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The 2020 State of the Unicorn Address

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Hello. I’m Jason Fordu, the founder and CEO of Calyx, and welcome to our twenty-twenty State of The Unicorn Address. The purpose of our announcement is to tell you about our accomplishments over the past year, and our plans for the year ahead, both of which are tied to our mission —  to create a better way for you and your organization.

Before I begin, I’d like to address the extraordinary times we’ve been living through recently. We hope that you and your loved ones and your work colleagues have remained safe and healthy during the lockdown and the past few months. We wish to extend our condolences to the families of the 200,000 lives that have been lost here in the U.S., and to the 1,000,000 worldwide. We’re grateful for our ability to weather this storm with you, look forward to the day when a vaccine is available, and normal life can return for us all. But until this day arrives we will continue to do our part to keep you and our employees safe.

A Calyx Milestone: 15 years

This year marks a milestone for Calyx as we celebrated our fifteenth year in business. Many years ago when Calyx was a little upstart out of a garage, I could not have imagined all the wonderful people I would have the privilege to work with and know. People like you, and the incredible team here at Calyx who have dedicated themselves through their hard work and efforts to create our shared vision; which is to ensure happy customers and become the leader of advanced IT solutions to businesses. I have received fulfillment and happiness throughout our shared time together, and I want to thank you for your continued business and support of Calyx as we continue to grow and evolve.

Year in Review

I will start with a review of the past year’s highlights. In response to increasingly more sophisticated cyber threats, we incorporated a next generation security platform. This includes cloud-based software that incorporates advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning, combined with a dedicated security team that proactively monitors the Framework environment. This is a powerful solution to combat both existing and future threats to you and your business. To further protect you, we incorporated multi-factor authentication, also known as 2-factor or MFA, into the login process for all machines here, and for any customers who wish to have this technology as part of your organization’s login process.

We fully integrated a cloud-based file sharing system into your Outlook email and file sharing systems, called ShareFile, so you can share data from within and outside your organization easier and safer. We added new monitoring and reporting technologies that automatically test the Framework environment every 5 minutes on uptime availability, the average login times for every Framework desktop, and our overall platform performance. We will begin sharing this new information with you shortly on a monthly basis.

We’ve added several great new team members this past year, starting with Anthony Ruff, who adds a wealth of knowledge and experience to our engineering team. Steven Tyler is part of our tier 3 support team, and handles our most complicated support issues. Mike Micalakis and Mike Kalep are part of our Tier 2 support team and responsible for escalation when required. And Eric Winter is the newest member of our tier 1 support team. On behalf of Calyx I’d like to say how grateful and excited we are for these new team members to join the Calyx family, and we hope you enjoy getting to know all of them as we have.

The Year Ahead

There are five areas to talk about for the year ahead: technology, support, customer experience, marketing, and finance. 

Finance

Due to the economic uncertainty as a result of Covid, all price increases for 2020 have been eliminated. All recent and new investments planned are tied to one of our two promises to you. The first is our product promise, which is to provide you with technology that is easy to use, always available, highly secure, and well-performing. The other is our support promise, which is to provide you with the best people, using the best tools, who serve you with care, friendliness, clarity, and speed, in helping you with your needs.

Technology

I’m excited to announce that the fourth major build of Framework since 2015 was recently completed by our engineering team. This is a completely new build of every aspect of Framework, done with the latest versions of software, on the newest infrastructure and technologies that are presently available. So what does this mean for you? First, we’re maintaining our vision to deliver tomorrow’s technologies today. Second, to increase speed and performance by using some of the best processors and memory available. Third, we’ll have more control over this environment, which enhances our supportability. Fourth, Framework 5.0 will include the newest variants of software such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange, 2019 Server and 2019 SQL. Fifth, we can realize hybrid cloud. We view “Hybrid” as a mix of premise solutions, private cloud, and public clouds. This ability will enable Calyx more flexibility and breadth of the solutions we can deliver to you, while still keeping it safe and easy to use. Lastly, there will be new capabilities when using graphical intensive applications such as web browser videos and remote meetings services such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams — all within your Framework Desktop.

Support

Over the past year, Jenn Layport was elevated to our support manager. Her job is to guide the team on a daily basis, coach and reinforce our service promise, core values, and our mission and goals. She provides individualized training to our support team members, and acts as an escalation point on more complicated issues and requests between the support personnel, engineering team and our new customer experience team.

