Defining Your Corporate Culture

  10/4/17    Posted in News

Corporate culture is the identity and personality of an organization. Culture is dynamic, ever-changing and evolves with the growth of a business. The DNA of an organization, it is a combination of leadership styles, procedures and demographics within an company.

Frances Frei and Anne Morriss from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) state,

“Culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which of course, is most of the time.”

Building a Corporate Culture

A corporate culture is built over time. In order for a culture to be successful, those at an organization must speak the same language and be on the same page on what your values are. To create a long-lasting culture that every employee understands, adaptations must occur as the company grows.

Corporate culture can affect:

  • Employee Retention: Reduce turnover and increase morale by appreciating contributions from team members
  • Reputation: Maintain a positive reputation to help attract and connect with future employees or clients
  • Productivity: Experience better performance through improved morale

Building a corporate culture isn’t easy and there is no recipe for success. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of organizations actually succeed in building one. It sets the tone of a company and dictates how the team interacts both internally and externally.

 

According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota,

“Corporate culture is, above all else, the most important factor in driving innovation.”

Thriving cultures have a common language which enables teams to understand each other. To ensure that these principles are being followed, organizations must create standards as a way to measure.

Leaders must reflect the values and standards of an organization. By leading through example, they convey a cultural work ethic that inspire others. Instead of declaring culture shifts that an organization wishes to see, provide examples. Often times, significant change is a product of social movements, and that despite the differences between private enterprises and society, leaders can learn from how these initiators engage and mobilize the masses to institutionalize new societal norms.

For example, successful organization’s aren’t built upon employees that simply, go to work, do what they’re told, and just help someone else achieve their dream. Organizations that thrive have employees that look forward to going to work and appreciate that their ideas are appreciated. Leaders that understand that good decisions can come from anywhere is a cornerstone of attracting talented individuals who will fit into the culture if you let them. Organizations that thrive, understand that their employees are their biggest strength and will invest heavily in them.

 

Correlating Morale and Productivity

Employees that live organizational values, should be rewarded and receive recognition. For example, no organization will ever perfectly align every reward the behaviors we seek. However, a business should atleast be cognizant of the key elements of the cultural vision that they are trying to achieve and ensure that we recognize and reward those.

Employee morale directly effects company productivity and businesses that realize this will ensure sustained success.

Organizations that understand that culture is the foundation of their organization are:

  • Southwest Airlines: Southwest puts its employees first. In doing so, they believe that employees will treat customers right which will increase business.
  • Zappos: Zappos takes specific actions daily that reinforces its corporate culture. These actions include creating career paths, performance evaluations, training and creating a culture book written by employees.
  • Twitter: Twitter ensures that each employee’s voice is heard without barriers.
  • Etsy: Etsy encourages the hiring female engineers. In just one year, the organization has increased its number of female engineers by 500% and is attracting applicants that value diversity.

 

To begin mobilizing your corporate culture:

  • Work with and within current cultural situations
  • Alter behaviors by leading through example and mindsets will follow
  • Focus on a few critical behaviors
  • Assemble and deploy cultural ambassadors
  • Link behaviors and business objectives
  • Convey results
  • Use cross organizational methods to promote messages
  • Align programmatic efforts with behaviors
  • Actively manage and promote your cultural situation over time

 

Questions for Candidates to Ask

For candidates looking to work at an organization, it’s important to look for a job where you feel as though you’d be a fit within a culture.

Candidates should:

  • Review an organization’s website: Check the company’s mission and values
  • Complete research: Utilize resources like Glassdoor to see reviews from employees
  • Ask questions: Throughout the interview process be sure to inquire about the work environment and the company culture
  • Shadow an employee: Better understand how the office operates by shadowing an employee who would is working in a similar role

VALiNTRY’s Corporate Culture

At VALiNTRY, our values are at the core of our organization. Our values are:

  • People Service: Enriching and serving our clients and employees
  • Accountability: Being accountable and responsible to commitments and results
  • Teamwork: Working together to support our team for the greater good
  • Honesty and Integrity: Doing the right things the right way
  • Innovation: Pushing beyond comfort zones to seek new solutions for ourselves and our clients
  • Transparency: Always sharing the outcomes of the things that we do

Our company logo has a lowercase I to represent that our organization wins as a team. There upside down triangle represents our inverted organization structure where clients and employees are put before management.

Culture is invisible, but it can be seen and felt. They begin with a group of passionate enthusiasts who deliver a few modest wins. Reinforcing the message displays that an organization remains unified in promoting the corporate culture. While these wins are small, they’re powerful in demonstrating efficacy to nonparticipants, and they help the movement gain steam. The movement really gathers force and scale once this group successfully co-opts existing networks and influencers. Eventually, in successful movements, leaders leverage their momentum and influence to institutionalize the change in the formal power structures and rules of society.

 

 

 

 

Take Your Organization to the Next Level with the Cloud

  9/22/17    Posted in News

What exactly is the Cloud? The Cloud refers to software and services that run on the internet instead of locally on your computer. The Cloud allows you to access your information on any device with an internet connection with remote servers handling most of the storage and computing.

The term was coined decades ago in Houston when a group of technology executives began discussing the future of the Internet business and began calling it Cloud computing.

Although it has been named the Cloud, your information is stored in an actual place. Benefits of migrating to the Cloud include improved flexibility, increased storage and reduced costs.

 

Experts seem to agree that Cloud computing will ultimately transform today’s computing landscape.

These Cloud computing services enable an enterprise to expand its infrastructure, add capacity on demand, or outsource the whole infrastructure, resulting in a wider choice of computing resources.

