When you head up an IT department, most of your days are spent reacting to and trying to solve the issues and problems that arise on a daily basis. However, when the unicorn of a moment’s free time lands on your desk, there are a few strategic questions that every CIO should be asking.

#1: Is our IT department helping our business solve its major challenges?

This is actually a two-part question, the first is, “What are our business’s major challenges?” And the second should be, “What is our team doing to help solve them.” The answers to these questions will allow a CEO or CIO to determine the true competitive advantage the IT function creates for the business. If the answer suggests IT isn’t helping differentiate the company from competition, but rather is focused only on the back office, that is a red flag for leadership. It is the perfect opportunity to discover areas where IT could help drive innovation and new business by better serving customers. Which leads us to our next question…

#2: Is our IT department helping to support and drive innovation within our company?

What innovations are your department currently working on that will help the business communicate better with customers? What is your team developing that will help deliver products to your customers with a higher level of customer satisfaction? These are the types of questions that should be driving the projects your team is working on. Besides uptime and reliability, one of the returns IT can bring to an organization is innovation; whether it be through research and development or improving processes and efficiency, the leadership team should be confident IT is doing more than maintaining the network and infrastructure but also helping the company progress.

#3: What are we doing to help control risk for the company?

With information and data networking moving to the cloud, the openness of the Internet, and the surge in hacking — it is only fitting that you should be able to answer the question, “How is our team controlling risk?”  Your leadership team should be well aware of what IT is doing to protect the properties of the corporation. As the head of the department you should be able to answer what your team is doing to protect the physical and intellectual assets. You have a responsibility to the board, and, if the company is public, the shareholders, to explain the what, why, and how of your security plan.

#4: Are we managing budgets effectively? 

Projects and CapEx budgets in IT are expensive to operate. You have to maintain a working understanding of the costs and benefits these operations and projects are producing for the organization. As the head of your department you need to manage, or leverage partners, to help manage contracts and assist in making cost conscious decisions.

#5: Does the strategy of our IT department align with our corporate strategy?

Depending on where your corporation’s strategy falls, you need to make sure that your team is in alignment with it. Is your corporation in cost savings mode? Then you should be asking how are you cutting costs and improving the budget. Is the corporation’s focus on greater customer satisfaction? What changes is your team implementing that will help solidify those goals? Does innovation and new technology bring in new customers and increase overall customer loyalty? What will your team do in 2017 to help realize these new technologies in an ever changing environment?

With the competitive nature of Information Technology and how heavily reliant all businesses are on new technologies to bring in customers, build customer loyalty, protect the business and lower the bottom line, it is imperative for the IT department to be cognizant of the ever changing and the adaptive role it plays in the success of the overall business. Having the answers to questions like these will not only help the IT department survive in today’s environment, but go from a cost center to a revenue agent.

With over 17 years of Information Technology industry experience and an extensive background in Telecommunications, Mike Belmont is part of the Renodis Management Team and acts as Senior Enterprise Leader. As a seasoned professional with enterprise level corporations in telecommunications, Mike has extensive experience in senior sales, management, and indirect channel roles with Quest, Sprint, UCN, and for the last 11 years with Renodis. Mike has managed both fortune 1000 accounts as well as VAR partners.

For more information or if you have any comments or questions related to this post, please contact him at mikeb@renodis.com.

This post is guest written by resident Genesys Works intern, Tiffany Thao…

Earning an internship is a big deal, AND it’s also important to prepare for adapting and learning in the workplace. This blog is about me, Tiffany Thao, currently an intern at Renodis through Genesys Works, a non-profit organization that gives students in High School, specifically seniors, a chance to become young professionals and receive college help. Here are my 5 best tips for Genesys Works interns in the upcoming years as they enter their internship either at Renodis or at another company.

From the beginning as I earned an internship through Genesys Works in order to work for Renodis I realized that receiving an internship was undoubtedly exciting yet peculiarly scary. This means that I would have to meet new people, experience a different environment, and take actions on what I’ve learned through my training at Genesys Works. Just the thought of it was terrifying since it was a different world that I wasn’t really familiar with, but that didn’t stop me from entering my first day at my internship.

Tip #1: Ask Questions
How I adapted and learned the first month of my internship of working for Renodis was by asking questions based on what I didn’t know or found interesting. Asking questions truly helped me because I gained more knowledge, benefiting me and the workforce. I was able to connect with the employees as well to which I became more comfortable when communication was involved. Therefore, I asked as many questions as I could.

Tip #2: Take Notes
Note taking was one of the tips that I followed because it really worked! I was allowed to look back on the notes taken and given when I came across tasks that I’ve already done before. Looking back at the notes helped me quickly retrieve information relevant to new tasks. Also I won’t always ask questions about the same thing when I have the notes.

Tip #3: Be Punctual
Being punctual is beneficial because there won’t be any rushing when you get to work on time. Getting to work on time also allows you to easily pick up on tasks that haven’t been finished or continue on with tasks from the day before. This increases the time you’ll have at the end of the day to either learn about other things you’re interested in or proactively work on projects assigned. This is why being punctual is important.

