Leadership Awards Shed Light to Secrets of Shepherding

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What does it mean to be a good leader? We hear the term often enough, but what does achieving good leadership status actually entail? Every CEO strives to be a good leader within their company, guiding their troops into the battle of business. Mark Zuckerberg could be described as one of the most influential and impactful business leaders of the 21st century. Look at the metrics. Or don’t. Just know that the man is in his early 30s and is worth over $100 Billion. The seasoned tech front-runner once highlighted five strengths. Passion, purpose, people, product and partnerships. A strong leader must be strong in all 5 of these areas. It is hard to put a dollar amount to the importance of leadership to an organization, but it’s no secret that it’s the key to success in the business world.

Near the year’s close, AceTech Ontario gives the opportunity to each of its members to apply to be recognized as a “Thought Leader”. Of dozens of applications, a small group of Technology Leaders are recognized as influential in their companies and in the tech ecosystem. Why does AceTech Ontario do this? The belief is rooted in the process of osmosis. Greatness encourages greatness. Good ideas lead to critical thinking. Each winner, beyond their recognition, is awarded the opportunity to share their experiences, ideas and beliefs for the benefit of others in the AceTech community. Specifically, winners commit to providing a workshop for AceTech Ontario members as well as an article, white paper or business tool on their topic.

AceTech Ontario was honoured to award four members in 2015 for their strength in leadership. Or as Zuckerberg may say, passion, purpose, people product and partnerships.

Mark Jaine President and CEO of Intelex Technologies

Evolution of a Sales Department: Growing Revenue from 0 to 10’s of Millions of Dollars

Mark Jaine didn’t start out as top dog of Intelex Technologies;  instead he climbed the ranks starting as a product sales representative in 1999. Now President and CEO, Jaine carries first-hand memories of building Intelex Technologies from an industry “little guy” to one of the fastest growing tech companies in Canada.

David Lahey President and Founder of Predictive Success

Who Builds the Future of Leadership?

David Lahey believes that it is crucial that strategic CEOs take ownership and accountability for leadership development in their company. How do you take an individual soldier and turn them into a valued general? Since 1988, Lahey has been a certified Predictive Index®(PI®) Analyst. He specializes in scouting talent and reading people. Predictive Success has since proven to be reliable tool in getting the most out of your team.

Dave Miller CEO of Uzado

Selling to a Shark

Dave Miller describes himself as a serial entrepreneur, which isn’t exactly an unusual title these days. But what is unusual is that fact Miller shook hands with one of the most famous (or infamous, depending on your opinion) global tech giants in the Herjavec Group, headed by Robert Herjavec. The experience of “selling to a shark” has loaded Miller with a ton of unique experiences in the world of business trade over and negotiation.

Kristy Sadler VP, Global Marketing at Intelex Technologies

Galvanizing Your Users, Growing Your Business: The Viral Effects of an Inspiring User Conference

A seasoned tech marketer and long-time observer and participator in the conference industry would know a thing or two about the importance of a User Conference. Kristy Sadler firmly believes if completed well, a User Conference can be the driving force and main influence in a company’s retention marketing strategy. With Sadler at the helm, Intelex Technologies grew their User Conference attendance from 70 clients to over 230 clients, five sponsors and 19 speakers.

AceTech Ontario started the Thought Leaders program in 2013 and has awarded 16 members to date. The 2016 winners will be announced and presented by Techvibes Magazine during AceTech’s Fall Dinner on November 25.

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Startup Culture at QuickTapSurvey, an Interview With Co-CEO Tishan Mills

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Contribution by member 

Co-CEO & Founder at QuickTapSurvey

For Tishan and myself, building a great company starts with creating an atmosphere of learning and encouragement.

So what is it about QuickTapSurvey as a company that makes it an awesome place to work in technology?  What exactly goes on at a company that’s happily out of the basement-phase of a startup and in the exponential growth phase?

My Co-CEO Tishan was recently interviewed to share his insights on our culture here at QuickTapSurvey.

Can you give us an overview of QuickTapSurvey?

QuickTapSurvey helps businesses collect data in person using tablets and phones without an internet connection. Our surveys are easy to create, fun to do, and beautifully designed.  You can use one or more mobile devices to do surveys and all that data is automatically sent to our website where it can be viewed, analyzed and downloaded.

