Great Place to Work 2017-2018

Great Place to Work Badge 2017-2018Keller Schroeder was recently certified as a great workplace by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work®. Keller Schroeder earned this credential based on extensive ratings provided by its employees in anonymous surveys. A summary of these ratings can be found at http://reviews.greatplacetowork.com/keller-schroeder1.

“We applaud Keller Schroeder for seeking certification and releasing its employees’ feedback,” said Kim Peters, Executive Vice President of Great Place to Work’s Certification Program. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace – critical metrics that anyone considering working for or doing business with Keller Schroeder should take into account as an indicator of high performance.”

“According to our study, 95 percent of Keller Schroeder employees say it is a great workplace,” says Sarah Lewis-Kulin, Vice President of Great Place to Work Certification & List Production.

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. In the United States, Great Place to Work® produces the annual Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For®” list and a series of Great Place to Work® Best Workplaces lists including lists for Millennials, Women, Diversity, Small and Medium Companies and over a half dozen different industry lists.


The Evolving Use Cases for Wireless Networking

Ty Nixon[Network Consultant]

Since its official conception in 1997, the standardized group of technologies commonly known as Wi-Fi have greatly evolved to meet changing business needs and environmental demands.  The use cases for wireless networking have grown exponentially from the basic data services of the late 90’s.  Below is a list of needs that today’s wireless solutions commonly seek to fulfill.


Data Services

Just as with the original 802.11 standard, today’s current amendment of 802.11ac allows for data services.  However, the similarities end there.  Historically, perhaps the most significant hurdle with migrating data services to wireless technologies has been the severe limitations of wireless connectivity speeds, in comparison to speeds of wired devices.  The recent amendment of 802.11ac promises to significantly narrow the gap between the technologies.  The 802.11ac theoretical speeds of over 1Gbps dwarf the speeds of earlier amendments.  The vertical markets now being targeted by wireless technology manufacturers are virtually endless.


VoWIFI

Voice services over Wi-Fi (VoWIFI) have been brought to the forefront of the use cases for wireless over the past decade.  Aided by the adaptation of VOIP technologies, enterprises of all sizes can now offer support for mobile devices within a geographical area using unlicensed radio frequency bands.  IEEE and Wi-Fi Alliance publications have also provisioned means by which to integrate robust wired networking feature sets such as Quality-of-Service (QoS), Network Access Control, multicast routing support, and Power Save with these devices.  These advancements allow a fully-converged and collaborative network to extend beyond the wires.


Location-Based Services

Location-based services such as RFID, GPS, and asset tracking systems have been brought into the spotlight in many vertical markets.  These technologies allow real-time tracking, reporting, and analysis of wireless devices throughout a property or facility.  Manufacturing, distribution, and physical plant management groups now use technologies such as Wi-Fi to aid in obtaining the location of infrastructure and assets.  Many times, data generated from a wireless location service can be fed to other analytical applications, creating a more streamlined and meaningful business process.


Ptp and Backhaul

Though less common than other applications, the practice of leveraging Wi-Fi technologies for use as site-to-site links is a perfect fit for some business needs.  Often, such as when bridging between two physical locations, the cost of extending networks via wireless equipment proves to be far less than the cost of installing buried or aerial cabling.  With the advent of 802.11 amendments such as “n” and “ac”, speeds and resiliency equivalent to wired Ethernet can be achieved.


Overall, wireless technologies have never been more prevalent than they are today.  With recent amendments by the IEEE and the Wi-Fi Alliance, speeds of modern wireless networks often approach or surpass those of wired Ethernet.  Wireless technologies have also gained traction in environments with mobility and location needs.  Additionally, wireless technologies can offer resiliency and redundancy that meets or surpasses the redundancy seen on wired Ethernet networks, often at a fraction of the cost.

Keller Schroeder offers full solutions centered on wireless technologies from multiple manufacturers.  Our company also performs comprehensive pre-installation and post-installation site surveys, using industry-leading tool sets.  To learn more about how Keller Schroeder’s wireless offerings can help meet your business needs, contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.


7 Items to Consider for a Dynamic Website

Brett Romershausen – [WordPress Consultant]

Is Your Website Healthy?

Do you typically have an annual physical for your personal health? You should do the same for the health of your website.  While it may not seem critical, your website is often the first impression of your business and you want to be sure your visitors have a good first experience.


