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Modernizing infrastructure and applications: The key to digital transformation

In today’s digital economy, companies disrupt entire industries through the development of applications that convert legacy business models into lean, agile, digitized processes. Uber and Lyft, for example, have transformed the transportation industry without owning a single car, forcing auto manufacturers, rental car companies, and taxi services to rethink how they serve their customers. Undertaking this type of digital transformation, however, is complicated and requires companies to evolve in three key areas: 

  • Applications: Requiring new methods for development, continuous updates, delivery, and integration.
  • Platforms: Modernizing existing infrastructure and transitioning advantageous systems and services to the cloud.
  • Processes: Building agility into operations for IT and all business units.

This transformation can be difficult because of the intricacies unique to each organization and the resistance to change when goals have not been clearly defined. Moreover, evolution is not merely a change in the organization’s approach to technology but a reimagining of its role in the emerging digital economy. Technology is the tool organizations use to support these changes in processes, products, services, markets, and even business models. 

In this digital economy, we expect the continued rise of digital disruptors like Airbnb and Netflix, along with unforeseen modernization supporting societal changes and demands from healthcare to green energy. Furthermore, responsive strategies to trends in the external world will spawn opportunities and whole new industries. Fortunately, today’s enterprise companies have an abundance of digital tools at relatively low costs to respond to these trends. 

Migrating IT environments to the cloud, or multiple clouds, ensures these diverse resources are available at scale. But the migration and support process can be complicated, both during the migration and afterward, once the environment is fully operational. During day-to-day operations, IT staff must manage applications within a container orchestration platform, isolating them from the underlying operating environment for easy portability between different cloud domains.

Additionally, although the emerging DevOps model for managing applications and infrastructure is ideal for creating a lean, services-driven strategy, it can be problematic if not encompassing multiple clouds like Azure and AWS. Many organizations turn to open APIs or design interfaces to provide access to services for partners and customers, no matter what infrastructure each uses. Along with primary tools required for digital transformation, today’s enterprises also need to acquire several secondary tools to ensure a smooth working environment, like security and data protection, analytics, automation, and disaster recovery.

Support for artificial intelligence (AI) and a vast array of microservices to drive applications for the Internet of Things (IoT) will also permeate this cloud ecosystem.

How can enterprise companies ensure they have the right digital transformation toolkit for today while anticipating their future needs? Digital technology expertise is difficult to come by, and even more challenging, finding the skills to integrate different tools quickly and smoothly into a cohesive working environment.

The most effective way to navigate your digital transformation path is to align your company with a knowledgeable partner to identify and implement the right tools and ensure they are utilized to produce optimal results. As a digital transformation leader, CBTS provides the expertise to avoid the pitfalls experienced by early adopters and tailors a transition strategy for the unique requirements of the business model and legacy infrastructure.

Most businesses have extensive knowledge of their legacy tools and applications but lack the expertise for managing a full digital ecosystem. By partnering with CBTS, your enterprise gains insight into the emerging digital toolkit and the vision to build a transformational environment to compete in the new digital economy.

Download our e-book to discover how CBTS can help you modernize your infrastructure and applications to take advantage of today’s emerging digital transformation tools.

H1 Visa suspension creates uncertainty, new IT staffing opportunities

Unprecedented levels of unemployment, combined with a widespread viral epidemic, have created a turbulent atmosphere in the North American information technology labor market. A recent presidential executive order may complicate the situation further.

The executive order has suspended the issuance of H1 visas to foreign workers through the end of 2020, heavily impacting many U.S. businesses that employ IT specialists from around the globe. These affected companies are scrambling to digitalize their operations and find other means, such as “nearshoring,” around this sudden labor gap. Nearshoring is done when a
company offloads a project or projects to external human resources in a nearby country that is located within a nearby or identical time zone.