There is an array of available Cloud computing services, but most fall into one of the following categories which include:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This type of Cloud computing delivers applications through your internet browser. One of the most popular SaaS applications for business is Microsoft’s Office 365. These types of applications offer extensive configuration options as well as development environments that enable customers to code their own modifications and additions. Many businesses leverage SaaS to run websites, complete computing and conduct big data analysis.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): IaaS is an instant computing infrastructure that can be quickly scaled. A pay per use model, IaaS offers a full array of services offered by all major public cloud providers which is staggering: highly scalable databases, virtual private networks, big data analytics, developer tools, machine learning and application monitoring.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): Provides services and workflows that specifically target developers who can use shared tools and processes to accelerate the development, resting and deployment of applications.
  • Function as a Service (FaaS): This allows developers to upload blocks of code and set them to be triggered by a specific event such as submitting a form or uploading a file. These applications consume no IaaS resources until after an event occurs so pay per use fees are reduced.
  • Private Cloud: This uses technologies used to run IaaS public Clouds that and be operated and deployed into customer’s data center. It decreases the amount of manual provisioning and management. It allows organizations to store protected data and maintain the ability to leverage resources from the public cloud while increasing flexibility.
  • Hybrid Cloud: The hybrid cloud is the integration of a private Cloud with a public Cloud. It creates environments in which applications can move easily between private and public Clouds.
  • Public Application Programming Interfaces (APIs): Public APIs offer developers application functionality that can be assessed programmatically. It also enables customers to access data or application functionality. A public Cloud and private infrastructure within this model communicate over an encrypted connection.
  • Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS): This platform enables users to implement data mapping, transformations and workflows. It is used for building and deploying integrations within the cloud and between the cloud and an enterprise. iPaaS is scalable and has the ability to meet the increased data volume from mobile and other environments with minimum disruption.
  • Identity as a Service (IDaaS): This platform manages user identity and authenticates users and enables access to both resources and applications. The key capabilities required to make enterprise solutions possible are single sign-on, multi factor authentication, access security, directory and provisioning. The increased security allows companies to reduce the possibility of a data breach.

Most enterprises have complex IT environments that include a mix of on-premise, IaaS, PaaS and SaaS Applications.

 

Strategizing Your Cloud Migration

 

To achieve scalability, cost-efficiency and higher application performance, many organizations choose to migrate to the Cloud. Although there are many benefits to embarking on this initiative, migration can be a complex process however, the team at VALiNTRY.

The 6 most common application migration strategies are referred to as the 6 R’s. These include:

  • Rehosting: Many applications are rehosted when an organization has a large legacy migration scenario and needs to scale quickly
  • Replatforming: There is no need to change the core architecture of an application, an organization must only make a few optimizations
  • Repurchasing: This occurs when an organization is moving to a different product
  • Refactoring: A company is rethinking how an application is architected and developed
  • Retire: Turn off any part of an IT portfolio that is no longer useful
  • Retain: If some applications don’t need to be migrated or one was recently upgraded, you can revisit it at a later time

 

Choosing a Cloud Provider

 

From startups to industry leaders, there are hundreds of options to choose from when deciding which Cloud provider to use. It’s important to have mapped out your company objectives to ensure that a provider understands your business and how to help your organization achieve its goals by migrating to the Cloud. Business objectives can include:

  • Scaling Applications
  • Boosting Productivity
  • Facilitating Collaboration
  • Going Global
  • Protecting Data
  • Empowering Innovation
  • Managing Infrastructure
  • Backing Up Reliably

Learn the business advantages that can be gained like higher customer retention, not just technical gains.

Cost and security also need to be considered when choosing a provider. The location of a Cloud provider’s data centers can be imperative. For example, if an application is very sensitive, it should be at a location near users to ensure the best user experience possible. When a provider hosts data also depending security and compliance regulations can vary based on location.

The Cloud provider should also have a formal management structure, established risk management policies, and a process for assessing third-party service providers and vendors.

An organization’s principles are also important. At VALiNTRY, our team lives our core values. From honesty to integrity and transparency, a Cloud provider should be completely forthcoming with any and all information your organization would like to know. Trust is imperative.

 

The Benefits of Using Microsoft as Your Cloud Provider

 

A provider that VALiNTRY recommends using is Microsoft. A technology giant, Microsoft is a trusted, global and hybrid provider.

 

90% of Fortune 500 companies trust the Microsoft Cloud.

 

Microsoft has data centers in over 30 regions across the world to help provide an optimized user experience for your customers. It also is a complete Cloud solution, enabling businesses to leverage existing IT investments and globally scaled public cloud offerings.

Microsoft Azure is a collection of constantly growing integrated Cloud services that enables developers and IT professionals to build, deploy and manage applications globally. It provides a consistent portal experience while leveraging highly integrated cloud services.

Microsoft Azure also allows your organization to build and deploy anywhere with your choice of applications, frameworks and tools that you choose.

 

Migrating to the Cloud with a Microsoft Partner

 

VALiNTRY is a Microsoft Partner and our affiliation allows us to blend our unique portfolio of client counseling expertise with Microsoft’s array of advanced creative and support products and services.

As a Microsoft Partner, our team is able to help clients gain access to exclusive offerings, reduce costs and generate a consistent revenue stream. It also ensures that we receive the latest technical training and get insight into product usage. From initial concepts and designs to launch and maintenance, our team will ensure your business operations run as smoothly as possibly by enhancing your existing applications.

 

 

 

 

The Top Takeaways From The Equifax Hack

  9/18/17    Posted in News

Over 143 million Americans have been affected by a cyber attack at Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency. Experts say it may never be possible to calculate the exact number of people affected by these cyber thieves.

Equifax cyber criminals managed to steal social security numbers, names, addresses and drivers licenses, data dubbed as the crown jewels of identification. Ensure that your organization networks, computers, programs and data are protected from a cyber attack, damage or unauthorized access with the help of the experts at VALiNTRY.

Identifying the Cause of the Cyber Attack

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Equifax is one of the nation’s three largest credit bureaus. The company collects and aggregates the information of consumers and businesses across the globe. Employing over 9,000 employees and boasting over 3 billion dollars in revenue, how did such a corporate giant fall victim to a cyber attack?

