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CBTS closes technology gap for schools

School systems are under immense pressure to do more with less. Parents and voters insist administrators demonstrate and document continuous improvements in learning outcomes. And students are forced to master advanced technologies at every level, from elementary school to college to the workplace.

Administrators can work toward closing the technology gap for urban schools and stay competitive, but they are often forced to provide substantial evidence that IT investments will generate a return, both in the classroom and the community.

Confronting legacy systems

When the Dayton Public School District (DPSD) began its search for an experienced, primary IT partner, Information Systems Committee members knew they needed a more comprehensive approach to technology. Stakeholders would closely scrutinize any investments, and committee members wanted to ensure the technology infrastructure and resources would meet ever-increasing demands.

The urban school district had disparate legacy systems, and needed a partner to lead an all-encompassing review of the environment and develop a long-term technology roadmap to support its strategic vision.

The district needed centralized management by a single IT partner to ensure all systems and services would function together securely and reliably. The partner would be responsible for addressing the IT talent gap, including project management and delivery of comprehensive services from help desk, training, and break/fix maintenance to hosted ERP support, setting software standards, application development, and network monitoring and management.

Dayton’s roadmap to technology recovery

Before CBTS consultants began assessing the district’s infrastructure to set priorities, they worked with school leaders to define the technology challenges they needed to overcome:

  • User experience. DPSD had to deliver high-capacity, rich user experiences across a vast array of devices, audiences, and technologies.
  • DPSD technology needed to address the different security threats faced at each academic level to protect students, staff, and the institution.
  • Aging systems. The district wanted to confront limitations of its legacy systems and network infrastructure to improve performance.
  • District technology required increased performance and service quality to support both current budget levels and cost reductions over time.
  • DPSD needed the ability to scale technology to account for changes in the system when schools open, close, or consolidate.
  • Limited IT staff. The Dayton district required expertise beyond in-house IT personnel to design and implement advanced technologies and the latest security strategies.

CBTS recommended a holistic, vendor-neutral approach, with specialized assessments to be performed by CBTS and subcontractor consultants for each IT area of expertise. The CBTS project manager orchestrated the assessments and timeline, and from the collected data, CBTS created a technology plan defining current and future infrastructure needs that align with the district’s strategic plan.

CBTS reins in costs with best-in-class partnerships

By engaging proven, certified experts in each IT discipline, CBTS reined in costs for implementation and ongoing management, dividing work among:

  • CBTS: Project management, technical coordination, network management, Novell support, and asset management.
  • CDO Technologies, Inc.: Desktop, software implementation, integration services, and training.
  • Nu Vision: Telecommunications support.
  • Platinum Technologies: Helpdesk support, application development, and desktop rollout.

This arrangement gives DPSD access to highly skilled IT talent and industry best practices to help internal IT staff overcome technology challenges so they can focus on supporting the district’s five strategic goals:

  • High-quality education. Acquire the technology teachers, staff, and students need to develop skills for success and ensure a safe and secure environment.
  • High-quality faculty and staff. Give teachers the technology to innovate in the classroom and communicate effectively with students, parents, community members, and other staff members.
  • Engage parents. Use technology to connect parents and support them as allies in each student’s education and development.
  • Community collaborations and partnerships. Build trust and support through secure, stable, and fast technology solutions connecting the district to community members and partners.
  • Fiscal responsibility and accountability. Find ways to increase technology performance, reliability, and security while reducing overall costs.

Learn more about the CBTS partnership with DPSD here. Discover more about how CBTS delivers state-of-the-art technology for today’s schools and universities to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of students, parents, faculty members, administrators, and community stakeholders. We’re closing the technology gap for urban schools and ready to explore your education system challenges.

 

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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.

Why AI can’t replace IT recruiters

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is impacting all industries and changing the way organizations operate at every level. AI developments support programs that ease the burden of many operational tasks. There are even some cases where this technology has the power to make certain jobs obsolete. So with AI taking over more and more complex operations, what is the relationship between AI and recruiting and, have recruiters become a thing of the past?