QuickTapSurvey is used by businesses in over 80 countries. It empowers them to make insightful and quick decisions by taking immediate action on survey data. It is perfect for lead capture, customer feedback, research, audits, and many other use cases.

One factor that makes us stand out  – and increases our appeal – is our focus on user experience and design. We have come up with a formula that makes it easy for survey respondents to interact with touch screen interfaces in a fun and engaging way using native apps. Our product also works with or without an internet connection.  I think those are some of the reasons why we’ve had quite a bit of success with the product and platform.  The flexibility to collect and store data that can then be downloaded and analyzed when a connection is available.

Almost every industry – over 5000 customers worldwide – uses our app. This includes business that are doing lead capture at trade shows, museums getting visitor feedback, focus groups for manufacturing, non-profits that survey natural disaster sites, PhD students doing research; hospitals doing patient feedback; pharmaceuticals with sales teams – all of them use QuickTapSurvey.

What is your big vision for the QuickTapSurvey product?

Our vision is “To be the world’s leading in-person survey platform.” Anytime you see someone doing a survey in person, we want them to be using QuickTapSurvey.

Our mission is to help marketers for small and medium size businesses understand, acquire, and retain customers by taking action on data-collected through in-person surveys that are easy to create and fun to do!

And how are the people who work for QuickTapSurvey, part of this vision?  What can they take pride in knowing they are a part of?

The success we’ve had is due in large part to our team. Everyone in the company is contributing in a very real way to building the product and moving the company forward, even our co-op students. Ideas for improving the product come not only from customers but also from all of our team members so everyone can point to real things that they have contributed toward and feel a sense of pride.

Both Ravin, my Co-CEO and I are incredibly open to ideas, and new information to keep this mission moving forward.  We believe that you can learn from the people that work with you.

Wanting active contributors, people who share our way of thinking and working – that’s embodied in our culture and who we are.   Culture fit has always been how we hire.  At QuickTapSurvey, that translates to people that you want to work with, people you respect and enjoy working with.

What are QuickTapSurvey’s culture and values?

I guess to say work hard play hard is a startup cliche?!

It’s very much about growing our people.  We hire for a specific skill set but everyone contributes, learns, grows in ways beyond that.  We want you to expand your skillset and find a place here to do what you want to do. For everyone who works here there is a great opportunity for learning, for visibility, for openness. I’m not just talking about our  seating arrangements but the way we work and communicate.  Everyone has the chance  – is welcome, is encouraged – to offer  input on design. We all look at customer feedback. And then we talk. As developers, marketers, sales. We want to incorporate feedback and ideas that make our product better, it doesn’t matter whose idea it is.  We are very open in terms of collaboration which is a differentiating factor from other companies. Marketers can have design ideas that we will consider if they make sense.  Developers might have ideas for a sales pitch.

We are passionate and take pride in what we are doing.  But we aren’t overly intense.  In fact, we are pretty relaxed.  Fridays especially, we like to have fun, eat breakfast together in the morning and then closer to the end of the day, we have a demo open to everyone in the company.  Everyone gets to sit down, crack open a beer and demo what they have accomplished during the week.

We are still defining ourselves as a company and that’s another opportunity for anyone that joins us now to help shape what that ends up being.

Why would someone want to join QuickTapSurvey? What makes you different from other startups right now?

We create an environment that capitalizes on the opportunity for exposure. Other startups and bigger companies put their people into boxes in terms of what they are allowed to do. They have dedicated individuals and teams for everything. We have more flexibility, e.g. on the Engineering Team you have the opportunity to learn about iOS, Android, web backend and front end development. Its up to you what you want to get out of it.

We are growing – the team, and the company so this is a chance to step up, to be a team leader and to grow with the company. We are definitely looking for people who want to step up and be leaders, show they can take responsibility, drive the team, and share ideas, think of the success of the team and the company.

There’s an article from 2013 that discusses how your company was facing not-unusual challenges for a startup. How has that changed? What do you say to future employees that are concerned about stability?  

