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Packing Trust for Your IT Journey

By | Blog, Insight, Inspiration

Think about the last time you packed for a trip. You didn’t include shoes that pinch or your Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction t-shirt for business. You left out the wool coat for Nassau in the middle of August. Let’s just say that you could project what to include because you had basic information that would make your trip more efficient, relevant, and gratifying. You probably had valuable insight from someone who has been where you’re going. You had trust.

It’s the same with a relationship with your IT Solutions or managed services provider. The good ones will help you align your business with client needs and help you pack appropriately for your business journey.

At the end of the day it’s all about alignment and trust. What goes into that suitcase will be different from what others are packing but it works because you have the insight of a trusted partner.

And you’re headed to something brand spanking new.

Choose a ride-or-die managed services provider

In order to gain customer trust, you have to be aligned with them via shared long-term strategies. And the best way to get there is creating—and sustaining—growth. The same goes for your business. You should have your own set of objectives and growth strategies. A solid plan for growth for your business should always include shared values, common goals, and vision.

Your IT solutions provider should be able to help define your vision and be honest with you about the practicality of your ideas. Sustainable growth is always easier when you share common values and objectives defined at the onset. And that’s just the start. Don’t stop until you’re comfortable with your IT solutions provider. You may, however, have to get used to being a little uncomfortable once in a while, but that’s normal. Sometimes you have to break a few things and start from a different vantage point. That’s where the real trust comes in. Lean into a ride-or-die relationship with your IT solutions provider to experience authentic relationships and real ROI.

How do you know you have the right ride-or-die partner?

You might be surprised to hear that lining up a bunch of tech is not our priority when engaging with a new client. Don’t get us wrong, we’re tech devotees and live and breathe new IT initiatives. But we can’t help define your growth strategy until we know that we are aligned philosophically with your business. When we’re all shaking our heads yes on basic alignment, we dig into tech and financials. You’ll then have the infrastructure you need at a value that works for you.

  • Philosophical alignment. We believe that there’s always a better way. Whether that means pivoting with existing systems or building from the ground up, we want to help. We’ll look at your business from a helicopter perspective to make appropriate recommendations that position you for long-term success.
  • Technical alignment. Once we get to know each other philosophically, we’ll dive into the technology aspect to determine solutions that will enhance your deliverables while supporting operational needs. We don’t do tech for tech’s sake. It has to have a purpose. It has to support the enterprise. And it has to have value. A Calyx engineer will visit with you when you’re ready and glean the fundamental information necessary to develop an IT strategy for today and years from now.
  • Financial Alignment. When the rubber starts to hit the road, you’ll need to know your financial investment currently as well as what to expect in the future. We conduct a total cost of IT analysis and provide a comprehensive view of your IT expenses. This enables you to accurately compare cost differentials and know how to plan financially.

This is also a great opportunity for us to illustrate the expenses we’ll eliminate, and puts an exact price on the added value and benefits we provide. To get started, we’ll send our Excel Workbook to help assemble all of your operating and capital expenses related to IT.

Early C-Level Engagement can make or break IT strategy

At the end of the day, you’re going to need C-Level buy-in on technology investments so why not include them at the beginning and let them feel part of the decision making. Execs are less likely to eliminate or reduce funding if they feel part of the initial discussions. This will be a huge help when it comes time to pivot on the IT plan and invest in new solutions.

At Calyx, we understand the complexities of engaging the appropriate people at the appropriate times when reviewing a company’s IT infrastructure. We’re deeply rooted in every client situation and can make valuable recommendations when solutions grow weary and efficiency lags.

From the helicopter view of our leadership team to the techs working on your solutions, we are committed to engaging, aligning, and earning trust. And you can always rely on us to tell you what to pack as you move further along on your business journey.

Protect Yourself From Malicious Email

By | Blog

It’s estimated that 90% of all email sent worldwide every day is malicious in one form or another. That’s crazy, huh? While we work to protect you and the organization through enterprise security measures and policies, there’s no silver bullet that exists to eliminate this issue.

We’re sharing the information below to help guide and inform you of the common threats that are out there. These are things you can do to help us in this effort, and what to do if you suspect you’ve received a malicious email. Thank you for continuing to be our best first line of defense!

Common Email Security Threats:

  • Spoofing – When someone pretends to be someone else to gain your confidence, access systems, steal information, steal money.
  • Phishing – A malicious attempt to trick you into sharing passwords, credit or bank information, or other sensitive information by posing as someone else or a trusted institution.
  • Viruses – a piece of code embedded in a file attachment that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.
  • SPAM – Unwanted and unsolicited digital communication generally sent out in bulk by malicious senders
  • Ransomware – Malware that locks users out of their devices and/or files, and then the perpetrator demands an anonymous online payment in order to restore access.

