CompTIA. Day four. Last day. Whew!! Now, I can relax and take a deep breath!
But before I left town, I couldn’t resist sitting in on the Healthcare IT workshop. Led by Patti Dodgen, CEO of Hielix was entitled “Building Your HIT Blueprint–Assessing the IT Needs of a Healthcare Provider to Become a Trusted Advisor”. What a great topic. With the passage of the HITECH ACT as part of 2009′s stimulus package, doctors and hospitals stand a chance to tap into $27 Billion over ten years for adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). And the clock is ticking. The government released their Final Rules on Meaningful Use July 13th. Since that day, Patti says that her phone has literally been ringing off the hook. Hielix is a an expert on helping healthcare practitioners and hospitals implement EHRs and navigating the myriad technology offerings to make sure that organizations achieve Meaningful Use as defined by Health and Human Services. According to their Website, ”We have built a national expertise in the adoption of electronic health records and the impact of achieving meaningful use. We currently participate on HIMSS’ ARRA Ambulatory Workgroup developing tools for physician practices to use to select an appropriate EHR and achieve meaningful use. “
I can understand the huge opportunity, but definitely understand the challenges. I have worked in the life sciences industry for years–from pharmaceutical companies, to pharma ad agencies, to medical device companies to laboratory information management companies. I have managed payer marketing and strategy, as well DTC and key opinion leader functions. And in all those roles, dealing with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is one of the most complicated. Tie that complication to the traditional world of a physician’s practice, and you really have whirlwind of complexity. You need to deal with doctors who, in many cases, are entrenched in their current practice management system. You need to integrate that system with an EHR system, and do it seamlessly. Plus you have to understand the nuances and requirements of the physician specialties. Having a “one-stop-shop” to help them make the right choices and manage their systems is crucial.
No wonder the CompTIA Healthcare IT Community sees it as such a huge opportunity for information technology resellers. That’s why they are developing a Healthcare IT Blueprint and other programs to educate community member companies. That is definitely needed. I’ve worked in the industry for years, and I still learned a few things at the session. Great job, CompTIA!
“Green IT”. I’m sure you’ve heard the term. And in the Information Technology services industry, those two words should be representing a few things:
- A way to help the environment
- A new revenue stream
- A way to help businesses reduce expenses
But, those messages have yet to really sink in–although they have grown dramatically in just the past eighteen months.
Levy Antal of Image Microsystems was a key member of a panel discussion today at CompTIA Breakaway 2010 on selling the IT promise into enterprise and SMB customers. The other members of the panel included John Mehrmann of Zylog Systems LImited, Jay McBain of Lenovo, and Michael Proper of Clear Center. The panel was moderated by leading blogger and writer, Heather Clancy.
The first topic covered was “What Are the Motivators?” The main ones identified by Forrester Research were:
- Reduce energy-related expense
- Reduce other IT operating expenses
- Improve the company’s brand image
The first two really are no-brainers. If you can convince a company that they can save money by going “green”, then they are all over it. The other motivator that companies tend to overlook is the negative impact that improper disposition of end-of-life IT equipment can have on a brand. Imagine if your company’s IT asset tag, data, or manufacturer’s logo ended up in a toxic e-waste dump in Africa or other developing country. That’s clearly fodder for a 60 Minutes special and another negative documentary. When you select a partner to help dispose of retired IT assets, you need to make sure they aren’t “fake recyclers” that sell the stuff downstream–meaning way downstream like to China or somewhere.
So, how do you find the honest reverse logistics providers? You can always make sure they have the “right” credentials like ISO 14001, R2, e-Stewards, or whatever. But the main credential comes from you. You need to ask the right questions. Like, “can you please document your audited, downstream processes?”, or “how do you handle data destruction”, or “can I see the audit reports from your downstream vendors?”. You will need to get straight answers on all those questions. As I’ve written before, if e-waste recycling is “free”, then you can just about guarantee that the stuff is being sold overseas. That’s where your data, brand, and identity wind up! Proper e-waste recycling costs money. But, if you connect with the right partner, you can often receive a revenue share when your technology is refurbished or parted out. You just need to connect with the right partner. Here’s my plug for Image Microsystems, because they do it right. They even make signs and road markers out of e-waste plastic.
The MSPs and VARS in CompTIA‘s member ranks have a great opportunity to add a value-added service to their business offerings. They can dovetail “Green IT” into technology refreshes that actually save money for their customers. Plus, it’s going to happen sooner rather than later–customers will start demanding it. Take a look at the growth of LEED certification and green buildings. It’s reached the tipping point now, so you need to make sure you are knowledgeable so you can hitch a ride on the coming tsunami. Because it will come. Think about the growth of the connected home, the smart grid, and the public’s demand for greener solutions. Business owners are people too, and they often have a consumer mindset. They aren’t immune to the ever-growing demand for anything and everything “green”. Even if customers are pinching pennies, “Green IT” can help them. It’s more often cost beneficial– because the energy savings and the potential asset recovery revenue share quickly negate the up-front costs.
