Is It Time for Your Technology Firm to Rebrand?

August 26th, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off on Is It Time for Your Technology Firm to Rebrand?)

This week on NVTC’s blog, Elizabeth Harr of Hinge Marketing discusses 12 signs that it’s time for your technology company to rebrand.


Your technology firm’s brand is your most valuable asset. But many firms don’t make effective use of their brand or — worse — don’t have a well-developed brand in the first place.

To begin, let’s discuss just what your technology firm’s brand is all about. Branding is a large concept, but can be broken down into a fairly simple and digestible equation:

Your brand = Your reputation x Your visibility

Your brand is the totality of how your audience sees, talks about, and experiences your firm. This combines everything from your firm’s visual branding—like your logo and web design—to each idea, strategy and interaction you use to connect with prospects and clients.

Yet having a strong brand isn’t just about making your firm more recognizable to potential clients. In addition, a well-developed brand can help your technology firm accomplish the following:

  • Attract clients more easily by generating more qualified leads and closing more sales
  • Attract potential future business partners
  • Command higher fees than competitors with weaker branding
  • Attract top talent to work at your firm
  • Set a higher standard for the daily operational performance of your firm

But despite all these advantages, if you’re like many technology firms, you’ve probably been able to grow without having a well thought out brand development strategy. Your growth has come fairly naturally, thanks to your referral network and the acquisition of a few major contracts.

However, this passive strategy is rarely sustainable over time. To continue growing or to accelerate your growth, it’s time to start making your firm’s brand work for you.

12 Signs It’s Time for Your Technology Firm to Rebrand

If you think your technology firm may be ready for a rebrand, but you aren’t quite sure, here are 12 questions you can ask yourself to help make your decision:

Are you getting fewer leads than in the past?

When your leads begin decreasing, it may be a good sign that your brand is no longer resonating with prospects. Rebranding can help your firm appeal to your audiences.

Are you entering a new market?

Entering into a new market is the perfect time to start fresh with a new brand. You can reestablish the strength of your brand alongside your new competitors.

Are you introducing new services?

When your firm goes through a significant change, you want to make sure your brand still reflects your firm’s new focus. If it doesn’t, it may be the perfect time for a rebrand.

Has your firm’s growth slowed or stopped?

This could be an indicator that it’s time to switch things up with a stronger and more carefully developed brand that clearly communicates your expertise and capabilities.

Have new competitors entered the marketplace?

A changing marketplace and new competition may mean your current branding will no longer do the trick. Undergoing a rebrand can help you stand up to changing demands.

Does your visual brand look tired compared to the competition?

If all of your competitors have moved forward with a strengthened brand, you don’t want to be left behind. Your firm’s visual branding elements (like your name, logo, tagline, and colors) communicate your brand and should be reviewed periodically for updates and consistency.

Do you struggle to describe how your firm is different?

Having a specialty or something to differentiate your firm from the competition is an important part of connecting with your target audience. A well thought out brand is the first step is portraying what makes your firm special.

Are you losing a higher percentage of competitive bid situations than in the past?

This is a strong indicator that it’s time to make a change. Measuring your current success against past victories can provide valuable insight into how your firm is continuing to grow.

Has your firm changed significantly since you last adjusted your brand?

Growth and change are inevitable—just make sure your brand continues to grow and evolve along with your firm.

Are you struggling to attract top talent?

In order to be a top technology firm, you need to have top talent working for you. If a weak brand is keeping your firm from attracting top employees, it might be time to rebrand.

Have your clients changed considerably?

You originally developed your brand with a specific client base in mind. And now those clients have changed. Their challenges and needs might have changed — and they may be searching for service providers differently. Your firm’s brand should change with them.

Are you trying to figure out how to take your firm to the next level?

If you’ve been asking yourself how you can accelerate your firm’s growth or reach the next level of your potential, a fresh rebranding could be the right place to get started.

If you nodded along to questions on this list, then you have your answer: it’s time for a rebrand. While it may initially be a challenge to get your firm executives and decision makers on board for your rebrand, an honest assessment and clear-cut plan can help overcome any initial internal reluctance. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but the benefits of rebranding will be well worth it.


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 The Visible Expert, Inside the Buyer’s Brain, How Buyers Buy: Technology Services Edition and Online Marketing for Professional Services: Technology Services Edition.

