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  • 07/26/2023 3:23 PM | Marla Halley (Administrator)

    It is one thing to grow a business through organically increasing market share through advertising and selling.  It is another thing to grow by gobbling up (or being gobbled up by) your competition.  The level of unmitigated chaos created by welding two different companies, with separate cultures, practices, and methodologies cannot be underestimated. 

    Unfortunately, some of this pain and suffering is self-inflicted, especially within the Information Technology (IT) department.  Their job is to provide the electronic tools and talents necessary for modern businesses to do their business.  That is why IT takes up such a large chunk of the overall budget.  That is also why IT is a prime target for redundancy elimination when the two companies finally become one.

    Why is it, then, that IT Asset Management (ITAM) is rarely ever mentioned, if at all, as part of the merger and acquisition (M&A) process?  ITAM’s purpose is to achieve cost optimization of the hardware and software spend across the entirety of those assets’ useful life.  Maybe it is because ITAM works behind the scenes and their impact is overlooked.  Maybe your own ITAM program’s reporting accuracy has a poor reputation.  Maybe the organization hasn’t prioritized ITAM tooling and training to ensure they are ready for the extra workload an M&A will bring.

    Regardless of the reasons for past mistakes, let’s examine some ways you can avoid ITAM issues in future M&As:

    1.     Get Your ITAM Team Involved Right Away - The sooner your team knows about the company s plans and understands they will be front and center, the better. Don t wait for them to hear about it somewhere else. The last thing you want is for them to panic.  Give them time to find and review their own tooling and knowledge gaps. This increases their chance for a successful outcome.

    2.     Help IT Security, IT Service Management, and ITAM Work Together - Cybersecurity and Service Management are usually top of mind. They are your go-to teams for surveying the acquired company’s technology stack.  Adding ITAM provides a third, complimentary vision into the workings of the acquisitions IT operations. This can ensure all three teams have accurate and trustworthy reporting on any expensive services, vulnerabilities, or license audit risks.

    3.     Understand You ll Run Two ITAM Teams For A While - Each company s asset records and configuration items must be kept separate from each other until the combined group s service and license agreements are renegotiated.  That means two configuration management databases (CMDBs) or managed data repositories (MDRs).  Resist the urge to just smash the two systems together and hope for the best.  Allow ITAM the chance to dig through old records, determine their validity, and ingest only the valid ones.

    4.     Control How Much Software Publishers & Service Providers Know About The M&A - Software auditors examine trade publications and press releases every day and delight in scheduling license audits at the most inopportune times for you. You and your ITAM team need to be ready for an audit notification the second your M&A plans go public. Have your audit defense playbook ready!  And if you don’t have one?  Well…

    5.     Don t Hesitate To Bring In Outside Help - Software publishers routinely bring in third-party software auditors to help them conduct their investigations.  Third-party cybersecurity firms can provide experience and talent for the short-term needs the merging companies might lack.  And some managed service providers specialize in providing temporary contractors to cover spiking IT support demands.  I can assure you, there are specialized ITAM firms that can provide cost-effective and customized hardware and software licensing support until the merger completes.

    M&As (and Divestitures, for that matter) can be exciting events.  They don’t happen that often, like field trips and pizza parties when you were a kid.  And that means your IT department could lack the experience necessary to ensure the smooth creation of the new organization.  Just remember: your IT Asset Management team can help mitigate these issues, but only if they are brought in early enough to successfully apply their best business practices.

    **********

    Jeremy L. Boerger, the ITAM Coach, founded BOERGER CONSULTING with the idea of helping organizations cut their software budget without buying less software”.  He also speaks around the country to pass along his 20+ years experience to the next generation of ITAM and SAM professionals.  His book, Rethinking Information Technology Asset Management,” is available at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and most other bookstores.

  • 07/03/2023 10:02 AM | Marla Halley (Administrator)


    • Every business is unique, so the specific blueprint to successful digital transformation varies. You will achieve your desired results if you tailor your approach to your organization's needs, industry, and market conditions. Here are some factors to consider.