First, some background. The recent executive order comes on the heels of several months of economic turmoil, during which the unemployment rate in the United States has nearly quadrupled and various public health measures have been deployed in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Citing concern around “excess labor supply,” the executive order is partially intended to protect American workers from potential displacement during this period of record-breaking unemployment. However, lawful permanent residents who had previously been subject to immigrant visas will be granted “open market” employment authorization documents under
this order.

It will remain to be seen whether the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will impact the effectiveness of this measure or deter the country’s return to pre-outbreak economic output.

In the meantime, however, Canada may benefit as a close neighbor and trade partner to the United States during this period of shifting labor resources. With the H1 visa suspension in place, many experts are predicting that skilled migrant workers that otherwise would have brought their talents to the United States may end up working in Canada instead. Additionally, Canadian citizens previously working abroad in the U.S. may be funneled back to their home nation, creating a net labor gain in Canada’s favor.

Some estimates place the figure of Canadians relocating internationally for their careers at roughly 100,000 each year—with the majority entering the U.S. It’s possible that this figure could be affected significantly by this new change in the H1 Visa policy.

In recent years, many large technology companies, including several American firms, have established offices in Canada due to the northern country’s relatively easy access to skilled tech specialists from North America and beyond.

This situation creates new opportunities for U.S.-based firms to continue accessing the skilled IT employees they’ve come to rely on with a practice known as “nearshoring.”

Nearshoring has several benefits over traditional offshoring practices. These include easier communication due to a decreased difference in local time, fewer cultural differences, more convenient travel due to shorter distances, and more.

Enterprises looking to augment their labor pool with nearshoring can ensure better outcomes by working with the right nearshoring partner to suit their operations. CBTS offers several value-added nearshoring services, such as flexible pricing options, flexible hiring practices, a diverse and highly skilled talent pool, project leadership assistance, visa facilitation services, and more.

Contact CBTS today for more information on how a managed nearshoring solution can grant your organization the skilled labor it needs to reach its goals.

Top considerations for Coronavirus contingency planning

Contingency planning during the Coronavirus outbreak

As the Novel Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread globally, it’s crucial for enterprises to have plans in place to both safeguard employees and continue serving shareholders. From travel restrictions, to remote work policies, to employee wellness, businesses need to create a contingency plan, provide guidelines, and communicate the plans and policies to employees and clients in a timely and transparent manner.

A robust contingency plan must address both the needs of the company and the needs of its employees and customers in a way that protects people and maintains stability and productivity.

Components of an Effective Contingency Plan

  1. A robust contingency plan must address both the needs of the company and the needs of its employees in a way that allows business to continue without putting employees, partners, and clients at risk of infection. Define the standard line of communication for executive leadership.
  2. Communicate this plan to employees in a timely and transparent manner.
  3. Build an explicitly stated travel policy that can be circulated throughout the organization, including any bans or freezes on non-essential travel.
  4. Develop operational contingency plans to support customers by shifting internal workloads to meet client needs.
  5. Fine-tune company policies on remote working standards and set aside the necessary resources for remote employees to perform their duties from home.
  6. Encourage proper hygiene practices to reduce risk of infection, including regularly washing hands for at least 20 seconds. It may also be prudent to review employee healthcare benefits to verify what treatments are covered.
  7. Share accurate information from credible resources (Centers for Disease Control, state and federal public health agencies) with employees to keep them informed.
  8. Keep open lines of communication with local, state, and federal agencies. Ask for updates and pass this information off to the rest of your organization.

Enabling Remote Communications

The right tools and programs can make the key difference in coordinating departments and teams across multiple remote locations. You can start by reaching out to your service provider to talk through available remote meeting solutions based on your current technology. Partnering with external providers and leveraging their expertise to find the ideal solution is the best way to enable an effective remote work system for your organization.

Helpful Tools for Remote Work

  • Video and audio conferencing: Available to many modern organizations, video and audio conferencing technology allows teams to meet remotely and from any device, including laptops and smart phones.
  • Simultaneous ring: This feature allows a single phone number to ring up to ten devices simultaneously. Answer confirmation is also available, which indicates to the receiving party or parties that the call is for work purposes.
  • Remote worker call centers.
  • VoIP-based softphones.
  • Collaboration applications: Bring together messaging, file sharing, video meetings, white boarding, calling and other tools.