Things you can do to protect yourself and your business:

  • Be skeptical – this is the absolute best first line of defense for everyone
    • Think first, click second
    • When in doubt, ask
  • Be vigilant – you’re most vulnerable when you let your guard down
  • Stop emailing files – use ShareFile as a secure way to share information both inside, and more importantly outside the organization
  • Don’t hide the mess under the rug – if you suspect something, even if done inadvertently, report it immediately

If you suspect a malicious email message, here’s what you should do

  1. Flag the email. At the bottom of most unknown emails you receive, you will see a message in the footer, similar to the following: “This email has been scanned for spam and viruses. Click to report this email as spam.” Click the link within the message and the email will be reported. This is also a good way to reduce SPAM.
  2. If the email is obviously malicious go ahead and delete the email after reporting it.
  3. If you have questions or doubts about the legitimacy of an email contact your IT support team. If you are a Calyx client, please visit our support page for directions on how to engage IT support.

It’s Never Crowded on the Extra Mile

By | Blog, Insight, Uncategorized

There are tons of managed service providers out there. They work hard to offer a dizzying array of commodities in hopes that something sticks. If they’re lucky, they’ll land on a mix of deliverables that might move the needle for your business. Chances are, they’ll come up with something that meets the status quo if they work at it long enough. But status quo doesn’t cut it — not today, when technology should literally be considered among your business’ most valuable assets. To get there requires an IT partner who is vested in your success in terms of growth, frictionless customer experiences, and better financial outcomes. 

Look, all MSPs are not ill-intentioned, they just don’t go far enough. They can’t get past the limited piecemeal approach to IT. They just haven’t traveled the extra mile yet. We know because that’s where you’ll find us and it’s definitely not crowded.

Most customer journeys start out in the same place. You need a foundation of systems and solutions. But businesses don’t stay static. They grow, evolve, and pivot. And they need a partner who can see further down the road to not only report on roadblocks and detours, but to find alternate routes.

Businesses also need an IT partner with whom they align, both technically, philosophically and financially. It’s a critical measure that sets the foundation for a successful partnership.

Let’s take a holistic view

OK, enough with the road trip metaphors. This is serious stuff. Your business is serious stuff and you deserve insight and support from an IT solutions provider that operates less on line items and more on a holistic view of your business. The interrelatedness of partnering with a company that delivers real solutions, not just patches.

Sometimes business leaders fall into traps of maintaining the status quo because things seem to be working OK. Fair enough. But, we’d like to suggest another option. How about partnering with a business that can view the full scope of your internal operations without preconceived notions? Let’s face it. You have skin in the game and may be skittish about making any serious changes because your business could be disrupted. Risks might be revealed, or vulnerabilities exposed. Well, we’re here to tell you that if you don’t at least entertain new ideas or perspectives or be open to the possibility that there might be a better way, things will get worse. And we’re just not willing to let that happen.

What you should expect from an IT solutions provider

There may be huge disconnects between what you’re getting from your MSP and what you should expect from a true IT solutions provider, like Calyx. A sort of before and after if you will.

  • Holistic approach. You may be used to getting lots of solutions from an MSP. Lots of line items and add-ons to plug holes and weak spots may work temporarily but aren’t an ideal solution. You need a holistic helicopter view of what’s going on in your company and we can take you there. And when you work with us, we’ll be looking from that perspective frequently to predict and prevent issues before they become problems.
  • Cloud-first strategy. And while we’re taking that helicopter view, we’ll recommend a cloud-first strategy because it simply doesn’t do you any good to put on piecemeal, on-premise patches and hope for the best.
  • White glove service. You don’t need excuses, only solutions. We’ve elevated service and support to white glove status and wouldn’t even know how to pass the buck if we tried.
  • Simplified pricing. We will never nickel-and-dime you and won’t surprise you with new line items out of the blue. There’s no convoluted pricing. Tech solutions should be an investment in your company and every recommendation we offer will support that objective.
  • Built-In Backup and Recovery. Dealing with a system outage is stressful enough. You don’t need a bunch of different fixes that will cost you as the meter is running. Backup and recovery is included at no additional costs in every product we provide.

We also offer other holistic solutions such as unparalleled security, accessibility, enterprise-class technology, month-to-month contracts, and a 90-day full money-back guarantee.