In March 2017, a massive server bug was identified which now months later, provided a means for hackers to attack. Most organizations would understand the magnitude of these issues and immediately begin installing patches and securing their servers. The compromise in March stemmed from Equifax failing to install security updates when necessary. This vulnerability provided cyber attackers 24 hours to exploit the flaw while taking control of webservers, downloading data and installing malware.

Equifax utilized Apache Struts, created by the Apache Foundation, a popular server software that many large companies utilize including Fortune 100 organizations such as Lockheed Martin, Citigroup, Vodafone, Virgin Atlantic, Reader’s Digest and the IRS. Apache struts use as a framework which allows developers to easily build custom websites. However, its all-in-one approach can also be a weakness.

 

Ron Winward, a security researcher for Radware states,

“The software touches all aspects of a company’s website, once you break in through one window you can get in to the rest of the house — and the rest of the houses in the neighborhood.”

 

The problem for Equifax, is that the flaws in STRUTS has been widely documented. Although the Apache Foundation has been proactive in deploying fixes that patching the vulnerability, Equifax did not patch the identified flaws to the best of its ability.

Although Equifax CEO Richard F. Smith has said, “we will make changes,” and has offered affected consumers a year of free credit monitoring and waived credit freeze fees for the next 30 days, businesses and consumers may be weary to use their services again.

What can happen when this information gets into the hands of cyber criminals? Cyber criminals can open bank accounts, lines of credit, new credit cards and drivers’ licenses in your name and recovering from identity theft could take months or even years.

 

What Happens To Identity Fraud Victims

When most identity fraud occurs, victims are left wondering, do they have to pay back any expenses incurred from the thieves? When the identity theft involves a debit or credit card, losses are limited under the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.

 

The Fair Credit Billing Act caps liability for unauthorized credit card purchases at $50 while for stolen ATM and debit cards, liability depends on how quickly a person reports the loss or theft.

 

In the case that your identity has been stolen, immediately take these 5 steps:

  1. Put fraud alert on your credit reports: A fraud alert puts a red flag on your credit report and notifies lenders and creditors that they should take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit. Another option and an effective identity theft prevention measure, is to place a security freeze on each of your credit reports. A freeze prevents creditors from accessing your credit reports.
  2. Contact affected institutions directly: If your ATM card was stolen, contact the bank directly. In the case of a credit card being stolen, report the theft to the issuer of the credit card.
  3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): By filing a police report and an Identity Theft Affidavit, the FTC will help you understand and identify what type of fraud was committed and what to do next.
  4. Protect your social security number: In the event that your social security number was stolen, contact Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), even if you don’t yet see any evidence of financial fraud.
  5. Contact the Post Office: If you have reason to believe the identity thief may have submitted a fraudulent change-of-address to the post office or has used the U.S. mail to commit the fraud against you, contact the Postal Inspection Office.

 

Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst states, “Cyberwar is in large part conducted through data mining and cyber intelligence. This is also a Homeland Security risk as enemy nation states build databases of Americans that they then use to get to their targets, for example a network operator at a power grid, or a defense contractor at a missile defense company.”

 

If you own a small to mid sized business, don’t think that your organization is immune to cyber attacks.

According to Symantec, over 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses.

 

Experts believe this is because most larger companies are constantly updating their security and smaller business are seen as an easier target to cyber criminals because they have less resources to put in high end cyber security protection. In a recent survey conducted by CNBC, only 2% of small businesses said they viewed a cyberattack as the most critical issue that they face. Why should these organizations care?

 

60 percent of these smaller companies will go out of business within 6 months of a cyber attack.

Protecting Your Business with Cyber Security

Cyber attack strategies are getting more sophisticated on a daily basis, however there are some effective ways to help protect your business:

  • Get cyber security insurance: Cyber liability insurance protects your business from various cyber security threats. If your company is held liable due to a breach occuring, this insurance will help in the case of a lawsuit.
  • Create a password strategy: Road names, pets, most employees utilize simple passwords, leaving your organization vulnerable to cyber hackers.  Employees should be required to create passwords that include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, along with numbers and symbols while resetting their passwords at least once a month.
  • Utilize virtual data rooms (VDR): These rooms allow for employees to safely and easily share data. From tax paper work to financial information and legal documentation, VDR’s help keep sensitive information safe.
  • Identify internal threats: Most cyber security issues that occur are a result of someone inside of your company. Be aware of what sensitive information is accessible.

 

Protect your business by starting with a technology audit from the experts at VALiNTRY. Our team will examine your security practices and network to identify vulnerabilities. Our security expert consultant Xavier Harris is a CISSP, with experience managing both local and global initiatives. His expertise is in creating and implementing IT architecture that ensure cyber security. From enterprise risk and compliance to incident management and penetration testing, our team will help your business mitigate risk factors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Your Organization Needs A Trusted Advisor

  9/14/17    Posted in News

Relationship building is a critical component is in a longstanding, mutualistic relationship. To experience enduring success your organization must identify a trusted advisor who can help you navigate challenging situations and offer solutions. The role of trusted advisor means putting the client’s interests first, being invested in their business and being a credible source for them to rely on.

So, what is the best way to grow your business? Identify a trusted advisor.

 

Defining The Role of a Trusted Advisor

When a prospect is searching for a particular agency to work with to help them meet their needs, the answer is not always simple. However, it is important to identify an organization that can provide a trusted advisor. A trusted advisor understands the pressure that clients face to grow their organizations and to meet financial goals. They will ask the client about their aspirations and long-term needs and help generate ways for them to accomplish those goals.

Trusted advisors must have the unique ability to see the big picture. On a daily basis, they must learn new skills, find answers and develop strategies to help their clients succeed. They see things from a fresh perspective and will challenge your assumptions. Their role, is to do everything necessary to help your business thrive. In doing so, trusted advisors must leverage their expertise to help the management make informed business decisions. A trusted advisor should help your organization think through decisions while providing supporting information but leave the final decision up to you and your team.