Customer Experience

To increase our communication, planning, and reporting to clients on a consistent basis, we have created a new Customer Experience Team, led by Walt Ely and Tom Clause. Every client will receive a monthly report informing them of our work, including items such as ticket trend data, our platform performance, average login times, and any recommendation from our engineering team. In addition to the monthly reporting, the Customer Experience Team will work with you to establish a meeting schedule — one that’s based on your needs and preferences. During these scheduled meetings, they will review our reporting data with you, discuss any current or past service events, and ask for your feedback on what’s working or what’s not working. Your feedback will be provided to our entire company for continual service improvement, and any future planning initiatives as a result of your discussions will be provided to our director of Engineering, Antonio Sweeney. Tom Clause is creating a new community for any clients who wish to join. This community is a forum to meet and collaborate with our other clients more easily, and to gain value from one another through experience sharing and learning.

Marketing

We will expand the content of our monthly newsletters to include more tech tips and tricks to help educate and train you and your organization. Information about our industry, more news regarding Calyx and our team members, and things we’ve learned or found to be a value that we want to share.

In closing, there are several areas we are focused on, based on our product and service promises, our mission to create a better way for you, and our goal to ensure happy clients. We’re very excited for the year ahead and we hope you enjoy the value we’re creating for you. If you have any questions about any of the topics I’ve addressed here, please reach out to me or any of our team members to learn more. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you, and on behalf of everyone here at Calyx, we are grateful for your business and continued support.

Kind Regards,

Jason Fordu
Chief Executive Officer

Business Beyond COVID: The Future of Work

By | Uncategorized

During the past few months, we have all adapted to working through the COVID-19 pandemic. Personally, we’re wearing masks and engaging with people digitally or at socially acceptable distances. We stand on the little graphics that are dotted on the floor in checkout lanes everywhere. We’ve become acclimated to the new normal that seems to change constantly. And what is normal really? I think we’re still way too early in the game to declare anything about this pandemic as normal.

And so we try to project best practices for this mercurial period in our lives. Should businesses re-open? How do companies stay alive if they opt for full pandemic-proof initiatives? How can we just watch eroding customer satisfaction and diminished employee productivity, not to mention limping profits? There are some things that hand sanitizer just can’t fix.

Show COVID who’s boss

Obviously we need to act in ways that show respect for our customers and colleagues, but there are some things businesses can do right now to avoid being just another statistic during this pandemic.

The last several months challenged business leaders in every industry, and while there may be some industry-specific challenges, most focused on setting up remote operations, reorganizing supply chains and making brutal financial decisions. What shakes out of all these initiatives? Companies must prioritize injecting new energy into their organizations. Keep your head. Act mindfully and avoid reacting. Rebuild for the long term.

Tactics to work on now to revive your business

It’s understandable if business execs are still a bit shell shocked and would prefer to stand back a bit more. But, really, can you condone passive behavior from yourself and your employees? There’s too much at stake to stand by and watch your business get pushed around by a bully pandemic.

Some critical tactics will set you on a secure path again:

  • Create a 90-day digital recovery plan. Two things are sure as you plan to launch a post-COVID business: plans must be high impact and they must be digital. Focus on tech savvy operations, analytics-fueled productivity and automated support services.
  • Think long term too. Creating a short-term plan will course correct your COVID-battered business, but you’ll need to also think long term too. What do the numbers show about heritage products, solutions and business groups? Maybe you had some initiatives that have just been limping in with puny profits. Maybe it’s time to cut the cord on things that just don’t work in this new normal.
  • Rewrite your technology plans. Take a critical look at your company’s tech investment. Rewrite the plan to coincide with bold, new corporate plans and more relevant technology solutions. Consider the support of your managed services team to help craft a more authentic tech plan for your post-COVID business.
  • Re-tool for speed. If you thought you were built for speed before the pandemic, you won’t even recognize your business in the future. Everything needs to be done yesterday. Overnight turnaround will be the mode for most of your deliverables. The quicker you get facile, the stronger you’ll be.
  • Sync work with employee needs. The pandemic has changed the dynamic of home life as well as business operations. Stay open-minded when it comes to re-defining new work styles to accommodate employees with newly acquired stressors.
  •  Build purpose into your post-COVID business. Whenever tragedies like a pandemic occur, people always want to know why. In most cases, we simply don’t know. But businesses can emerge stronger from this pandemic if they align business or social purpose in some way to the work. Make purpose part of your new business culture and employees and customers will rally as you push forward.

Navigate with ease

At Calyx we believe that business plans — and accompanying technology plans — should not be static. This is even more painfully obvious today as we all set our sights toward a post-COVID world. It can be a high wire walk somedays as you greet customers with positivity when your concern for your own business clouds your mind. But if you stay open to course correction, you’ll navigate the post-COVID world with ease.

I like to think that “the only thing you can count on is you can’t count on anything.” That’s true to a point. The way we’re all doing business today has some commonalities and the fog of the pandemic wants to invade every day. That may be true but there’s one constant we can all count on when we’re forced to pivot on a plan. Technology. And you can count on the established, committed team at Calyx to not only support your operations today, but also work with you to generate solutions that keep customers engaged and loyal, long after the shadow of COVID-19 has passed.

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.