Bring Your Own Device

imagesAn emerging trend in corporate America that you will hearing a great deal about in coming years (if you haven’t already heard of it) is BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device. The thought is that Employers can save money by having employees use their own device and not having to purchase devices for them. Employees benefit by having their employers cover a part of the monthly fees for that device and do not need to juggle between multiple devices. Sounds like a win win proposition right? Not so fast. On the surface this sounds like a no brainer but when you take a few minutes to think it through it raises a number of questions and potential issues.

1. What if I break my device? This would raise a few questions. For starters did it break while you were working or when you jumped in your friends swimming pool and forgot it was in your pocket? Regardless of the fact, now what happens. I can no longer do my job now until I get a replacement device. Does my company pay for the replacement or do I?

2. What devices are supported? Do software development teams now need to develop software that can work on ALL Operating Systems? If so, then would this increased development and support cost offset much of the savings of purchasing devices? Can a company pick one and say that all employees must have iOS for example? Would doing so cause legal issues with hiring practices (you essentially say that all potential employees must have an iPhone to work for your company?). Building software that works on several different browsers is hard enough. Imagine the challenges of developing software that works on any operating system and then providing a help desk that can also trouble shoot the issues that come up and determine if it is a software issue, an OS issue or a specific device issue.

3. What can I do/not do on my own device now. Can my company just wipe my personal data under coverage of protecting proprietary data? There have been reports of a rise of employers that utilize BYOD wiping data from employees devices. Below is an article explaining the rise in this practice and also how companies make no differentiation between company data and personal data. What happens when the employee leaves? Do you require them to erase all of their data to ensure they do not leave with company proprietary information on their device?

4. What can you do on YOUR device? Will companies start dictating what you can and cannot do on your own device? Can an employee for example no longer manage their fantasy football team on their own device?  What happens when a door to door sales rep for your company walks to a customers house and they have an offensive wallpaper on their device that is seen by the customer?

As the use of BYOD continues to grow, these issues and many others will continue to increase and need to be addressed. At its core BYOD seems like a really great way to save money for corporations. But before you rush to jump in it’s important you think through the potential issues that could arise and really do your homework to decide if it will really end up saving you as much as you think it will in the long run. Too many people start talking BYOD like it is a no brainer solution that is going to save the company endless pots of cash before looking into the technical as well as legal challenges of making the move.


A Childs Passion

This spring I was persuaded to coach not one but two little league teams. In addition to running a business and working for a client, this has obviously taken away practically all of my free time (and destroyed my once decent golf game). But something about coaching these two teams has had the exact opposite effect on me than I thought it would. I envisioned dreading the mornings when we had practices, I envisioned just being totally beat on the weekends, and envisioned not wanting to see a baseball when it wasn’t required by coaching these two teams. Instead this weekend (yes Easter weekend), I spent countless hours either playing baseball with my kids or watching baseball on TV (mostly with them…but yes nobody needs to twist my arm to watch a Yankees game). Once inside the conversation continued to revolve around baseball as my 5 year old asked me if his windup looks good as he goes through the motions in front of the tv, or my 7 year old asking if his grip on his 4 seam fastball is correct (this is not made up..these were real conversations held this weekend)

You see, for those that do not know my boys (ages 5 and 7), they LOVE baseball. It is literally all they want to do right now. On Saturday they asked to go up to the field so I could pitch to them, hit them balls, and so Gavin (7) could work on his pitching. When we got home, I would grab a beer and sit down, only to look out the window to see the boys playing catch with each other out back. This led to me joining them out back and playing some more baseball. Easter Sunday they woke up (before 6am), found their Easter eggs, went to church and had breakfast. When we asked them what they wanted to do the rest of the day, they both immediately said they wanted a repeat of the day before. So off to the field we went (in full baseball uniforms) to play some more baseball. The day ultimately ended once again, in the backyard…with the boys in a catchers mask catching “foul balls” that I would throw in the air that led to them tossing off the mask and making diving catches on our once nicely groomed lawn. Our 2 year old Carson has even gotten into the act asking Dad to pitch to him as well (I’m not sure I can handle 3 teams in a season!). No matter when we stop playing it always ends with the following statement made by the boys “just one more dad”.

The point of all this being that it has been really refreshing for me to see my kids get passionate about something. It’s made me do some searching in my own life to think what is it that I am passionate about? I used to live on a soccer field growing up on the weekends. Soccer was my life. Because of my passion for soccer, I was able to go to college to play soccer. That college gave me a business degree that ultimately helped me start my own business. It also happened to be the college where I met my wife. So you just never know. This season I have really enjoyed going to the field to play ball not just with my sons but also with the kids on our teams. It’s refreshing to see them disappointed when you tell them practice is over because they were having so much fun.