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Four Reasons Why Protecting Information Is Every Manager’s Problem

July 27th, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off on Four Reasons Why Protecting Information Is Every Manager’s Problem)

This week on NVTC’s blog, Dr. Didier Perdu of LMI discusses the challenge of information assurance and how managers should address it.


enterprisepicMore and more organizations are discovering the challenge of information assurance (IA). But, if you are like many other managers, you do not know how to address, let alone mitigate, the risks associated with common threats such as power failures or wireless intrusions. A solution is to leverage your enterprise architecture (EA) to make IA an integral part of the information technology (IT) planning and management activities of your organization. Here are four reasons why you need to get serious about protecting your information assets by integrating IA directly into your EA.

1. Improve Communication

An integrated EA/IA framework gets information flowing among the various layers of your organization. Sharing information improves communications. It is important to improve communication between senior leaders and the technical staff when making decisions about security controls and their implementation. By communicating early in the development process, security remains a primary consideration from initiation to disposition, which is especially important for mission-critical systems.

2. Reduce Complexity

Traditionally, security was practiced on a system-by-system basis. Having a standard approach to addressing security requirements reduces complexity. Clearly expressing the relationship between EA processes and IA controls helps security and non-security personnel understand the other group’s planning processes and procedures. And, when people understand one another’s perspectives, they are better able to work together to ensure that security requirements are addressed.

3. Achieve Compliance

Senior leaders often find themselves unable to navigate the myriad laws, regulations, and policies expanding the scope of IA. Improving communications and reducing complexity enables business and IT managers to work together, thereby enhancing your organization’s response to evolving, complex compliance requirements.

4. Lower Costs

Making security implementation decisions early in the system development lifecycle can reduce your IT costs significantly. Moreover, because IA also addresses vulnerabilities and risks, it saves future resources by providing for the restoration of information systems through built-in protection, detection, and reaction capabilities.

Senior leaders often feel unprepared to identify gaps in IT security and take appropriate action. Obtaining guidance to meet security and compliance requirements is critical to any organization. IT security no longer means simply making sure the door is locked or keeping passwords secure. Today, it means securing the information and information systems upon which your organization relies in order to be successful.


Dr. Perdu works in the Information Management Group with the Enterprise Architecture team, refining the LEAP methodology, and contributing to enterprise architecture related tasks. He holds a Ph.D. in Information Technology from George Mason University and a Master of Science in Technology and Policy from MIT. During his career he has sought to use Enterprise Architecture beyond just compliance and apply it to solve a variety of business issues faced by an enterprise. Cybersecurity is one of these challenges.

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The Health IT Revolution: Driving Down Costs While Improving Care

July 7th, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off on The Health IT Revolution: Driving Down Costs While Improving Care)

This week on NVTC’s blog, Innovation Health CEO Dave Notari shares how health IT has made serious progress, closing communication and care gaps.


The healthcare industry hasn’t traditionally been known as an early adopter when it comes to implementing the latest technology – as folks in the heart of the Northern Virginia technology community know all too well. But over the past few years we’ve made some serious progress.

Dave Notari

Dave Notari

Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law there’s been a dramatic national up-tick in the use of personal health technology (think Fitbit!), as well as technology designed to help consumers navigate the healthcare system and make better choices on behalf of their families.

When technology is implemented within a progressive and proactive health care management model, we start to close communication and care gaps, reduce medical errors and encourage healthy habits. Northern Virginia is a hub of tech innovation, and technology is poised to improve the health care experience for residents in three very important ways over the next few years.

Improving Health Literacy

In early 2015 a Kaiser Family Foundation survey [1] found that there were 11 million newly insured adults as of December 2014. For some, it may have been their first experience with enrolling for health coverage and having to learn a wide array of health and health benefits terms. Health care language can be difficult to understand, and with high deductible health plans (HDHP)s  on the rise, understanding coverage needs and what is available in-network is more vital than ever before. With the right consumer tools and simpler language, health providers and businesses can make health information clearer to consumers, aid decision-making, and ensure that they are informed and able to choose the plan that works best for them and their family.

Many of us expect that buying and selecting our health plan should be as easy as buying a pair of shoes—as insurers begin to implement this type of technology we can expect that to become more of a reality.

