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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

 

What’s Driving Your IT Budget in 2020?

By | Blog, Insight

More and more companies are realizing the benefit that technology brings to their growth. No surprise there. And it makes perfect sense that experts predict that 2020 budget levels will keep pace with 2019 levels in spite of economic uncertainty. Technology is that vital.

We took a look at a study conducted by Spiceworks which says that budget drivers vary by company size and location. For example, “a greater priority placed on IT projects” is the top factor influencing IT budget growth in enterprises, likely because large organizations are typically better funded and have more resources to allocate against strategic initiatives than smaller businesses.

Plus, the more you’re managing in terms of data, departments, employee devices to connect, manage and secure, 25% of enterprises are also increasing IT spend due to a recent security incident, compared to only 4% of small businesses.

Across all company sizes surveyed in that study, budget highlights within each category include:

  • In hardware, budget allocations for laptops (17 percent), desktops (17 percent), servers (14 percent), and networking (8 percent) hardware top the list.
  • Top software budget allocations include operating systems (13 percent), industry-specific applications (11 percent), productivity suites (10 percent), and virtualization software (10 percent).
  • In hosted/cloud-based services, budget allocations for online productivity solutions (14 percent) top the list, followed by online backup/recovery (12 percent) and email hosting (10 percent).
  • Top budget allocations in managed IT services include managed hosting (13 percent), managed hardware support (11 percent), and managed storage/backup (11 percent).

 

So, what should you consider when developing your IT budget for 2020? What drivers should you pay attention to and which can you pass over this year? The critical thing to remember is that you should fund based on your company’s situation and not just do a cookie-cutter solution that may not fully support your strategic plans.

We’ve identified some components that we think are critical and should be considered when determining an IT budget:

Strategic objectives

One thing that we know is that the IT department plays a big role in reaching the strategic objectives of a company. It used to be that IT-supported whatever was defined as a goal of the business. Not that supporting the business was a lightweight effort, but executives are finally realizing that technology can be put to better use. Now technology and digital initiatives are at the forefront of company growth. Savvy business leaders understand the importance of IT as a growth leader and rely on the CIO and other tech leaders to take an active role in strategic business initiatives.

But before any growth heroics can occur, it’s important to define what you will need to accomplish regarding customer requirements and other objectives as they relate to business growth. For example, the IT budget may have to accommodate upgrades to meet critical objectives in the new year. At Calyx, we challenge everything, especially when it comes to customer growth. We’re not satisfied until strategies align with budgets because it’s only when viewing IT as an asset—not an expense—that businesses can accomplish growth objectives.

Technology lifecycles

The very nature of technology creates the need for change and updating on a regular schedule. That’s pretty much a fact of IT life. The average lifespan for a desktop computer is only three to five years. Servers start to decline in performance after about five years.

And you know this from personal experience—wireless devices have the shortest life spans of all at approximately 18 months. So when determining your 2020 IT budget, it’s a good idea to document each IT asset with its age so that you can project a replacement date and plan accordingly.

Current IT infrastructure and assets

What infrastructure is in place at your company today? What assets do you own? We’re talking hardware, software, servers, printers, network infrastructure, phone systems, mobile, desktop and other devices. Identifying your IT assets will help you develop an appropriate budget by listing everything at the beginning.

Keeping infrastructure current is projected to be the biggest IT challenge for companies in 2020. Businesses will need to address security best practices as well as incorporating a blend of onsite infrastructure and cloud-based services.

From our perspective, company size will also affect budgets for 2020. Small businesses will face security issues and disaster recovery solutions while large enterprises will be challenged when integrating technology innovations into their current tech environment.

Projected revenue

Any budget within the enterprise is contingent upon current and projected revenue for the business. No more, no less. Your IT budget will be contingent upon how much revenue is coming in today and how much is projected for 2020. Makes sense. But you need to account for the state of your revenue. If your business is in a rapid growth phase, you might have to increase normal funding to make sure your infrastructure can handle all the demands you’re going to place on it.

Experts predict that a large number of organizations will direct most of their 2020 budgets toward security and cloud initiatives. We agree that those are critical. But it’s also important to allocate portions of budgets to mobile initiatives, infrastructure upgrades, digitalization and staff training.