The answer is a resounding “No.” In fact, recruiters play an increasingly important role in the IT industry. The IT gap has made it difficult for companies to find experienced, certified IT professionals to support their business, and IT leaders are turning to staffing partners for everything from project-based resources to full-time hires.

Here are two key reasons why AI cannot fill the vital role that recruiters play in the IT industry.

1) Recruiting means building relationships.

Recruiting at its core is about fostering relationships—with the company you’ve taken on as a client, and with prospective IT professionals. Nurturing connections with IT professionals and learning about their desired career paths, skills, and who they are as individuals are essential parts of successful recruiting. The key is working with clients to identify their IT goals and assess which candidate will help achieve desired outcomes.

While AI may be able to identify candidates with a preferred skill set, it lacks the ability to build strong relationships with both the client and those prospective candidates.

2) Soft skills are just as important as experience and certifications.

Looking “good on paper” isn’t enough for most organizations. The right IT professional needs to have soft skills such as good communication and problem solving in order to succeed in their role.

Some candidates choose to list these skills on their resume or cover letter, but validating that the individual truly has these attributes often takes extensive screening and several face-to-face conversations.

New technology can help recruiters improve their process.

So what role does AI play in the recruiting process? New technologies are improving the daily workflow. Programs are now managing database systems, scheduling interview appointments, connecting with clients, and easily reaching new prospects. These platforms improve efficiency and allow recruiters to focus on successfully placing resources.

AI technology continues to grow and develop, and the benefits in streamlining processes and techniques are obvious. Just remember that AI cannot replace the soft skills that humans possess when it comes to building relationships and identifying essential qualities in potential candidates.

CBTS IT Staffing and Consulting solutions offer project-based resources, staff augmentation resources, and permanent hires. We have a team of more than 900 full-time consultants and a database of more than 40,000 IT professionals to help meet your needs.

AI isn’t replacing recruiters, but we do believe AI has the power to help our IT staffing and consulting team do their jobs even better. To learn more about AI and recruiting, download our free guide, “Six ways AI will transform the future of IT recruiting.

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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Security starts with enterprise IT knowledge

Security starts with enterprise IT knowledge

Justin Hall is Director – Security Services for CBTS. In Part 1 of this 3-part series, Justin discusses how  a core knowledge of enterprise IT is critical in order to effectively protect networks.

For several years I’ve been going back to my alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, to speak to groups of undergrad and graduate students about the information security industry. My goal is to demystify security and inspire them to consider a career in one of a dozen security disciplines.

Invariably during these talks I am asked a very common question: “How do I get a job in the security industry?” In response, I’ll share my own 20-year story, starting in PC repair and sales, moving to tech support, systems administration, and running an IT department, before jumping into a security career – first as an engineer, architect, and consultant, and then running a security team.

I’ll also share three essentials to successfully landing a security job, which I’m going to cover in this blog series. There’s no single path to the industry, to be sure. In order to develop a foundation that can land an entry-level job and provide an arc to a long-term career, it’s worth looking into these fundamentals.

Core knowledge of enterprise IT

Today, we’ll cover number one: a core knowledge of enterprise IT. This is perhaps a bit obvious – certainly someone needs to be technical and understand how a computer works to survive in security, right?

The depth required goes beyond CPU, RAM, and a hard disk. To effectively protect any company network, one needs to recognize the critical components – servers, workstations, network devices, applications, and security defenses. How do they interact? In what network segments do they typically sit? What products or solutions are commonly used in each of these categories? At a high level, what are the essential configuration best practices for each?

For example: Imagine a network used by a physician’s office. Think about the variety of computing devices in use there: Beyond traditional workstations, multi-function printers, and laptops, you might see connected medical devices, credit-card processing machines, and surveillance cameras. Servers would run authentication systems, file management, accounting and finance, ERP, messaging, and electronic medical record apps. Some may be running from local servers, and some may sit in the cloud. Network devices will include switches, routers, wireless access points, and firewalls.