Trusted advisors have a large potential to impact your organization. Trusted advisors help to:

  • Provide more complete solutions
  • Accelerate business development
  • Help organizations create a competitive advantage

 

What are some qualities that clients look for in a trusted advisor? Results from one survey convey that 48 percent of research participants said that “great communication skills” are a trusted-advisor behavior that their top consultants possess that their average performers don’t.

It also found that, “putting the client first” was brought up as a differentiator by 24% of the participants.

Participants listed the traits most important to them when identifying a trusted advisor:

  • Understanding
  • Consistency
  • Ability to remain calm
  • Reliability
  • Disciplined
  • Provide reasoning

To become a trusted business advisor, an organization must couple the delivery of data with interpretation and sound business advice. The end goal should be helping clients meet their needs and understand how these were met rather than just reviewing them. To do this, trusted advisors must:

 

  • Immerse themselves in your culture: From messaging to products and solutions, in order to provide sound advice and guidance trusted advisors must understand a company from the ground up.
  • Provide solutions: Avoid selling. Instead be proactive and provide solutions that clients may not have even anticipated yet.
  • Show examples of success: Demonstrate how they have achieved success for previous clients and leverage that for your company.
  • Deliver on what is promised: Meet deadlines and budgets and always follow up as promised. Trusted advisors should help your organization achieve set goals through strategic advice.

 

Trusted advisors have the experience, training, knowledge and subject matter expertise to advise your company. They have the keen ability to diagnose business problems and recommend the right solutions to improve your situation. Trusted advisors should make your team feel comfortable to reach for advice and accept or decline recommendations.

For example, trusted advisors don’t just provide data to a client and hope their client will be able to interpret it. A trusted advisor will include a written report that explains in plain language the metrics most important to the success of that company and answer any other questions that may arise. A trusted advisor should also be transparent, explaining rationale in why certain avenues are being recommended.

Conversations should also focus on the few, key performance indicators of your business and its wider industry. Interactions with should be informal, so that your team feels welcome to ask questions. Then based on these questions, trusted advisors can provide substantive advice to help grow your business.

The Importance of Values

One of the things that distinguishes VALiNTRY is that our business model is based upon our values. Our inverted organization structure, depicted in our logo as an green, inverted triangle, puts our clients, consultants and employees first while management is at the foundation supporting the team.

 

Our values include:

  • People Service: Enriching and serving our clients and employees
  • Accountability: Being accountable and responsible to commitments and results
  • Teamwork: Working together to support our team and client for the greater good
  • Honesty and Integrity: Doing the right things, the right way
  • Innovation: Pushing beyond our comfort zones to seek new solutions for ourselves and our clients
  • Transparency: Sharing the why and the outcomes of the things that our organization does

 

So how does your organization make an informed decision? Identify your organizational goals, then begin researching and interviewing. It is important to consider:

  • Reputation: Contact references and conduct research to identify any concerns
  • Expertise: Determine how expansive their id knowledge in your particular industry
  • Capabilities: Identify the amount of experience that they have with companies of your size

 

Constantly putting our clients first while empowering our employees to deliver unparalled service allows our team members to become reliable, trusted advisors for your organization.

There are also many benefits of utilizing a trusted advisor, which include:

  • Save your organization money
  • Conduct assessments to determine areas of weakness and provide solutions
  • Educate members of your team
  • Ensure the compliance of your business

 

Our team members understand that earning the title of a trusted advisor is a privilege and should never be jeopardized. At VALiNTRY, our team understands that it takes a long time to achieve that level of confidence and just mere minutes to lose.

 

20 Tips to Prepare your Business for Hurricane Irma

  9/8/17    Posted in News

As the southeastern United States braces itself for the impending impact of Hurricane Irma, our team has created a checklist to help your organization prepare and minimize the storm’s impact on your business. A category 5 hurricane with winds up to 180 MPH, there are a wide array of challenges that may arise when the storm makes landfall. If your business doesn’t already have a disaster recovery plan in process, utilize our checklist to aid in preparation of the storm.

  1. Define your organization’s most critical assets
  2. Identify the items that are most important to your organization including:
    • Computer servers that are mission critical
    • Computer workstations
    • Local computer account passwords
    • Vendor information
  3. Determine how long your organization thinks that it will take to recover from the hurricane
  4. Take inventory of your business assets
  5. In the case of a power outage, determine which business functions should be back online first
  6. Plan on what is needed to ensure the safe recovery of mission critical systems
  7. Identify an alternate storage location if your infrastructure needs to be relocated
  8. Create an accurate network diagram to help guide technicians that may have to reconstruct your network at an alternate site
  9. Determine a plan for communicating with employees
  10. Plan the how to keep your network running
  11. Identify a back plan if there is a system failure and your organization has to go manual
  12. Establish a telephone number for employees and clients to call to determine if work is open
  13. Identify who will be on call at your organization
  14. Unplug and cover all electronic equipment, including phones and computers, with dry bags to keep them dry and unaffected from moisture
  15. Bring any laptops or portable devices home
  16. Bolt down servers
  17. Contact your IT vendor or internal IT staff to ensure all your files are secure in an off site storage facility or service
  18. Prepare to document anything that has been damaged after the storm
  19. Move items away from the windows
  20. Remain calm

 

If you organization is working with local vendors, communicate with them to understand what their plan is for the storm. Remember our team is here to assist you in any way and utilize our checklist to help ensure that business is as prepared as possible.

Strategic Ways to Build Your Technology Roadmap

  9/1/17    Posted in News

A digital transformation is a well-planned journey and to successfully navigate it, an organization needs to devise a digital roadmap. A digital roadmap is utilized to define, manage and launch digital touch points. This sophisticated project plan details durations and dependencies of all the initiatives within the digital strategy. It also provides checkpoints for assessing the progress and success of each initiative in the future. Customers are demanding new experiences, partners want greater access and employees want additional convenience and a digital transformation helps to facilitate this. So, embrace the challenge of digital disruption and continue to create value with the help if a strategic roadmap.

According to study conducted by Forrester, only 27% of businesses have a coherent digital strategy for creating customer value in place.

Ensure that your business stays relevant and thrives in this competitive landscape with a well thought out roadmap.