      Evaluate Current Strategy

      • Target your investments: Companies spend big on digital transformation. Spend wisely. Prioritize security and privacy throughout your digital transformation efforts. Implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect your data, systems, and customer information. Ensure compliance with relevant regulations and standards. Technology is a key component, but you must invest in your people, processes, and customers.
    • Prioritize the business: Invest in a modern and scalable technology infrastructure that supports your digital initiatives. This may involve adopting cloud computing and integrating various software applications and systems. Technology stacks are evolving at a rapid rate, which causes businesses to want to chase after the next best thing. Always have the business at the heart of the transformation. Ensure it makes sense as it will ultimately have a wide effect on the business and is worth pursuing.
      • Engage your workforce: Foster an agile and adaptive culture within your organization. Encourage innovation, experimentation, and a willingness to take calculated risks. Embrace new technologies, encourage collaboration, and empower employees to contribute ideas and drive change. Get input from your employees and seek out their perspective. They are performing current processes daily and can speak about them from firsthand experience.
    • Put People First

      • Focus on the customer: Ultimately, digital transformation is about exceptional user experiences. Prioritize your customers throughout the transformation process. Gain a deep understanding of their needs, preferences, and pain points. Use this knowledge to design digital solutions that enhance their experience and deliver value. Map out your entire customer journey. It will provide a clear roadmap to help you build engaging customer experiences for your target audience.
    • Make it a collective effort: Ensure you have the right talent and skills within your organization to drive digital transformation. Identify skill gaps and provide training and development opportunities for your employees. Transformation can’t succeed in a silo. Business and IT teams must get on the same page, communicate, and create a shared vision before moving digital transformation strategies forward.
    • Be mindful with leadership: Choose leaders and representatives wisely to gauge the organization as a whole and help build a culture of learning and sharing to support business transformation.
    • Set Clear Expectations

      • Start with the end in mind: Define a clear vision for your digital transformation and establish a strategy that aligns with your business goals. Determine what you want to achieve, whether it's improving operational efficiency, enhancing customer experience, or exploring new business models. Starting with a plan and building a roadmap will help you construct operational value streams and enablement runways. They will serve as the foundation for achieving true business and delivery agility.
    • Embrace disruption: Digital transformation requires strong leadership and effective change management. Engage key stakeholders, communicate the vision, and create a culture that embraces change. Leadership should inspire and drive the transformation, ensuring everyone understands the importance of digital initiatives. Whether environmental, geopolitical, technological or a public health crisis, the next disruption is coming. Create flexibility and resiliency within your company, so you do more than weather the storm. You grow, innovate, and thrive through it.
    • Define the business outcomes: Leverage data and analytics to make informed business decisions. Implement robust data collection, storage, and analysis processes. Extract insights from data to drive improvements, optimize processes, and identify new opportunities. Remember, no business initiative can thrive without being rooted in a quantifiable outcome that has an impact and meaning for the organization. It all starts with the unifying force of having tangible goals. Where do you want to go and how will you get there?

    Digital transformation is an ongoing process. Continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your initiatives. If you embrace a culture of continuous improvement, iterate on your digital solutions, and adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs, then your business’s digital transformation will be successful.

    TekSystems brings real-world expertise to solve your complex technology, business and talent challenges on a global scale.

    Read The Full Article Here 

  • 05/31/2023 8:39 AM | Marla Halley (Administrator)

    “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion,” business management expert W. Edwards Deming once said.

    Well, how can you get “data” to go from an “opinion” to an insight and build a strong business entity that can sustain fierce competition and an unpredictable future? The answer is simple “IF” it is done right:

    Invest in Business Intelligence (BI) solutions that are scalable and have an enterprise mindset.  

    One of the most common approaches to selecting and implementing a BI solution is when a CIO or top-level IT leader sees a demo of (fill in the blank BI tool…). They love it so much, they think ‘we just need to get it done!’ But wait, what about the backend part of this tool? Did the demo show how the data is curated? Did they show how scalable the data models are? The answer is:

    ‘We just need to figure out how to make it work!’

    That is where BI engineers and consultants come in. Thinking only about the dashboard and not the backend at the beginning is an expensive approach and leads to frustrating implementation. Sometimes, you end up with both the new BI tool and the one you are trying to replace because the shiny new one is not working as well as hoped.

    Having a user-friendly BI dashboarding tool is an important part of data analytics. However, more important than the dashboard is the data model and how scalable it is, so an organization can build it once and EVERYONE can use it in any dashboard they build.