Improving the Quality of Care

When it comes to improving the overall quality of Northern Virginia healthcare, technology provides opportunities for better coordination and collaboration among key stakeholders.  Our health care system today is characterized by fragmentation, inefficiency and waste. In addition, it’s not as convenient or connected as it could be. Deploying technology to connect hospitals, physicians and providers would transform the way healthcare is currently delivered and provide numerous benefits to NOVA consumers.

Take, for example, someone who needs to see a specialist. Before electronic health records (EHRs) and technology that allows doctors to electronically share patient health information were available a Primary Care Physician (PCP) would have to fax the patient’s chart to a specialist, the patient or doctor would have to call to ensure the information arrived, and if it did not the patient would have to rely on her memory to recount for the doctor her entire medical history. Today, doctors using EHRs and health information exchange technology have the ability to seamlessly coordinate their patients’ care and share critical patient data, which lessens the hassle factor for patients. Additionally, certain technologies can even allow patients to review their own secure personal health records, pinpoint in-network doctors and facilities, get cost-saving pop-up alerts and use digital ID cards for all of their check-ups and appointments.

Beyond making patient health records more accessible, technology can also help identify patients who may be at risk of certain conditions or those with potential gaps in care so doctors can act to prevent complications.

Lowering Costs

Technology has the ability to help consumers understand the cost of services before they are actually accessed—something I personally found useful a few months ago when my son was in need of a CT scan. My wife was referred to a doctor, and like most moms was going off of the doctor’s recommendation without any insight into places she could have the CT performed or what the cost would be at different facilities. This is pretty common. Using a health care payment estimator tool I was able to find all of the different care sites and costs in a five-mile radius of our home.  The result? My son received a CT scan for $250 rather than the doctor’s recommended site which was $600. Since I have a HDHP, I saved an additional outlay of $350—all thanks to technology!

It is safe to assume that technology is going to transform the healthcare space. By continuing to look for and implement new technologies and solutions we have the ability to improve patient and employer education, improve health outcomes, and save money on health costs.

[1] Rachel Garfield, Katherine Young, Adults who Remained Uninsured at the End of 2014, (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2015), Issue Brief

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Crowdfunding: Technology Takes the Lion’s Share of Capital Commitments

June 30th, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs | Small Business and Entrepreneur - (Comments Off on Crowdfunding: Technology Takes the Lion’s Share of Capital Commitments)

This week on NVTC’s blog, Alex Castelli, CPA, is partner and Technology and Life Sciences Industry Practice Leader at NVTC member company CohnReznick, explains how crowdfunding has become such an attractive financing vehicle for technology companies.


7K0A0597[1]The technology industry stands out as a major beneficiary of this promising method of capital raising. In 2014, technology was a leading sector in terms of capital commitments – at around $98.5 million – and led the number of raises that have been offered since inception, according to Crowdnetic’s Quarterly Private Companies Publicly Raising Data Analysis.2 Capital commitments in the technology industry trailed only behind the services industry.

So why has crowdfunding become such an attractive financing vehicle for technology companies? And what is required to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign?

Proving legitimacy and demand

Obtaining financing from traditional lenders such as banks, angel investors, and venture capital firms can be difficult for some early-stage technology companies. Crowdfunding offers an additional source for raising capital. Many investors are eager to support innovative ideas or services, and the growing legitimacy among accredited investors to provide financial backing through the internet has contributed to the popularity of crowdfunding. For tech startups, crowdfunding is an effective way to demonstrate to lenders the demand for a product or service and also to justify the company’s financial projections. Technology companies that have successfully secured accredited investors via the web are especially attractive to traditional lenders as their ideas have reached a level of legitimacy and approval.

Testing the markets and building brand awareness

In addition to raising capital, crowdfunding provides a platform for technology entrepreneurs to test the success of their product or service once it is officially on the market. Through this process, an entrepreneur can determine whether to continue investing time and money in a particular product or service based on feedback from potential customers. Doing so avoids involvement in a venture that may ultimately prove to be futile. The exposure of a product or service through crowdfunding offers the ability to build brand awareness and develop a loyal community of customers right from the start. Developing a loyal following can generate word-of-mouth advertising that can boost a startup business to success.