A digital transformation is all about business outcomes. The most effective roadmaps are those that are aligned with business strategy from both the top down, blending overall goals the latest technology trends. Building a great digital roadmap is understanding how to maximize reusability of these components and services.

Starting to navigate your Digital Transformation

Each organization is unique with its own culture and goals and because of this, each business must create a roadmap unique to its needs. When developing a digital roadmap, it is important to ensure that achievable, realistic and major milestones associated with each project throughout the journey.

Digital roadmap and strategy should focus on yielding tangible results for an organization, these may include:

  • Maximizing return on investment of products and services
  • Amplifying efficiency
  • Reducing costs
  • Enriching customer and employee experiences
  • Developing a proactive cyber security strategy
  • Creating a more nimble enterprise
  • Respond to evolving customer preferences

As an organization begins to create their roadmap, many questions must be considered, these include:

  • Where do we want to get to with our digital channels?
  • What are the major milestones between where we are now and where we want to be?
  • What is each initiative going to cost?
  • Where are the barriers and dependencies?
  • How do we measure ROI?
  • What does success look like?

It is important to remember to focus on outcomes not just specific technologies. This is because technologies are changing at rapid pace and an organization’s roadmap must evolve with them.

When developing a digital roadmap, businesses should take into account 7 pieces of strategy. These being business goals, business initiatives, features and fixes, user stories, components and services:

  • Business goals: Measurable achievements that a roadmap will help to accomplish
  • Business initiatives: Specific projects that are leveraged to achieve business goals
  • Features and fixes: Outputs from the digital delivery team used by the project teams driving business initiatives.
  • User stories: Pieces of work that convey individual user journeys or workflows, bundled in a way that is convenient for software engineers to build
  • Components: Software modules that create an intuitive user interface or application programming interface to fulfill user stories
  • Services: Data flows blended together to feed the components described above with the information they need to fulfill their functions

Investing wisely in the Digital Transformation

Many organizations are eager to invest in the newest, shiniest technology, however the latest technology doesn’t meant that a business is now prepared to remain competitive, grow and thrive. It has to be the right technology. For a roadmap to be successful, it is important to understand that the technology used will change and evolve with the needs of your organization and customers. For your roadmap to be functional it must be:

  • Responsive: The ability to modify tactics in response to what is being learned through research and measurement throughout your organizations journey.
  • Aligned: An organization’s roadmap is working in tandem with and support of a businesses overall strategy.
  • Human centered: Prioritizing and measuring initiatives that is aimed at specifically impacting specific customer behaviors.
  • Democratized: Ensure that a roadmap is visible and available across all teams to ensure transparency and welcome contributions from team members.

A digital roadmap is all about embracing new capabilities, not necessarily new projects. From major data systems to data analytics plans and implementation, there are many components to consider when creating a technology roadmap. In order to effectively ensure that your company meets its organizational goals, invest in the assistance of professionals to help plan your roadmap and lead your business to the future. The team of experts at VALiNTRY  are here to help your organization successfully navigate and choose the right digital infrastructure, people and processes to invest in.

How Artificial Intelligence is Impacting Recruiting

  8/28/17    Posted in Business Consulting IT Staff Augmentation News

The digital transformation is rapidly changing the talent acquisition process around the world. Today’s technology makes it possible for organizations to discover new insights, allowing them to transform their recruiting process to be quick, engaging and convenient. Businesses that use artificial intelligence (AI) to blend social, mobile, video and cloud technologies enhance prospective candidate’s experiences, allowing them to attract the top talent.

The Benefits of AI in Recruitment

A digitally enabled process can increase application rates, improve candidate engagement and build the candidate pipeline to shorten the overall time to fill. The digital transformation of talent acquisition is not just about technology automating and streamlining the application and hiring process, but about how companies are adapting and evolving the way that they deliver services.

Many organizations are shifting to a more proactive, consultative model. This approach has recruiters leverage insights and analytics to provide guidance to candidates and hiring managers. The ability to make these immediate recommendations allows a sourcing process to be adjusted or requirements of the position to be changed. This saves time in the process and allows recruiters to consult more strategically with the business.

When devising a new strategy for your business, keep in mind to:

  • Focus on the candidate experience: Offer access to convenient mobile channels to provide a streamlined application process.
  • Conduct research: Educate yourself on the latest technologies available to create an integrated technology strategy that provides a cohesive framework for how they all sync together to create a seamless approach.
  • Create a holistic model: Ensure that resources are aligned, define how roles will be structured, understand specialized skillsets required and identify how hiring managers should interact with candidates.
  • Define actionable insights: Leverage talent analytics to better understand who your organization’s ideal candidates are and attract them.

Adapting to New Recruitment Technologies

Virtually every type of industry worldwide has transformed their business practices in the face of new breakthroughs in connectivity and how people work. Embracing new trends of the digital age will only reach their full effectiveness when a collaborative culture is established. Cross-functional learning and creating spaces for motivated talent to make empowered decisions are vital to embracing new business concepts and technologies in the digital age, like artificial intelligence.

There is a drastic inefficiency due to current manual recruitment tools and processes. From company job boards to applicant tracking systems, developments in artificial intelligence have created solutions to reduce issues and enable easier management of resumes and dealing with job boards that deliver low quality applicants.

Artificial intelligence programs, are increasing in popularity to help automate tasks including reviewing resumes, sending follow up emails, finding potential candidates and filling vacancies.

Chatbots help to improve responsiveness by streamlining the process of seeking jobs and hiring talent. These can communicate with applicants, provide immediate feedback, rank applications and schedule interviews. For example, JobBot plugs into platforms like Craigslist and Indeed to interview applicants as soon as they apply. Responsiveness fosters a positive relationship between candidates and recruiters, allowing for a positive impact on an organization’s customer relationship management.

Chatbots also help prospective candidates. For example, Yodas is a bot that analyzes a person’s skills and asks a series of questions. Based upon the answers, specific jobs listings are recommended to a candidate to apply for.