Yet, Forrester Research found several reasons companies give for not implementing “Green IT”:
- Too many competing priorities
- No defined ownership
- No clear business case or ROI
- No capital available
Wake up everybody! Before you know it, regulations (most of which are already in place in Europe and Asia) are going to force you to do it. As I’ve previously posted, CompTIA is there to help with their Green IT Strata Program, as well as the Green IT Initiative from the IT Services and Support Community. It’s confusing right now, but take a few steps immediately to get informed. It’s an opportunity for a new revenue stream–not to mention a moral imperative.
We’ve all been there. We call in because our computer has crashed right in the middle of a presentation we’re crafting for the 3:00 pm meeting. Sometimes we get the help we need–frequently we don’t. Well, that is usually something that practically makes you cry. Today, I saw a performance about this very issue that actually made me laugh.
I’m in San Antonio, Texas at the CompTIA Breakaway 2010. Since one of my co-workers is on the Executive Council of CompTIA’s IT Services and Support Community, I’ve been sitting in on the sessions in which he has a “starring” role. Today’s panel was entitled “Who’s Call Is It Anyway? But instead of the usual dry and sometimes boring panel discussions, today we got a skit. The IT Services and Support Community’s Executive Council members turned into actors. Each one of them played a role in the chain of today’s all too common multi-level support quagmire. Well, it’s really only a quagmire when it runs amuck. And, today’s CompTIA Execs showed us how that happens–where each link in the chain breaks down. But, they also give us insights into best practices that are found in superior support organizations. It was quite funny and entertaining–the exact opposite of a boring panel. So, guess what? We all paid attention!
We all know that good support equals customer satisfaction, and in today’s competitive corporate IT environments, good customer satisfaction is crucial for customer retention.
Here are the usual causes of bad customer care:
- Lack of ownership
- Inability to hear negative feedback
- Lack of honesty
But those problems can be fixed. Consistent customer satisfaction metrics and monitoring are key. One way to do this is to take advantage of a service offered to CompTIA members: Customer Interaction Training Programs and Service Metrics.
Wow, if that’s all it takes, we should really start getting good customer service!
I’m on a mission to brush up on the status of the IT industry, so I’m attending the CompTIA Breakaway 2010 sessions. Yesterday I sat in on the IT Services and Support Community. This is a first time for me to participate in CompTIA, and I found it quite interesting!
The program began with a fond farewell to long time IT Services and Support Community Manager, Paul Bittorf. After completing his Master’s Degree in Theology, Paul will soon start his residency as a chaplain at Elmhurst Hospital in Chicago. What a change! He’s been in IT since 1984, and is completely changing lanes to become a chaplain. He’s got his fingers crossed that he’ll pass his exams so he can become certified. Who knew there was such a thing as chaplain certification? I find this whole career switch to be quite amazing!
The IT Services and Support Community is the oldest and largest CompTIA community. In fact, yesterday’s meeting was the largest services meeting in the history of CompTIA. But, I should probably digress. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the organization, CompTIA is The Computing Technology Industry Association, a non-profit trade association. The organization was created in 1982 as the Association of Better Computer Dealers, Inc., later changing it’s name to CompTIA.
The group worked on a SWOT analysis for the current state of the IT services and support industry. As you can imagine, Healthcare IT, alternative energy, and open source initiatives led the lists of opportunities. Commoditization and the perceived devaluation of the IT industry’s services topped the list of threats. We’ll see where this all ends up.
I also heard from Liz Hyman, VP of CompTIA’s VP of Public Policy, and Lester Keizer from Xilocore, as they led an appeal for particiaption in the organizations PAC. This is an interesting political action committee that focuses on promoting education and innovation within IT, the small and medium business marketplace, and security initiatives within the rarified air of Washington, DC’s political mashup.
Later in the day, I attended the break out session on The IT Services and Support Community’s Green IT Initiative. Levy Antal, of Image Microsystems, John Mehrmann, of ZSL, Inc., Doriana Allyn from Brother International, and Kevin Acker from Panasonic are leading the initiative for the Community. “Green IT” means many different things to different people. This initiative is trying to make sense of a burgeoning, yet confusing market–what’s real and what’s not–the patchwork of state regulations, and the impact and revenue opportunities within this market. So far, the group has completed phase One of the Green IT Services Provder Directory. There is also a Green IT Process Flow and Glossary of Terms, as well as a comparision of State Recyling Legislation Regulations. They are also considering Green Partner Certifications as part of this initiative.
I’ll see what happens in the next few days at CompTIA and will keep you up to date if I learn anything else. I’m sure I will, because I am constantly learning at this very cool conference!
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Distinguished Speaker’s Luncheon. I am updating this post with some new information I received since I originally posted this report.
The theme of the meeting was “The Economic Impact of Reducing Your Carbon Footprint”. A big shout-out to the GAHCC for sponsoring the meeting! There are tons of very cool things I could write about the conversations I heard at this “green confab”, but I’ll try to be brief. Forgive me if I have left anything out!
The event opened with former Austin City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem, Brewster McCracken. He described his childhood forays into sustainable development—when at age 14 he built a solar-powered water heater in his parent’s garage. From that early inspiration, he has been focused on sustainability throughout his career in public service. He started working with the Pecan Street Project as the City of Austin’s founding representative and is currently the Executive Director of the organization.