What’s our advice on what should drive your 2020 budget? Know your organization. What are your strategic plans for the new year? Be honest about the current state of your infrastructure. There’s nothing worse than not being able to support—let alone drive—business initiatives. But above all, stay strong on recommendations and continue to monitor IT support to grow your business.

Calyx Recognized as a 2019 Weatherhead 100 Award Winner

By | Blog, News

Calyx is proud to have been recognized by the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University as a winner of the 2019 Weatherhead 100 award. This award is a recognition of an elite group of companies who are the best example of leadership, growth and success in Northeast Ohio. Qualifications for consideration of the highly coveted award include being a for-profit, independently owned business residing in one of the 16 counties of Northeast Ohio, and growth in net sales from at least $100,000 to at least $1,000,000 over the past five years.

Calyx deploys enterprise IT solutions to small and mid-market businesses. With proven processes, people, technology and support, clients are empowered to work with less risk, hassle and disruption.

Calyx CEO, Jason Fordu said the team was “elated to be recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in Northeast Ohio, especially among such highly respected companies. This honor is a real testament to the commitment of our team to create better ways for our clients to work and prosper.”

Weatherhead 100 awards were established in 1988 by the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, considered among the pre-eminent authorities on the recognition of entrepreneurship.

Calyx will celebrate this outstanding achievement with other fellow Weatherhead winners at the spirited black-tie award ceremony on December 12, 2019.

Create a Smart IT Budget for 2020

By | Blog, Insight

How self-aware are you when it comes to IT spend?

One of the most important elements of budgeting for 2020 is getting clarity on what you’ll be spending—and why. Too many times, companies don’t even know their total IT costs, which puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to budgeting for a new year. Line items aren’t captured. Locations and users aren’t incorporated. Cloud charges stack up unnecessarily. Vendors sometimes don’t reveal all charges upfront and expenses continue to trickle in. And on and on.

Businesses today recognize that IT expenses rise as businesses grow and incorporate new technologies. This is especially true for those companies that understand that IT is no longer just a few line items on a spreadsheet, but a driver for the enterprise.

Creating a smart IT budget for 2020 may sound like a daunting proposition but it can be gratifying, especially when the results are smart spends that move the business forward.

Strategic considerations when planning

A few strategic considerations you should consider in the context of allocating an appropriate IT budget for the coming year:

  • IT budgets will rise as businesses replace outdated technology: 44% of businesses plan to increase tech spend in 2020, up from 38% in 2019
  • One in four enterprises (1,000+ employees) are increasing 2020 IT spend due to a recent security incident
  • Business adoption of AI-powered technologies is expected to triple by 2021, while the adoption of edge computing is expected to double
  • Two-thirds of large enterprises (5,000+ employees) plan to deploy 5G technology by 2021

Businesses are incorporating the fundamentals like hardware and software as well as new technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT. Security issues remain prevalent and moving to the cloud is standard operating procedure these days. Worldwide, the projected expenditures echo this upward trend.

https://www.idc.com/promo/global-ict-spending/forecast

And while it’s interesting to see what’s happening on a global scale—and know that you’re a part of that big picture—it’s critical that you determine the best budget and allocations for your business to prosper.

However, building that budget can be challenging when there are so many aspects to incorporate. We get that. That’s why we provide some guideposts for customers to make sure they are taking full advantage of their technology assets while keeping costs down.

Factors to consider for building your 2020 budget

Technology operations don’t exist in a vacuum. There are so many touchpoints across the enterprise that need to be considered, but how can you manage that without creating a maze of a project? We’ve identified some points that will help guide you by asking critical questions:

  • Who needs to be involved in budget development?
  • How do you find accurate and full pricing?
  • Where are you on your technology life cycle?
  • Do you have legacy systems that could be restricting you?
  • What new technologies interest you?
  • What upgrades will you need?
  • Are there compliance issues that need to be addressed?
  • Are your cloud expenditures more than you expected?
  • Where is the business most vulnerable based on an IT risk assessment?
  • How secure are your security initiatives?
  • Do you have the tech talent to take your business where you want to go?

According to research conducted with 1,000 IT professionals, the most important factor in increased spend for 2020 will be updating outdated infrastructure. Other elements that will push spending are security, employee growth and priority of IT projects.

