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Business Babble

Still Building…

Dave MonahanMay 1st marks 17 years in business for Smart Dolphins. Boom!

17 years ago, I was simply hoping to build a “bona fide business”. Fresh out of school, the challenge ahead was large and exciting. There wasn’t an exact goal defined here, but at some point in the past 17 years, Smart Dolphins indeed became a “real” business to my eye. I feel extremely lucky to have had a childhood dream come true.

It’s interesting to reflect on how our goals and expectations have changed. We are building a company that isn’t just sustainable, but exists to make a very substantial impact on the world. We have a very special opportunity here. The work we do is so critical for our Customers (we call them “Allies”) and their businesses. These organizations do so much for the world and we enable this in so many ways. The future also promises many opportunities to continue to build value and depth into what we deliver that far exceeds the basic firefighting typically expected from our industry.

The heart of this challenge is really building something that is beyond any person or people (not to say people aren’t critical – who else would do the building?). The Pod often talks about how we can take the heroics out of our line of work. It’s a wonderful feeling to be a hero from time to time, but we see the bigger opportunity to build a heroic company. To the end, we’re trying to tame this chaotic beast of an industry (IT Support) through the methodical and consistent building of process, structure, automation, best practices, standards, etc. It is a paradox that all this stuff sounds so incredibly boring, but is also so awesome in its power, at the same time.

So, with 17 years of existence, in some ways, you could say Smart Dolphins has “made it”. In many ways, we’ve only just begun. That is how I view the day ahead when I show up at the office. There is so much more to build. So many more potential-customer-businesses to improve. So many more great Dolphins to find and grow. So many more ways we can deliver value to the business that make our awesome communities function and thrive. I often think I’m one of the luckiest guys around to have this opportunity.

17 years and still building…

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Business Continuity & Risk
We all know that we need to have a good backup system for our data. Sometimes, having a backup of a company’s IT employee is overlooked. A single-person IT department is a big challenge and a risk from a business continuity perspective. Even something as simple as an illness or a vacation can cause a large and costly gap in support.

Business Continuity & Risk

Joe Payne, Solutions Architect

Of course, permanent employee turnover can be an even bigger challenge — even when it is an amicable departure, with plenty of notice. To compound this, it is rare to find long-standing technology employees. The IT industry attracts the type of person who loves to learn and be challenged. In a single-network environment, the best IT people will often be transient. If an IT employee is good, they are more likely to be moving on before you’d like. A mediocre IT employee can be even more challenging to transition away from because of the damage-control required after they depart.

Whether an IT employee is around for a short time or the long term, they often surround themselves with technology and make themselves comfortable by configuring things in non-standard ways. It isn’t necessarily with any intent other than doing the best they know how to do. One person is naturally going to end up with gaps in their knowledge and experience. The challenge is that the remaining infrastructure left by a departed IT employee might be difficult to support without major work to bring it up to industry standards.

Leading and managing IT people has its own unique set of challenges.

When you only have one of a certain “type” of employee, you’re more likely to not give it as much attention as the “types” of employees that make up the bulk of your team. Unless an IT team is part of your core business, those duties might be best left to a company that specializes in attracting and retaining the best IT talent in your marketplace.

  • Smart Dolphins has been recognized through several awards for attracting and retaining the best IT talent in our market. This is a critical part of our core business and it is a core competency we have developed and refined over many years.
  • Our team has the scale to provide continuity to our clients that they couldn’t achieve on their own.
  • Most importantly, we have a very special process of auditing and aligning our clients with world-class standards and best practices.

If you’re concerned about business continuity, please contact us. We offer IT support to organizations on Vancouver Island and in Kelowna.

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From vCIO to Business Technology Navigator
Paul Holmes

Paul Holmes

We’ve been working on re-branding some of our roles at Smart Dolphins and we wanted to share this exciting news with you. Our vCIOs are now Business Technology Navigators.

What’s a Business Technology Navigator?