Finding success

There is a commonality among crowdfunding success stories. Deals receiving funding typically have outside sponsors who advocate on behalf of the deal. These are usually prominent investors who are willing to put their names on the deal and endorse them personally. This signals to other investors that it is a quality opportunity. “This is not so different from the way investments have always been done,” said Steven Dresner, CEO of Dealflow. “In the past, one prominent venture capitalist would put a million dollars in a deal, and then the startup could use that as leverage to attract more VC money. Now it is just taking place in a whole new forum.”

What does the future of crowdfunding hold?

Notwithstanding its popularity within the technology industry, to date, equity crowdfunding may be best characterized as a “growing” source of capital formation available to private companies. Entrepreneurs continue to test the market in determining how best to utilize crowdfunding as an alternative strategy for obtaining financing, gaining exposure, validating their products or services, and ultimately, expanding their businesses. The influence of crowdfunding on the middle market sector has yet to be fully realized. However, crowdfunding is on track to not only transform how privately held companies raise capital and interact with investors, but to also influence how businesses formulate and implement their go-to-market strategies.

1 https://www.fundable.com/infographics/economic-value-crowdfunding
2 http://www.crowdnetic.com/reports/jan-2015-report


Alex Castelli, CPA, is a partner and CohnReznick’s Technology and Life Sciences Industry Practice Leader. He can be contacted at 703-744-6708 or alex.castelli@cohnreznick.com. To learn more about CohnReznick’s Technology Industry Practice, visit the company’s webpage and follow CohnReznick on Twitter @CR_TechInd.

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New Research Shows How Referrals Can Increase Growth for Technology Firms

May 19th, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs | Uncategorized - (Comments Off on New Research Shows How Referrals Can Increase Growth for Technology Firms)

This week on NVTC’s blog, Liz Harr of member company Hinge Marketing explains that when it comes to generating referrals, there’s more to the matter than personal connections. Discover where referrals are coming from today, and how technology firms are taking full advantage of the opportunities available to them.


The old axiom “It’s all about who you know” has some truth to it. But when it comes to generating referrals, there’s more to the matter than personal connections. Referrals are a powerful way to generate leads — and leads are the lifeblood of every technology firm — but personal connections alone aren’t sufficient to grow a referral base that in turn, brings in more business.Prioritizing Referrals

In a recent study of over 500 firms, more than 72 percent of respondents report that “Attracting and Developing New Business” is their greatest challenge. How do they plan on attracting that business?

Figure 1. Professional Services’ Planned Marketing Initiatives in 2015

figure1hinge

That generating more referrals came out as the highest priority marketing initiative isn’t surprising  – referrals are a time-honored strategy in the professional services marketplace. But it’s the way firms seek referrals that’s important, and it won’t surprise many in the technology industry to learn that, like the rest of the marketplace, referrals are evolving.

Where are referrals coming from today, and are firms taking full advantage of the opportunities available to them? The Hinge Research Institute conducted another study to find out, questioning 530 professional services firms about how they seek referrals. The results show that firms may have been relying on the wrong type of referral to bring in new business.

Different Types of Referrals

Traditionally, many firms have thought of referrals as coming from firms they have worked with directly, or from personal contacts. This is true, but it’s not the whole story. In fact, over 80 percent of respondents receive referrals from firms they’ve never worked with at all.

Figure 2. Prevalence of Non-Experience Based Referral Types

figure2hinge

When it comes to generating business, there are three other types of referrals that, in some cases, perform better than the traditional experience-based referral:

  1. Reputation-based referrals
  2. Expertise-based referrals
  3. Referrals based on preexisting relationships

How exactly are these referrals generated? Referrals based purely on a personal relationship are self-explanatory – and as you can see above, that type of referral alone doesn’t necessarily lead to new business. But the other two types are missed opportunities in the technology services landscape, and require some unpacking.

Expertise-based referrals

To find solutions to particularly complex challenges, most buyers consider candidates outside of their previous experience. Having a highly specialized skill-set or a unique area of expertise sets you apart from the competition — regardless of existing relationships.

Better yet, specialization differentiates you from your competitors, giving you an identity to build your brand around. Today, you have to be more than an IT firm – you have to be an IT firm that specializes in biomedical data management and security, or whatever other area your expertise might lie in. This goes a long way in generating leads and securing buyers’ confidence. In fact, when individuals and organizations feel that they have a strong grasp of your expertise, they will refer you to others without having a direct client/provider relationship.

