Leadership Series: Community Properties of Ohio and CPO Impact

by Tom Hastings

CPO ImpactCommunity Properties of Ohio  (CPO) was initially formed to manage the Community Properties Initiative in Franklin County, managing a $100-million budget and endeavoring to rehabilitate neighborhoods and provide affordable housing for low-income residents of Franklin County, giving them the opportunity to acquire housing, become more stable, and contribute to the success of the community.

What Is CPO?

Community Properties of Ohio are the property management affiliate of Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing (OCCH). Working with OCCH, CPO has led the rehab efforts that provide improved residential opportunities in seven urban neighborhoods around The Ohio State University and Near East Side areas. CPO partners with OCCH in a variety of capacities to ensure affordable housing for Columbus and for Franklin County.

How CPO Benefits Columbus: CPO Impact

CPO works to provide affordable housing, but their mission is to “move residents beyond poverty.” To further their goal, CPO created CPO Impact, a nonprofit foundation established to work in partnership with the United Way of Central Ohio and other foundations.

CPO Impact Corporation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the OCCH and CPO. The primary mission of CPO Impact is to develop initiatives that increase the success of CPO residents. Their key objectives include increasing stability and safety, helping residents move beyond poverty, and providing support for CPO resident children.

Why I Believe in Supporting CPO Impact

Having the safety and security of a home is vital – not just for the people in need but for the entire community as a whole. A community is only as strong as its residents, and one of the ways to strengthen a community is to address the challenges facing the most marginalized members. I urge you to do what you can to support the efforts of the CPO and CPO Impact.

To learn more about how to support CPO Impact, visit www.cpoms.org.

 

Businessman Hand Working With New Modern Computer And Business S

We Help Our Clients Keep Their Promises to Their Customers

Businessman Hand Working With New Modern Computer And Business SWe often talk about our services in terms of what we deliver to our clients:

  • Predictable costs
  • Uptime
  • Enhanced security
  • Collaboration tools
  • Secure remote work options

But what do these benefits really mean to our clients?

Government agencies must meet legislative requirements and serve a body of constituents. School district must not only comply with mandates but also meet parent and student expectations. Private business must remain profitable in a highly-competitive global environment while satisfying both customers and business leaders. thinkCSC services are designed not just to deliver on our promises but to make sure you can keep your promises to your customers.

Predictable IT Costs

Predictable IT costs are good for business because it makes budgeting easier when converting capital expenditures into operating expenses. But it’s not just about managing the budget; it’s also about your ability to offer competitive pricing to customers or meet mandates within the constraints of your budget that truly make predictable IT costs something worth pursuing.

Uptime

Uptime is a common goal for managed service providers. It’s the way that we measure, in part, our ability to deliver on our promises. Uptime also means that you have the ability to meet the needs of your customers when they expect you to.

Enhanced Security

Security is the foundation of the integrity of any business. And while enhanced security is something we offer our clients, our enhanced security really means that our clients have the ability to meet both mandated as well as guaranteed protection of customer data. Whether you operate a business that processes financial transactions or a medical office required to maintain HIPAA standards, enhanced security is as much a necessity of doing business as it is a benefit.

Collaboration Tools

The collaboration tools we offer allow you to securely and efficiently work with team members around the world. And the reason this becomes important is because it allows you to be flexible and responsive, offering your customers the best innovations at the most competitive prices possible.

Secure Remote Work Options

By offering you secure, remote work options, we provide you with freedom. Whether it’s the freedom to attract talent from other locations around the globe or the freedom to work from home yourself, it’s a powerful offering. But what it really means to your customers is that you can be available to meet their needs from wherever you are – or reach the members of your team who can.