Every company goes through various stages in their life.  Obviously in the beginning the only thing you are thinking of is survival, enough runway to build the business but also to pay the bills.  It was the perspective at that time.  We were still figuring out where to take the business. Back then we were pretty naive, like most new entrepreneurs, we thought things would happen much faster.  But we were building a product really targeted towards businesses that were taking a long time to catch up to the technology and the product.  We had a few key customers that allowed us to stay in the game longer.  The market caught up to where we were and that translated to us being in a position to grow our company. 

We are now in growth mode not survival.  We have a proven business model and are beyond that initial phase. Also we are a SaaS (software as a service) business with a subscription service. We are profitable month over month and have no debt. Our monthly revenue stream is predictable and we are in a fantastic position financially.  There aren’t the huge risks of a new startup. We have identified and established a solid customer base, we aren’t testing a product.  We know what works, we know what serves a great market and now we just need to blow it up by continuing to innovate and being the market leader.

Those are just some of the reasons working here is a fantastic opportunity to lead the development team and to be part of the company’s leadership team. There will always be a few different things we can teach you, create learning opportunities for you.  The general company culture is an environment to be successful, enjoy your time in the office, the people you are with, make an impact on the company. We can offer our employees that and so much more.

So, what’s the secret to hiring and retaining amazing people in technology in Toronto?

Ultimately we want developers, architects, data scientists, digital marketers, social media strategists, product managers, business dev folks – we want them all to think of QuickTapSurvey as a place to start or build their career.  So we are building towards creating this reputation within our company, and our own small circles, and trying to get the word out.

We want great people to know that by coming here, they will be working with people just like them. People who like to have fun, people who literally throw a ball around the office, who want build some really cool things, and who want to come into to work every day.  They should know that we are people they can learn from – this is a chance to work side-by-side with the co-founders of an awesome company.

The 7 Components of a Complete (& Profitable) Managed Network Service

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COURTESY Auvik – By ALEX HOFF

Most business owners are familiar with the basics of running a successful business: Develop a valuable product or service. Market it effectively. Deliver amazing customer service. Reinvest profits to grow the business.

But there’s another secret to operating a profitable business today that most MBA programs don’t coverHaving an efficient, reliable IT network.

After all, most businesses—regardless of size or industry—rely on networks to get things done. Nearly every app, system, and person in a company is connected.

When your client’s network goes down, their business stops. Productivity plummets and revenue is jeopardized. And suddenly, your relationship with that client is at risk too.

So their network needs to just work — all the time.

What’s a complete managed network service?

There are 7 components to a complete managed network service, one that ensures your clients get all the support they need but also ensures you can deliver that support profitably.

complete network operations managed network service

  • Client knowledge — so you know exactly what your client requires and expects
  • Real-time awareness — so you know exactly what’s happening on your client networks at all times
  • Controlled access — so you can manage user access and network device credentials in one secure location
  • Network continuity — so you can get client networks back up and running quickly when disaster strikes
  • Integrated workflows — so your processes are as efficient as possible
  • Reporting — so you can demonstrate your value
  • Network expertise — so you can deliver top-notch service

Providing all seven of these components will ensure you’re safeguarding your clients’ network operations and delivering on the trust they place in you.

Providing all seven of these components will also give you a leg up on your IT service provider peers. Most MSPs aren’t providing comprehensive network services.

That’s because delivering comprehensive network operations is hard.

Traditionally, “network management” hasn’t lived up to its name

It’s been focused primarily on servers and desktops—which are only part of the network.

And it’s been focused on reactive monitoring—which is only a small slice of the network operations activity that needs to happen.

As the devil in that old Caramilk commercial used to say, “Not enough.”

Occasionally pinging the network to see if it’s up? Not enough. Getting an alert when some vital device like a router goes down? Not enough. Not anymore.

This problem in network management can be a hard truth for MSPs to face. But it’s also an amazing opportunity.

By building out your network practice beyond monitoring servers and endpoints, you can:

  • Enhance the network services you’re already offering to existing clients
  • Bring more devices under management for increased revenue
  • Bring on new clients who are struggling with their networks
  • Streamline and optimize your network processes
  • Differentiate yourself in a crowded MSP market

To learn more, download our free ebook called The 7 Components of a Profitable Managed Network Service.

The Case for Technology Assessments

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Contribution by member

Principal Consultant, Triella Corp.

An independent assessment can provide firms with the information required to maximize their technology investment.