But how are people in your marketplace learning about your expertise?

Figure 3. Sources of Expertise-Based Referrals

figure3hinge

The short answer is: from you. By speaking about your expertise, by presenting your research, accomplishments, and ideas, you can make a huge impact on your audience.

But apart from speaking engagements, online sources are responsible for more than half of all expertise-based referrals. A well-executed online marketing campaign – including blogs, social media, downloadable whitepapers and guides, and a lead-generating website—gets you and your expertise on prospective clients’ radar.

Reputation-based referrals

These are similar to expertise-based referrals, but are tied more to the positive impression of your abilities and the customer satisfaction you produce, rather than a specific knowledge-base or set of skills. There are two types of reputation-based referrals:

Figure 4. Sources of Reputation-Based Referrals

figure4hinge

55 percent of these referrals come from your prospects’ colleagues and friends. None have worked directly with you before, but your marketing efforts are working. They’ve heard of you through online and offline networks alike. When your industry comes up in conversation, people think of you.

The remainder of reputation-based referrals doesn’t come from a specific contact. You’re simply known and well-regarded. Your content marketing efforts have spread across the Web and made an impression on your audiences. They’ve read your blog, and they may have found your website while researching your industry and the various services you offer. Because your content was helpful, educational, and relevant to their needs, they’ve developed a favorable impression of you.

The takeaway here is that referrals are a complex matrix of who you know, what you can do, and how well you’re regarded. Past experience only matters if you have the expertise to handle the current challenge — and expertise only matters if you’ve got great customer service and organizational skills that you can bring to bear on the project at hand.

And it’s important that you communicate all of this before your prospects even reach out to you. Why? Because over half of them will never reach out to you.

Figure 5. Why Buyers Rule Out Referrals

figure5hinge

Poor content quality, a flimsy reputation, a substandard website—all of these things can rule you out before a would-be referral contacts you. Your marketing efforts must be impressive, convey your expertise, build your reputation, and regardless of who else is talking about you, be part of an impressive story of who you are and how you can solve customer problems.

If you’re interested in exploring Hinge’s full study on referral marketing today, download the research report. By taking a more expansive approach to referrals and strengthening their educational marketing efforts, technology firms can avoid being ruled out and take full advantage of referral opportunities among their audience. In today’s hyper-competitive industry, those opportunities matter more than ever.


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 The Visible ExpertSM, Inside the Buyer’s Brain, How Buyers Buy: Technology Services Edition and Online Marketing for Professional Services: Technology Services Edition.

 

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Changes to the Nonmanufacturer Rule: Part 4 of Venable’s SBA Series

March 10th, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs | Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Changes to the Nonmanufacturer Rule: Part 4 of Venable’s SBA Series)

This week on NVTC’s blog, member company Venable shares Calculation of Annual Receipts, Recertification Requirements, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned and HUBZone Small Business Regulations,” part three of their five part series on the SBA’s Proposed Rules to Implement the 2013 NDAA. This post focuses on Calculation of Annual Receipts, Recertification Requirements, and changes to the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVO) and HUBZone Small Business regulations.


A Change to the Calculation of Annual Receipts
The proposed rule seeks to amend 13 CFR § 121.104, which sets forth the requirements for calculating annual receipts when determining the size of a business. The revision to the rule is to clarify a perceived misinterpretation that the current definition did not require the inclusion of passive income. The SBA explicitly provides that this had never been the intent of the SBA. Indeed, the SBA explains in the preamble to the proposed rule that “the only exclusions from income are the ones specifically listed in paragraph (a) [of Section 121.104]. It was always SBA’s intent to include all income, [including passive income].”Contractors should be aware that the SBA is not merely proposing a clarification to its size status regulations, but also signaling an interest in how contractors are calculating their annual receipts. Contractors should be prepared to detail their calculation of annual receipts in anticipation of potential increased SBA scrutiny.
A New and Notable Recertification Requirement
Currently the small business rules require small business concerns to recertify their size within 30 days following a merger or acquisition, per 13 CFR § 121.404(g). However, the SBA seeks to amend this provision by adding language that requires small business concerns subject to a merger or acquisition that occurs after an offer has been submitted but before award, to recertify their size with the contracting officer prior to award.This change is notable and could have a significant impact on small business concerns. As many government contactors know, awards can be delayed for any number of months, for varying reasons that have nothing to do with the offering entities. However, under this new rule, if a small business concern – or its affiliate – is subject to a merger or acquisition, the concern could disqualify itself from the award, which may have been scheduled for award many months before, perhaps well before the transaction was even contemplated. Such a rule would seem to have an unfair impact on growing small business concerns.

