Shane’s Touchscreen Keeps Him In Touch – With Everyone!

September 22, 2012

For our Director of Managed Services, Shane Roberts, everything he does – at work, or at home – revolves around communication – email, instant messaging (IM), text messaging, and the telephone.  Shane is what many might call a communications “power user”.  He looks at the things that a technology will allow him to do, then figures out how to modify the technology to fit his needs. 

I wanted to understand some of the techniques and tools that Shane uses to stay on top of things – and still get some sleep.  So, I decided to follow him around for a day.  Here’s what I learned.

6:30 a.m.:  Shane arrives at the office.  And while he’s downloading his email on his laptop, he’s scanning today’s news on his iPad.  Shane likes the article he’s found on Cisco’s Nexus switch in the Wall Street Journal, so he shares it with colleagues and customers directly from his iPad.  And, because Shane has “favorites” set up on his iPad email, he’s already responded to important customer or company email last night before he went to bed.  Now, all he has to do is scan through what’s left, and respond only to messages that need his immediate attention.

7:00 a.m.:  Shane checks his iPad calendar for the day and realizes that he’s got a full day ahead.  A customer call, an onsite customer meeting, a company conference call, and the Nexus Open House.

To prepare for the customer call and meeting, Shane takes a quick look at each company’s web site.  What’s been happening?  Have they announced a new product or service?  Has the company won any awards or have the products or services been mentioned in a newspaper or journal?

8:00 a.m.:  Time to check in with the sales teams for the customer call and meeting.  Shane uses his company IP phone to do two short video calls.  Is there anything that he needs to know beforehand?

8:30 a.m.:  Shane’s first customer call.  Shane uses his laptop, IP Phone and Nexus’ Cisco Unified Communication Manager to share his desktop and a short presentation.  I’m intrigued by the Bluetooth headset that Shane is using.   With it, he can connect to, and switch between, his IP phones (Shane has two), laptop, iPhone and iPad with a single click.  It makes me wonder if he’s actually listening to me during our telephone conversations, or if he is switching over to speak with someone else on another device.  Hmmm….

10:00 a.m.:  It’s time to run down the hall for the customer onsite.  Instead of loading up his laptop, IP phone, cell phone, pen, and paper like I do, Shane just grabs his iPad.  He uses Microsoft’s OneNote to take notes in the meeting.  When he gets back to his office, he’ll just sync up his iPad to transfer the notes to his laptop.

Shane needs some files that are only on his laptop during the meeting.  Does he panic?  No way.  He merely invokes the remote desktop app that he has on his iPad and accesses the files.  I discover that Shane’s remote desktop app can access his laptop using our VPN and the Internet as well as the company wireless LAN.

I’d been noticing that Shane’s laptop never seemed to leave his office – yet he was still getting work done on the road and at home.  Now I know how he does it!

11:30 a.m.:  Lunch, but there’s no time to go out.   Why that sneaky Shane!  He has a flat panel TV installed in his office with a Sling Box.  He’s catching up on the last episode of Sons of Anarchy while he gets a quick bite.  Now I know how I can watch some Ryder Cup matches in a couple of weeks!

While Shane is watching – and eating – he’s also doing his expense report.  How?  Using Concur, he merely takes a picture of his receipts with his iPad, then forwards them in a message to Finance.  Cool!

12:00 p.m.:  Time for the company conference call.  It’s a long one.  During the call, one of our important customers calls Shane on his second IP phone.  Shane uses his slick wireless headset to switch over to the customer, answer his question, then return to the conference call.  No one even knew he was gone!

1:30 p.m.:  Open house duty for Shane.  Customers come by the booth and ask for status on their tickets.  Shane whips out his trusty iPad and gives them updates from his Salesforce.com app.  In between, he sends some quick IMs using his iPAD’s Cisco Jabber client.  That’s when I notice something odd.  When I open another app on my iPad from the Jabber client, I get disconnected from our Unified Communications Manager.  Shane doesn’t.  What’s going on here?

Shane’s been up to something again.  He has done a “jailbreak” on his iPad.  His iPad, unlike the standard one, can run multiple apps concurrently.  Shane can switch from video or voice to Salesforce, to OneNote seamlessly.  What a timesaver!  I think Shane might have another iPad to work on very soon – MINE!