User Habits Have Changed

Think about how many people you see on a given day using their phones or tablets to search the web.  Unlike five or ten years ago when everyone would wait to search the information when they got to work or home, most people today will access the information immediately from a restaurant, meeting, game, etc.  The number of people doing mobile searches increases every year.


Note: If your website is more than a few years old, pay close attention to the following sections.


Responsive Design

Think about your website—can you see everything on a mobile device without having to scroll to the right?  “Responsive design” is important today.  There are two simple ways to tell if your website is responsive.  One is to access the site from your smartphone browser.  Another way is to shrink the size of your desktop browser window.  Do your menu options scrunch up into the hamburger menu so the limited screen space is used wisely?  Do the panels and boxes wrap or do you have to scroll over to see content?  Does the text wrap around the images correctly?  Not only does it matter to your visitors, it matters to Google.  The search giant gives preference to sites that have a good mobile experience.


Content Is King….Still

In Bill Gates’ 1996 “Content is King” essay he stated, “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the internet…”  He was talking about both the text on the screen and the software that serves it up.  Another point he made back in 1996, and still true today, is there are “broad opportunities for most companies…” and that “no company is too small to participate.”

More small business have websites, often collaborating with other websites to expand their reach. Think about how a website with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capabilities can help a business reach thousands more potential customers locally, nationally, and internationally.  Is your website content still relevant?  Is it still correctly stating what your business’ services and capabilities are?  Are the images even from this decade?   Keep in mind, the better the content, the more likely a search engine will pick it up.


How’s Your Google Ranking?

Google Ranking is where you rank when someone is searching for your website with a search engine.  You may be wondering why Google Ranking would be important, but think about how most people look for something.  They go to their favorite search engine and try locating the information based on “keywords”.  If your site is buried at the bottom of page 1, or several pages deep, what are the odds that a potential customer will find your site?

Here are a few of the things that can affect your ranking with the Google’s search engine.

  • Above-The-Fold – When Google looks at your website, they pay close attention to what is above the fold and use that to index your site. This is the area presented on the screen space before scrolling. You need to be sure this area is filled with meaningful content and keywords, and not ads.
  • Popups – While these were popular several years ago, they are no longer in favor. Author Barry Smith confirms, “Google has started to penalize sites with those annoying pop-ups, starting with mobile websites.”
  • Links – Another way to help in your ranking is to link other pages in your own site, as well as other websites. If you go to another site, the key here is to make sure you are linking to sites that are current and frequently update their content as well.
  • Frequency of Updates – It is important to consistently post information to your website. One good way to promote your site is by blogging. Many people use a blog format for their news page, and that works just fine.

Another way to help your ranking is to update your content.  In the article by Cyrus Shepard from MOZ, “changing a single sentence won’t have as big of a freshness impact as a large change to the main body text.”  He also states, “Content that changes more often is scored differently than content that only changes every few years.”  The article also states, “Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.” When was the last time your content was refreshed?

  • Keywords – Also important are the “keywords” that are used in the content, images, etc.  Think about how you want to find something in a browser.  What special “keywords” would you use to find something?  Now think about your website– if you don’t have those keywords on your site in content, blogs, and so forth, how can you expect the search engines to find your site?
  • Bounce Rate – Think about how long someone might stay on your website? If your site is cluttered, has a bunch of popups, annoying videos that start automatically, or they don’t see what they want above the fold, then they will probably get frustrated and leave the site.  Believe it or not, this is tracked.  According to an article from Granite5, “A high bounce rate is an obvious sign of an outdated or poorly performing site. Website users usually leave a site hurriedly without visiting other pages simply because they don’t find what they are looking for instantly or do not like the look of it!”
  • Load Rate – The same is true for how fast your site loads. If the site loads slowly or plugins are missing, the user will not feel welcomed or important and leave your site.

As microchips have reduced in size and yet increased in performance, so have the requirements for a website.  While “Content Is King”, it is important to take full advantage of what is available to make the site load quickly and efficiently.   Whether speed is gained by a combination of compressing images, compression or streaming of videos, or coding to match up with the latest techniques, websites should be reviewed on a regular basis.

  • Social Signals – According to an article from Search Engine Journal, “there is an extremely high correlation between social signals and ranking position. Facebook is still the network with the highest weighted social signals.”
  • SSL – Years ago, most websites didn’t use an SSL encryption unless they wanted to verify and protect the information going over the internet. Search engines, like Google, are now adding that into their algorithm for ranking websites.

