput@cohnreznick.com. Follow CohnReznick’s Technology Practice on Twitter @CR_TechInd.

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The Value of Captured Knowledge

July 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In the post below, Derek Alden Elder of member company Salient Federal Solutions explains the value of ensuring data from the greatest workforce our country has known is captured and our people are properly prepared to fill the void once they retire.


With the greatest workforce our country has ever seen set to soon retire we must, as a country, focus now to ensure the data is captured and our people are properly prepared to fill the void. In most organizations, valuable knowledge is scatted across so many sources. Additionally, valuable information and experience is in the organizations people. This puts new emphasis on training and infusing innovative technology to validate the effectiveness and return on investment for each training dollar spent but how are you and or is your organization capturing this truly vital data?

Configuration management is a term loosely used these days when discussing the capturing of vital data but how do you define it within the context of training? What tools do you use and or requirements define your process? Are you ready for the knowledge gap and or is your organization well positioned to thrive with the talent that will remain …?

It would not be honest or fair to consider ourselves the end all be all of capability with respect to the questions but we have answered them in the manner they are posed above and have found that our solution is both viable and scalable within many different verticals. We find that our customers have been trying to do the same but few are actually, where they need to be to thrive due to poor organizational planning, threat understanding, or simply insufficient insight which begs the question, “Are you spending the training dollars you need to ensure organizational success beyond the retirements of the current subject matter expert workforce?” And if not, then “How can we prepare today?” It has never been more important to capture the knowledge from a professional and make it readily sharable before the expertise of that is expertise is list forever.

Not only is it important to preserve this knowledge, but the real value is derived from applying it into business decisions to enhance the organization. We use multiple methods but the most valuable is a custom built learning management system with an additional widget built in that we call the Individual Development Plan (IDP). IDP enables our customers and team (as well as management) alike to enter data regarding capability, lessons learned, anticipated development roadmap and much more. Leadership can push courses they want their staff to take down through hierarchal recognition and assign training in the same fashion users can enroll themselves. We can capture technical data from on-site tasks, which is specific to each user, and then reference it as needed. In a digital world with minimal travel budgets instant secure access from anywhere becomes vital so handheld devices and computers share similar accessibility.

Every requirement and user demands a situational approach. This method has become essential to the way we operate and continues to be validated by the user community on both ends. It doesn’t matter what you have today as much as it does that you have a plan capture knowledge and preserve it. That roadmap will soon be vital as we progress deeper into the upcoming era of senior knowledge gap and the timeliness will directly impact your bottom line.  It is vital that you take the necessary steps today to mitigate this issue tomorrow.

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NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In the post below, Derek Alden Elder of member company Salient Federal Solutions explains how professional development is essential for success.


Today’s government, industry, civilian, and institutional professional leadership all agree on one thing: Professional development is vital to success. Yet it is becoming harder each and every day to find time for it. This is driven by many factors. The most obvious, of course, is the continual reduction in force to accommodate todays lower cost requirements. These strong economic and political headwinds demand we make a difference.

With less people doing more work it is impossible to ignore the implications to the remaining forces’ availability to support seemingly non-essential requirements, such as further developing their applicable capabilities through professional development, training, and education. We must have a relentless commitment to our customers, colleagues and our communities. Salient Federal Solutions believes that a viable solution exists which will mitigate this issue and we use it today.

In a rapidly changing environment, infusing current work requirements into the training our warfighters receive today is essential to increasing effectiveness within an experiential modality while also serving the trainee by assisting with the execution of their deliverables and concurrently advancing their knowledge base. Salient plans a custom approach to every requirement so it can and is being done today. We understand that success is dependent upon our situational approach and customized execution on each task – getting warfighters what they need and when they need it. Minimizing time spent while maximizing output to current requirements while broadening knowledge base will determine effectiveness and thus define return on investment of training to leadership. Although counter to most industry culture, this is the only viable path to solving the growing work/train/time issue we all experience in these leaner times.

Whether it be professional, technical, or personal development it is essential for the end user to insist upon their workload being infused to the exercises associated with our learning process, but similarly, we need to drive this approach from the top down as the leading providers to the education and training industry. This change can only be achieved if we stand together behind one simple truth; developing our workforce is vital to future success and it cannot be accomplished without fundamental changes to the approach most take today. If our workplace has become more efficient and lean then so must we with something as important this.


If you’re interested in professional development, get involved with NVTC! Attend an event for opportunities to see and be seen by industry leaders; join a committee to meet potential clients, build relationships, and learn about trends; and check out NVTC’s many other resources.

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How to Stay Ahead of Data Center Trends

June 25th, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In the below post, Marc Berman of member company Vector Technical Resources steps that organizations can take to say ahead of data center trends and make a smooth transition into virtualization.