6:00 p.m.:  It’s been a long day.  Shane faced some tough questions today, and everyone seemed to want to speak with him at once.  While I was grabbing a beverage, I look around and Shane isn’t around.  Hmmmm…  I head back to his office, and there he is.  Hey!  What’s that on his dual wide screen monitors?  That looks like Need for Speed Hot Pursuit!  It IS! 

Shane’s in his office relaxing from a stressful day.  O.k., but, I’m still wondering how he got the Xbox 360 in here without anyone knowing about it!

6:30 p.m.:  Shane’s out the door – with his iPad. 

So what did I learn during my day with Shane?  That there are lots of ways to use communications and other technologies to help us get things done.  And, that taking a break and having a little fun during the day, only helps to make us happier and more productive.

For Shane, his iPad is the hub that keeps him connected to all of his devices, applications, and most importantly to his customers and colleagues, friends and family.  Shane’s iPad touchscreen definitely keeps him in touch – with everyone!


Reduced CapEx Isn’t the Only Reason Our Customers Love Nexus Connected Collaboration

September 11, 2012

– by Mike Heiman, VP of Engineering

One of the services that is becoming very popular with our customers is our hosted collaboration service – Nexus Connected Collaboration (NCC).  The service is based on the Cisco collaboration suite and integrates voice, video, web conferencing, messaging, mobility, and customer care.  It also includes our next generation wide area network (WAN) service – Nexus Connected Next Generation WAN.  Nexus Connected Next Generation WAN automates more than 50 network management functions, allowing companies to provision remote teleworkers, branches, and retail offices world-wide.

Nexus Connected CollaborationMany of our existing customers chose NCC as a way to expand their existing premise-based Cisco collaboration solution to new sites without spending precious capital dollars.  However, once they began to use the service, they realized that NCC provides much more than just a way to conserve their capital.  The NCC solution is not new technology – it’s a new consumption model.  It also:

  • Gave their businesses greater flexibility – With NCC, our customers were able to integrate remote staffers and contractors as well as personnel and sites secured through corporate acquisitions quickly and easily.   Instead of weeks or even months of planning, design, and implementation, our customers can add new users in just minutes.
  • Saved money– Using NCC, our customers didn’t have to overprovision existing systems to accommodate growth.  Instead, they pay only for the services they use, when and where they need them.  Additionally, NCC removes the need for additional maintenance contracts and the time-consuming process of software upgrades.  Keeping things running and up-to-date is our job!
  • Enabled IT staff to be more productive – Our customers love the fact that their staff can now concentrate on deploying new technologies that will differentiate them from their competitors, not the mundane tasks of deploying and provisioning basic voice, data, and web services.  Using NCC’s management interface, adding users is a snap – and a task that is easily handled by customer service or administrative personnel.

Finally, our customers like the way that Nexus Connected Next Generation WAN (which uses military-grade encryption and has a full Public Key Infrastructure with automated certificate maintenance) combines with NCC to extend corporate collaboration services to trusted third parties (suppliers, contractors, customers) without supplying them with access to internal systems. 

Both new customers and existing on-premise customers are finding value in the fact that the same Nexus deployment and managed services teams are supporting them regardless of solution model.  NCC is fast becoming one of our most popular service offerings.  It’s easy to deploy, saves money, is secure, and, most importantly, provides our customers with the flexibility they need to grow.


Leveraging Technologies in Poison Control Centers

September 7, 2012

Nexus Connected Healthcare– by Kathleen Gaffney, Healthcare Transformation Specialist, Nexus Connected Healthcare

The poison control system, an established network covering the United States, is in place to reduce poison-related morbidity, mortality, and hospital admissions.  Poison Control Centers (PCC) receive calls from the public and healthcare facilities for toxicological consultation after a suspected poisoning or overdose has occurred. The PCCs are staffed by pharmacists, physicians, medical toxicology specialists and nurses with specialized clinical toxicology training and operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year.  For every dollar spent on poison control, at least $7 is saved in public health care costs due to instant intervention and effective use of resources, often by preventing unnecessary and costly visits to the emergency room.   PCCs are state and federally funded but funds have been cut significantly making it more important that the PCCs operate as efficiently and productively as possible. 

