You think you’re NOT a Tech company?

A few years back, I was having a conversation about technology with the CEO of a prominent manufacturing company when he somewhat defensively exclaimed to me, “But we are not a tech company, we are a manufacturer!” At the time, I thought it was an interesting reaction, but the reality was that he was right. The mindset and direction of that company was clearly not driven by technology, and spending resources on IT was very much looked at as a necessary evil.

To be fair, at that time I don’t think that mindset was particularly unique compared to other manufacturing organizations, but the tables are definitely starting to turn. The impact that technology is having on all types of organizations, including manufacturing, is dramatic. Not only is it changing the way that we run our internal businesses, but maybe more importantly, how we engage with our customers.

In this era of digital transformation, the technology that we use to engage with our customers can have as much impact as the products or services that we offer. It’s no longer enough to just have a good product; we need to provide the technology-enabled customer experience that is expected or potentially be left behind. If your competition has a more user-friendly website or a mobile app that makes them more accessible to customers, you will very likely lose business to them, even if your ultimate product is superior.

Most enterprise-level organizations have accepted that they need to lean into digital transformation, and while they are all at varying stages of maturity, most are heading down the path at their own pace. Where we do not yet see the same level of acceptance is in the mid-market organizations. We still see these organizations operating with blinders regarding technology and a persistent focus on “business as usual.”

$100 Million organizations with IT staffs of 2-3 people, websites that look to have been crafted 10 years ago, and fax machines still prominently in use for business communication. Eventually the transformation will catch up to them as well, but can they afford to wait, or will it be too late? Trying to change a foundation of legacy technology overnight can be very difficult and very costly. The change management alone can be enough to tip over an organization. I believe a proactive approach towards technology would suit them better in both the near and long term, but sometimes convincing high-level decision makers can be challenging.

As you might expect, the SMB space is even further behind when it comes to digital transformation. The cost of IT can be prohibitive for smaller businesses, and most will explain that they simply cannot afford to keep up. However, I would argue that they cannot afford NOT to be proactive when it comes to technology. While they may not be able to hire FTE resources to join their organization, hiring third parties to perform work or leveraging serviced-based IT offerings are typically an affordable option.

When you think of even some of the smallest mom & pop service-based businesses out there, from landscapers to hair salons to plumbers; they all could benefit from various online components including inquiry, quoting, scheduling and payment collection. However, very few of these types of businesses offer that type of technology-driven customer service.

As the millennials and other younger generations transition into customer age for these types of businesses, the need for technology-driven customer service will be even greater. Very few young people want to pick up the phone to call and schedule appointments, and their expectation is that they can transact with a business without having to speak to anyone. What happens to the small business that can’t, or doesn’t, offer this type of support? They get left behind.

It’s time for businesses of all sizes to accept the fact that we are all technology companies. You may not sell or deliver technology as your primary source of revenue, but you definitely need to embrace it as an integral part of doing business. Your customers expect it…whether it’s the distributor that sells your products, the retail customer that requests a quote, or the person who schedules an appointment, the expectation is that all interactions can be done easily online from our phone, laptop or PC.

The time to decide is now. You can either sit back and wait to react to your competition getting the jump on you, or be proactive and prepare your business for the transformation that is sure to come. To me, it’s a pretty easy decision.

Onboarding – The forgotten step

In this day and age when finding the right talent is so difficult, particularly in technical fields, the onboarding process is a component of hiring that many organizations  completely overlook. We spend a significant amount of time, energy and resources in identifying, recruiting and hiring just the perfect individuals. As most experienced managers have heard over and over; the most important and potentially costly decisions that we make are directly related to hiring. If you hire the right resources it can pay significant dividends for years to come, but if you swing and miss…that mistake can have just as significant of a negative effect on your organization and possibly your career.

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that you have found the exact right person to add to your team. He or she has the perfect skill set to complement your team and is a strong cultural fit. You’ve interviewed no less than 10 people over the course of 2 months, complete with phone screens, in-person interviews and personality testing. You make a competitive offer and the person excitedly accepts. They now transition into your background screening process which may include criminal, drug and credit screens among potentially others. After all of this is completed, you schedule a start date and finally your hiring process is complete!

Deep sigh, it’s been a very long arduous process, but your sense of accomplishment is quite high.  Unfortunately, this is the point where many organizations drop the ball as hiring begins to transition to onboarding.

Just like in any new relationship, you only get one attempt to make a great first impression. I contend that while the candidate is certainly gathering an impression of your organization during the interview process, the true first impression happens when they walk in the front door. What does that first day, or even first week, look like for the new hire?