Over 46% of talent acquisition leaders state that their recruiting teams struggle with finding qualified candidates.

AI for candidate sourcing is technology that searches for data that candidates post online. This information includes things like resumes and professional portfolios. This allows recruiters to identify passive candidates that match specific job requirements. This streamlines the sourcing process because it searches through multiple sources of candidates.

Over 70% of resumes that an organization or recruiter receives are unqualified, which means identifying qualified candidates can be extremely time consuming.

AI for screening is designed to automate the resume screening process. This type of intelligent screening software adds functionality to the ATS by using post-hire data such as performance and turnover to make hiring recommendations for new applicants.

The V-FITT System

VALiNTRY’s proprietary V-FITT system streamlines the hiring process, eliminates unnecessary stress and reduces costs for our clients. Leveraging this technology our team is able to identify the right candidates for your organization that match your specific requirements.

This system has aided us in growing our database with over 2 million unique candidates and acquiring over 6,000 resumes daily. Utilizing V-FITT, on average, our team is able to supply organizations with candidates that fulfill their requirements within 72 hours.

Fueled by artificial intelligence, cloud computing, real time analytics and digital marketing, V-FITT focuses on four types of candidates:

  • Passive: A candidate isn’t looking for a job, but have skills that match requirements for a job posting.
  • Active: A candidate has recently posted their resume on the internet.
  • Interested: A candidate applied to one of our positions.
  • Referral: A current or recent employee of our organization recommends a candidate.

More than 45% of VALiNTRY’s hires come through applications on our website, which is among the best in the industry allowing our team to find your business the best candidates, quickly and easily.

Revolutionizing Recruitment

Experts are predicting that AI will revolutionize recruiting and it has already begun. Tedious and time consuming tasks will become streamlined allowing the recruiter role to become more strategic. Artificial intelligence will help with improved KPIs including higher quality of hires and lower turnover.

Artificial intelligences helps to:

  • Improve efficiency: Recruiters can focus on more important tasks to find candidates more quickly.
  • Remove human biases: Some recruiters can have a bias towards specific, words or even phrases in a resume.
  • Allow recruiters to direct their focus on revenue: Artificial intelligence completes the sourcing and initial contact
  • Offer a better experience: Recruiters can invest more time developing a relationship with candidates

Although many recruiters may have trepidation when it comes to artificial intelligence being incorporated to their roles, it  is important to remember that technology is here to help. There are many types of artificial intelligence technologies that can be leveraged to aid your organization. Determining the best programs to use is dependent upon your specific challenges. When utilized correctly, artificial intelligence can accelerate the hiring process and increase the success of recruiters, just as it has for VALiNTRY. If you’d like to take advantage of our system, contact us today.

Beginning Your Digital Transformation

  8/23/17    Posted in News

The digital transformation, it seems as though every keynote, panel, article and business across the globe are discussing it.

The movement known as the digital transformation is the integration of technology into all areas of a business. This results in core fundamental changes in how a business operates and delivers value to customers.

Companies rise and fall for many reasons and digital disruption is responsible for a large percentage of this.

Since 2000, research shows that nearly 50% of companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist as a result of digital disruption.

Author, Greg Verdino, states “the digital transformation closes the gap between what digital customers already expect from an organization and what analog a business actually delivers.” To successfully transform into a true digital company, an organization must focus on what businesses that undergo digital transformation may expect to achieve.

From leadership to differential thinking and the increased use of digital technologies, at its core the digital transformation encourages innovation and supports new business models. Incorporating digitization of assets and an increased use of technology to improve the experience of your organization’s employees, customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders.

Why your business should begin its digital transformation:

  • Your competitors are doing it: According to the Forrester Research Report, executives predict that by 2020 over half of their revenue will be from digital initiatives.
  • Your business will become more profitable: Companies that understand the benefits of the digital transformation are 26% more profitable than their competitors, according to the MIT Center for Digital Business.
  • Your organization will become more efficient: Nine out of 10 IT professionals claim that legacy systems are preventing them from fully incorporating the necessary digital technologies to help future growth for their organization.
  • Your customers will thank you: From home security to online shopping, most consumers have already adopted digital technologies, businesses that evolve with customers will experience continued success.

The Building Blocks

A digital transformation is different for each organization and is based upon their needs, challenges, customers and employees. From examining case studies, there are a few consistent elements in most businesses digital transformation which include:

  • Customer experience
  • Operational agility
  • Work enablement
  • Culture and leadership
  • Digital technology integration

Defining Organizational Culture

Culture is another key component to consider when planning a digital transformation for your business. Companies are no longer creating software or running IT for cost savings and operations. Instead, IT has become the primary driver of business innovation. Embracing this shift requires everyone in the company to rethink the role and impact of IT in their day-to-day experience.

Bryson Koehler, CIO of The Weather Company, says, “There is a very different at work when you take IT out of an operating mode of, ‘Let’s run a bunch of packaged solutions that we’ve bought and stood up’ to ‘Let’s build and create new capabilities that didn’t exist before.’ If you look at the vast majority of startups, they’re not starting with giant, shrink-wrapped software packages as the base of their company. If you’re trying to create innovation inside of a large enterprise then you shouldn’t start with that either. You’re not here to run the mainframe anymore. You’re not here to run the servers. You’re not here to run the data center, or the network, or operations. That is table stakes. That’s what you can outsource.”

Although IT plays an integral role in a digital transformation, for an organization to be successful in this endeavor, everyone within a company must be onboard will to implement and adapt to these new processes.

The digital transformation transcends technology. It is about people, culture and then it is about collaborating with these new technologies.

As an organization, VALiNTRY focuses on:

  • People Service: Enriching and serving our clients, our employees and one another.
  • Accountability: Being accountable and responsible to maintaining commitments and providing results.
  • Teamwork: Working to support our team for the greater good of the organization and our clients.
  • Honesty and Integrity: Doing the right things, the right way.
  • Innovation: Pushing beyond our comfort zones to seek new solutions for our business and our clients.
  • Transparency: Always providing reasoning and outcomes to our clients and employees.