SDVO and HUBZone Changes
The SBA also proposes a few changes to the SDVO and HUBZone programs. For example, in order to comply with the changes to the limitations on subcontracting requirements (as addressed in Part 1 of this series), both the SDVO (13 CFR § 125) and the HUBZone (13 CFR § 126) programs include proposed changes to their respective regulations that will require SDVO and HUBZone concerns to represent that they will comply with the limitation on subcontracting requirements.

The proposed changes to the SDVO program also clarify that:
A joint venture of at least one SDVO SBC and one or more other business concerns may submit an offer as a small business for a competitive SDVO SBC procurement, or be awarded a sole source SDVO contract, so long as each concern is small under the size standard corresponding to the NAICS code assigned to the procurement.Thus, an SDVO small business can form a joint venture with another non-SDVO small business to submit an offer as a joint venture, and the joint venture still will qualify as an SDVO small business, provided that all members of the joint venture meet the size standard for the procurement.Submitting Comments: Contractors wishing to submit comments on these proposed rules can do so through regulations.gov by searching for RIN: 3245-AG58. Comments are due by February 27, 2015.


Continue following Venable’s Small Business Series for additional analysis and take-aways from the SBA’s proposed rule implementing the 2013 NDAA. If you have any questions about how these proposed rules could affect your business, please contact any of our authors: Keir Bancroft, Paul Debolt, Dismas Locaria, Rob Burton, Rebecca Pearson, James Boland, Nathaniel Canfield, or Anna Pulliam

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Information Stewardship: Our Role in the 21st Century

February 23rd, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off on Information Stewardship: Our Role in the 21st Century)
Today on NVTC’s blog, guest blogger Sean Tibbetts of member company Cyber Timez Inc. discusses our roles as information stewards of the 21st century and our responsibility to ensure that data is used efficiently, accurately, positively and safely.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Sean Tibbett

Sean Tibbetts

Information Technology has become a pervasive force at all levels of organizations whether their focus is government, business, recreation, education or a combination of them all. Device convergence has resulted in the technology utopian goal of constantly connected devices in the hands of data consumers providing access to information that has never been easier. The phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” has never been more true than in our modern, connected culture. Information is power and the more information for which we are responsible the more power we directly or indirectly inherit. As the Information Stewards of the 21st century it is our primary responsibility to ensure this data is used efficiently and accurately for the betterment of those who both give and receive the information we provide while avoiding causing harm to those that provide that data to us.

Data Driven Decision Making

Data driven decision making is key to the success or failure of any technology connected effort. The Internet may be the greatest tool ever released on mankind for “leveling the playing field” when it comes to access to pertinent data for decision making processes. Organizations from a one man jack-of-all-trades to companies employing tens of thousands of people all require access to data to determine which efforts are working well versus areas needing further scrutiny. As we review the type and content of the data they need it becomes clear that the requirements of any organization regardless of size tend to be the same: accurate data resulting in actionable information. Most organizations recognize that they need access to information about the client base they serve. This information can be categorized into three repeatable, programmable and usable data silos resulting in tools better enabling decision makers to reach organizationally positive conclusions.

Usage Data

The first and probably most obvious data silo is usage data. Whether tracking website views or app taps every organization needs to know how their information is accessed and used. Usage data may be as simple as how many times a page was loaded to a more complex model of how many times a page was loaded by operating system and browser sorted by time on site from specific referrers. Suddenly determining what should be “above the fold” on that simple web page isn’t so simple. Luckily for technology solutions of any size there are a myriad of tools available both free and for a fee that provide this type information in multiple forms from simple graphs to complex data slices represented with exportable pivot tables. Using this data to help guide our decision making process ensures users get the information they need.