    A scalable enterprise semantic layer makes BI developers’ and analysts’ jobs a lot easier, and it is one of the factors of achieving BI implementation with “one source of the truth.” A smart business analyst that knows how to build a top-class dashboard does not necessarily know how create a data model, but having the enterprise semantic layer will eliminate that gap. Hence, data modelers are expensive for a reason, but that can be overcome with a build-it-once approach that does not require data analysts to also be data modeling experts.

    Here is a common example: There are two dashboards representing an amount figure, (ex. last quarter’s sales) but they show two different values. After a long investigation, you end up with a third different value so the insights become three different “opinions.” The hardest part of this example is trying to explain to the leaders why enterprise data models are important so the analysts do not make the wrong tables join and show incorrect data that might have a consequential outcome.

    In conclusion, most people can build a dashboard with little to no training if the data is coming from one table or an Excel file. However, to be an analytical savvy business, it is critical to invest in BI solutions that have built-in scalable enterprise semantic layers so there is “one source of the truth.”

    *****

    Salem Alsulaiman is a Business Intelligence Engineer and Technology First’s Data Analytics Peer Group Chair. He has more than 10 years’ experience in the Business Intelligence (BI) and data analytics space, implementing end-to-end BI solutions.

  • 05/31/2023 8:29 AM | Marla Halley (Administrator)

    People pleaser… Perfectionist… Being modest about your achievements… Failing to enlist others or finding your promotor… Does this sound familiar to you? Then you are in good company. We often see what we need to change but may not know how to make a change or just feel stuck.

    I recently read How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith in our book club at Sinclair Workforce Solutions with ten of my female-empowered professional coworkers. If you are a male reader and have made it this far, thank you for reading. Although this book was written for women, men can benefit from learning about these habits so they can help, coach, mentor, and advise their female team members, sisters, wives, or daughters.

    When I first heard about the book, I was excited about the topic and the discussion that would follow. I was already familiar with Marshall Goldsmith’s book: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. These books are similar in that they both have habits and steps for improvements to overcome these behaviors. They are both written based on what worked when you were new in your role or new in leadership is no longer working for you and identify what might be keeping you from your next promotion. The difference is that How Women Rise is written FOR WOMEN, and they use their stories and examples to explain each of these habits.

    Women tend to see success in a different light than men. They also have different experiences at work that cause them to develop different habits and responses. If we understand what is getting in our way, then we can make a few simple behavioral tweaks, and we will be on our way to our next promotion. In general, we are far more open to change because we are more willing to consider how we may have contributed to the situation in which we find ourselves. It is important to understand your counterparts, especially if you are their leader, to help identify where they are stuck and become a mentor or promoter of their career paths.

    What are the 12 Habits that Keep Women Stuck?

    1.     Reluctance to claim your achievements 

    2.     Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions 

    3.     Overvaluing expertise 

    4.     Just building rather than building and leveraging relationships 

    5.     Failing to enlist allies from Day One 

    6.     Putting your job before your career 

    7.     The Perfection Trap 

    8.     The disease to please 

    9.     Minimizing 

    10.  Too emotional

    11.  Ruminating 

    12.  Letting your radar distract you 

    If you would like to read a little more about each habit, check out these summaries: Thrive  Happier at Work.

    It is a conscious self-awareness that is the first step to effective behavioral change. I have recently started a new position at a new company and feel I am in the next chapter in my life. When I looked at this list, I looked at it from this new position in life as well as where I came from. I identified several habits of which I was routinely guilty from time to time. Like my obsessive need to please people. Being a chronic pleaser is wanting to be liked by all; usually to the detriment of yourself. Rather, it is about finding your primary purpose in life. Then finding the balance between work-life integration to make time for what is truly important to you and your family.

    Perhaps you, like me, are guilty of committing these habits over your careers or with certain work groups. For instance, how many times have you caught yourself saying: “little, tiny, or quick”? These are examples of minimizing yourself and your contributions. Have you ever fallen into the Perfectionist Trap? Are you stewing over your mistakes or so focused on details that you fail to see the big picture? Ruminating is when we over-critique ourselves and we spend the rest of the day thinking about how an interaction or presentation could have gone better. Then when we seek the feedback of our colleagues, we realize we were being much too hard on ourselves.

    What’s Next? How to Break the Habit.