With careful planning and preparation, as well as close cooperation with the expert providers of your telecommunications technology, your enterprise can weather the storm of the Coronavirus outbreak without compromising employee health or client satisfaction.


CBTS, Splunk deliver retailer eCommerce solution

Customer satisfaction is everything in the fast-paced, competitive world of eCommerce. With options galore at the click of a mouse, today’s consumer has little patience for downtime, delays, poor service, and, perhaps worst of all, data breaches.

This is why successful retailers invest heavily in infrastructure, platforms, connectivity, and automation to attract clients and maintain high levels of satisfaction – not just in a broad sense, but on a deeply personal level.

Few organizations can do this on their own, however. Many are turning to specialists like CBTS to craft tailored solutions for their individual markets, business objectives, and legacy data environments.

Performance and security

One leading specialty clothing and accessories retailer with more than 1,000 stores in North America, China, and the U.K., and with clients in more than 80 countries around the world, turned to CBTS for an optimized eCommerce solution that delivers maximum performance and top-flight security.

The challenges were considerable. First, the company could not afford any downtime on its website. While its brick-and-mortar stores are the backbone of business operations, its web presence serves as the public face. Even a few minutes of downtime is enough to erode the trust of clients across the globe, especially during the holidays when the bulk of annual revenue is generated.

The company also had volumes of untouched IT operational data that it wanted to leverage for real-time decision making. As with many organizations, however, much of this data was housed in a silo-based infrastructure, which provided limited visibility to analytics or back-office operations systems.

And, to make matters worse, the high profile of the company’s brand made it a target for those seeking to exploit security vulnerabilities. Not only was it imperative to secure this data, the client needed a way to quickly respond to breaches and minimize potential damage.

Splunk to the rescue

CBTS began by deploying a Splunk-based operational intelligence and enterprise-grade security solution. The immediate goal was to quickly resolve system issues while also strengthening the company’s security posture.

Splunk is a multi-faceted platform that can perform a wide range of tasks; however, it requires high-level fine-tuning to provide optimal performance within an existing business model. CBTS Consulting Services provided on-site assistance with Splunk-certified consultants who have extensive experience integrating the platform into legacy environments in extremely tight timeframes.

Through this partnership, CBTS created a multi-point plan to improve business operations and overall business performance.

  • Simplify business operations: It was clear that business functions had to be simplified. This involved coordinating and correlating data from multiple IT operations in order to identify inefficiencies, streamline processes, and improve profitability.
  • Improve client experience: Equally important was the need to improve the client experience. A first-class eCommerce solution should be optimized to run 24x7x365 with minimal risk of downtime.
  • Minimize security risks: In addition, the effort to minimize security risks centered on ensuring that client data was secure and that the new system would quickly detect potential vulnerabilities to cyberattack.

CBTS engagement drives business outcomes

Today, the retailer has a robust operational intelligence solution that supports its IT staff by continuously monitoring network traffic and correlating data from the entire IT stack to quickly identify and neutralize intruders. This implementation not only finds security problems that other systems tend to overlook, it can also be used to diagnose a wide range of non-security issues that impair performance.

CBTS ultimately helped the retailer address a persistent performance problem that resulted in a 40 percent reduction in server load, which freed up bandwidth to allow Spunk to expand its capabilities.

This is a common experience: The more data sources Splunk is able to track, the more powerful it becomes. This project translated into an immediate ROI for the retailer, since it eliminated the need to purchase additional hardware, while improving eCommerce performance, boosting client satisfaction, protecting the company’s brand, and bringing greater functionality and accuracy when projecting revenue and cash flow.

Read about this optimized eCommerce solution from CBTS.