Now imagine a software company. What types of assets would be the same as the physician’s office? What would be different? How would their IT needs be similar/different? What about a retailer or bank? What happens when you add multiple sites/locations? Imagine scaling up to the size of a multinational conglomerate. Think about the pieces and parts that need to change, duplicate, or scale.

Enterprise IT involves depth and breadth

This scope of understanding is what I mean by “knowing enterprise IT.” There’s a level of depth in addition to the breadth, though. Defending an environment with Windows workstations and servers, for example, means understanding the fundamentals of what makes Windows tick – the filesystem, registry, Group Policy, configuration, and the like.

How does one acquire this knowledge?

  • Build it yourself! A home lab is a great place to get hands-on experience with enterprise IT. You could grab an old PC and install free versions of VMware’s vSphere or Microsoft’s HyperV, and deploy eval copies of Windows Server and workstation OS’s, Linux, or a variety of prebuilt VM appliances. Tons of great tutorials exist – I like this one from Paul Braren on building a VMware ESX lab.
  • You could also use free or inexpensive tiers of service offered by IaaS providers like AWS, Azure, or DigitalOcean to build VMs quickly, install and configure applications, and build virtual networks.
  • If you’re serious about improving your enterprise IT knowledge, and want to invest your time and money, find a local university or online school that offers IT courses or degree programs.
  • Finally, take the plunge and find a systems or network administration job. Without a formal education in security, it’s rare to be able to jump right in without doing the so-called “grunt work” needed to acquire real-world experience. A few years building, breaking, and fixing some enterprise networks is sure to cement your ability to operate with comfort in the industry.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for part two.

Read more about Security offerings from CBTS.  And read this case study to learn how CBTS helped an enterprise client form  a security strategy to advance their maturity, increase their risk management capabilities, reduce the attack surface for each business line, and improve their overall corporate security posture.

CBTS helps CIOs address IT gap

The IT talent gap isn’t going away. Indeed, a report from CIO.com says the arduous process of hiring full-time staff is creating severe business challenges. Highlights of the report include:

  • Nearly half of all CIOs have missed out on top talent because they couldn’t meet the candidates’ salary demands.
  • Many companies use perks like flexible scheduling, working from home, and social events to find and keep top IT talent.
  • Hiring processes that stretch over months don’t suit in-demand IT professionals, who start losing interest if there is no follow-up within two weeks of the first interview.

These macro-level challenges comprise thousands of micro-challenges that vary widely from one company to the next. Manufacturers need people who can automate production lines. Financial companies need IT people with strong data-science backgrounds. Each industry sector requires specific IT capabilities.

Nobody wants to pass up burgeoning opportunities in cloud computing, big data, unified communications, mobile technologies, and advanced collaboration tools. Moreover, companies in growing markets need to move quickly to land new business before the competition does. They need talent in six days, not six months.

When you can’t afford to wait months to find excellent IT talent fast, you’re better off working with a consultancy specializing in matching specific skills with highly specialized roles. CBTS can place an expert IT project manager in your workplace to supervise an entire project, pulling in a combination of in-house talent and well-trained contractors.

These experts can spin up new systems or migrate to new technology platforms, for instance, while your existing IT staff stays focused on mission-critical workloads.

Let CBTS close your IT talent gaps

CBTS provides a wealth of IT placement services that deliver four crucial advantages:

  • Get only the IT talent you need, when you need it. You don’t have to worry about paying large salaries to people who run out of work to do between big projects.
  • CBTS has a deep bench of well-trained, experienced IT pros who can work on short- or long-term contracts. They have certifications, mastery, and proven track records in dozens of technologies.
  • We follow the best practices learned in engagements with a broad spectrum of Fortune 500 enterprises. Our experts can design system architectures and implement sophisticated IT solutions that may be beyond the skills of your current IT staff.
  • Because you pay only for the talent you need, you realize cost savings in salaries, benefits, vacations, and medical care.

Our comprehensive suite of IT staffing services includes resource planning and design, project and program management, application development, and security consulting.

Read how the CBTS Consulting Practice helped an international omni-channel retailer implement a unified e-commerce platform.

Read how the CBTS Consulting Practice helped a pharmacy company transform its software development lifecyle.