Don’t accept the acceptable.

We encourage you to explore available technology and solutions with us. No strings attached. And if you’re skeptical about growth, give us the chance to change your mind. All you need is an open mind to learn more about what is possible, and not just acceptable.

We guarantee you a positive technology experience. That means really listening to your business concerns as well as your growth dreams. When you partner with us, you’ll get technological expertise as well as professionals with innovative business acumen.

Our goal is to give you dramatically different tech and business experiences. We want your business to succeed. From day one, we’ll be vested in your success in terms of growth, frictionless customer experiences, and better financial outcomes. So, are you ready to go the extra mile with us? We’re pretty sure you’ll like it out here.

Work-from-Home Productivity Tools and Tricks

By | Blog, Insight, Inspiration

For many, the current work-from-home situation has blurred the line between work and life. It’s beginning to seem like everything is “from home”.

My wife and I were deciding on a virtual Summer camp for my daughter, who will also be working at my wife’s wellness studio (also virtual). As I was writing this I was thinking “haha, my daughter can start to pay us rent”, then quickly realizing that we’d be paid with our own money, which didn’t have the same appeal.

The other morning, I had to drop something off to them at the studio, and as I walked in, my daughter started to pack up her things. I asked what she was doing and she replied “the boss said to have a good day so I’m goin’ home”! We laughed hysterically, and then it hit me how absolutely crucial it is to make your WFH experience the best it can be, and how important the right habits and tools are. Good habits can not only set you up for success and make you more productive, they can also help alleviate stress and help define more of a division between your work and home life.

Below is a list of some of the top work-from-home tips  from the Calyx team:

  1. Set a morning routine: Get up early, take a shower, make your coffee and breakfast, and prepare your lunch. This will help keep some normalcy to your routine.
  2. Get dressed: This will signal that it is time to get things done and help get you in “work mode”.
  3. Designate a workspace: This will help keep the separation between work and home physical as well as help limit distractions.
  4. Set clearly defined working hours: Stick with your regular hours for consistency and if you live with other people establish boundaries to cut down on distractions. Then disconnect and spend time fully with the people you care about.
  5. Do your “commute”: Committing to a routine will help brain prepare for work and also unwind after. I go for a walk before I start work and after I end each day.
  6. Invest in tech / comfortable setup: A pair of noise cancelling headphones, an ergonomic chair, and a laptop stand can make a world of difference.
  7. Communicate with others on your team: This is a new situation for everyone. Don’t hesitate to talk about struggles or things you may need. Communication also helps from keeping us socially isolated.
  8. Take a walk and stretch: Exercise naturally boosts endorphins, which increases happiness, enjoyment, and interest levels, all of which are important for productivity.
  9. Take lunch in an area other than the one you work: Eat with the kids/spouse, step outside or go for a walk. Do something that will get you away from your computer and give you time to decompress and rejuvenate.
  10. Hold yourself accountable: You’re in charge of your environment and you should treat yourself like an employee. Grade yourself honestly at the end of each day and set clear goals and objectives.

In the words of Australian actor F.M. Alexander: “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”

It’s true, the things we do on a daily basis are sometimes so granular that they seem meaningless. However it’s the small details that make the biggest impact over time. Pay attention to your daily habits and if you have any tips of your own, reach out, we’d love to hear them.

Creating a Better Way Through the COVID-19 Crisis

By | Blog, Inspiration, News

Wow.

A month ago we would have never predicted the situation we’re all in with the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly the streets and offices are empty. Classrooms hold only echoes of their usual inhabitants. And our favorite bars and restaurants are doing all they can to serve loyal patrons from a distance.

That’s what the powers that be are urging us to do. Distance yourself from other people. Social distancing. I suppose it’s a good enough term for drawing back from everything familiar, everything comforting, everything routine. How else do you put a spin on a new way of encountering the world when it’s the opposite of your instincts and usual way of navigating your days.

But it’s the way it has to be right now in order to preserve what we can for our families and customers. And we’ll comply because the stakes are so high. But, I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t end there for us. The underlying code of our business is to “find a better way” and that’s what we intend to do now and long after this pandemic is behind us.

We’re patterning after what national and local officials have determined is the better way for Americans right now. Who would have ever thought that cities becoming ghost towns is a better way? But it is. And can it be a better way to ground airlines? Yes. And dare we say it, can it be a better way to limit toilet paper purchases? You bet.