Focusing on these core values has allowed our organization to successful evolve by leveraging the latest technologies for our own digital transformation.

A large component of the adoption of digital transformation is technology. However, another aspect is also eliminating legacy technology and outdated processes. Take for example the federal government. The federal government spends of $80 billion on information technology each year. Over three quarters of that budget is spent maintaining legacy systems.

Although it’s the 21st century, surprisingly in the healthcare field, 90% of hospitals still use pagers. To maintain these legacy paging services, hospitals overpay by 45% every year.

Most CIOs spend a majority of their budget on existing IT concerns, not able to fully focus on new technology initiatives. However, in order to evolve, they must understand the importance of leveraging technology to increase efficiency.

Trends impacting the digital transformation include:

  • Artificial Intelligence: To schedule a meeting, it takes humans approximately 17 minutes. Virtual assistants cost less than $100 per month. Soon, virtual assistants will have the ability communicate and negotiate even faster than humans.
  • Contextual Insight: Sensors and embedded devices are becoming common place within an enterprise generating large amounts of data. If not managed properly, this data will be rendered useless. This information should be consolidated to help an organization.
  • Security and Identity: Security and identity management actually do improve user experience and productivity. A lack of security can minimize productivity and as more information is continually shared, the proper security processes must be put into place.
  • Augmentation: Augmented reality helps information to be shared throughout an organization. Augmentation will soon be extended to larger groups, enabling multiple users to access information almost instantly. It will me more dramatic, contextual and adjacent information will be presented, all in real time.
  • Orchestration: APIs and orchestration are critical to increasing agility and creating new intellectual property for reuse.
  • Connectivity: Satellites and wireless technologies are allowing for increased collaboration within organizations.

Start Your Digital Transformation Today

The team at VALiNTRY has the expertise to help guide your enterprise and enable your digital transformation to begin. A digital transformation must build upon the basis of a digital operating model to ensure alignment among all initiatives. From operational excellence to customer experience and product leadership, our team will ensure that the proper steps and procedures are implemented to develop ecosystems as partners and ensure success. As a result, your business will be more aligned with customer demands and resilient in the fast-moving digital future.

Contact us today to begin your transformation.

VALiNTRY Joins the Ranks of Inc. 500

  8/16/17    Posted in News

Founded in 2013, what began as a one office start-up, with a handful employees has transformed into a multi-million dollar, nationwide corporation with over 50 employees.

In the short time frame of five years, VALiNTRY has been honored with the distinction of joining the elite ranks of Inc. 500.

Created in 1982, Inc. 5000 is an annual list of the fastest growing private companies in the United States. As an expansion of the brand, Inc. 500 was developed, ranking the top 10% of the country’s top 5,000 organizations.

This year, VALiNTRY is proud to be recognized as number 142 on the list nationally and number 10 in Florida.  Now as an honoree, our organization has joined the ranks of other winners including Halo Top Creamery, Bitly and OrangeTheory Fitness. With past winners ranging from Oracle to Under Armour and GrubHub, we are excited to have our business held in such high regards.

Led by fearless leader CEO, Daryl Dixon, one of the core foundations catapulting the quick and sustained success of VALiNTRY is our core values. Role model organizations such as Disney, Apple and Southwest Airlines continually inspire VALiNTRY to put our customers first. Our team understands the importance of empowering employees and removing barriers that disrupt the ability to exceed expectations.

Our core values are:

  • People Service: Enriching the lives of our clients, while serving them, our employees and our team members.
  • Accountability: Being accountable and responsible to maintaining commitments and sustaining results.
  • Teamwork: Working together continuously to support our team, yours and the greater good.
  • Honesty and Integrity: Ensuring that everything is done correct, the right way.
  • Innovation: Pushing beyond our comfort zones to seek new solutions for our clients and ourselves.
  • Transparency: Sharing the results and outcomes of all of our efforts with our team and clients.

Inverted Organization Structure

The green upside down triangle and lowercase “I” in our logo is more than just a symbol, it represents a way of life at VALiNTRY. The lower case I deemphasizes the individual because at VALiNTRY we win as a team and we lose as a team. This mentality has allowed our company  and employees to succeed. The upside down triangle, represents our unique inverted organization structure. Clients, consultants and contractors always become ourselves, with management at the bottom of the priority list, here to support their team.

Identifying and implementing these core values has also allowed us to receive recognition from the Orlando Business Journal as a “Best Place to Work” and have been awarded the coveted “Florida Companies to Watch by GrowFL.

The Origin of VALiNTRY

Valor: Great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle.

Our organization’s name, VALiNTRY was derived from this noun. CEO, Daryl Dixon and cofounders chose the name to represent the resiliency of their, at the time, new found team.

One unique aspect of VALiNTRY is that the cofounders who built the organization previously worked together. At these companies, they fought operational complexities, dated technologies, increased regulations and the rising costs of doing business. With solutions constantly falling short, they came together to collaborate and begin VAliNTRY.

A founder of Reflectx in 2001, Daryl sold the company in 2006 and worked with Maxim HealthCare until 2006 where he then again, sold the organization however, he continued to work with the business for a few years afterwards.

Reflectx was a web based company that utilized the internet to sell and recruit across the country. Here, founding partner and CIO, Steve Wise, built an intranet system so robust he was recognized in CIO magazine. Steve built this system, NovaNET, a high-tech command center than filtered and translated data every day, to over 1300 locations across the country. This innovation was the first time that Daryl had witnessed technology truly supporting business processes. The new technologies constantly being developed and the innovation that had just been displayed with NovaNet, was the catalyst for Daryl to collaborate with fellow cofounders and begin VALiNTRY.

One thing that became apparent to Daryl with all of his ventures was that technology streamlines everything. Daryl’s motto is, if there are certain technologies that have the ability to improve efficiencies, we always invest. At the cofounder’s former companies innovation was always a trademark that has been carried through to VALiNTRY.