Predictable costs, uptime, security, collaboration, and remote workforce tools: Those are the benefits we offer our clients. What we are really delivering, however, is the ability for you to keep their promises to their customers.

thinkCSC Managed Services: Making IT Expense Predictable

1388361357w8dh9Unpredictable IT costs are both frustrating and difficult to manage. Your organization feels the economic impact of both employee downtime and out-of-budget IT spend. thinkCSC’s Managed Services offering minimizes the economic impact to your IT budget by guaranteeing a predictable monthly cost and uptime for your IT environment. A managed service provider (MSP) converts your organization’s IT spend from a capital expenditure to a predictable and manageable monthly operating expense, much like a utility.

Benefits of thinkCSC Managed Services

Not only do thinkCSC’s Managed Services make your monthly IT costs predictable, but it also transforms your IT support needs from reactive to proactive. Because MSP services are a predictable monthly cost, your IT provider does not get paid when your organization has IT issues (downtime).  With an MSP, your IT provider has “skin in the game” and benefits economically when your organization’s IT is running smoothly.

MSP shifts the focus, for your IT partner, to preventive efforts. Curbing issues before they happen, minimizing and preventing downtime and ensuring that your infrastructure is operating at peak efficiency helps to guarantee maximum profitability for both your organization and your MSP partner.

Organizations who have managed IT services:

  • Have a managed service program that is a true partnership where the desired outcome is “uptime,” which benefits both your organization and your IT provider.
  • Convert IT costs from an unpredictable and variable capital expenditure (CapEx), which depreciates over time, to a predictable and fixed monthly operating expense (OpEx), which will free up cash for those investments that drive revenue and growth.
  • Have a team of accessible IT professionals whose primary focus is preventative services to avoid downtime and expensive, reactive repairs
  • Have a streamlined ability to shift to cost-effective cloud-based services without risk
  • Have reduced risk through continual monitoring of your infrastructure, up-to-date patch management, ongoing support for required software upgrades
  • Have better regulatory compliance through state-of-the-art security, IT best practices and software license control
  • Have 24/7 access to support

If your organization is seeking a way to make IT costs more predictable while alleviating the strain on your internal IT resources, consider the benefits thinkCSC’s MSP offering. Contact thinkCSC for more information.

Leadership Series: EO Columbus

by Tom Hastings

eoI have been a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Columbus chapter since 2004 and have held various positions in the organization, including President. EO helps entrepreneurs achieve their personal and business goals by providing peer-to-peer learning opportunities and experiences as well as connections to experts in every industry. What I admire most about the organization, however, is its focus on encouraging entrepreneurs to be active members of their communities.

What Is EO?

Founded in 1987, EO is a global organization for entrepreneurs, providing support to and connection for individuals who have the desire to not only develop themselves and their businesses but also to become better partners and leaders in their communities. The members of EO are part of a growing global network that supports entrepreneurs and business owners in more than 46 countries through 143 local chapters.

The EO Difference

EO chapters like EO Columbus provide members with local resources to support business growth, including educational events, networking and mentorship. EO also strengthens the global business landscape by partnering with local businesses, thereby encouraging job growth.

They have programs to support upcoming entrepreneurs:

  • The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards program recognizes undergraduate students who own and run businesses while attending a college or university.
  • The Accelerator Program provides business owners with the tools, knowledge and skills to grow their businesses.

Why I Believe in Being a Part of EO

No business can be successful if the community in which the business operates is not also successful. From supporting budding entrepreneurs to encouraging community leadership, EO is an organization designed to help business leaders thrive locally and globally.

To learn more about how to become a member, visit the Columbus chapter of Entrepreneur’s Organization.

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Secure Mobility Is the Key to Productivity

file0001376718168There is nothing like a sunny summer day to remind you of why you enjoy the flexibility of being able to manage your business away from the office.

Today’s technologies make it easier to work anywhere, but if you operate a corporate or government entity, it’s not enough to just consider convenience; you have to consider security too.

Having secure, adaptable tools that allow you and your team to work from anywhere can improve productivity, help you attract new talent and ensure that the work of your business is complete, even when the pleasant weather is luring you away from your desk. thinkCSC offers a variety of tools designed to increase your freedom without sacrificing security.