Too often I hear people telling their kids why they cannot do things or why they can’t fulfill their dream. You know what, if my kids think that if they practice now they can one day make the major leagues, who am I to tell them they can’t make it? You never know where that passion will lead them. The same can be said for us grown ups….why go through the motions when you only live once. Find something to get passionate about and get going! I have heard so many people say why they can’t learn a new skill, can’t pick up a new hobby, can’t get involved with a charity. Our lives are all busy and it is easy to find an excuse to not doing something. What’s harder to do is to put aside our excuses and find the time to do something we want to do.

March Madness

Today marks one of my favorite times of the year. The first day of March Madness. It kicks off with a full day (and night) and basketball games that brings productivity to a screeching halt as people spend most of their days looking at scores and seeing how the latest upset has ruined their bracket in the office pool. Since I know everyone is doing it anyway, we decided a few years ago to jump in and make it a fun corporate event. This marks the third annual integrateIT March Madness Pool where our staff all fills out brackets with what little basketball knowledge we have and play for ourselves but more importantly for charities as well.

This has turned into a really fun event that we put on each year because it let’s our staff play for bragging rights and do a little trash talking but it also allows us to get some exposure for some great charities that mean a lot to the people that work for integrateIT. The pool is simple (and is free to enter). Fill out a bracket and pick a charity. If you win, you get $250 for yourself and $250 for your charity. This year we have another list of great charities that we are playing for. Here is the list of them:

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information throughout the tournament on these charities as well as the standings of our pool!

The Importance of Having a Mentor

Having a mentor is something that I believe is frequently overlooked and undervalued by business owners. It is something I personally have not been fortunate to have and often have thought to myself that I wish I did. Without someone serving as a formal mentor/mentee relationship it is important you at least have someone you can talk to whose opinion you trust and who is willing to listen to you and share their advice with you. The fact is, there is no book out there that will tell you the answers to the decisions that you as a business owner will need to make on a daily basis. As much as I sometimes wish they would, people won’t accept “sorry I have never had to deal with this before” as an excuse for not making those critical decisions. People that work for you or deal with your company look to you as the owner to make well thought out, decisive decisions and they put a great deal of trust in you that you are making the right one.

This trust is a great burden that every business owner will deal with at some point. Having a mentor is a nice sanity check to have before making those big decisions. They can also serve as an ear to talk to when you need to just vent. A lot of times these people have dealt with similar situations and can speak from experience and tell you how they dealt with them and how it turned out. There will still be cases that not even they have dealt with and at that time they just listen and give you their opinion on the matter.

For me, as I mentioned I have never been fortunate to have someone I consider a business mentor. People are frequently surprised to find out that I did not inherit my business from my family and in fact that I have no business background whatsoever. My dad was a phys ed teacher and taught me everything I know about sports and is the sole reason I played soccer in college and semi professionally after college….but my dad is a fish out of water when it comes to business dealings. My mom was a stay at home mom that raised the four kids (which actually makes her surprisingly qualified for many of the issues I deal with on a day to day basis) but she also never ran a business. As a result, every situation that I have encountered in my 11 years of running integrateIT is pretty much unchartered waters for me. I have had many a sleepless night laying in my bed thinking about decisions I have had to make or issues I have been stressing about.

Since I have not had what I consider to be a mentor, I have had a few people serve in that role for me throughout my years at integrateIT. My mom, my brother Tim, my business partner Dave, and my wife KT have all served in that role in some capacity. Each of them have heard me complain, ask for advice, or just vent to them about something I was dealing with. I value each one of their opinions and I usually go to each one with different types of topics. My mom always serves as my sounding board as she is an incredible listener. I always feel better about my tough deicisons after talking to my mom about them. I’m not even sure it’s that she gives me some great advice or anything but rather that she just lets me get some stuff off my chest when I need to. Also, she always prays for me in church which the way I see it can never hurt. My brother is one of the smartest people I know and I value his opinion more than almost anyone else. He has never run a business but he knows a great deal about many different topics. Often times we just talk (typically over beers) and our wives thank god that we have each other so they don’t have to hear it anymore! My business partner Dave can’t really serve as a mentor for me since we are in business together but we certainly do our fair share of chatting on a daily basis about decisions we are faced with. Dave is wise beyond his years and has an incredible business mind so I definitely trust his opinion a great deal. My wife KT is the closest thing I have to a mentor. She has never run a business but she has been in the business world for some time now and she also intimately knows the goings on within integrateIT. It’s nice to me that we can frequently bounce ideas off of each other and I know we both value each others opinions.

Running a business is challenging and you will be faced with difficult times and challenging decisions that won’t necessarily be popular. It’s important you have someone (or several people) that you can turn to when you are stressed out, or just need to bounce something off of.