    During our book club discussion, we referred to the guide, by the authors. We talked about each of the twelve habits and went around the room to share if this was a habit we identified with now or in the past. We also shared if this was a habit we wanted to stop or make a behavioral change. So, you may be asking where do I even start? The author gave three straightforward steps to break the habit.

    1.     Start with one thing – We are so good at making lists for ourselves and continue to add to them as the day goes on. This time just start with one habit or make a To Don’t List. The authors suggest creating a goal and purpose and writing it out. For instance, “I help women recognize their greatest strengths so they can act with confidence and intention.”
    2.     Don’t do it alone – Enlist in the help of others. Whether it is a coach or coworker. Make sure you choose carefully, and this person is someone you can trust. Be specific about what you want them to notice. Make your request as brief as possible. Lastly, set a time limit whether it is at a specific event or over the course of a few weeks.
    3.     Let go of judgement – We tend to judge ourselves when we fall short of our expectations or not making progress as quickly as we would like. Women tend to be harder on themselves than men.  It really is okay to say “Oh well, I messed up. Oh well, I am not perfect.” Remember each of us is a work in progress and be willing to embrace change.

    Deep down we want to believe if more women like us become more influential, the world will be a better place. When we work in a mostly male-dominated industry it is tough to break these barriers and build a culture of supporting one another to get to the next level. It is important for women to celebrate the talents, attitudes, and behaviors that have helped them get where they are today. Even as we work to change those habits that are no longer serving us.

    ******

    Nancy Percy is a Business Development Manager at Sinclair College in Workforce Development. She develops training programs to give organizations the upskilling they need to excel in their fields.


  • 04/25/2023 1:03 PM | Marla Halley (Administrator)

    Technology First sat down with Greg Muir, Director, Technology Operations Management at Premier Health, to talk about the risks and rewards of remote and hybrid workplaces. Here is our conversation.

    Technology First (TF): Why are employers considering adopting a new remote work philosophy? Or, for employers who currently have one, expanding their remote work philosophy?

    Greg Muir (Greg): Remote work has been around for years and in my opinion, the benefits are undeniable. When COVID forced the issue for many people, it escalated implementation and forced all employers to look at not only their short-term remote work philosophy to deal with COVID, but also to consider their long term plans post-COVID.

    TF: Why is remote work top-of-mind for employers today? Why would they want to implement it?

    Greg: First, to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement. Employees who have participated in successful remote work experiences would view stopping it as taking a valuable benefit away from them. People have seen that it can be effective, and they enjoy the benefits associated with working remotely. For example, the reduction of travel time alone allows for more work time for the employer and more personal time for the employee. A remote work option can be a difference maker when an in-office employee weighs staying in their current position against moving to a new employer who offers a remote work option.

    Second, remote work can attract talent. Rather than recruiting workers from Dayton, Ohio areas that are within driving distance, we can consider employees in other regions, states, and possibly other countries, without the need for a move. This greatly increases our potential labor pool.

    Also, employers can reduce their real-estate and office costs for their workforce that works remotely. Costs such as building acquisitions, space rental, and even utilities like electricity, heating, and air conditioning can create savings. So, in summary, there are benefits both to the employee and the employer.

    TF: How do you effectively communicate with a hybrid or fully remote staff? For example, how do you ensure everyone is clear on strategies and goals?

    Greg: That is something that requires a very deliberate effort. There is a strong need for tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. We need to have interactive discussions around how our work impacts the organization’s strategies and goals; it can be more difficult to recognize that impact working remotely. So, you need to constantly talk about that and keep it front of mind when you’re having team meetings and talking with employees. We need to use the 7x7 concept of communicating: 7 ways at least 7 different times. This can be calls, Zoom meetings, written communications, videos, webinars, even kudos for projects well done and how they supported our strategies and goals. When possible, there is value to in-person gatherings as well. Many times, we will have an in-person gathering with a remote option for people that can’t attend. For example, if they live across the country, we’ll conference them in, but I still believe that there is a lot of value in getting together and having that personal touch with employees.

    TF: What are the risks of having remote employees? How are you mitigating them?