Location Data

The second largest data silo used for decision making tends to be based on location data. Location data can vary from where a user is standing in a store aisle using Bluetooth beacons to an approximation of what country they are in based on IP address. Understanding where a user is physically combined with the how they use your tool provides greater insight into what type of data should be delivered to them at the appropriate place. If we know the country in which the user is in then our information needs to be translated to the appropriate language with useful local references. While using location data can be extremely valuable for technologies such as push notifications for sales at a nearby retail outlet, technologists also need to always keep in mind the privacy concerns and rights of their users. Using location and usage data together help guide our decision making process to ensure users get information they need in the place they need it most.

User Demographics

The third, and likely most valuable, data silo is user demographic information. Demographics can be as simple as knowing a user’s gender or as complex as gender based purchasing decisions sliced by median income in a given zip code. User demographics are a powerful decision making tool, but must be managed efficiently. While combining web search histories with current location data and gender information to push advertisements for certain products may be a good thing; it could also be very damaging if a child is using the device and suddenly gets an advertisement for lingerie because they walked past the ladies section of the store. Understanding the demographics of whom the current user is is critical and key to any information presentation model. Using demographic, location and usage data together help guide our decision making process to ensure the right users get the right information in the right place.

Conclusion

All of this data collection leads us to one conclusion: accurate data is absolutely necessary for decision making. We stand on the greatness built by the generations before us. They gave us the Internet, TCP/IP stack and the World Wide Web to gather and exchange information. As the Information Stewards of the 21st century it is our job to ensure that these tools are used to provide the best user experience possible by combining the most accurate data available in a manner that results in the ultimate goal of all data collection: actionable information. Technologists today should have their own Hippocratic Oath and take it to heart: I will collect and provide data for the good of my users according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.


About the Author
Sean Tibbetts is the CEO and co-founder of Cyber Timez Inc. His information technology career spans over 20 years beginning as an owner/operator of a classic dial-up bulletin board system and as a contributor to multiple open source projects in the early nineties. He has participated on and led teams to design, develop and implement case management systems, the world’s fastest OCR and data entry engines and health care data mining systems. His current focus is on mobile technologies with a strong focus on wearable devices and the Internet of Things.

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A Look Into Carpathia’s Crystal Ball: Predictions for 2015

January 13th, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs | Uncategorized - (Comments Off on A Look Into Carpathia’s Crystal Ball: Predictions for 2015)
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, NVTC member company Carpathia discusses the upcoming year, predicting a transformative 2015 for government agencies and enterprises.


At the start of a new year we have the opportunity to look ahead and think about what trends will likely shape the coming months. 2015 is poised to be transformative for government agencies and enterprises, as an increasing number of organizations look to modernize their computing environments, expand their focus on secure and compliant hosting, and meet the growing demands of an increasingly mobile workforce. What trends will we see emerge this year?

Here are the top seven predictions we see for 2015:

  1. Hybrid Cloud Grows Up and “Gets Real” – Out of the buzz created by incredibly rapid IT technology advancements, the industry will finally emerge with a firm understanding of the gamut of “hybrid” options thanks to best practices derived from real-world cloud deployments.
  1. Compliance’s Operational Impacts Will Continue To Expand – Are your prepared to pass that next audit? After years of struggling with time-consuming and complex compliance processes and procedures, enterprises, agencies, and auditors alike will be even busier! But there is some light at the end of the tunnel – and it comes in the form of automation.
  1. Privacy Will Be Everywhere – Whether it’s electronic protected health information (ePHI) driven by ACA or information traveling between public and private cloud environments, harnessing and protecting data will be a focal point of every government and enterprise IT initiative.
  1. Agencies Get Cozier With Public Cloud – Government cloud computing adoption will hit its stride. Agencies will finally start moving a great number of workloads (and even some mission-critical ones) into the public cloud with FedRAMP authorized providers.
  1. Verticalized Cloud Communities Become the Next Boomtowns – There’s no one-size-fits all when it comes to cloud. As a result, industries with common compliance standards, such as healthcare, will turn to cloud service providers that can act as community organizers or hubs. In 2015, we’ll see the increasing emergence of vertical-centric cloud communities that can effectively cater to industry-specific needs and requirements.
  1. New Tools Will Enhance Infrastructure and Application Performance – Spurred on by rapid software development, software-defined networks, and faster hardware technology, rapid maturation of industry tools and services will help organizations enhance the performance of IaaS, public, private and hybrid cloud solutions in the coming year. Expect affordable resources that will extract even more value in the form of greater flexibility, security and self-service, alongside service-focused offerings from providers.
  1. Real-time Data-Centric Decisions Are the New Norm – In 2015, we’ll see IT-enabled data-centric decisions across platforms become common practice for many organizations. Deeper insight into usage patterns and greater visibility into network operations and performance across computing infrastructure will allow organizations to make better-informed decisions about workload allocations and respond faster to enterprise nee

Do you agree with Carpathia’s predictions? Let them know on Facebook or Twitter. In addition, follow NVTC on Facebook and Twitter! We would love to hear your thoughts on what trends will be game-changers in 2015.