But the American spirit remains strong. We see it in musicians playing soothing music at their front doors so their neighbors can be transported to other places in their minds if only for a little while. It’s in caravans of teachers driving through local neighborhoods so that they can see their students waving from their front yards and the students can see love, dedication and some sense of security in those familiar faces. And it’s in checking on neighbors to see what you can do for them because they may be hesitant to ask. Those are all better ways of living and probably things we should have been doing anyway.

Maybe the goodness will continue. Who knows what will happen from this point on. But one thing is for sure. For the first time ever in our history, we are all the same—people who share the same fears because of a universal risk. This disease has become the great equalizer of our population. We’re all at ground zero.

But that won’t last. There will be a way out of this. A better way to live and interact with the world. But for the time being, we have put some things in place to support our customers.

We are here to help. This is always number one with us. Let us know what you need and we’ll find a solution.

Our workforce is working remote. We’re in different places but we’re all connected. And our same phone and email support process is in place. Call or email at any time and we’ll respond.

We’re teleconferencing. We can still meet with you but for now we’re doing all meetings via Zoom. We can stay in touch without any health risks for customers or employees.

We have more payment options available. The world is topsy turvy right now so we wanted to provide some payment flexibility that may work better for our customers. We’re offering electronic payment options such as ACH or wire transfer. We can work with you on setting up an electronic process in place of checks as needed at your request.

If you need additional assistance or a better way of doing something, please reach out to us so we can work with you. Rest assured, we will continue our overreaching strategy to find a better way for our operations and customer solutions.

This disease will not stop us. It’s forcing us to look at things differently and somehow that part of this nightmare sits well with us. Because it takes people who can find different perspectives and vantage points to make viable changes. To find a better way.

How to Create a Better Way

By | Blog, Insight, Inspiration, Success Stories

How. How. How. Everywhere you turn, there’s more information on how to do this or that to improve your business, your hairstyle and even your morning latte. So, why, you’re asking, does this blog start with another blasted how? Well, it’s because the how’s are important and at Calyx we’re fueled by how to create a better way for our clients. But there’s something that comes before the how’s and it’s how (see what we did there) we arrived at our “create a better way” business driver. We’re talking about our why.

You can’t get to how unless you master your why. Why do we do what we do? A seemingly obvious question that is often overlooked is why do you do what you do? Out of all the things you could be doing today, why are you working where you are? Why do you keep trying to eclipse your last success? Why does your business matter? Why does your role matter?

Getting to Why

Getting to why isn’t as easy as you might think. Why you do something is not driven by money, celebrity or influencers. It comes from inside. It’s a pretty deep dive but that’s where the good stuff is. It’s what makes you want to see other people succeed. And even better, what can you do to facilitate that success. It’s coming from a place of abundance; there’s no limit on success. There’s plenty to go around, and if we can help you grab a healthy handful or more, that’s what we’ll do.

So our “why” is the need to see our clients succeed. And in order to make that happen, we work to create a better way. A better way of thinking about your business. A better way to integrate technology. A better way to think about the future.

Does a better way mean better efficiency, productivity and tighter security? You bet. We especially love it when we can identify and work hand in hand to resolve pain points for clients. Sometimes they’re unsure where a bottleneck is located because they’re just too close to their business.

A Better Way: Example 1

One of our clients was experiencing inconsistent user experiences among their three locations. Remote site users felt left out in the cold because they had an outdated method of accessing apps and data. The tension between remote offices and the headquarters was palpable. Nobody wins in cultural battles like that so we worked to design and implement both short- and long-term solutions. Now they’re working with faster connections and a unified, high-performance solution that works well regardless of location.

A Better Way: Example 2

M & A situations sometimes generate lots of confusion that doesn’t need to be there. We’ve been able to help deliver clarity when businesses are merging and quickly create logical and relative solutions. In these situations,  we employ a number of strategies including the following:

  • Quickly onboard new users and sites onto a common platform
  • Flatten network and simplify connectivity
  • Converge email and file access
  • Deploy enterprise line of business apps
  • Remove on-premise single points of failure
  • Provide secure, easy-to-use remote access
  • Enable flexible work schedules
  • Facilitate greater employee satisfaction with work from home option
  • Remove leadership concern about remote work security

We love bringing order out of chaos. That can mean technology initiatives or simply helping clients look at their businesses in a different way. No matter the situation, if you keep viewing things in the same way, you’ll continue to get the same results. That’s not what we want for ourselves and it’s not what we want for our clients. We’re driven to create a better way.