Your IT challenges and goals will obviously be specific to your situation and where you are on your IT roadmap, but there are some business size issues to serve as guideposts. For example, small companies seem to require more support when it comes to best practices for security and disaster recovery.

Large enterprises, on the other hand, tend to adopt emerging technologies quicker and need help integrating new technology into their infrastructure. These differentiators will help create more relevant budgeting and your tech partner can help you allocate appropriately.

We believe in transparency, especially when it comes to budgets. When you work with Calyx, you’ll get all-in pricing. No surprises. We can work with you, your planning team and IT department to determine a realistic spending plan that not only addresses your current pain points but also positions you for innovation and growth.

10 Reasons Why You Need an IT Solutions Provider to Guide Cloud Migration

By | Blog, Insight

When it comes to managing enterprise workloads, the cloud rules. Nothing else enables them to run smarter and reduce cost when it comes to IT services for business.

“Cloud services are definitely shaking up the industry,” said Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner. “At Gartner, we know of no vendor or service provider today whose business model offerings and revenue growth are not influenced by the increasing adoption of cloud-first strategies in organizations. What we see now is only the beginning, though. Through 2022, Gartner projects the market size and growth of the cloud services industry at nearly three times the growth of overall IT services.”

Once the decision has been made to move to the cloud, most companies employ the expertise of a Cloud Solution Provider to optimize benefits and minimize risk. IT professionals are equipped with a complete understanding of the cloud, how it operates and how to take full advantage of its benefits to support and help grow businesses.

An IT solutions provider can migrate email, desktops, applications, servers, and data to the cloud, manage it on an ongoing basis and be available for consulting as your enterprise grows. To break this down even further, we’ve identified ten reasons why using a partner is critical to successful cloud migration:

  1. Frees you up to grow your business. Most business leaders are more skilled and knowledgeable in their industry, and not on managing technology. Using the skills of a Managed Services Provider lets you do what you do best—envisioning and executing growth strategies—while an MSP implements and supports technology initiatives.
  2. Instills confidence in the future. Digital transformation isn’t a one-and-done situation. Your technology initiative will continue to alter as new tech emerges to coincide with and support the growth of your business. Having a proactive solutions provider positions you for future-proof technology.
  3. Creates cost savings. A full-time IT staff is often not feasible for a small or medium-size business. Utilizing a Cloud Solutions Provider can help to offset the cost of a full IT staff, and bring specialized skill sets that are out of reach for most SMBs, without sacrificing quality and support. In most service provider relationships, you’ll receive a fixed recurring monthly fee to help you manage expenses without sacrificing support.
  4. Decreases resolution time. With the tools a service provider can leverage, most issues can be quickly assessed and resolved remotely. When an issue requires hands-on support, the partner can dispatch the right technical resource to resolve. Less downtime means your business operates fluidly with no impact to customer interactions or other workflow processes.
  5. Greater security is possible with cloud migration. Breaches of IT assets are all too common threats to businesses today. However, the right IT solutions partner can bring cloud security expertise in all the steps of a secure IT environment—development, deployment, implementation and ongoing monitoring, management and maintenance.
  6. Streamline backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity. Business continuity is critical in all companies so the possibility of a huge outage can strike fear into many business leaders. Aligning with the right IT solutions provider can avoid catastrophic loss situations through the smart storage of data and responsiveness.
  7. Monitors the cloud IT environment. There are varying levels of support available with most Managed Service Providers. Look for a partner that aligns with your needs to ensure uptime, security, and availability, and will effectively monitor your cloud IT environment.
  8. Helps determine Your total Cost of IT. Your MSP partner should be able to simplify your IT budgeting and finances. A quality partner will help you assess your total cost of ownership in a cloud assessment to realize the benefits of a right-fit solution.
  9. Integrates critical services. Cloud services are managed in enterprise datacenters which allows all enterprise users access. Some businesses find they need a more complete ecosystem of enterprise-class IT-as-a-service solutions, such as Calyx’ @Work model, which includes a fully-managed cloud environment, on-premise network and support, and business intelligence.
  10. Builds strong business relationships. When it comes to technology in your business, you need a partner you can rely on. The foundation of a good relationship is trust. Find a partner that looks to understand your business and how cloud services can enhance your services, products, offerings or customer experience. This fosters growth in your business, which should be the outcome desired by all parties.