    Greg: There are risks, but there are things that you can do to address those risks. Like always, we need to keep data security in mind. When you’re working from alternate workspaces, you have the potential for people to use insecure or public Wi-Fi, or someone may use an unauthorized device. To mitigate some of these things, you must have good policies and procedures in place. You also must implement security tools like private networks, time outs, and secure network connections.

    You also must keep productivity in mind. One of the fears employers of remote workers have is losing productivity. You must make sure you have both clear goals and measurable outcomes documented. Standards for acceptable response times can help with this. For example, if someone emails or communicates via voicemail, then you must have standards in place for when you expect return communication.

    It also helps to have consistency of remote work across the organization. What I mean by that is, you need to have Human Resources involved to help create policies and to provide transparency and clarity across the entire workforce. That way policies are consistent for everyone across the company and not under control of each department. For example, you can have single or multiple computing devices. If I work hybrid, then I could have a computer at home and a computer at work and you must have a policy for that. Also, if the employee has a problem, how are they going to get device support to help them through that problem? There are pieces that are the employee’s responsibility and parts that are the employer’s responsibility. It must be documented so that both parties understand what the employer provides as well as what the employee needs to provide.

    TF: How has going hybrid added to your infrastructure costs? For example, are you paying for employees’ high-speed internet?

    Greg: Employee high-speed internet is a requirement to work remotely with our company. It is the employees’ responsibility to make sure they have good internet connectivity in place, and they bear the expense for that. We thought that may be an issue early on, but honestly, we haven’t seen many issues because most people who want to work remote already have required internet access in place for their personal lives. We did have to put measures in place to strengthen our remote access. We had to increase circuits, add security measures, upgrade our security to the latest versions, and use dual-factor authentication. We also had to make sure these measures did not negatively impact our services that were already remote. For example, a lot of our radiologists are contracted and read exams remotely. We moved them to their own circuits so they would not be impacted when we added in a thousand employees at the same time. Before COVID, remote access was mostly for support purposes, for example, IT support, and clinicians used it to access records in the middle of the night. But it’s a different ballgame when you’re going to have people logged on, working, utilizing video, utilizing sound, and having 1200 – 1400 people on at the same time. This impacts your infrastructure, and you must ensure that you have capacity to handle the additional volume.

    TF: How has the new arrangement affected Premier’s culture?

    Greg: It has been affected. We constantly work to build an environment of trust and to stay connected to all our employees. To do that, we organize regular formal and informal team meetings with time for Q&A and feedback. We also use things like virtual kudos so we can do shout outs and we try to personalize those because there are many times in the office when you would see people in person and thank them for their help on a particular project or task, but, when you’re not seeing people every day, it makes it a little more challenging to do that. So, we’ve implemented some tools to do it electronically so that it notifies both the employee and their supervisor. That way they can get positive feedback from them as well as their supervisor. We also have Town Halls and forums with options for in person or virtual. Those are important for making sure that everyone understands the mission, strategy, goals, our progress, and emphasizing corporate values. With us, employee engagement is constantly a top priority. We work very hard to make sure our employees are satisfied. If there is an issue, we stay on top of it because it can snowball quickly when people are working remotely.

    TF: How have you marketed a hybrid option to attract talent?

    Greg: We have some, but there is always room for improvement. Some of our postings specify that remote work is an option, but I feel that we could do a better job on the front end to both market to and attract future employees looking to work remotely. So, rather than waiting for people to come to our website and apply for positions, we need to advertise to people that may not be in our area or may not know a remote option is available. For most employees, the ability to work remote some or all the time is very important when you’re choosing a job. And, like we talked about earlier, it gives us a much larger labor pool to pull from.

    TF: How is the hybrid model accelerating your digital transformation? In other words, are the existing business processes, culture, and/or customer experiences better or worse with hybrid?

    Greg: The hybrid model isn’t something that only our work force desires. What we’re seeing is that our customers have also shifted and many of them demand hybrid systems of care. So, we have a very active and growing telehealth program, and we are constantly implementing new programs that can improve both patient care and the customer experience. We need to be open both to patients that would rather be seen in person and offer remote solutions for our patients who prefer to be seen remotely. Today, many people want to get things taken care of from their telephone or from their iPad, so we need to be able to handle that as well from our end. Telehealth is a very important strategy for us as we move forward.

    TF: Do you think a hybrid workplace is here to stay?