Tip #4: Be Honest, Respectful and Positive
Addressing everyone within the workplace with honesty, respect, positivity and friendliness showcases the value of who you are as a person. It’s like the saying of “treat others the way you want to be treated.” From that foundation I can build great connections with everyone whether if it’s getting to know who they are personally or professionally. It also aligns with the culture within the company, therefore it won’t be difficult to catch on because everyone is respectful and friendly.

Tip #5: Look the Part
Looking the part means that you are taking information and following the rules of the company. This means dressing professionally and according to the dress code given. Besides that, you also get a chance to see yourself in a different perspective as you proceed on with your internship.

Overall these are the tips that I followed on my journey while I entered the first month of my Renodis internship. Now that you know how I adapted and learned, YOU’RE ready to adapt and learn for your internship. I hope everything is going to be an awesome journey for you.

Good luck!
– Tiffany

Renodis was thrilled to be partnering with the Genesys Works organization for the first time by providing an internship for the 2016-17 school year — filled by Tiffany Thao. Interested in learning more about this great organization? We encourage you to check out all the details here: www.genesysworks.org

Software defined networking is a buzzword that is growing rapidly. There are a multitude of various Software Defined Network solution partners out there and consolidation will eventually make its way into the market.

With all of the buzz and so many providers out there, why would you possibly want to deploy a Software Defined Network and what are the benefits and reasons why this is such a game changer? Everything you do should be looked at from a service, economics, and technology perspective. These are three key components you should look at it when making any type of network decision.

Game Changer #1 of a Software Defined Network: SERVICE Benefits

Fast/zero Touch Deployment – Software Defined Networks are literally a plug and play set up. They can be deployed and configured in a manner of days, and set up by your network engineer within minutes. Once the device is shipped and you have it configured and policies set up, it is good to go. Some Software Defined Network platforms are easier to use and more user friendly, but all of them are able to deploy quickly.

Leverage Your Bandwidth, Bring Your Own – You literally get more bandwidth for your buck when using Software Defined Networks. Bandwidth aggregation between dual connections, packet remediation, and application control allow for greater and more efficient use of bandwidth and less packet loss.

Increased Network Control and Visibility – Cloud migrations, mobile users (BYOD), and application deployments can wreak havoc on networks. Software Defined Networks allow a full view of the applications being used over the network, web and internet traffic, and also allows you to enforce business policies and web content filtering to ban certain applications from being used on the network.

Game Changer #2 of a Software Defined Network: ECONOMIC Benefits

Lower ISP Costs – leveraging a hybrid approach with various connectivity options (broadband, FiOS, cable, DSL, 4G LTE, MPLS), you can significantly reduce network costs and get rid of the high costs of local access charges with MPLS services. Even though these types of connections do not have SLAs, a Software Defined Network provides QoS and the ability to remediate on its own between two connections which will result in immediate business continuity and redundancy.

Lower TCO – Lower CAPEX costs by eliminating equipment including firewalls (in some cases) and routers, a Software Defined Network replaces these devices in most scenarios. Also, since most Software Defined Network pricing models are based on OPEX, the overall cost of using a Software Defined Network is reduced through a hybrid network approach, less equipment, and better performance.

Game Changer #3 of a Software Defined Network: TECHNOLOGY Benefits

Cloud Based – Software Defined Networks entail more than deploying a piece of hardware at your remote sites, datacenters, and HQ locations. Software Defined Networks use both gateways at each site as well as an Orchestrator at the head end. Even though hardware is deployed, Software Defined Networks works as a cloud based platform and is managed using cloud based protocols. As an added benefit, you can connect directly to cloud providers and deploy cloud based applications using a Software Defined Network, as well as business policies through the cloud.

Utilize Internet Broadband – As mentioned above, using a hybrid approach allows you to bring your own bandwidth to support a Software Defined Network. Either through Ethernet over copper/fiber/coax, DSL, FiOS, 4G LTE Wireless, or cable are all great options you can use. MPLS services are also supported.

Business Continuity/Instant DR – Software Defined Networks use dual broadband connections including wireless to aggregate bandwidth and remediate packet loss. For example, if you have a DSL connection that is experiencing latency, the 2nd connection will remediate the packet loss from the DSL connection, resulting in immediate fail over and improves network performance through multi-path optimization. Cable and DSL can be very unreliable, so it is imperative to have two connections, including fail over to a wireless device.

Security and PCI Compliance – Software Defined Networks offer comprehensive security including PCI 3.0 compliance through end-to-end security and firewall protocols. Some of these features include: segregating networks, WPA2, WPA2-PSK encryption, access restriction based on user preferences, regular security patches, penetration checks, and web content filtering.

The benefits of a Software Defined Network far outweigh the risks entailed with legacy network designs. With a Software Defined Network you can enjoy all of the technical, economic, and service benefits as you continue to evolve your network and improve optimal performance.

Ryan Carter specializes in working with thought-leading, strategically-targeted IT executives to help them achieve an increased focus on business-impacting technology, business transformation, reduced operating costs, and IT productivity. Ryan provides thought leadership and various areas of expertise for Communications Managed Services including telecommunications expense management, mobility managed services, technology road-mapping, network design, business continuity, vendor management, and user support.

For more information on driving IT performance and improving business outcomes, or if you have any comments or questions related to this post, please contact him at rcarter@renodis.com.