How SSL Affects Your Ranking With Google

At a conference I attended this past fall, it was stated that Google ranks sites with SSL certificates higher. In a 2016 Google article from the Chrome Security Team, it states two conditions that took effect in January 2017.  If an unsecure site collects either passwords or credit card information, then the sites will warn users that the sites are “not secure”.  (You may have noticed recently the “Secure” / “Not secure” icon in the URL bar.)  Google is taking this even further with their HTTPS Everywhere initiative.

In the future, Google plans to “label all HTTP pages as non-secure, and change the HTTP security indicator to the red triangle that we use for broken HTTPS.”


Font

In an article titled “5 Signs Your Website Needs A Refresh” by Michael Burton, the author points out that “A few years ago it was the norm to have a lot of fancy graphics and imagery on your website, but the web has moved on to more of a flat design which relies more on color than images.”  Besides color, the font on the screens can say a lot about your site.

In a recent article titled “7 Elements of Modern Web Design”, the author states “Online, sans-serif rules readability. In print, we see serif fonts as more readable. If you want to get fancy with your fonts, save it for larger headings. It will still have the same impact without blinding your users.”  He goes on to mention that the font size is important to readability.  “12pt used to be fairly standard, but that is being bumped into the 16pt range more frequently…”  In a recent article titled “17 Tips to Create Content 10x Better Than Your Competitors”, author Ramona Sukhari mentions to make the fonts bigger.  “On average, pages ranking #1 had 15.8pt font.”


While getting users to your website is important, the user experience and valuable content will make them stay, and better yet, keep them coming back.   For assistance in optimizing, reviewing, refreshing, or creating your website, please contact your Keller Schroeder account representative.


Ownership Thinking

how-to-choose-a-careerI was asked recently to speak to a group of college students about lessons learned from my 35 years in the marketplace.  As you can imagine, narrowing 35 years of experience down to a 30-minute talk was fairly challenging, but one of the topics I chose for these students – and a factor that has contributed significantly to our success at Keller Schroeder – is what I refer to as ownership thinking.

Keller Schroeder has been employee-owned for 13 years through an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), but ownership thinking has little to do with who actually holds the stock certificates.  There are lots of people who own companies, in full or in part, who do not practice ownership thinking.  And, there are lots of people who have never owned a share of stock in a company who are pros at ownership thinking.

choose-your-pathOwnership thinking is about choosing to believe – and it is a choice – that you have the most to do with your path and your destination – not your circumstances, and not the actions of others.  Psychologists refer to it as a strong “internal locus of control”.  Students who practice ownership thinking will blame themselves, not their teacher, for a poor outcome on an exam.  Leaders who practice ownership thinking will focus on shaping the future and influencing outcomes rather than reporting on the past or justifying underperformance.  Conversely, individuals who tend toward an “external locus of control” are quick to blame others or environmental factors for their misfortunes.

What is your bias?  Do you “own it”, look for solutions, and take action?  And would you agree that those who do so are far more pleasant to live with and work around than those who don’t?  Doesn’t it stand to reason that those who practice ownership thinking perform at a higher level and achieve more than those whose default is to look beyond their sphere of influence to explain most of what happens to them?

You and I as individuals can strengthen our tendency toward ownership thinking by surrounding ourselves with those who have a strong internal locus of control – those who habitually believe and act as though their own actions are more important than the hand they have been dealt.  As leaders, we can build a bias in our organizations toward ownership thinking by rewarding action and initiative over justification and deflection.

There are always environmental factors and circumstantial contributors to what we see and experience in business and in life, but if we choose to own, act and move, rather than blame, dwell and wait, we exponentially increase our chances for success.

Larry May[President]


2016 Client Appreciation Event : Superheroes Unite

Carissa Eatmon – [Marketing and Communications Coordinator]2016-cae-logo-superheroes-unite-2

On Friday, October 7th, 2016, Keller Schroeder hosted our annual Client Appreciation Event. This year, we wanted to again honor the true superheroes in our organization, our fantastic group of clients. With a theme of “Superheroes Unite,” it was a day filled with a delicious lunch from Marx Barbecue and dessert from the Pacetre, plus fellowship, fantastic prizes, and a lot of fun. Our prizes this year icae-2016-photo-booth-1ncluded a Bose Home Theater System, an Apple Series 2 Watch, fun superhero gear, Yeti tumblers, gift cards, a more!