    Greg: There is not a one size fits all answer to this question. I see some very large companies such as Tesla and Apple that are bringing employees back to the office while others are expanding their remote work options. So, I don’t think it’s the same answer for everyone. I believe that a hybrid workplace is here to stay because if you implement correctly, both the business and the employees can benefit.

    From an employee perspective, remote work avoids commute time, it can be better for wellbeing, and it provides flexibility for family needs and other obligations. If used appropriately, it can help people feel more productive and connected to the organization because we’re considerate of their time. So, that 30-40 minutes to work and 30-40 minutes home can be used for either more personal time or to get more work done.

    From the employer perspective, remote work can be a great recruiting tool, reduce expenses for office space, and, if used right, it can really create a more engaged workforce that’s closely tied to your organization. Employers must constantly work to build employee trust, encourage communication, and set clear expectations. You must make sure you have remote working strategies along with good tools, policies, and procedures to help team members stay productive, efficient, and connected while working from home.

    For all these reasons combined, I believe that remote work, if you implement it properly, and you have the appropriate tools and controls in place, can be a win/win for both the employees and employers. So, while there are advantages and disadvantages, I believe that the pros outweigh the cons for a hybrid workplace. I think it’s here to stay.

  • 03/28/2023 1:56 PM | Marla Halley (Administrator)

    Will cybersecurity-related enforcement efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice increase in the coming years?  The answer is yes.  How do we know?  Two reasons.  First, DOJ has been telling us to expect increased efforts, both generally and specifically as to cybersecurity.  Second, they have backed up their words with action.

    As a general matter, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, have been explicit that they are prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of financial and corporate malfeasance.  Early last year, for example, AG Garland told the American Bar Association that he “had seen the Justice Department’s interest in prosecuting corporate crime wax and wane over time.  Today, it is waxing again.” His remarks reinforced those of DAG Monaco in the fall of 2021, when she announced the Biden administration’s intention “to better combat corporate crime.”

    In addition to remarks like these, in October 2021 the DAG issued one memorandum and, in September 2022, a second memorandum, announcing revisions to corporate criminal enforcement policies, which apply very nearly across the entire Department and, as explained in further detail, include significant policy changes that favor stronger corporate enforcement.

    More specific to cybersecurity, DOJ late last year entered uncharted waters when it tried, and the jury convicted, Uber’s former Chief Security Officer, on charges of obstruction of proceedings of the Federal Trade Commission and misprision of felony, in connection with his attempted cover-up of a 2016 hack of Uber.  The case represents what is believed to be the first federal prosecution of a corporate executive for the handling of a data breach.

    It is not just criminal cases; it is civil case as well.  In a noteworthy development, DOJ announced in late 2021 its “Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative,” seeking to hold accountable individuals or entities that put U.S. information or systems at risk.  Though the initiative, DOJ made clear its intention to utilize the False Claims Act (FCA) to pursue cybersecurity-related cases against government contractors, subcontractors, and grant recipients.  The FCA is the U.S. federal government’s primary civil tool to combat fraud against the government, as it imposes financial liability on persons and companies (typically federal contractors and subcontractors, to include Medicare, TRICARE, and Medicaid health care providers) who defraud governmental programs.  In essence, DOJ is sending a message that it will not be afraid in certain circumstances to pursue even victims of cybercrime.  As part of this initiative, DOJ last year announced significant settlements in two False Claims Act cases (Aerojet Rocketdyne and Comprehensive Health Services) related to cybersecurity deficiencies or misrepresentations, and more are expected.

  • 03/28/2023 11:38 AM | Marla Halley (Administrator)

    This year continues to challenge most businesses. As we enter Q2, lingering issues of recession, inflation, supply chain problems, and talent shortages highlight how digital modernization remains critical to the success of our member organizations. Here are five technology trends to not only help you combat these issues but also propel your company forward on your digital modernization journey.

    Full-stack Development

    One of the most important trends I am monitoring is the increasing emphasis on full-stack development. With the rapid pace of technological change, it is increasingly important for companies to maintain a team of developers proficient in a wide range of technologies. This includes both front-end and back-end development.

    Cybersecurity

    As organizations continue to digitize their operations and rely more heavily on technology, the risk of cyber-attacks increases. Businesses need to invest in advanced cybersecurity measures to keep their systems and data safe.