CBTS recognized at Cisco Partner Summit

Cisco recently honored CBTS, a leading technology provider that delivers communications, cloud, infrastructure, and consulting solutions to clients across North America, with two awards at the Cisco Partner Summit annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

  • CBTS received the Execution Excellence Regional Partner of the Year award for its innovation, leadership and best practice as a Cisco business partner across the Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio region.
  • CBTS received the SLED Breakaway Partner of the Year award in the U.S. Public Sector.

Joe Putnick, Vice President and Principal for the CBTS Communications Practice, accepted the awards on behalf of the company.

“These awards reflect our commitment to strategic partnerships with Cisco. We pride ourselves in delivering best-in-class solutions, built on Cisco technologies, that deliver positive business outcomes to our clients,” said Putnick.

“We have seen tremendous success with our Hosted Unified Communications as a Service solutions, especially in the SLED space, as more and more clients wish to consume technologies in a hosted model.”

Cisco Partner Summit Theatre awards reflect the top-performing partners within specific technology markets across the country. All award recipients are selected by a group of Cisco Global Partner Organization and regional and theatre executives.

Cisco Partner Summit is attended by more than 2,100 global attendees from Cisco’s ecosystem of partners representing more than 1,000 companies worldwide from more than 75 countries.

 

Related News:

CBTS awarded Cisco Master of Security Certification

Cisco Certifies CBTS as Unified Contact Center Enterprise Partner

CIO Review names CBTS to Top 20 UC List

Four questions for IT staffing partners

Ask any CIO what’s the biggest challenge they face, and they will likely answer “the IT talent gap.” While this issue is nothing new, organizations continue to experience difficulty filling critical roles with qualified individuals.

Before reconsidering taking on projects, however, try seeking out the help of an IT staffing partner to find talented resources. IT staffing partners can help your organization find the right IT professionals, augment your staff, and even become permanent members of your team.

Here are four key questions to consider when choosing a staffing partner for your business:

Do you have experience placing resources in my industry?

No two industries are alike. Each has specific individual considerations, requirements, and regulations. It is crucial that your staffing partner thoroughly understands your sector when placing candidates.

CBTS leverages a database with thousands of proven IT professionals from a variety of backgrounds. As a result, CBTS has successfully placed candidates in numerous industries, making their services effective even when filling niche positions.

Do your IT professionals have experience with this type of project?

It is important to understand your IT staffing partner’s previous experience. CBTS specialists have worked on a wide range of operations, so you know you are bringing in an experienced partner when you work with CBTS.

Whether you’re migrating to the cloud, implementing new technologies, or recovering from a breach, cover your business by partnering with proven staffing consultants.

Does your team have the right certifications?

Make sure your IT staffing partner has highly certified professionals on their team. Your different project needs may require IT professionals with specific backgrounds.

The CBTS database is filled with trained specialists who are fully certified and supported by a team of technology professionals. By confirming your IT staffing partner’s professionals have the certifications you need, you ensure you’re engaging candidates who will work effectively within your organization.

Do you offer project management?

As you bring in outside resources for important IT projects, you’ll want to ensure all of your professionals work as a single unit. It’s a smart idea to employ a project manager who can keep all initiatives on track to consistently meet your company’s goals. By choosing an IT staffing partner that places candidates in project management roles, you achieve cohesion among departments and produce well-executed projects.

When your business’ projects require skilled IT professionals, turning to an IT staffing partner can enhance the success of your organization. CBTS IT Staffing and Consulting solutions include project-based resources, staff augmentation services, and permanent hire resources.

CBTS pulls from a recruiting pool of more than 40,000 potential candidates and over 900 consultants across all areas of IT. Partnering with CBTS guarantees you access to highly skilled, dynamic professionals, who are ready and waiting to be deployed.

Download our free eBook for more advice on selecting an IT staffing partner, and read more about IT Staffing team at CBTS.

Blended IT organization solves CIO challenges

The technology challenges come at you from all angles.