 Every firm wants to make sure it’s getting optimal value for every dollar it spends—especially when it comes to technology. Unlike in other areas, the average manager doesn’t feel sufficiently qualified to analyze, appraise or determine whether the technology solutions being proposed internally or presented by an outsourced provider are cost-effective, meet the firm’s needs, and will deliver what’s expected. Over time, such decisions accumulate, bringing the entire networking system to its current state.

This situation can be complicated by staff turnover, where key employees familiar with the existing system depart, leaving little or no documentation for new staff to use, or where the firm has used one outsourcing company and then switched to another while keeping the same equipment.

An assessment is recommended whenever:

  1. An existing system has been in operation for more than three years.
  2. The firm wants to know whether its systems are secure.
  3. A new system has been installed and has been in operation for six months or more.
  4. The service provider for the existing system has been unchanged for the past three years.
  5. A change to the firm’s IT system is being contemplated. (The assessment can help evaluate the proposed new solution.)
  6. The firm is considering Cloud based services.

Assessments are based largely on a firm’s individual priorities and concerns. However, all assessments examine common elements as well. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Server configuration. An evaluation of how the server is set up, how it interrelates with other servers, configuration issues, security issues, performance optimization, and additional reviews based on the specific role of the server.
  • Network configuration. An evaluation of the overall network architecture, including spam and antivirus configuration, network set-up, firewall rules, network policies, switch configuration, Internet access speed, and DNS configuration.

  • Desktop configuration. An evaluation of the desktop configuration as it relates to the overall network, desktop settings, desktop policies, performance, and desktop management strategy.
  • Peripheral configuration. An evaluation of the IP structure for printers, scanners, copiers and other peripherals used on the network.
  • IT staffing. An evaluation of the IT staff complement or the work effort of the outsourced IT company against a standard set of procedures recommended for proper network operation.
  • IT budget. A benchmark of the IT spending for the firm against industry norms.
  • Documentation. An evaluation of the currency and completeness of the IT policies and procedures that govern the operation of technology. Also a review of existing network documentation and recommendations for augmentation.

Think of a technology assessment like an accounting audit. Each year, accountants review the firm’s financial statements to ensure its books are healthy. In much the same way, a technology assessment reviews the firm’s technology to ensure its infrastructure is healthy.

Here are some examples of issues that have been uncovered during past technology assessments. These are real examples from firms just like yours:

  • A firm believed its backup strategy was sound. Each morning, a tape was inserted into the drive and then replaced the next morning when the tape was ejected. It turned out the supplier had provided an incorrect tape format, causing the drive to automatically eject the tape about a minute after it was inserted. The firm hadn’t actually backed up any data in over five months.
  • A firm had a password-protected firewall, but the firewall’s password was inadvertently published on the company related website, allowing anyone to access the firewall or infiltrate the system.
  • A firm believed that forwarding messages to Gmail would allow it to back up its Exchange mail system. The security risk associated with using a public system for the storage of private client data was identified, leading to the firm making a better decision about the backup of its Exchange data.

  • A firm’s primary server was 99% full. At 100%, the system would have shut down. This issue was identified during the assessment, thereby preventing system failure and the resulting downtime associated with full repair.
  • A firm’s antivirus system was out of date, allowing over 70 viruses to infect its Exchange server. The issue was identified and preventive action was recommended.

In each of these cases, the firm in question believed its systems were well maintained and well managed. The assessment helped them to improve their overall system and identified risks associated with the management of their technology.

An independent assessment is valuable because:

  1. It identifies any technical vulnerabilities in the infrastructure.
  2. It provides recommended courses of action to repair any identified issue.
  3. Repairs can be completed by internal IT or by the existing outsourced provider, thus existing relationships are not disrupted.
  4. It provides firm managers with the information they need to make technology decisions in simple language they can understand.
  5. It helps managers understand their technology staffing complement and budget expenditures relative to other firms in the industry.
  6. It provides firms with technology peace of mind. They know that, once the triage work is completed, their systems will be in good shape until the next major change.

Assessments should be conducted every three years.

 

If you are a small or medium-sized business with little time to review your technology infrastructure, consider an assessment. You may have things revealed to you that you were completely unaware of. At a minimum, an assessment will tell you exactly where things stand with your current network, making the right decisions obvious.