    DevOps

    DevOps is proving to be another significant trend this year. It will be essential for companies to have a strong DevOps culture in place to ensure that new features and updates are delivered quickly and with high quality.

    AI

    From chatbots and virtual assistants to autonomous vehicles and drones, Artificial Intelligence and robotics are already having a massive impact on industries like manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare. As these technologies continue to evolve, businesses will need to invest in hiring AI and robotics experts to stay competitive.

    Snowflake

    Snowflake is a data warehousing platform that allows businesses to store, process, and analyze substantial amounts of data in the cloud. As organizations persist in generating massive quantities of data, Snowflake, or similar platforms, is a technology that is essential in order for companies to grow.

    If you are a technologist looking to stay ahead of the curve in 2023 and beyond, then look no further than Technology First. Here you will gain perspective on the latest trends through conferences, newsletters, special interest forums, and Peer Groups. We gather to share thoughts, ideas, opinions, plans, and solutions in a collaborative environment. The IT community is better when we work together. Connecting, strengthening, and championing members are the reasons Technology First exists. Please join me and get more involved in the organization this year. There are numerous ways to make a difference: volunteer for a committee, speak at one of our Peer Groups, and/or bring your team to events. Together, we can ensure our businesses are prepared for the challenges ahead for the rest of 2023.

  • 02/27/2023 4:10 PM | Marla Halley (Administrator)

    Dayton, Ohio, and the wider Montgomery County has seen its share of tragedy during the opioid epidemic. Ohio has been one of the 10 worst-affected states in America, and the Dayton region has seen Ohio’s worst fatality rates from drug overdose[1]. While a hospital or emergency room can treat an acute incident for a patient with a substance use disorder (SUD), the longer fight against relapse is often waged by other organizations. The Community Outreach Actions Team (COAT) was specifically created in Montgomery County to address the grave opioid situation. The Public Health Quick Reaction Team (QRT) seeks to identify at-risk individuals and get them enrolled in treatment. The efforts of this community collaboration saw overdose deaths fall from 566 in 2017 to 289 in 2018, a decrease of 59%[2]

    The Montgomery County Emergency Room Overdose Notification (MC-ERON) system has enabled Dayton’s Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health board, and Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County to provide outreach services to residents who experienced an emergency hospital visit due to a drug overdose, since 2018. MC-ERON generates a daily list of patient health and contact information that can be used to mobilize outreach efforts that would minimize the risk of further overdoses and deaths. However, MC-ERON did not prioritize, nor indicate, which patients are at a higher risk for additional overdoses or death. To overcome this limitation, the MC-ERON risk-stratification model is designed to estimate a patient’s risk score based on their demographic information, health history, and previous drug-related encounters with law enforcement and the health system, then assign a priority level to that patient based on the score. The risk score is then used to bin patients into four risk ‘priority levels’ which is provided to outreach personnel to contact the most at-risk patients. By comparing newly discharged overdose patients to those who previously died in-hospital, risk stratification scores can be calculated and included in the daily notifications to ADAMHS and PHDMC’s QRT.

    The MC-ERON Risk-Stratification model has been deployed to PHDMC peer outreach specialists since 2019, with high overall model performance (AUC in the range of 0.82 to 0.85). Since deployment, individuals who died during or after the overdose encounter were scored as "high-risk" or "high-priority". Those that died during their hospital visit would not have benefited from outreach after their overdose; however, these patients highlight that the scores reflect the level of risk. For the patients who died after the encounter, this data suggests they would have been accurately prioritized for outreach services.

    Despite these analytical successes, the MC-ERON Risk stratification algorithm represents a mismatch between problems faced by users and the ultimate solution. For peer outreach specialists, by the time the QRT is activated, the individual is already in crisis and at risk; therefore, the individual's precise "risk" is less valuable than the information provided along side the score. 

    The MC-ERON Risk-Stratification model was created before Ascend had a robust user focus. While the model and insights are valuable for PHDMC epidemiologists, the target users- the peer outreach specialists - find the most value in the contextual data features that accompany the actual predicted "risk score”. This mismatch between problem and solution has limited the impact of the Risk-Stratification model, and possibly limited the impact that machine learning could make on an urgent community problem. For example, peer outreach specialists are looking for ways to identify individuals that would most benefit from their intervention. For example, a model that could identify the likelihood of an individual to seek treatment, or identifying those individuals experiencing substance "abuse" vs "use" as those who are "using", rather than "abusing", may benefit from more sustained outreach to address addiction and chronic use.