Smart Dolphins’ Business Technology Navigators translate and con­nect technology with business strategies. They work closely with company leaders, planning, budgeting and developing IT strategy with the overall goal of aligning IT with business goals.

Ty Hedden

Ty Hedden

Here’s a list of  their most important responsibilities:

  • Create a strategic IT plan
  • Hold annual technology reviews
  • Create and present budgets
  • Quote hardware and software
  • Identify and propose projects

Smart Dolphins’ Business Technology Navigator role gives organizations the much needed technology strategy every business needs to compete, grow and succeed.

Think of a Business Technology Navigator not as a technician, but as a trusted business consultant, aligning your business objectives with your IT plan.

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We Made the MSP Pioneer 250 List!

CRN MSP 500 ListYesterday, CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, named Smart Dolphins IT Solutions on its 2017 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer category. This annual list recognizes North American solution providers with cutting-edge approaches to delivering managed services. Their offerings help companies navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of IT, improve operational efficiencies, and maximize their return on IT investments. More specifically, the Pioneer category recognizes organizations “whose approach to delivering managed services is one innovative step ahead.”

In today’s fast-paced business environments, MSPs play an important role in helping companies leverage new technologies without straining their budgets or losing focus on their core business. CRN’s MSP 500 list shines a light on the most forward-thinking and innovative of these key organizations.

“Managed service providers play an increasingly important role in the day-to-day operations of businesses across North America,” said Robert Faletra, CEO of The Channel Company. “MSPs help organizations streamline their spending, effectively allocate limited resources, and benefit from advanced expertise in the latest technologies. We congratulate the service providers on CRN’s 2017 MSP500 list, who have continually succeeded in meeting their customers’ changing needs and help them get the most out of their IT investments.”

Way to go POD!

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Our Podtionary

PodtionaryYou’ve probably seen our smart cars with fins cruising around Victoria or maybe even met a Dolphin or two over the years. Not surprisingly, our references to one particular aquatic mammal doesn’t stop there. We’ve developed an entire PODTIONARY and we thought we’d share some of it with you…

  • All Fins – A bi-weekly meeting with all Dolphins.
  • Team Aquarific – Our internal team that leads our fun activities.
  • Dolphin Defenders – This is one of our proactive teams. These brave Dolphins have regularly scheduled onsite visits with our clients to bring them into alignment with our standards.
  • The Dolphin Code – Our “Code of Conduct” that guides us to success.
  • The POD – That’s us! We’re the passionate, dedicated group of people all focused on helping local organizations better leverage technology.
  • Dorsal Pride – one of our 5 core values that just too magical to define.
  • Technology with Porpoise – That’s the world class standard that we offer our clients.
  • Breakwater – Our service platform design to improve our customer service experience.
  • Finley – Our mascot. You’ll find him in most of our branding.
  • Pod Pointers – Our tech tip email newsletter created by our own Dolphins since May 25 2011. Subscribe to it here.
  • Core Dolphins Award – A bi-weekly award that goes out to the Dolphin that receives the most praise by fellow Dolphins.

 

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Why Outsource your IT?
IT. Here’s the top 4 reasons we think you should consider:
Smart Dolphins

Productivity. Productivity. Productivity.

Smart Dolphins help professionals be productive. Whether we’re implementing a new software or upgrading technology, our goal is to help your organization be successful.  With our IT solutions, we can get your employees out of the day-to-day IT management, so that they can focus on what they do best. 

Save Time

You can save time with IT outsourcing. The POD is made up of professionals who know how to do things quickly and efficiently. You won’t be the one responsible for these tasks anymore, so you can focus your time on what matters.

Save Money

Cost is always the biggest issue we hear about when it comes to IT. So many professionals we meet with have no idea what their IT costs are. We’ll sit down with you and help you understand how you can save money by strategically aligning your IT with your business goals.