PCCs currently perform most of their duties through the use of telemedicine – which in the majority of cases means a telephone.  Typically, PCCs provide the following services:

  • Poisoning triage and treatment to the public
  • Poisoning triage, consultations and medical recommendations to ED physicians and emergency medical transport personnel
  • Toxicological consultation after and medical recommendations to rural healthcare facilities and medically underserved regions
  • Toxicological services to non-healthcare organizations such as correctional institutions, cruise ships, etc.
  • Input and advice regarding hazardous materials toxicity and management to the state’s emergency management agencies
  • Analyzes calls in real-time for trends and events that might be of public health significance (e.g. food poisoning, terrorism, product recalls)
  • Public health services during disasters (with adaptation to workflows)
  • Perform patient “follow‐ups” and/or home management of poisoning services
  • Consultation services to patients (e.g. counseling and information for drug and other exposures during pregnancy and lactation)
  • Training site for pharmacy students, nurses, EMS/paramedic students, and physicians and residents in emergency medicine, pediatrics, family practice and other specialties
  • Increase public awareness, education and prevention services to the public of common toxic substances, specifically as they relate to young children
  • Poisoning triage, treatment, education, and prevention services for animals

In the near future, PCCs will provide many of these services via technology.  Easy to implement and cost-effective use of technology will include connecting with the public through text messaging, Twitter and Facebook or publishing Podcasts on YouTube to share health content with the general public.  Clinical toxicologists’ collaboration with physicians and emergency medical personnel will take place via desktop sharing and web conferencing.  The use of emerging telemedicine technologies that leverage audio and videoconferencing within poison centers will enhance the ability of the clinical toxicologists to deliver services to their patients.  For example, PCCs may use a telemedicine kiosk or cart that supports visual clinical toxicologists/patient encounters through the use of telepresence, remote-controlled point-of-care camera, FDA approved medical devices and an EMR.   Many organizations currently utilizing telemedicine are considering a model that is internet based.  This would allow PCCs to work with doctors and patients from any location utilizing any computer or similar device. 

All of these technologies will help PCCs achieve the primary goal of improving access to care while lowering the overall cost of care.


Mitigating the Risk of Compressed Timelines

August 28, 2012

– by Dale Hardy, VP of Professional Services

Driving home from a customer meeting this afternoon, it occurred to me that more and more, it seems that nearly every project we do for our customers has a very short timeline or compressed schedule.  Once a company decides to move forward and implement a technology that will help them expand market share, reduce costs, or improve the productivity of their personnel, they want to reap those benefits right away.

When implementing technologies for our customers that touch nearly every area within their business like Unified Communications, data center automation, storage networking, or security, we think it’s important for our customers to understand the potential risks of a compressed implementation schedule (that go along with the rewards).  Short timelines often rely on everything going “just right,” and as we all know, there is a very good chance that something can likely go wrong.

Project success is much more predictable along with risk avoidance when there is sufficient allowance in the schedule for discovery, planning and testing. When time is short, we collaborate with our customers to assess the potential risks inherent with compressed timelines.  Then, we to put together a joint action plan that balances the business’ needs against the risks we’ve identified.  For some customers, that might mean that we meet the target dates for critical locations, departments, or applications while slightly delaying deployments to non-mission critical areas.  For others, it might mean deploying the solution to all locations, but limiting non-essential system functionality to ensure system stability.  In any case, we believe that the most important thing we can do for our customers is to meet their implementation schedule needs without disrupting their business. 

We think our honest approach is the best one for our customers and their businesses, and they do too.  We recently received letters from three customers who thanked us for “doing the impossible” – meeting implementation schedules that even they believed couldn’t be met.  In reality, nothing can displace thorough project discovery and planning; however, our team was committed to  exceed our customers’ expectations while mitigating the risk inherent within compressed timelines.


EMR Readiness

June 26, 2012

Is your IT environment ready for an EMR implementation?

Does your organization have a plan for identifying the gaps in your IT infrastructure?

Can your data network provide secure mobile access?  

Is your organization in full compliance with regulatory mandates like HIPAA?

Alarmingly, most healthcare organizations do not have a technical infrastructure that is prepared to adequately handle the needs of an EMR system. The typical state of infrastructure includes spotty wireless coverage, poorly maintained servers, inadequate bandwidth, insufficient space and environmental controls in the data center,  insufficient security  and  redundancy, and poor operational management.