We’ve all experienced first days of work in our careers, and how many of us can think of a company that truly met our expectations? Most have had experiences similar to these examples:

  • General orientation to the company was not prepared or offered
  • Workstation, cube or office was either undefined, unprepared or uninhabitable
  • Hardware such as computers, phones or printers were not ready
  • No communication of ground rules, basic expectations or initial assignments from your supervisor
  • No training plan or training resources identified to help with your transition
  • No specific welcome had been prepared such as introductions or team lunch

These are just a few examples of bad onboarding, and I am quite sure there are others that I have missed. The emotional change that situations like this can have on a new hire is significant. Their thought process can very quickly change from being excited and eager to join a great new organization, to having an oh-sh#t moment of wondering about what a huge career mistake they’ve made.

In a period of less than 1 week, you’ve destroyed the good will that you obtained during the hiring process, and may have turned a potential long time employee into a short timer. Obviously, you hope your culture, your work environment and the career opportunities that your organization offers will ultimately win back the sentiments of your new hire over time, but in the competitive environment of today, can we really afford to wait?

Onboarding is the critical final piece of the hiring process. Most companies do not have standard onboarding processes, and rely on individual managers to design and perform the process. The problem with that is those same managers have their normal day to day duties to attend to, and it is very difficult to carve out time to focus on planning for onboarding. To be fair, some mangers likely do this quite well, but I would contend that it is an afterthought with most.

Could it be time for organizations to take ownership of the onboarding process and standardize it in the manner that they would prefer to represent themselves? Considering the costs and challenges associated with hiring good people, I believe this type of effort would pay off ten times over. Remember, the first impression has lasting impact, and you only get one shot at it. Why not make it a good one!

Cigars and Technology | Our Next Meetup – Tuesday May 14th!

Cigars and Technology Meetup 5-14-19

We excited to announce our next Meetup scheduled for Tuesday May 14th to be held again at Cigar Cigar’s in Ohio City! We have a very exciting and informative presentation planned from two of our own members, Shane Hurst and Jason Gintert of WAN Dynamics.

WAN Dynamics provides both professional and managed services across a range of diverse and essential enterprise networking areas for our clients, with a focus on SD-WAN and SDN technologies, making WAN Dynamics uniquely positioned to deliver you customized now-generation, cloud-based network services. WAN Dynamics will begin with brief overview of what SD-WAN is, as well as the current landscape and flavor of offerings on the market today. WAN Dynamics will also provide a demonstration of the their most popular managed SD-WAN solution, VMWare NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud.

The demonstration will take a closer look into the tools and functionality which has placed the service in the leader quadrant for Gartner’s Report on WAN Edge Infrastructure, as well as WAN Dynamics unique and fully managed support philosophy. WAN Dynamics has also offered to provide a selection of Scotch whiskey’s to pair with our cigars! As usual we will have our raffle prize and a few give-a-ways as well.

Please RSVP soon and we hope to see you all there.

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Accelerate Software Delivery with MS Azure DevOps

DevOps is more than just a buzz word. It’s a software development methodology that is being implemented by companies large and small. DevOps combines software development with information technology operations to shorten the systems development life cycle. As companies become more agile in their software development practices, it follows that the operations team may need to become more agile to deliver software features, fixes, and updates frequently and in close alignment with business objectives.

While the advantages can be numerous, it takes commitment to truly make the cultural shift that allows the Development and Operations teams to begin to work together. With a DevOps culture, IT teams work together across your organization to deliver software faster and more reliably. This shift in culture isn’t to be taken lightly!

With Azure DevOps solutions, deliver software faster and more reliably—no matter how big your IT department or what tools you’re using. The Provato Group helps our clients navigate their Azure DevOps journey, including consulting, implementation, and management. Join our free one-hour webinar to learn more!

Wine and IT Professionals | Tuesday, March 5th

The Wine and IT Professionals group was formed by The Provato Group for those who share the passions of managing IT Projects and enjoying wine. This is a social club with the intent to provide a platform for networking with other IT Professionals, such as IT Managers, IT Project Managers, and IT Analysts.

Our first meetup included a presentation by Bruno Ierullo of Microsoft, who is a Dynamics 365 ERP Solution Executive. While enjoying great wines we listened to his presentation entitled Accelerating Business Disruption with the Digital Transformation Era – 4th Industrial Revolution. We got a lot of great feedback on the event and are looking forward to our next event.

Rob Urbanowicz, VP, Enterprise Services Practice at Velosio, will be presenting at our upcoming event. Velosio offers implementation, consulting, and support for cloud and on-premise software solutions to enhance your processes and elevate your business.