Pecan Street Project is a clean energy/smart grid research and development organization headquartered at the University of Texas. In collaboration with its various partners, Pecan Street is developing and implementing smart grid and clean energy technologies and business models. It was launched by Austin Energy, the City of Austin, Environmental Defense Fund, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Texas’ Austin Technology Incubator — each of which is now represented on the board of directors. Pecan Street funding includes the U.S. Department of Energy, through its $10.4 million demonstration grant. Those Federal stimulus funds were granted for the demonstration project at the Mueller community to develop an advanced clean energy system called an “Energy Internet”. The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) is also supporting the organization’s regional economic development goals. Numerous corporate sponsors include Applied Materials, Cisco, Dell, Freescale Semiconductor, General Electric Corporation, GridPoint, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, SEMETECH, and others.
Brewster talked about the metamorphosis of the first two of the “three great networked industries”—broadcast and telecom. The dramatic and rapid changes those two industries have undergone is clearly evident—situated front and center in most of our daily lives. The “third great networked industry” is the electricity industry. This is the new frontier with a future of opportunity for energy efficiency—it’s the only one that is not digital yet. As the Mueller demonstration project moves forward, we’ll see real life examples of how carbon footprint reduction has a strong economic impact—from creating new jobs to reducing energy and water bills.
Next up, Kevin Johns Director of the City of Austin Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office, served as moderator for the discussion. Austin’s Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office has a staff of approximately 45 and a budget of more than $16 million. Kevin told us that the future of cleantech market analysis shows a projected growth of 20% per year. Part of his job is to get as much of that growth as possible in Austin. He also gave us a quick synopsis of his background. He told a couple of really funny jokes too, but I was too busy taking pictures, and couldn’t write them down. He’s quite an entertaining guy! He then introduced each of the panelists.
Karl Ràbago is Vice President for Distributed Energy Services with Austin Energy, and leads the utility’s “Green Team”. What a heavy hitter! His credentials read like a true “Renaissance Man”. I’ll let you discover that for yourself when you read his bio. He’s a lawyer, been a cavalry officer, Ranger—you name it. He’s also Austin Energy’s executive sponsor for the Pecan Street Project. Plus he definitely knows energy! He told us that the production and use of electricity is the leading contributor of greenhouse gasses. So far his efforts have helped bring in $35 million in stimulus funds. Right now, Austin is a leader in clean energy. Austin Energy’s GreenChoice® program leads the nation in showing that customers who want to manage costs and reduce emissions can make a difference in the way electricity is made—but our leadership position is evaporating. Although we’ve led the nation eight years in a row, we can’t take our eye off the ball—or someone else will assume the lead.
Steve Taylor is Senior Manager of Internal Communications and North America Corporate Affairs for Applied Materials—the global leader in Nanomanufacturing Technology™ solutions. They are also the largest maker of solar panel manufacturing machinery in the world. They are probably most known for the chip manufacturing equipment—but he told us that we have to face the bad news that chip manufacturing is evaporating in the US—but the good news is that the solar panel is growing here. That’s one reason why In addition to his communications duties at Applied Materials, Steve chairs the Texas political initiative for a national organization called The Solar Alliance, which is working to enact incentives for solar business development.
Everyone in the audience was very eager to hear from Craig Eppling. Craig is the Communications and Public Relations Manager for General Motors‘ South Central Region. He is responsible for media relations and PR strategy to improve opinion and consideration of General Motors, its policies and its products in an eight-state geographical area that includes Texas. He told us that transportation generates 25% of our carbon issues. Plus, get this—the City of Austin uses more gasoline per capita than any other city. I guess that’s one of the reasons that Austin was selected as the Texas launch city (and with New York) will be first in the US to get the new Chevy Volt. Plus of course, because Austin Energy already is engaged in a plug in electric vehicle (PEV) readiness initiative to help dealerships and their customers prepare for PEVs. The utility also is working with regional partners to develop a network of public charging stations. Now we actually know the price of the car–MSRP of $41,000, we can decide if it will be worth the anticipation!
The panel was concluded with Hector Aguilar, Executive Dean of Continuing Education at Austin Community College (ACC). Hector described the leading and important role ACC is playing in training people for some the estimated 6.3 million cleantech jobs that will be created. ACC is one of the largest trainers for renewable energy installers, having trained more than 1,000 people so far. He also described the great partnerships ACC has with the other panel members, such as Austin Energy and Applied Materials for One House at a Time and Meals on Wheels and More, plus GM has given some hybrids to the automotive department at ACC.
Awesome stuff! I’m now more upbeat than ever about the positive economic impact that going green has for our city, state, and nation. In fact, that’s why I’m working so hard to develop my business of manufacturing traffic signs and markers made from e-waste plastic. You can read more about the work I do to help eliminate e-waste from landfills here. Great meeting!
Even Though Texas e-Waste Recycling Ranks Last–Austin Company Spurs it On. Image Microsystems exhibits road signs and markers made from 100% post consumer e-waste plastic at the TCEQ Environmental Trade Fair and Exhibition.