A Better Way: Example 3

Sometimes that means inviting clients to take a helicopter view of their business. Just seeing things from a different perspective can launch new initiatives full of fresh energy and innovation. We really get excited when we can help with strategic planning to help identify major challenges like we did recently with a manufacturing client.

Each business unit at the company was operating independently and we helped them understand the benefits of working with a common goal. Naturally, there were blind spots that the BUs were unaware of when it came to understanding where they were not in sync. We were able to help them understand the concerns of the business leaders for the overall management of the business and the identification of common goals has them on a more unified, successful path today.

We’ve also helped companies shorten their ROI with some simple workflow improvements. One of our clients is realizing better ROI today due to the discovery of major time and labor savings. We helped them return the total investment in less than six months with the automation of labor-intensive, repetitious data entry. Employee satisfaction is a cherry on top because workers can be moved to more business-building work instead of monotonous data entry tasks.

You may be surprised to hear us say that what we do is not really about the technology. That’s not what drives us. We want to create a better way.  We want to get at the core of why you do what you do. And we’re going to speculate just a bit that you want to create a better way too. For your customers and your employees. So, let’s do some helicopter thinking. Let’s see where you are and where you want to be. Let’s create a better way.

Got Rocket Sauce?

By | Blog, Insight, Inspiration

The most beloved brands exhibit attributes that make those brands exceptionally unique — something that’s highly valued by their audiences and not easily copied by competitors. Starbucks consistently delivers a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Apple provides its hardcore fanbase with luxury and style that’s more about emotion than the products themselves. FedEx delivers uncompromised reliability to businesses and consumers.

These brands each possess a potent formula — their “secret sauce” – delivered with obsessive detail to their operations, personnel, messaging, and packaging to ensure consistent, exceptional brand experiences. Each represents an idea and expectation from their audience that’s ultimately bigger than the brand itself.

What if I told you that the Coca-Cola brand is worth nearly $227 billion? (And that’s the value of the brand alone. It doesn’t account for the factories, bottling plants, fleet of trucks, or their inventory. That’s just the brand.)

To build an emotional connection (which brands like Apple, Harley-Davidson, and Amazon do so well) requires a deep understanding of your audience. It’s Marketing 101, yet often overlooked. It’s why so many industries get a bad rap for being out of touch and failing to address the real needs of their stakeholders. The IT solutions business is no exception.

Our Secret Sauce

From our own experience, building a beloved brand at Calyx has taught us to listen carefully and truly understand what customers need and expect. We know that many companies view IT as an expense. And every three or four years these companies gleefully acquire new hardware, revisit software, and maybe add a few new services, all through multiple IT vendors.

We asked, “What if IT was way bigger than that? More broad-shouldered. What if you could leverage technology to increase your company’s productivity? And efficiency? Even help your company achieve its business goals? What enabled Calyx to pull away from the “IT vendor pack” years ago and win respect was helping C-level executives understand where their IT expenses were coming from — and understand how they could better leverage technology to create a better way to do business. Doing this required some deep business insight.

We responded by creating our own secret sauce — aptly named Calyx “Rocket Sauce.” It’s a potent blend of people, processes and technology to create better outcomes for businesses. It’s how we make clients’ lives easier — and their businesses more productive and profitable. We’re doing something that no one else does: essentially creating a new service category independent of the managed services provider (MSP) group of commodity resellers.

What’s in IT? 

We’ve built Calyx with the best people and processes, redefining what customers can expect from an IT partner. Rather than demystifying the many variables that go into a complete IT ecosystem, we set out to simplify everything. Here’s one complete package, with no loose ends and no self-administration. Everything’s covered, which means you won’t have to call us up in another year because you “need more IT.” We ensure accessibility, reliability, scalability, and security — all with one simple fee per user, and no hidden costs lurking in corners.

Our process of digging deep in the initial groundwork, or “discovery,” phase enables us to gain a holistic view of a business, so our recommendations are grounded in reality. We work to understand our client’s processes and nuances so we’re not adapting a business to technology, but the other way around, as it should be. We educate and prove value through objective analysis and comparison of information. We set out to establish fit by evaluating financial, philosophical and technological alignment between us and a client.

You hear much about core values these days, yet all too often they are little more than inspiration on corporate walls. We’ve made a very conscious decision to ensure that our values become the code by which we operate. They really are the most essential ingredients in our rocket sauce. No variations. No substitutions. Our core values are: Challenge everything. Do what’s right. Own it. It’s all about being better on behalf of the client. We’ve proven time and again that this is how meaningful relationships are built.