More Services

When you outsource your IT, you get more services. We become your IT department. One common misunderstanding is that Managed IT Service Providers are simply an IT support desk. But our IT support desk is just one of five areas of service delivery. We lead organizations out of IT mediocrity by delivering a complete range of proactive IT services.

 Want to learn more? Let’s meet for coffee. Contact us today for an assessment.

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Emerging Technologies

Nearly all organizations benefit greatly from today’s technology. Getting to tomorrow’s technology is a huge challenge and is becoming extremely complex. The speed of change continues to accelerate while our options widen.

Navigating the Cloud

IDC expects a 11 per cent shift of budget dollars in Canada toward cloud technologies by the end of 2016. Further, the launch of Canadian Microsoft data-centres earlier this year will inevitably drive more Canadian businesses to the Microsoft cloud.

While the trend toward adopting emerging technologies is clear, many Vancouver Island business executives that we meet with struggle to understand how they can best align their business goals with specific technologies that will boost their productivity. Our experience resonates with another study by IDC that reports that only 17 per cent of Canadian firms consider the digital transformation as a key part of their business strategy.

Have cloud services been adopted in operations or your IT plan? Are you aware that cloud computing may lower the cost of your IT? What is the opportunity cost of ineffectively integrating future technologies?

Reconsider your approach to IT! Contact Smart Dolphins to arrange a complimentary IT assessment.

Did you miss our Cloud Computing Lunch & Learn? Read the slides here.

 

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IT Contingency Planning

We often hear from prospects that they “love” their IT person and that their IT is “fine.” They’ve been doing business with him or her for over ten years. Often, when we dig a bit deeper, we discover that there is no contingency plan in place for that day that their IT person doesn’t or cannot respond to a big IT problem.

wasted time

Technology is volatile. Software is added, removed and twisted. Operating systems get bogged down. Nothing is in-your-face-broken, but tiny computer problems mount exponentially and become a constant drag on you and your team. And, there is always the risk of that big IT earthquake.

If you’re sure your IT is fine, then you must have an IT contingency plan in place.

Key benefits include:

  • Reduced risk of downtime;
  • Accountability: Clearly defined IT roles and checks and balances to ensure oversight;
  • Leadership: Empowered leadership that understands your business and the current state of your IT infrastructure.

Contact us today to sign up for a free network assessment!

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What are your IT costs?

So many representatives of organizations we meet with have no idea what their IT costs are. Without a clear understanding of annual IT costs, how can a business create a budget for the coming year?

Common IT costs:IT Budget

  • IT support
  • Downtime (lost productivity)
  • Data recovery
  • Hardware and software upgrades

Downtime can be the result of deteriorating computer performance. A five-year-old PC costs twice as much to maintain as a new one.

Overspending on IT is a common problem. Many organizations have more than one backup system because the first one wasn’t right or there was a lack of confidence in the first solution. Or perhaps a server is double the specifications (and triple the cost) of what is really needed to “play it safe”. There are cost savings in spending wisely.

Every budget involves IT. Create an IT budget that strategically aligns with your business goals.

Learn more about the cost of proactive IT here.

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Reconsider your firefighting approach to IT

We’ve developed a series of blog posts to help your organization improve your IT. Over the next 8 weeks, you’ll have an opportunity to reflect upon 8 essential aspects of IT. Key components of a Proactive IT Solution include:it planning

IT planning is critical to your organizations’ success.

Too many organizations have a firefighting approach to IT. Fires pop up and they are doused but there is no long-term planning to prevent these fires from coming up in the first place. This is what is known as a reactive  approach to IT.

A well-defined 3 to 4-year IT plan will improve your IT infrastructure and help your business grow. Key areas to include are as follows:

  • IT Solutions & Projects
  • IT Budget
  • Management & Review

Solid IT planning is part of a proactive approach to IT that will save your organization time and money. Create an IT plan and review it annually on all levels.

Need assistance with your IT plan? Make an appointment to sit down with our Technology Ambassador by completing the form below.

 

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