Perhaps our favorite aspect of this event every year is the opportunity we give our clients and employee-owners to give back to the community. The continued generosity shown at this event never ceases to amaze us. This year, The Lampion Center was chosen to receive our give back donations. We successfully collected over 2 truckloads of supplies for the organization – things like cleaning supplies, office supplies, Daniel Tiger DVDs, and new equipment to aid the Lampion Center’s therapists during their sessions.

2016-cae-centerpiececae-2016-cupcakesThank you so much to all of our employee-owners for their hard work in making this event a reality every year. We also greatly appreciation our vendor partners for both their resources and for joining us. Most importantly, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our clients for their continued loyalty and support. Be sure to mark your calendars for next year’s Client Appreciation Event! It’s always the first Friday in OctoberOctober 6th in 2017!

 


Larry May to Serve as USI’s 2016 Executive in Residence

dsc_0023Keller Schroeder’s President Larry May will serve as the 2016 Executive in Residence for the University of Southern Indiana’s Romain College of Business. His presentation, titled “The Value of Ownership and Running Shoes,” will be presented at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, October 5, in Carter Hall in University Center West. The presentation is free and open to the public.

The primary purpose of the Executive-in-Residence program is to provide opportunities for students to gain insights into the business world and into the thoughts and lives of business executives. This year is the 44th year for the program at USI.

More about Larry May from the University of Southern Indiana’s post :

Larry May led Keller Schroeder’s transition from its founding owners to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan structure in 2004, fostering a highly-engaged ownership culture that serves more than 200 clients and 85 employee-owners. Prior to Keller Schroeder, he held technical and leadership positions in IT and human resources with Bristol-Myers Squibb. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer systems management and a master’s degree in business administration from Murray State University.

usi-logoMay has been a resident of Evansville for 35 years and currently serves as the chairman of the board of United Way of Southwestern Indiana. He also serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children (CASA) volunteer for Vanderburgh County. May has served as chairman of the IT Alliance advisory board for the Romain College of Business at USI.

May resides in Evansville with his wife Tammie. They have three children daughter Diana; son, Travis; and daughter, Carly, who is a CPA and recent accounting graduate of USI.


Data Center Capacity Planning

Chris Haynes[Senior Systems Consultant]

Capacity PlanningIs your data center infrastructure being used the way you intended it to? Are you in control of your organization’s IT data?  If your organization is like most, probably not as well as you would like to.

A good data center capacity planning strategy can help your business become more efficient, dynamic, and competitive, but few organizations dedicate resources to capacity management or give it any importance.  If it does exist, many times it is usually just to satisfy regulations or to check a box on a form.

The tendency of many IT departments is to play it safe by purchasing more server and storage capacity than needed, which means resources are being wasted at a time when IT departments are being asked to do even more with less.  On the flip side of the coin, some IT departments are not able to anticipate the growing IT demands of the business, and react to them in a timely manner, potentially resulting in lost business or costly reactionary purchases.

In order to proactively meet the demands of your organization’s needs, you need to develop data center capacity planning processes and procedures that will track and report on the following metrics:Capacity Planning 2

  • How much is being used?
  • Who is using it?
  • At what rate is it being used?
  • How much is left?
  • When will we run out of it?

Having the answers to these questions at any point in time allows your IT department to be proactive and take steps accordingly to stay ahead of the business’ needs.  Being able to project future needs allows your organization to budget and plan for data center growth and scalability in advance, which is almost always cheaper than unplanned emergency purchases.

Does your organization need help developing a data center capacity management strategy?  Please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to see how we can help.


Penetration Tests – Why does your organization need one?

Chris Fortune[Security Consultant]

Penetration TestingPenetration testing helps businesses understand if their investment in security actually affords them the protection they want.  To help in your understanding, let’s start with defining some terms to make sure we are using the same vocabulary.

  • Threat – agent or actor that can cause harm
  • Vulnerability – a flaw someone can exploit to cause harm
  • Risk – Where threat and vulnerability overlap
  • Exploit – code or technique that a threat uses to take advantage of a vulnerability
  • Penetration testing  – involves modeling the techniques used by real-world computer attackers to find vulnerabilities and under controlled circumstances to exploit these flaws in a professional, safe manner according to a carefully designed scope and rules of engagement to determine business risk and potential impact.  All with the goal of helping the organization improve security.
  • Security/Vulnerability assessment – focus is on finding security vulnerabilities, which may or may not be used to get in or steal data.  These assessments are broader, and often include explicit policy and procedure review.