Please join us for our second Meetup!

  • Location: 750ml at 8903 Brecksville Rd, Brecksville, Ohio
  • Date and Time: Tuesday, March 5th 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
  • Wine Tasting: Vino Italiano provato efedele all’eccellenza (Italian wine tried and true to excellence)
  • Speaker: Rob Urbanowicz is VP, Enterprise Services Practice at Velosio
  • Topic: Managing Initiatives that Transform Your Organization

Each meeting will start out with an informal wine tasting, and be followed by a presentation by a SME on topics such as Agile, Big Data, ERP Software Searches, Enterprise Level Implementation, and/or industry trends.

Rob’s presentation is intended for those IT leaders who lead or are contemplating technology and digital transformation for their organization. This session will focus on the latest trends and best practices for success. Rob will discuss his experience working with hundreds of clients to deploy programs that deliver technical improvements and business transformation. He will provide perspectives on the latest trends including: Hype vs reality of digital transformation (including mobile/big data/IOT); turning ideas to action with business and technical execution, and managing the overall portfolio of initiatives.

The experts at 750ml will be choosing the wines that will be included in the tasting. You may decide to purchase the wine tasting and/or order from 750ml’s food menu.

750ml is located in the historic Red Brick Building right on the corner of Routes 21 and 82 in the center of Brecksville. This is a great place, and will surely become one of your favorite wine bars in Cleveland! Also, there is plenty of parking behind the building.

Click Here to RSVP!

Cigars and Technology

Another successful Cigars and Technology event occurred on the evening of Tuesday, January 8th at Cigars Cigars on Lorain Ave. in Ohio City.

More than 35 IT specialists came to enjoy a cigar or two, while learning more about Dell Boomi. The presentation entitled “What is Dell Boomi?” was facilitated by Tara Sapp, Jessica Vick and Jim Butler from Dell Boomi. Boomi exists to help enterprises connect everything and engage everywhere across any channel, device or platform. Boomi integration platform as a service (iPaaS) equips enterprises to improve productivity, accountability and collaboration both internally and with customers and partners to help build The Connected Business and drive digital transformation efforts.

If you are a cigar enthusiast and work in the IT Technology industry and want to network with others who share your interests, this is the group for you!

Dell Boomi, an independent business unit of Dell, is the leading provider of cloud integration and workflow automation software to build The Connected Business. Boomi helps more than 7,500 organizations accelerate business agility by connecting data and applications to run faster and smarter. Visit for more information.

If you are interested in both cigars and technology please plan to join our next event, which will be announced soon. If you haven’t already done so, become a member so that you will receive future messages in regard to the group.

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Cleveland-based Provato announces partnership with Dell Boomi

Provato believes its substantial growth is a testament to an unwavering commitment to delivering quality, cost-effective solutions to clients time and again. Furthering its dedication to building and maintaining trust with clients, Provato is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership with Dell Boomi (Boomi).

Many business leaders claim that poor integration is holding back their organization. While Software as a Service (SaaS) model of software deployment has opened the door to businesses of all sizes, allowing them to gain access to enterprise-grade applications with affordable pricing, it has also introduced several challenges specific to integration. As a result, IT resources have been increasingly used to bridge the gap in sharing data to achieve end-to-end automation of key business processes.

“Provato recognizes the ever-increasing need to synchronize data across platforms and business segments without draining valuable IT resources. Providing expert services in developing and implementing a sound integration strategy will help our clients solve the challenges surrounding enterprise integration,” says Jeff Zart, President of Provato.

Boomi exists to help enterprises connect everything and engage everywhere across any channel, device or platform. Boomi integration platform as a service (iPaaS) equips enterprises to improve productivity, accountability and collaboration both internally and with customers and partners to help build The Connected Business and drive digital transformation efforts.

About Dell Boomi

Dell Boomi, an independent business unit of Dell, is the leading provider of cloud integration and workflow automation software to build The Connected Business. Boomi helps more than 7,500 organizations accelerate business agility by connecting data and applications to run faster and smarter. Visit for more information.

About Provato

Founded in 2010, The Provato Group is a Cleveland based IT staffing and consulting firm that supports a wide range of clients and industries, including Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing, Insurance and Automotive. Provato maintains a team of highly skilled in-house technicians along with a strong network of contract consultants to provide a diverse solution offering for clients. With a focus on quality and customer service, Provato has established long-term relationships with a significant number of companies.

© 2018 Boomi Inc.  Dell, Boomi, and Dell Boomi are trademarks of Dell Inc. or its subsidiaries. Other names or marks may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Media Contact: Jeff Zart, Provato: 216-546-0768