Cloud Services: Anywhere Can Be Your Office

Put mobility in the hands of your team without risking your data. From hosted email that you can access from anywhere and any device to mobile device management that ensures a successful BYOD program, thinkCSC cloud services provide your organization with the necessary protection to let you offer flexible work programs with peace of mind.

VoIP FollowMe: Receive Phone Calls Wherever You Are, Provide Better Service

VoIP is more than just a phone system. thinkCSC’s hosted VoIP is a complete customer service system as well:

  • Assign dial-in codes that put clients in touch with your on-call team.
  • Set up calls so that voicemail is delivered anywhere that is convenient, from your cell phone to your laptop.
  • Maintain consistency across multiple locations, by having a single number with assigned extensions that reach your team members wherever they choose to have the calls delivered.
  • Manage calls and voicemails without sacrificing security.

SyncedTool: Collaborate Securely and Access Documents from Any Device

Most organizations recognize the benefits of using collaboration tools, and Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) is becoming the norm. Even with the newest updates to Dropbox that allow you to share read-only versions of documents, the risk of relying on such a solution is extremely high. thinkCSC’s  EFSS, SyncedTool, offers enterprise-grade security as a foundation to the document-sharing-and-collaboration solution, and it’s all housed on a private cloud that we manage for you.

Lync:

To take mobility to new heights, thinkCSC has introduced Microsoft Lync to its collaboration offerings. Lync incorporates all of your communication tools and enables you to communicate with your staff over a secure connection from wherever you are.

Don’t stare out your office window and let summer pass you by. Escape and enjoy – and let your staff do the same – without losing productivity or sacrificing security. thinkCSC mobility tools give you the solutions you need to be flexible.

CSCare vs. OEM Warranties

edtechAs school aged children enjoy their summer break, school administrators continue to plan for a new group of students – who tend to be hard on computer equipment – which makes a hardware warranty a crucial investment to ensure a prolonged life and ROI for the school. During the last school year, thinkCSC repaired thousands of items, including a PC with a nest of mice and a laptop that someone thought was a Keurig.

The CSCare Difference

Not only does thinkCSC help schools obtain the equipment they need at the prices that fit budget constraints, we also offer CSCare – a full, better-than-OEM warranty and service for IT equipment. thinkCSC purchases from the same supplier as CDWG, so we can offer highly competitive rates for technology purchases. Our CSCare warranty is less expensive than OEM warranties. CSCare is designed to provide schools with the easiest, most cost-effective option for keeping your technology working, while in the hands of your students, for years to come.

CSCare advantages:

  • Direct access to thinkCSC certified engineers
  • All-in-one solution that includes shipping, installation and vendor support
  • Up to 20 percent less than OEM warranty costs
  • Cut repair time in more than half with our convenient device pick-up, repair and drop-off technique; in many cases, we can complete repairs on site

Read more about the CSCare difference.

thinkCSC is dedicated to helping Ohio schools meet edtech mandates and deliver the highest quality equipment and service to your students. Our experience with both small and large school districts helps us steer you away from what doesn’t work and focus on what does. If you would like more information on how we can help you achieve your school’s goals, by making wise & customized IT decisions, please contact us.

thinkCSC Adds Microsoft Lync to Collaboration Offerings

thinkcsc-lyncAt thinkCSC, we are always on the lookout for ways we can help our clients work more efficiently and cost-effectively, which is why we are excited to announce the addition of Microsoft Lync to our collaboration offerings.

Lync 2013 is currently available to those that are using CSCloud Hosting Services. CSCloud Hosted subscribers who have agreed to use Lync services will have full access to Lync 2013 for Windows or Lync 2011 for Mac. If you do not have Lync currently installed on your system, thinkCSC can provide you access to the full client experience.

The benefits of Lync are considerable:

1. Significant Increases in Productivity

Microsoft Lync, in combination with thinkCSC’s other hosted services, change the way businesses of all sizes communicate and interact. It is a true game changer, incorporating a variety of multimedia communications into a single tool that enhances productivity.