You need the right talent to keep the executive suite happy. There’s never enough time or money to do everything with full-timers. You need a blend of excellent full- and part-time experts to wrangle legacy technologies and stay competitive.

A blended IT organization deploys full-timers, part-timers, and contractors to drive the most benefit in the shortest time frame at the optimum budget. Here’s a look at four core challenges you can address with a blended IT organization:

1. Experienced experts are hard to find (and costly to hire)

Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding full-time technology experts can be exasperating for employers and employees alike. For instance, CIO.com reported on a recent survey which found that companies take an average of more than four weeks to hire a full-time technology employee. The same study found that about two-thirds of non-management technology workers said they’d start losing interest in a company if they had no follow-up within two weeks of an interview.

Employing the most in-demand IT professionals can put a dent in your payroll budget. Consider these sample annual salaries from U.S. News & World Report:

  • IT manager: $135,800
  • Computer network architect: $101,210
  • Software developer: $102,280
  • Information security analyst: $92,600

Note: These are median salaries, so half of these jobs pay even more.

A blended IT solution, by contrast, can put experienced IT professionals to work within days. Often, they have the precise training and certifications for your business needs. And they can do IT work at every level, from beginning coder to veteran system architect.

Related: CBTS helps CIOs address IT gap.

2. Your IT team has limited resources—but your organization has high expectations

It’s the nature of IT processes to deliver efficiency gains that help an entire organization get more production from fewer people. IT leadership cannot escape the pressure to squeeze greater performance from finite resources.

A blended IT team can help you improve technology performance without hiring more IT people. Your staffing partner can mix and match talent with part-timers, project-based workers, and highly skilled specialists who can fill in when you need them.

You pay only for the labor you need—and at a predictable rate. If your project requires four people for exactly 17 days, your IT staffing partner can find them and put them to work much faster than you ever could on your own. When the 17 days are up, your costs end.

3. Your legacy systems pose more challenges as they age

Enterprises often stick with legacy technologies because the tools may still suit their needs and implementing a new system can be expensive.

But these legacy systems become more expensive to maintain with every passing year. The experts in legacy tech are hitting retirement age, and colleges aren’t training people to master old-school systems.

However, legacy-system experts have not vanished. It’s just difficult to find them and put them to work on your projects. Moreover, technologies like APIs and service layers can help you pull more performance from your legacy systems.

A consultant who specializes in placing IT experts in blended environments will help you find the savviest solution to your legacy technology challenges. Some old technologies will have to be replaced eventually, but you can mold that replacement to your unique business needs if you have a strong staffing partner.

4. Your organization needs to evolve and innovate ASAP

Venture capitalists are pouring billions into startups angling to push incumbents to the sidelines. Cloud technologies, the Internet of Things, AI, and big data present beguiling opportunities to build a moat around your organization and fend off disruptive threats.

It takes best-in-class talent to tap these opportunities. And that talent could be distributed across a half-dozen disciplines and a few dozen technology certifications. Most likely, you don’t need full-time staffers to handle this work. You’re more apt to need a project team that can design a solution, implement it, and train your staff to use it within a tight time frame.

Rapid-fire digital transformation requires talent targeted with laser precision. You might have some of the expertise you need on staff, but you’re far more likely to require highly trained specialists for short-term projects. Typically, your only chance to cover all your bases is to work with a veteran IT staffing consultant.

Staffing up with CBTS Consulting Services

Over the past three decades, CBTS has solved sophisticated IT challenges for companies in every industry. Delivering these solutions required us to contract with highly trained IT professionals across all the most common technology disciplines (and many of the uncommon ones).

Everything we’ve learned about matching IT experts with difficult challenges has gone into our Consulting Services. We have a database with more than 40,000 IT professionals who can do pretty much everything.  Our staffing solutions can place IT experts in your organization while we handle all the payroll details.

To find out how a blended IT structure can help your organization address IT challenges and unleash innovation, please download our free guide.

 

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