Then there’s the tech — or the “how” part — of the recipe, which varies as technology advances and better solutions are created. What doesn’t vary is the quality and support we provide. Our solutions are enterprise-grade, always with business continuity built in. Again, we remove the complexity of IT by ensuring that the user experience is effortless, backed by support that we believe is unrivaled by anyone in the industry.

So, that’s our recipe for success: “The best people + proven processes + technology = better outcomes for our clients.” But don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret.

Your Secret Sauce

Which factors make your business unique and enable you to deliver something exceptional? They certainly don’t need to be as multi-layered as ours at Calyx. But what they must be is relevant. The harsh reality is that no one really cares what you do. It’s true. Just as there’s no shortage of IT solutions providers, there are plenty of companies who do what you do. The real questions are: Do they do it how you do it. And do they do it as well? It’s a critical question to ask of yourself and your business leaders because the “how” is what defines a valuable user experience and sets future expectations. It’s the “how” that enables you to differentiate.

Think Starbucks versus Dunkin’ Donuts (although we might argue that while the Starbucks experience is better, Dunkin Donut’s coffee is superior). Or Google versus Yahoo. Think about the user experience you deliver versus that of your competitors.

At Calyx, we’re big advocates of regularly taking inventory of everything that makes up who we are: our values, skills, strengths and weaknesses, passions and goals. Just as technology changes faster than ever, the needs of our clients also change. It’s important to do a self-check to make sure that what we offer is meaningful and of value.  We always consider what we can do to enhance our clients’ experiences and serve them better. That’s how the very-great brands maintain relevance over time.

Your secret sauce may be in your people, your products or services, or your unique processes. Or it may be a combination of all of these. What matters most is that you and your organization are crystal clear on what distinguishes you from other competitive options, and how to consistently deliver that distinction. When you have that part figured out, you have the recipe for success.

P.S. We even animated our rocket ship. 😛

Your 2020 IT Budget: Hard and Soft Elements to Consider

By | Blog, Insight

The  IT landscape in all sizes of businesses continues to evolve to make operations easier. And let’s don’t forget revenue. That’s why you’re in business after all. Brands are leaning into the fact that IT is an asset, not a necessary evil. Business growth strategies drive companies of all sizes today. IT is a critical component, if not the leading asset in guiding them to greater revenue streams.

IT budgets should be reviewed periodically to ensure proper attribution to components as the business transitions. Additionally, the increase in cloud services and the decline of on-site data centers is altering the scope of hardware and software needs. There will still be the need for servers, security, storage, network infrastructure, employee equipment, and other components. These fundamentals need to be part of a 2020 IT budget.

Supporting Strategic Efforts

At Calyx, we work with clients to ensure that they have the appropriate hard and soft IT elements that will support strategic efforts for sustainable growth. We help clients to customize the scope of their IT budget, costs, and necessary components to position their business to grow responsibly.

According to Calyx CEO, Jason Fordu, “Businesses need to adopt a top-down budgeting approach leading with strategic business objectives that can improve efficiency and revenue. Most people think in terms of apps when planning for a new year, but outdated server, security, storage and networking can bring a company down quickly and must be upgraded or replaced appropriately.”

The tech pros at Calyx also advise against keeping outdated software and hardware because of the potential for security risks. If they’re not upgraded, it will be nearly impossible to mitigate threats that come up.

Company size also plays a big part in hardware and software spend. Enterprises have more data infrastructure to monitor and will invest in more power/climate and telephony hardware. Mid-size companies will spend on mobile devices and tablets. Smaller businesses will devote the lion’s share of their budget to employee laptops and desktops.

Top hardware considerations for 2020

  • The big data trend shows no signs of slowing down so companies need to accommodate the massive amount of data generated. Storage will be in high demand in 2020, especially object storage because of its ability to address large amounts of data from edge to cloud with query capability and custom metadata tagging.
  • Systems management. Efficient routing, network QoS and virtualization will be big in 2020 so the need for contracting the right systems management will be critical.
  • Load balancer. Another hardware component to consider is a load balancer to keep network traffic moving smoothly. It can move flow smoothly when there’s too much traffic for a server by moving it to other circuits.

Top software considerations for 2020

In 2020, enterprises will allocate a more significant percentage on database management, virtualization, and communications software. Mid-size companies will invest in business support apps and productivity software while the small business will spend their software budgets primarily on operating systems

  • Automation initiatives. Key software trends for 2020 include those initiatives dedicated to automation. This includes Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning designed to alleviate human chores in the workplace. The adoption of AI is expected to triple by 2021.
  • Replace outdated software. Outdated software such as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is scheduled to come off support early in 2020 so appropriate upgrades need to occur.