Cloud computing, automation, and virtualization have changed the data center forever. Thanks to these technologies, companies are now able to significantly reduce costs while increasing reliability at the same time. These changes are exciting, and the benefits of new data center environments are clear.

But these advancements have also led to some challenges. IT departments have had to make fundamental shifts in strategy in order to manage virtualization. But there are some steps that organizations can take to say ahead of these trends and make a smooth transition into virtualization.

1. Don’t Abandon All Legacy Systems

One of the biggest concerns when moving into a new data center environment is what to do with legacy systems. Some of these systems cannot be virtualized. Some can, but

they might not be well-suited for that environment.  And there are some that can be kept on without disrupting overall virtualization. Organizations are often left struggling with their legacy systems after they move to a virtual environment, which can lead to costly and sometimes unnecessary upgrades and redundancies.

Before migrating, it is important to take stock of older systems. Many of these technologies are still very stable and may not require a replacement, and often times, hybrid solutions can actually make the most sense. Determine how these systems will fit into the virtualized data center before you make the move, so that your company can make the best financial, technical, and personnel decisions for the future.

2. Engage Multiple Outsourcing Providers

New data center environments are built for outsourcing, but not in the same ways as old data centers. Outsourcing now involves the actual infrastructure and platforms, while architecture and control can typically remain in-house. Thanks to virtualization and cloud technologies, companies can employ remote infrastructure and management providers. Given the global availability of these services, this shift allows IT departments to engage multiple providers in very low-cost delivery centers.

3. Invest in the Right Talent

Fewer areas of operation change more rapidly than information technology.  An organization could run the newest and most advanced systems available, but without the right people in place, those systems are worthless.  Traditional data centers required hands-on skills and expertise. Tech pros were responsible for installing, connecting, and maintaining hardware in addition to managing platforms. But virtualized data centers require a distinctly different skill set. These professionals must be well-versed in multiple platforms and must be able to manage and troubleshoot dynamic operating systems.

Investing in the right talent for a virtualized data center can help organizations get the most from their investment. The skills and expertise required to succeed in these environments are not the same skills and expertise that were in demand a decade ago. As IT departments are continually pressed to do more with less, it’s more important than ever before to have the right people in the right jobs.

 

 

 

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How To Be Strategic With Your IT Hiring

June 18th, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In the below post, Marc Berman of member company Vector Technical Resources shares strategic steps for managers when hiring an IT staff.


Hiring tech talent can be a serious challenge for many organizations. Depending upon where your company is located, you may be competing with shinier, flashier tech
companies that can offer massive salaries, on-site gym memberships, free daycare, and other perks. Conversely, you may be operating in a rural area where new IT talent is hard to come by.

The (somewhat) good news is that no matter where you are or what your organization does, you are not alone. The Technology Councils of North America conducted a survey in 2013 that found nearly 70% of participating executives believe there is a shortage of quality tech talent in the marketplace. They feel that “all the good ones are taken,” and it can be difficult to attract and hire the right people.

Making Strong IT Hiring Decisions

This climate can lead companies to make poor IT hiring decisions. Hiring managers may feel pressured to jump on the first candidate with the appropriate skill set. But even if an IT candidate’s skills match up with your needs, there are other things to consider before making an offer.

Here are some tips to help you make strategic IT hiring decisions:

  1. Documented Work – An IT candidate can claim certain skills and accomplishments, and it may be possible to glean their expertise from an interview, but it is important to get documentation of previous projects.
  2. Look for Broad Experience – Specialization can be beneficial for certain positions, but more often than not, your organization will depend upon IT pros with a broad knowledge base. When someone focuses narrowly on one specific skill, it can lead them to be less effective at solving large problems.
  3. Match Personality with Company Culture – Employees must be happy in order to do their jobs well, and if the culture of the organization isn’t a good fit, your new hire won’t feel comfortable or happy. For example, individuals with a laid-back attitude and work history in casual environments may feel stifled in a workplace with a more rigid corporate structure.  Be sure to take personality and your company culture into consideration before making an offer.
  4. Don’t Make a Panic Hire – Making a fast hiring decision out of sheer panic rarely turns out well. If the position is so critical that it must be filled immediately, it’s worth it to take a breath and move deliberately, because a bad hire will ultimately force you back into a desperate situation. Never hire for an IT position after one interview.  Always conduct a phone screen first. This can help narrow the field before you potentially waste your time and the candidate’s time on an in-person interview.
  5. Include the Team – If an IT professional will be reporting to three managers, include all three managers in the hiring process. It is important that everyone gets a sense of a candidate’s personality and work style, so that they can feel comfortable bringing that individual on board.

 

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