One of the smartest decisions you can make for your business is partnering with a reputable, professional IT solutions provider. When you partner with an IT solutions provider like Calyx, you’ll see reduced security risks, lower total cost of ownership, business scalability, streamlined processes, better continuity and more productivity for your business.

The Spark to Ignite Powerful IT Change

By | Success Stories

The Challenge

There are few things more important than high speed and performance for large, industrial companies, especially if you’re Earnest Machine. However, the company’s small and mighty IT department was stretched too thin, supporting dozens of users across an expansive network of distribution centers in the U.S. and U.K. With big goals to fulfill, they knew it was time to shift from working in the business to working on the business. To do that, they needed an IT partner that would eliminate the everyday headaches and bottlenecks so they could refocus on transformation and growth.

Calyx frees me up to do smarter things with IT, rather than just being a day-to-day server jockey. – Don Steiner, IT Director

Insight

Earnest Machine was in search of a holistic solution that delivered efficiency, flexibility and, most importantly, scalability to support the company’s progressive mindset. While they’d worked with fully-managed providers in the past, they wanted a partner that delivered not only a quality product, but the experience and expertise needed to keep them ahead of the curve. Fortunately, they discovered that Calyx was able to bring together everything they looking for, plus even more.

Solution

Earnest Machine selected the Calyx Framework™, a turnkey, fully-managed IT solution that eliminated the guesswork and hassle of moving their operations into the cloud. In addition to its enterprise-class, multi-layered security, simultaneous system updates and improved file accessibility, Framework is backed by a responsive support team of IT experts that provide an enhanced level of guidance that you just don’t find with any of the big players.

It was like getting a set of golf clubs and an instructor, too. We became one big team working together.” – Don Steiner, IT Director

Impact

With Calyx Framework™ now handling much of the company’s day-to-day IT issues, Earnest Machine’s IT department has completely revolutionized the way they do business. They’re focused on more meaningful work that will drive ROI while Calyx serves as their first line of response.

Best of all, Earnest Machine’s employees are noticing the impact on day-to-day operations and productivity. Instead of being the traditional point of frustration, IT has transformed into the company’s hero.

Download a PDF of this Success Story

Transforming Business for a Regional Law Firm

Transforming Business for a Regional Law Firm

By | Success Stories

The Challenge

A busy law firm serving three states, Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., L.P.A. was experiencing the pain of growing faster than their technology could support. To achieve uninterrupted, real-time, secure network access, the firm needed more than a traditional IT network solution could offer.

Technology disruptions are very cost-prohibitive when you’re talking about billable hours and prep for casework at a law firm. Now we have consistent, real-time access to our files. – Christina M. Koeth-Bidwell, CCM

Insight

Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder was looking for a permanent, scalable solution to improve productivity and enhance security. Their aging equipment and network created speed and access issues. When one location went ofine, a domino effect ensued, where all offices would lose access. Their aging systems also made troubleshooting difcult. This led to finger-pointing between the IT services provider and carrier – all while taking hours or days to get the company back to business.

Solution

The firm leveraged Calyx Network™, a more cost-effective fully managed network solution. Calyx Network eliminates issues commonly associated with complex services like MPLS, Metro Ethernet and point-to-point connects. Instead, costs are streamlined through the aggregation of commodity internet services.

As part of the transformation, Calyx also replaced all outdated equipment. If anything goes wrong in the future, it’s immediately addressed by Calyx’s support team, even carrier-related issues. Systems are fast, secure and accessible. The icing on the cake? With Calyx Network, the firm achieved a new level of agility without making a sizable capital investment. For a simple monthly fee, everything is covered.

If any problems surface, Calyx handles it. We have all new equipment and our costs actually went down. It’s a real win-win. – Christina M. Koeth-Bidwell, CCM

Impact

Connectivity issues have been eliminated. Attorneys can safely and securely access files anytime, anywhere. The team at Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder now has the peace of mind that systems across the enterprise will perform. Better still, the transition to Calyx Network™ saved the firm an estimated $250K over three years. With no upfront capital investment and an improved experience, the company can focus on growth.

Download a PDF of this Success Story