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6 Things You Didn’t Know About NVTC’s Techtopia Map

October 15th, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Membership - (Comments Off on 6 Things You Didn’t Know About NVTC’s Techtopia Map)

Did you know that the NVTC Techtopia Map is 15 years old in 2014? What started out as a cool idea to “brand” Northern Virginia as a growing technology corridor back in the Y2K days has become a great way to look back at how our region – and our membership – has evolved over the years.

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Six things you didn’t know about NVTC’s Techtopia Map:

  1. Member companies AHT Insurance, Leap Frog Solutions and Lee Technologies (now Schneider Electric) have been on EVERY edition of the map! Now that’s staying power!
  2. For Techtopia’s fifth anniversary, we printed the map on a t-shirt that was distributed to attendees at the NVTC Banquet. That banquet was at the “brand new” Udvar-Hazy Center (The companion facility to the Smithonian’s Air and Space Museum in D.C.), and NVTC was the first outside group to hold an event there. Any long-time members still have one of those t-shirts?
  3. Another year, we printed an ADC Map that had Techtopia on the cover. Anyone still have one in your office or car?
  4. For several years, the map appeared on Metrobuses and in select Metro stations as part of a partnership with WMATA. Do you remember seeing those?
  5. The Library of Congress has a copy of every Techtopia Map on file.
  6. We added an online version of the map a couple of years down the road, and that was soon followed by the brochure version that you see in our membership kits and on the NVTC display table at events, and a calendar version, which we used to promote the Equal Footing Foundation for several years.

Would you like to be a part of Techtopia history yourself? There’s still time for your company to be included on the map in 2015. Contact Michelle Senglaub at msenglaub@nvtc.org for more information and pricing.

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The $18+ Billion Big Data Professional Services (M&A) Market Opportunity

September 23rd, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs | Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The $18+ Billion Big Data Professional Services (M&A) Market Opportunity)

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, Gretchen Frary Guandolo of Clearsight Advisors shares how the opportunity for big data professional services firms has never been greater.


Total big data revenue (software, hardware and services) reached $18.6 billion last year, up from $11.6 billion in 2012 (according to Wikibon), an impressive 58% growth over the previous year. No doubt the big data market is enormous and growing quickly, but one of the main inhibitors to growth is the lack of professional services firms focused around big data. Software, hardware and diversified IT services vendors are all on the hunt for the same target – professional services firms of scale focused on the strategy and implementation of big data projects. Clearsight recently represented Think Big Analytics in their sale to Teradata, a transaction that underscored the skyrocketing demand for big data services.  The sale process was highly competitive with bidders from several different market segments.  The opportunity for big data professional services firms has never been greater. The drivers behind the strong demand for big data services, include:

  • Few IP/tools exist that allow business users to easily implement and access Hadoop data in an uncomplicated, user friendly fashion
  • Special knowledge is required to navigate all the privacy/security/compliance moving parts and their implication on big data
  • A practitioner of big data is necessary to translate and mediate between all constituents around the table – line of business, c-suite and IT departments – to ensure a successful outcome.

As more companies boast successful Hadoop/big data projects, demand continues to grow, but there remains a divide in the approach to tackling big data projects. Big data consulting firms develop their own IP and toolsets because simple, business user- focused analytic packages accessing Hadoop data are not yet widely available. Software and hardware vendors have a challenging time selling their infrastructure products and deploying Hadoop solutions because their sale process requires a more consultative sale, implementation discipline, and technology skills of a big data consulting firm. The shortage of big data professional services skills is acute. As a result, at Clearsight we expect to see the larger product vendors, IT services firms,  ad agencies and many other sectors continue to hunt for acquisition targets to increase their big data services capabilities and address the growing need for big data professional services.

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