Love Letters for Literacy – Great Night

Last night was the annual Love Letters for Literacy event hosted by The Washington Literacy Center. It’s the event where the center throws a beautiful gala to thank people, raise money, and allow some of their students to speak from the heart about how the center has impacted their lives.

integrateIT was selected this year by the WLC as a recipient of the annual Champion of Literacy Award Winner. As a result, the team at WLC hosted us for the event and boy did we have a good time. The event featured a cocktail hour, an auction, a delicious dinner, and an awards program. To me (and I am pretty sure everyone else) the highlight of the evening were listening to two students at the center READ about their experiences at the center and how it has changed their lives which always resulted in standing ovations from the entire crowd.

To me this evening was rewarding not just because we received an award. It was more rewarding having so many of the WLC volunteers and staff come up to us to thank us for the volunteer work integrateIT is doing. This was confirmation for me personally that getting involved with this organization was a great decision. To hear one of the staff thank Tim for working all weekend (and his wife, Allie, for letting him work all weekend) on a new screening tool that will automate a 100% manual process, made me smile. I was proud of Tim just as I am proud of every single one of our employees that took time out of their lives this past year to help a great organization.

As I have said before, it’s a great benefit that we offer each of our employees $1000 a year to donate to the charity of their choice and we will certainly continue to offer this benefit. This past year, I wanted our company to roll up our sleeves and donate some of our time/talents to a great cause. As I sat at the table last night, it was one of the most rewarding experiences for me personally just to look around our table and see our employees smiling, having a good time, and being recognized by countless members of the WLC team for the work they did.

My goal for 2014 is for us to not only increase our involvement at WLC but also to find another organization that we can also get involved with and donate more of our time and talents.


CVS…No more smokes…Smart or Not?

Today we posted on our Facebook Page an article about how CVS has decided to stop sales of cigarettes in stores starting October 1 ( I figured since we posted it on the site and since it’s been in the news the past day I’d weigh in with my opinion from a business perspective.

For starters let me say that I am not nor have I ever been a smoker. I am writing this opinion strictly from a business standpoint and I know there are people (specifically the management of CVS) that will disagree with me here. I believe this decision is a huge misstep on the part of CVS management. I admire them taking the stand and I think the fewer people that smoke the better we all are. But let’s be honest, CVS stopping the sale of cigarettes will not cause people to suddenly stop smoking. Therefore they will begin to go elsewhere to buy their cigarettes. CVS estimates they do about $2 billion in sales of cigarettes a year. Now while this seems like a huge number, it actually only equates to about 2% of their overall sales. My thought however is that when a person comes into a CVS to buy their cigarettes they more often than not pick up other items when they are there. Those lost sales need to be factored in here as well. Conversely, I find it hard to believe that they will gain many new customers that are willing to drive further (otherwise they would already be going there) to give CVS their business just because they don’t sell cigarettes. This isn’t like going to a bar or a restaurant that is smoke free when all others are not. For this decision to pay off, CVS needs to attract new people to their stores because they do not sell cigarettes there.

Essentially CVS just got a free ad campaign to advertise they are a health conscious company putting their money where their mouth is. The $2 billion question….did they make the right decision? Time will tell but I think this decision will hurt them on the bottom line even though it will definitely help them in the PR department and we are all better off if less people smoke.

What do you think?

Setting Goals

Today marks what I consider to be the official start to 2014 from a company perspective. It’s the day we hold our first All Hands meeting of the year (followed by our first Happy Hour of the year!). At this meeting Dave and I will review the year we just completed and review which of our goals we met and which of them we failed to meet. Last year we had about 15 goals that we set for ourselves and we met about 10 of them. If we were playing baseball, that average would land us in the hall of fame. Unfortunately for us though we don’t play baseball (I’m too small and Dave couldn’t swing a bat if his life depended upon it). I view 10 of 15 as mediocre at best. These goals we set are a mix of easy to attain and some that were a big reach to meet but make no mistake about it, we want to meet them all. In 2013 there were several reasons why we missed a few of those goals that were outside of our control (sequestration and a 3 week shutdown) but that doesn’t make a difference to us…we missed them and need to work harder to meet more of our goals this year.

After a long meeting this past weekend, Dave and I came up with what we believe are a very good set of goals for 2014. We are excited to share them with our employees today and then with their help work as hard as we possibly can in 2014 to meet ALL of those goals.

To me, setting goals is a very important part of running a business. It’s something I have done since the very first year I started integrateIT and it is the best way for us to look back at the end of each year to measure how we did. The point of setting these goals is not to create a set of goals that are all easy to attain so we can check the box at the end of the year and say “job well done”. The point for me is to set goals that provide a target for us that particular year. It’s important to me that many of these goals are reach goals that will take a great deal of work to attain. This will truly provide a sense of accomplishment then when you look back and realize what you have done.

The reason we look forward to this meeting is because it gives us a chance to share our vision for the coming year with our employees and then get their feedback on that vision. For us to attain these goals it needs to be a team effort. We have some big things to accomplish in 2014 and today is the official start!