Written by industry veteran and Nexus Business Transformation Specialist Kathleen Gaffney, the EMR Intrastructure Readiness white paper is full of important technology and operational considerations. From Device Messaging to Wireless Coverage to Business Continuity Plans, there’s more to a successful EMR implementation than the patient records themselves. These 13 concrete recommendations will help ensure your implementation goes smoothly.

Download the whitepaper now!


The Evolving Role of the CFO

June 20, 2012

Our CFO, Dan Dougherty was recently named CFO of the Year by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. I asked him what makes today’s CFOs tick and how the position has changed since he started at Nexus 16 years ago. Here’s his answer:

The role of the CFO has evolved in modern business, perhaps more than any other executive position. Gone are the days when proper accounting principles, audit preparation, and compliance concerns were a CFO’s primary focus. The CFO is now expected to be an active participant in all aspects of the business. At Nexus, a leading systems integrator headquartered in Valencia, Calif., CFO Dan Dougherty leads many different teams, all with a single goal: to provide business value to the organization.

For example, in addition to working with the company’s Controller, Mark Pierce, to oversee the Accounting and Finance Departments, Dougherty also provides executive level oversight of the Human Resources department at Nexus. In the advanced technology industry, retention and recruiting of top talent is a unique challenge – the most qualified candidates are highly sought-after and attracting and retaining the best employees is very competitive. While Nexus does outsource some recruiting, its own internal Human Resources Department lead by Director of HR, Rebecca Sweeney, hires about ten times as many employees. An average of 20 employees per quarter are hired by the internal HR department versus an average 2 per quarter hired through outside recruiters. Why are the inside teams so much more successful? Because they take the time to fully understand the job requirements and because they can “sell” the value of working at Nexus the way only an employee can. Dougherty knows this passion for enticing the right candidate into the right role is a place where his teams can really add value to the business.

 Another area Dougherty sees CFOs adding business value is in Purchasing and Procurement. Under the supervision of Heather Taylor, Director of Procurement, the Nexus purchasing team is dedicated to ensuring orders are processed accurately and timely. This means responsiveness to two separate “customer” groups; the end customer ordering the products and services, and the manufacturing partners Nexus orders from. Both groups count on Dougherty’s teams to ensure that the process functions smoothly. Nexus’ purchasing team has gained a reputation throughout the industry as the “go to” partner for orders that absolutely have to be placed that day.  That often means that the teams stay late into the night getting the orders booked.  This reputation has been key to helping the sales team drive 20%+ year over year growth since the inception of the business.  

Business tools and reporting have always been part of the domain of the CFO, however in today’s business world it is imperative that those tools reach all aspects of the business. Dougherty works closely with Business Systems Manager, Sabrina Anderson, to provide the tools, programs, reports, and systems the business uses to track profitability and productivity throughout the organization. She has created tools like a web-based portal that tracks the real-time progress of each customer project, which Dougherty and other executives use to identify opportunities for improvement in cost estimating, project management, and engineering. The sophisticated reporting systems today’s CFOs use allow management to create better forecasts, helping guide decisions about things like capital acquisition, headcount, and even office space acquisition. With better business intelligence and forecasting, lenders gain more confidence in the company, resulting in larger credit lines and lower interest rates for capital.

As part of senior management, today’s CFO is expected to guide all of these internal business systems, while maintaining a strong awareness of overall economic trends and specific industry trends. While much of this information is available in the daily news and from employees “in the trenches”, Dougherty advises that companies should also closely follow their industry’s leaders. For Nexus, that’s a close alignment to Cisco, a leader in advanced technology products like voice, video conferencing, data center, and secure wireless networks. This close partnership allows Nexus to develop a deep expertise about specific products, allowing them to make a trusted recommendation to the customer and provide excellent service in designing, installing, and supporting the end-to-end solution.

As a mentor to coming generations of CFOs, Dougherty’s final advice is to take a holistic approach. Be passionate about the whole business, not just about accounting. Cultivate “street smarts” – immerse yourself in as many processes and departments as you can and learn more about the contributions each person and each department make to the company as a whole. Expect the role of the CFO to continue to change, and look for non-traditional ways to bring even more value to your company.


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