Special considerations

Hardware and software investments differ according to company size. For example, large enterprises adopt emerging technologies quicker and will need a higher level of assistance in integrating technology innovations into their company. Smaller and mid-size companies require more guidance in security best practices and disaster recovery policies.

At Calyx, we work with our clients to help them identify the best options when it comes to upgrading infrastructure, updating disaster recovery plans, identifying security vulnerabilities and working to transform tech environments with upgrades and innovations.

2020 is here so let’s wrap this up. The biggest IT investments will occur with technology end-of-life, upgrades, and new initiatives to support business growth. Enterprise-level businesses already understand how tech can drive revenue and they are more receptive to new tech solutions such as AI to gain competitive advantage. Smaller businesses are more interested in investing in desktops and laptops for employees. Whatever your business size as well as the state of your current tech situation, Calyx can help you position for growth in 2020 and beyond.

An IT Budget Cheat Sheet

By | Blog, Insight

No one looks forward to IT budgeting. No one. Budgeting is a fact of life and part of ensuring that IT is leveraged to support the overall initiatives of the enterprise. An IT budget must both drive and support strategic initiatives so a clear roadmap of business-wide objectives is critical to effective planning for future efforts.

Sometimes the urge to just update last year’s budget can be an easy solution. We get that. Tech departments can be overburdened and extra time is as rare as a Browns Super Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, just updating an old budget likely won’t appropriately incorporate new directions for the business overall. Strategic objectives change each year and IT has to keep pace or the business will struggle to achieve goals.

While IT dollars are expected to be invested in technologies that drive future growth, there are plenty of businesses that continue to put money towards their digital transformation journeys.

A simple way of starting an IT budget is with the basics as follows in this IT Budget Cheat Sheet:

IT Budget Cheat Sheet

Ongoing expenses

Staff and compensation

  • Recruiting and staff acquisition
  • Internal staff
  • External staff (staff augmentation providers and contractors)
  • Total compensation (benefits, training, travel costs)

Infrastructure

  • Servers
  • Client computing resources (laptops, tablets, etc.)
  • Network infrastructure
  • License and support renewals
  • HVAC
  • Utility power
  • Battery Backup and Generator Costs

Software

  • Licenses
  • Subscriptions
  • Support/Maintenance contracts

Project expenses

For each project

  • Consulting expenses
  • General and administrative (temporary office space, etc.)
  • Hardware
  • Software

The state of IT budgeting for 2020

In 2020, IT budget spends will be diversified over a much broader range of categories (e.g., digitalization, mobile computing, employee training, agility, flexibility, ability to work from anywhere) than in 2019, when IT budgets were heavily invested in security and cloud services as many major operating systems approached end of life. Security and cloud services will still lead investment categories, but many organizations feel they have attained many of their initial goals in these areas. It is critical to do what’s right for your company.

There are indications that more organizations want to fully understand just how much they spend on IT across the company. From a budgetary standpoint, this has sparked a movement to consolidate more of the IT spend (and assets) under a single umbrella, with IT in charge.

In response to the mixed performance of ROI formulas and cost overruns, CFOs and other IT budget decision-makers will likely expect more input from proof of concept exercises and successful trials before approving funding for new technology expenses.

Critical tech investments for 2020

Critical initiatives to consider for 2020 funding include cybersecurity, automation, infrastructure and data. Business confidence in dealing with threats is growing, however how businesses decide to allocate funds to tackle cybercrime may potentially change.

As predicted, businesses across verticals have begun to invest more in automation technology. Leveraging automation to eliminate mundane and repetitive tasks enables employees to engage in more meaningful work that helps drive business objectives.

The vast amount of data created from the Internet of Things devices has driven businesses to think about the value that can be extracted, and this is showing up in the IT investment decisions made by businesses. As an example, IoT provider, AGT International, works with industrial clients to manage and protect infrastructures through IoT analytics including video analytics and sensors.

Who should be involved in IT budgeting?

Despite enterprise desires to consolidate spends and asset tracking in IT, Shadow IT and end-user engagement in technology purchasing decisions are still very much alive. What has changed is that more end-users (and management) want IT to actively engage in preliminary technology decision-making processes. This ensures that the technology they want to buy can be used with other existing systems.