2. Global Connectivity

This software enables you to communicate with other staff members over a secure Internet connection from anywhere in the world:

  • Instant Message (IM) your colleagues over a safe and encrypted connection.
  • Integrate the software with your email account and Microsoft Outlook, the Outlook Web App, and SharePoint.
  • Voice Chat with one or more colleagues for quick conference calls to those who have a microphone.
  • Video Chat with one or more colleagues for quick face to face meetings for those who have webcams.
  • Share all or part of your desktop or share documents with your colleagues so you can easily collaborate, get help with a problem, regardless of where your colleague works.
  • Set up meetings and conference calls using Lync’s built-in meeting features.
  • Communicate with people outside of your organization using Skype.
  • Control Your Presence. Your presence tells others your real-time availability. Lync automatically sets your presence based on your activity and your Microsoft Outlook calendar.

3. Cost Savings

One of the most significant benefits of Lync is its ability to allow businesses with offices in different parts of the country or world to collaborate effectively without the need for face-to-face meetings, reducing travel costs and increasing productivity significantly.

Lync is truly a global communications solution, allowing secure communications with employees, vendors and partners.

If you’re interested in CSCloud Hosting Services or learning more about what Microsoft Lync can do for you, contact our team today.

The Importance of Protecting Your Files is no Joke

storageOrganizations have historically gone to great lengths to protect company files and data. Administrative department managers would spend thousands of dollars a year to develop secure storage options for their paper records, organizing and storing files in fireproof and waterproof lockable file cabinets, with enormous budgets for renting off-site space at document storage facilities to carefully protect their paper archives. The desired end result of these efforts was to protect important documents from disaster and to provide a means for employees to quickly retrieve records.

As digital storage technologies take center stage, it is shocking what little effort organizations make in ensuring that their data is available and recoverable. Very few worry about high availability access to their data onsite (utilizing a SAN instead of direct attached storage, or employing a virtualization cluster instead of a conglomerate of individual hosts). And in a 2013 survey, more than half of the organizations surveyed reported that they do not ensure daily backups of their electronic files.

In a recent review of statistics, we found that less than 25 percent of SMB organizations choose to backup their data to an offsite data center. This suggests that over 75 percent of these organizations are comfortable with the idea of permanently losing crucial data and of closing their businesses in the event of a natural disaster.

But we know that this is not the case. We realize that cost, time and denial often get in the way of doing what is best for our organizations. Oftentimes, we simply need a gentle reminder of the importance of regularly backing up our files. World Backup Day is observed on March 31 of each year, bringing attention to this administrative task that was once taken very seriously.

We tend to convince ourselves that a catastrophic event or a significant loss of data is not going to happen to us. But these things happen to all of us at one time or another. Information technology advisors must consistently remind their clients of the importance of data availability and recoverability, asking the probing questions and encouraging clients to ask of themselves those same questions. How much data are you willing to lose (RPO)? How long are you willing to be down (RTO)? Are you content with losing data in the event of a building or company-wide disaster?

World Backup Day is our annual reminder of the significance of protecting essential data. But don’t wait for a catastrophic event to remind you that faithfully backing up your data and protecting your files is as critical to your organization as it was when we once treated paper files with kid gloves and stored them in durable filing cabinets. By the time disaster strikes, it will be too late.

 

The Arts Have a Direct Impact on Economic Development

by Tom Hastings

gcac finalWhen we think about economic development, the first thing that often comes to mind is the efforts made to create and the retain jobs and talent in a community. Measures to improve education and training, as well as government intervention to reduce property taxes and stimulate economic growth, are regularly employed as means to advance economic development. As important, however, is the advancement of the arts in communities, including Columbus, which has proven to be a prevailing factor in economic development. Overwhelming evidence suggests that communities who invest in the arts are promoting economic growth for their citizens.

The Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) advocates for the advancement of the arts and culture in the Columbus, Ohio region. As the importance of sustained job growth becomes more apparent, so does the need for efforts to cultivate a flourishing arts community. The GCAC provides mounting evidence that the arts impact our community in a number of different ways, including the attraction and retention of talent and increased tourism and convention business. The impact to economic development is profound: the Columbus region realizes $226 million in economic activity and 8,500 jobs as a result of the arts.

Economic development can’t be measured merely in short-term dollars and cents. Genuine, sustained economic development is achieved over a period of time, and the arts are an important part of that effort. While local and federal government programs may stimulate development, organizations like the GCAC are what make the community attractive to the talent we’re trying to retain and attract that will help Columbus prosper. Our community will benefit the most – economically and culturally – from the ongoing sponsorship of the arts by local business leaders and individuals. thinkCSC is proud to support the efforts of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

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5 Tech Trends Every Business Should Consider in 2014

trendsMost businesses are still in the process of evaluating how IT will fit into their strategic plan this year. As we work with clients to develop strategies that provide cost-effective, efficient solutions, we have recognized a number of tech trends that will impact most commercial, government and educational institutions.

Today’s tech trends are often tomorrow’s best practices, so knowing how to embrace these trends and take advantage of the leverage they provide is essential to the continued success of your business. Investing in these technologies can often free your organization from monotonous obligations, allowing you to focus on growth, knowing that security and productivity are under control.

Here are five tech trends every organization should be implementing:

Voice Communications:  VoIP vs. Hosted PBX

There are fundamental differences between VoIP and Hosted PBX phone solutions. Yes, both VoIP and Hosted PBX offer mass customization, cost savings, global distribution, centralized messaging, customized caller-ID and the ability to connect virtual offices – unlike conventional phone systems. However, some phone providers market VoIP as a SIP trunk to a client’s existing digital phone system. This is NOT a VOIP phone system. Although the client is leveraging the internet for voice communications, they are still dependent on the limitations of their digital phone system. Furthermore, an “on-premise” VOIP phone system, that uses traditional phone lines or even SIP, is not a Hosted PBX. A Hosted PBX solution has no need for an “on-premise” VoIP phone system. With a hosted PBX solution, your phone system is 100% in the cloud, which allows for greater flexibility and customization versus an “on-premise” VoIP solution.

Secure and FAST Data Storage

Storage is a critical component of your IT infrastructure, and the newest storage technologies offer benefits that every organization can leverage from: power, density and incredible speed. thinkCSC offers Nimble Storage solutions that not only offer a more cost-effective way to achieve these benefits but also provide an unparalleled level of security, as well as rapid backup and recovery for your data.

BYOD

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a trend no business can ignore, and those who do often run the risk of data and security breaches. BYOD already exists in one form or another for most businesses, so developing protocols to ensure safety, confidentiality and best practices is paramount.

Cloud Computing

Cloud adoption has moved beyond that of a mere trend and into common practice, but a planned approach to cloud computing is necessary. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, but the benefits of cloud computing can improve security, productivity and efficiency.

Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS)

EFSS is a powerful way to foster collaboration and improve efficiency, but it presents a number of challenges to businesses. While it’s tempting to use content solutions like DropBox for file sharing, the risk to your business in doing so is often too high, since you have no control over changes to the documents and no ability to recover lost documents.

SyncedTool not only makes it possible to collaborate efficiently, with multiple users being able to access the same document at the same time, but also offers comprehensive security solutions, including:

  • The ability to remotely wipe an employee’s device if needed, to protect your data
  • The ability to control who has access to which documents as well as the ability to restrict levels of access
  • The ability to rapidly remove access to files once an employee leaves the company
  • Secure, local hosting of your documents and files, making backup and recovery a non-issue

SyncedTool is a more robust system that gives you the power of efficient, cost-effective collaboration without the security and productivity risk of consumer-based document sharing tools like DropBox.

These tech trends are powerful tools worth considering for your organization. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us.