Now that we have a common vocabulary, you might be thinking “How is a penetration test different than a vulnerability assessment?”  The difference is action – the penetration test aims to breach the security of the business, where a vulnerability assessment is simply an evaluation of your organization’s security posture.

A penetration test can help answer the following questions:

  • Can vulnerabilities that are found be exploited to gain access or steal data?
  • Can lower-risk vulnerabilities be exploited in a way together that opens up a higher-risk vulnerability?
  • What does this mean to the business or operations if successful?
  • At what level can your business successfully detect and respond to attacks?

Other reasons a penetration test can provide value to your business:

  • Meeting compliance with regulatory standards
  • Automated network or application vulnerability scanning software can have difficulty detecting some types of vulnerabilities.
  • Provide evidence to support increased investments in security personnel and technology
  • Post security incident- to validate new security controls put in place will stop a similar attack in the future.

Security BreachPenetration tests can be scoped to your business needs from general to narrow.  On the general side of scope is a black box test.  The tester is given little to no information and tries to see if they can get access or business information.  On the narrow side of scope is a white box test.  This could be something like testing a new application with full knowledge of what it should do.  The tester in this case is given valid user accounts with different roles like a regular user and an admin user to test what each can do in the application.

If you would like to discuss penetration testing and the value it can bring to your organization, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to begin a discussion with our certified penetration testers.


Spotlight On…

Employee-Owner: Amanda Gries

Amanda Gries Family


Amanda Gries is the newest addition to our technical recruiting Staffing Solutions Group. Amanda has over 16 years of experience in the Human Resources field. The majority of her career has been as a recruiter for finance and manufacturing companies. She has also worked as an HR generalist and manager.

Amanda spent over ten years at Springleaf, refining her administrative and recruiting skills. She has also held HR and management positions at Berry Plastics and Toyota Boshoku Indiana.

Outside of the office, Amanda loves spending time with her family – husband Brian, stepson Payton, son Clayton, and daughter Aspyn. They are avid sprint car fans and travel all over to watch races. They also love the water and try to spend as much time at Barkley Lake as her kids’ summer sports schedules will allow.

Contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager to learn more about Amanda and how you can leverage her experience and skills to benefit your organization.


Systems Team Proactive Performance Management (PPM) Services

Chris Haynes  – [Keller Schroeder Engineer]

        An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. – Benjamin Franklin

Virtualization has become the norm in most data centers, but so is the expectation of zero downtime. Preventative maintenance is the best insurance against downtime and security threats in your storage/virtualization environment.SV PPM Wheel

Preventative maintenance can:

  • Prevent productivity losses due to unscheduled downtime
  • Reduce security risk
  • Increase the quality & reliability of mission-critical IT operations
  • Maximize performance & efficiency
  • Lower overall maintenance costs

Keller Schroeder’s System Team offers a Proactive Performance Management (PPM) service to perform regular preventative maintenance services and provide remedy reporting and resolution for storage/virtualization environments.

So what does our PPM service include?

  • Review system logs, alerts, & diagnose problems
  • Identify capacity & performance issues & inefficiencies
  • Perform minor upgrades & apply patches
  • Analyze/validate system configurations
  • Remediate discovered issues
  • Make recommendations for improvements or industry common practice design changes

So why use Keller Schroeder for these services?

Our Systems Team has a combined years of experience in IT of 130+ years, which is an average of about 22 years per admin. We have deep knowledge & expertise in the storage/virtualization stack, both past and present.  We carry multiple certifications in various technologies, and continuously perform new installs and upgrade existing systems in the field, so we are fresh & familiar with the latest versions, compatibility requirements, and potential pitfalls.

We already perform PPM programs for many of our clients and have developed detailed & proven install, upgrade, & patch procedures, along with health assessments & checklists, and remedy/status reports. We typically provide these PPM services on a quarterly basis, but we can build a customized plan to meet your specific needs.

A key challenge in IT is having to do more with less and dealing with a lack of resources, so let us do what we do best, so you can focus on what you do best for your business.

Please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information.