    Not understanding the context of the problems faced by a user can lead to gaps and missed opportunities when creating a predictive model. Upfront discovery is key to understanding the business and user needs to build the right predictive model that addresses problems within the current systems. Always keeping the user's needs top of mind will deliver the highest value to the business and the end user of your analysis.

    [1] https://journals.stfm.org/familymedicine/2018/june/bowman-2018-0131

    [2] https://www.mcohio.org/2018%20Community%20Overdose%20Action%20Team%20(COAT)%20Annual%20Report.pdf

  • 02/27/2023 3:53 PM | Marla Halley (Administrator)

    • I’ve never been much for New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I like reviewing the previous year’s accomplishments, challenges, and outcomes. This year, I used an assessment wheel to evaluate different areas of my life:

      • Career
      • Fun and recreation
      • Money and finances
      • Physical environment
      • Personal growth
      • Health and wellness
      • Friends, family, and significant others
    • As I considered all the aspects of the wheel, specifically regarding career, it helped me think about my:

      • Skills
      • Talents
      • Work environment
      • Opportunities for growth
      • Current commitments  
    • All great things to think about! Which led me to pulling down a book from my shelf, How Women Rise,” by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith. I read this book several years ago and absolutely LOVED it! The authors recognized women “face specific and often different roadblocks from men as they advance in the workplace”. So, as you look back on your 2022, and specifically your career, how are you feeling? Do you feel stuck?

      Helgesen and Goldsmith ask these questions:

      • Do you feel something is preventing you from moving forward or from leading the life you’re supposed to be living?
      • Do you feel unable to break through circumstances that are conspiring to hold you down?
      • Do you feel as if your contributions are not recognized or appreciated?
      • Do you feel the people around you have no idea what you’re capable of achieving?

    If you answered yes to most of these questions, then this book is for you! If, like me, you are wondering how to become unstuck, then reading this book will help you uncover the habits that hold you back from rising to your full career potential.

    For a more gender-neutral point of view, read What Got You Here, Won’t Get you There,” by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter. This book is a broader stroke on the question, “What is holding you back?”

    I hope you unearth the habits that no longer serve you. I believe leaving them behind will get you further down your path to success. Please connect with me and let me know how you got unstuck.

    You’ve got this! Together anything is possible!

  • 02/27/2023 3:43 PM | Marla Halley (Administrator)

    It has been my pleasure on behalf of the Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) to collaborate closely with Melissa Cutcher and Technology First for many years. Some of our earliest collaborations were through Cin-Day Cyber and Career Adventures Camp. As the President of SOCHE, my focus is on leading our organization in collaborating with K-12 districts, colleges, universities, and industry to transform the economy through education and employment. This mission focus has resulted in sitting in many meetings at tables with Technology First.

    SOCHE’s workforce development mission set has led us to many collaborative initiatives with Technology First and its many members.  This regular engagement between our organizations has led us to recognize the need for closer organizational alignment and I’m very excited that Technology First has asked me and SOCHE to the inner circle through their Board of Directors.  Our organizational missions at SOCHE and Technology First are very closely aligned and have led us to work on the same project on multiple occasions. 

    Through SOCHE’s work on Technology First’s Board of Directors, we hope to increase our work together and further align our work for the benefit of workforce development of information technology professionals across the region, while we work together to build upon our region’s existing economic development prowess. Close relationships through SOCHE’s 22 College and University members and Technology First’s members can only help our region become the premier location for professionals in IT as well as for businesses who are looking for a new home. 

    Our region has the workforce needed for the future with over 400K college and university students and close to 15K High School students. Our next generation of working Daytonians is already here in our region and it is our job to show them the pathway to great careers. We can make this happen through our engagement in our schools as well as by encouraging our students to spend time in our companies learning about our many different industries. Over the next few years as we manage decreasing numbers of students in each of our schools it is imperative for all businesses to engage and ensure that we are assisting all students to achieve their potential with at least a high school diploma and potentially a post-secondary certification or degree. I look forward to working with all of you to continue to make the Dayton region a great place to live, work and play!


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