Since the beginning, VALiNTRY’s approach has been to utilize technology to manage systems like a fleet of boats instead of an aircraft carrier. Daryl has always believed that one aspect of innovation is having the ability to plug and unplug technologies systems to help support business most effective was possible. He felt that there were few companies that understood the catalyst that technology within the company was to improve profitability and success. VALiNTRY team members are fighters against technical obsolescence. Many companies are hamstrung by technical obsolescence, where their systems aren’t able to keep up with other businesses. Instead of these organizations becoming a resource to clients to improve efficiency and profitability, they have actually become a liability due to their failure to invest.

Because of these relationships that VALiNTRY has built and due to our core values and innovation we have become trusted advisors for our clients. Our team is truly working to help our clients ensure continuous success.

Looking to the future

Looking to the future VALiNTRY’s next goal is to reach over 100 million in revenue while continuing to provide services with our core values functioning as the backbone of our organization. The core group of cofounders have all worked for large, publicly traded service companies. Leveraging this experience has helped create the foundation for VALiNTRY’s practices.

Cyber Security for Small Business

  8/7/17    Posted in Business Consulting IT Consulting Microsoft Partner Network Security
VALiNTRY Security Consulting Services

Protecting your Small Business from Cyber Attacks

What would happen if a hacker launched a cyber attack against your business? The answer is all dependent upon your security. Taking the necessary precautions to protect your business is crucial and the VALiNTRY team is here to help.

Over 40% of cyber attacks target small businesses. Hackers don’t always like to go after the big fish in these situations. Most larger organizations understand the importance of investing in cyber security, so their wall of protection is more advanced and acts as a deterrent. Small businesses are actually drawing additional attention from cyber criminals because many times they don’t have the same level of security that a larger firm can afford. Cyber security is a practice that requires consistency, which can be difficult when human interaction is involved.

Your business has exactly what hackers want, employee and customer payment information. If your system isn’t secure, cyber criminals can easily gain access to everything from credit card information to social security numbers. Every business is at risk, but smaller organizations are usually the most vulnerable.

The top 7 security threats to small businesses

Microsoft Security Response Center conducted research on recent cyber attacks which concluded that the average time for infection or exploitation of an unpatched node on a compromised network is as little as 90 seconds.

Although it may be easier for larger organizations to bounce back from data breaches, small to midsize businesses don’t always have the same resources. This means that it is important to protect your organization, employees and your business with the proper IT security.

Some of the top threats include:

  • Growth of mobile malware: It is now easier for criminals to develop and deploy malware onto mobile devices. Businesses routinely use mobile devices, which makes them an easy target for hackers.
  • Data theft from Internet of Things (IoT) devices: Apps connected to the internet with no security makes this specific type of cybercrime easy. Negligence over security measures increases the chance of lawsuits against manufacturers.
  • Extortion attacks from stolen data: Recent successes from extortion efforts has increased the likelihood of additional threats of data details being publicized.
  • Ransomware on the internet: Poorly secured IoT devices are often targeted by hackers who place ransomware on them. These attacks are becoming more advanced, many times completely locking out users.
  • Hacker mercenaries: The dark market attracts many people including mercenaries that understand they can sell access to hacked systems to multiple parties. Often times they resell information stolen by others and post it on sites, this data can be sold and resold.
  • Stolen data aggregation: Many times, hackers will aggregate data from smaller businesses to increase its value. Since these companies are easily targeted, they continue to be hit.
  • Your employees: From making poor password choices to bringing their own devices to work, your employees could be inadvertently exposing you to an increased risk.

Unaware employees, increased security risks for small businesses

Many times, employees don’t understand the security risk that they pose to the organization. At a recent Microsoft Partner Conference, Brad Smith, Chief Legal Officer, said that there is always one employee that is going to click. Despite how careful and diligent your employees may be, this statement is very true. Some employee threat risks that are becoming increasingly concerning include:

  • Passwords: Taking the easy route with passwords increases the risk of a security breach
  • Phishing scams: By unknowingly clicking on a link, opening a document or downloading a file, malware could be introduced to your system.
  • Mobile Devices: Having no security plan or MDM policy in place within your organization means that many times employees will bring their own devices to work which can increase the risk of a breach.
  • Physical Threats: Leaving devices unattended and accessible or writing down passwords can increase the risk of a breach.

When it comes to security, employee education is key and it all begins with Penetration Testing. Penetration testing, also known as a Pen Test, helps to identify vulnerabilities and evaluate the security of an organizations IT infrastructure. From operating systems and services to application flaws and improver configurations, this test helps to exploit risky end user behavior.

Pen test are usually executed by using automated or manual technologies to intentionally compromise an organizations servers, network devices, end points, applications and wireless networks. These technologies successfully exploit risk areas and testers attempt to use the compromised system to launch subsequent exploits. This entails trying to gain access to higher levels of security clearance and other information from privilege escalation.

Once this data has been collected, IT and network system managers help evaluate the information and help train the businesses employees or how to reduce vulnerability risks.

Pen Testing allows an organization to:

  • Manage vulnerabilities
  • Avoid network downtime
  • Meet regular requirements
  • Avoid fines
  • Preserve image
  • Retain customer loyalty

Your business has the option of hiring a pen tester to test your network or purchase penetration software. These analysis’ should be conducted consistently and whenever:

  • New applications or network infrastructure is added
  • Upgrades or modifications are applied
  • New office locations are created
  • Security patches are applied
  • End user policies are modified

There are three types of tests that can be conducted, comprehensive, application and wireless.

  1. Comprehensive penetration tests simulate a situation where an attacker is trying to gain access to assets by exploiting security weaknesses that exist across multiple systems.
  2. Application penetration test, evaluates an organizations custom web applications including antivirus, embedded applications and games.
  3. Wireless penetration tests involve security evaluations of standard corporate WiFi networks to assess the need of specific wireless solutions.

 

Do you need VALiNTRY’s Security Experts to Help your Small Business? Contact us today to learn more.