A good approach for IT is to take the lead by visiting various user departments in advance of budgeting to see what types of technologies they’re considering for their own business operations.

The role of the CIO in budgeting

Savvy IT leaders will demonstrate the value provided by their budget. Impactful areas of note promote internal and external objectives, from greater stability and operational efficiency to enhanced customer experience and assurances of a secure platform used to conduct business.

Great CIOs understand the balance sheet and P+L ramifications of investments made by IT on behalf of the company. Effectively leveraging the appropriate expense categories (cap-ex, operational expense, amortization, and financing options) and working with a CFO or other financial decision-maker ensures that spend aligns with the financial goals and capabilities of the organization.

The Power of the Soft Red Bat

By | Blog, Inspiration

Do you struggle with being your own worst critic and judge, like me? Is so, read on and I hope my story can help.

I have struggled with self-judgment for a long time. However, through the help of a personal friend, I recently learned how to visualize what “bat” I should be reaching for in my mind when I beat myself up. Doing this in advance has made it easier for me to reframe my thinking, change my perspective, and improve my own self-acceptance. It’s had such a significant and positive impact on me that I want to share my story with others who may struggle with self-judgment as I have.

If you’ve ever read the popular book The 5 Love Languages then you’ll understand when I say I’m an “acts of kindness” person. Meaning, I share and also derive my strongest feelings of love from doing things for other people, and vice versa. When my friend asked me what I would do for a friend in need, I didn’t hesitate to respond by saying, “anything!”. He then followed up by asking what I would specifically do and I began to ramble on about how I would listen, how I would provide them with compassion, how I would share my own similar experiences, and how I would ask them what they needed from me.

My friend then asked me what I do for myself when I have a need. His question was met with uncomfortable moments of silence, then a dim light bulb in my mind growing brighter and brighter until I said out loud, “F#%&!”.  In that moment that it became apparent that I freely and easily provide to others without any judgment whatsoever, but do the complete opposite with myself.

My friend asked me to close my eyes and imagine a line of baseball bats in front of me. All the way at one end are those big, heavy professional bats. You know the ones — the Louisville Sluggers made out of the hardest ash and hickory. I was asked to scan my eyes down the line of bats and imagine their size and shape growing smaller and smaller. Midway down the line, I had imagined that yellow hollow plastic ball bat from my youth, the one you used to hit that crazy white whiffle ball with the holes punched into it. Now it’s certainly not as tough as the Louisville Slugger, but I’ve got to be honest, it’s still something I wouldn’t want to get hit in the face with because it would still hurt like hell.

My friend encouraged me to continue scanning down the line of bats until I got all the way to the other end. It was here that I was asked to imagine that small, wide, and soft red toy bat — the one you’re comfortable giving to a three-year-old because it’s not going to hurt them. My friend told me to remember which bat I should use when I want to beat myself up.

I wasn’t asked to not beat myself up. That would be impossible! I was just asked to be a little kinder to myself when I do. The soft red bat I imagined in my mind doesn’t hurt anything like the Louisville Slugger that I had been using. The soft red bat made it easier for me to remember that everyone has faults. I now try to think about how I would feel if I were looking at myself from another’s perspective.

As I look at my friends, or if I were looking at myself as I look at a friend. Would I be harsh and unforgiving in my judgment from this different perspective? No, is usually my answer. Is my thinking irrational? Yes, is usually my answer. I now have an easier time of laughing at myself and being self-deprecating in a healthy way, because the reality doesn’t match the perception, and it’s not as bad as I’ve made it out to be. The red bat reminds me…

Oftentimes when I see someone struggling with self-judgment, I share this story. When a friend, colleague, client, mentor or anyone else seems to be unable to stop, I find myself taking a trip to the store, and picking up another squishy, soft red bat for them. Delivering one of these to a professionally employed adult may seem silly, but sometimes having the right tool, in this case, a foam covered Nerf bat, makes the job easier, and having a visual reminder leaned up in the corner of your office reminds you to be kind to yourself too.

While it took me almost 50 years to begin to understand my struggle and the peace that I have found with a new perspective, I share my story in the hope that others may learn sooner to be kind to themselves. Sometimes we want to hit ourselves or others with a Louisville Slugger, and sometimes we need a crack upside the head to sort ourselves out, but the safer, easier and less damaging approach is to pick up the squishy, soft red bat.

What I’ve also learned:

  • Better clarity and control of my thinking
  • Stronger empathy for myself and others who judge
  • Increased feelings of self-worth
  • Greater self-acceptance
  • More peace and happiness with myself