Charles Bennett is the principal consultant of Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology assessments, consulting, maintenance services and CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Charles can be reached at cbennett@triella.com or 647.426.1004. For additional articles, please visit http://www.triella.com/publications.html. Triella is a BlackBerry Alliance Partner and Authorized Worldox Reseller.

The Recruitment Mistakes CEOs Don’t Know They’re Making

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Contribution by sponsor 

Co-Founder, CEO | We help companies scale through high impact talent acquisition strategies & execution

Does this sound familiar?

A mission-critical vacancy. You hurry up and post the job online.  The result, all the wrong candidates—or no candidates at all.

Work piles up. Critical deadlines loom.

At this point, you have no choice. Time to bite the bullet and pay a recruitment agency. Anything to get someone in that seat fast!

These “recruitment 911” moments happen all too often—and many business leaders don’t realize it’s not the candidates that are the problem. It’s their recruitment process.

Take “Bob,” for example.  Bob is a collection of many of the conversations that we have with tech CEOs. “We’ve interviewed fifteen candidates and no one’s a fit,” Bob says. Or, “We’ve had the role posted for six weeks and zero viable candidates have applied!”

Bob can’t grow his company because he can’t find the right talent.  He doesn’t have the budget or the desire to pay expensive agency fees—but what’s the alternative?

There’s no silver bullet in recruitment, but a few simple changes can generate big results—especially for companies like Bob’s.  Here are some of our recommendations to get started.

  1. Use an applicant tracking technology. Many companies (including tech firms!) still manage candidate applications through email. Handling vacancies through a technology platform not only makes it easy to manage candidate flow and gain valuable data, but vastly increases role visibility. Not using appropriate technology robs you of countless impressions and opportunities to connect with a wider candidate pool, especially on mobile. Depending on your budget and your hiring volumes we recommend JobviteJazz or Breezy.
  2. Create an interesting and authentic job ad. Generic job ads source generic candidates. To catch the attention of even the most passive candidates, create a job ad that reflects the colour and culture of your organization, and that discusses both the good and the bad points of the opportunity. Everyone is looking for “smart” people that are “collaborative”.  What makes your opportunity unique?  What makes your foosball table more attractive?
  3. Show your culture in creative ways. Just like a new client, a potential employee will look for information about your company to support their decision. Add photos, testimonials, reviews and more to your web portals (not just your career page) to show candidates that you deliver on your employee promise. Sources like IndeedGlassdoor and Stack Overflow offer free company pages where you can provide insights into your company culture.  As part of TalentMinded‘s recruitment program, we interview the CEO and write interesting blog posts and articles about them and their company to complement our hiring efforts.
  4. Proactively source candidates online. Don’t just ‘post and pray’. Take time each week to reach out and network with potential candidates. In reaching out to a candidate, you’re not just connecting to the individual but potentially to their whole network. Not every connection will lead to a candidate—but even individuals who aren’t a fit may refer you to the perfect person for the job.
  5. Determine your process upfront.  Don’t make things up as you go along. Savvy candidates, especially more passive ones, won’t last if you take too long between steps or deliver a poor candidate experience. Recruitment is a process. Proper planning at the outset will save you time in the long run.
  6. Enhance your personal LinkedIn profile. Just as savvy hiring managers look up candidates online, so do in-demand candidates research the people they’ll be working for. Don’t underestimate the amount of time potential candidates spend researching you and your company online. If a candidate looks at your LinkedIn or Glassdoor profile, what will they find? Will they be inspired by your vision, your passion, and your direction for the company?

Do these tactics work?  We helped Bob implement the right applicant technology and had it set up in 72 hours. We created a new, interesting job ad that was posted in the right locations and shared via targeted social media platforms, increasing visibility and reach. And we helped create an online presence that reflected the true company culture—quickly and easily.

Within weeks, quality candidates filled the pipeline, five were shortlisted—and the company made the perfect hire.

Stop making recruitment harder than it needs to be!  With some good planning, a deeper understanding of what makes your culture attractive, and the right sourcing tactics, you can get better hiring results.

TalentMinded helps tech companies grow their business through high-impact talent acquisition programs. We provide flexible, scalable monthly managed recruitment services (people, process, tools, technology) to help you hire the right people, and build talent pipelines for today and the future.