Author: Carissa

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Ownership is Special

 

Jeff Gorman Keller Schroeder President

Jeff Gorman  – [President]

People who know me well will be quick to agree I fall victim to being a creature of habit in many ways.  When I find things I enjoy, I tend to stay with those things.  For example, not only do I generally eat at the same small set of restaurants, I tend to order the same food at a restaurant each time I visit.  I appreciate the advice from friends regarding mixing things up for some variety, but I fall victim to the comfort of taking away one more decision to make after a day full of decisions, and I enjoy knowing I will like what I am ordering.  One restaurant I frequently visit, however, brings out a different approach.  They have a couple ‘daily specials’, and they really promote those offerings as something which will bring people in; not things from the menu which are on special, but completely unique offerings which are only available on that day.  They rarely repeat, and they are not even always available after the peak dinner hours because of their popularity.  Come on in we're OwnersSometimes the special items feature ingredients from local suppliers as their unique thread.  Sometimes the special items are themed around the time of year or a different ethnicity than the normal fare of the restaurant.  This ‘one day only’ trait makes the restaurant different for me; I always order from the ‘specials’ menu, and I’ve always enjoyed it.  The restaurant uses the specials menu to be even better at who they are – a locally owned restaurant offering friendly service in a relaxed atmosphere with some unique menu choices that change every day.

Knowing what is unique about your business and finding ways to exhibit the difference are important traits in a digital economy where consumers and employees have more choices than at any other time in history.  At Keller Schroeder, we feel strongly regarding the uniqueness of being an employee-owned business and our culture of ownership.  Our focus on employee-ownership makes us better at our mission of being a technology company in the performance improvement business and aligns perfectly with our purpose of making positive, personal impacts on our employees, our clients, and our communities.  All of our core staff employees are owners in the business, and because of our focus on sharing accountability, knowledge, and growth among those owners, we are different from most businesses.  Every employee has direct benefit from the growth of our company, so we value long-term relationships differently, our employees are empowered differently, and we share knowledge differently.  Application development, infrastructure solutions, staffing solutions, and data strategy are not inherently unique offerings where our clients have no option but to work with us.  The responsibility lies on us to be a business partner our clients choose to work with, where they value our positive impacts more than what other providers can offer.  Our ‘special’ is offering the ability for our clients to engage in those areas with knowledgeable employee-owners who work differently because of their ownership.  If you are a current client, we continue to thank you for your partnership; if you are not a client and you would like to discern if working with an employee-owned company is really a ‘special’ experience, we would love to hear from you to discuss how we might be able to make a positive, personal impact on you and your business.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Time to Level Up?

 

Craig Schulte  – [Sr. Application Developer/Architect]

Do you sometimes feel like your web applications are not all they could be?  Do your users grumble about slow page loads?  Are your applications swimming in a sea of JQuery that make them harder to maintain?  If so, it may be time to take your web applications to the next level using a framework like Angular or React!

Angular and React are two competing technologies that receive a lot of attention these days.  So which should your company use when developing a web application?  This article will explain some of the key differences that will help you decide if one of these frameworks should be in your future.


Overview

Angular and React Apps PlatformsLet’s start with a short introduction and description.  Google first created Angular in 2010, followed by Facebook with React in 2013, showing both have the backing of major industry players.  Both are popular web platforms written in JavaScript, which primarily run in your browser.  Much of the code that traditionally ran on a server has migrated to your browser, and Angular and React have helped to push this trend forward.  A common goal shared by both is to decouple an application’s logic from its user interface (UI), and both strongly focus on dynamic page updates (aka AJAX) – meaning your entire browser window does not reload when updates are made, only the content that changes needs to reload. This generally leads to a much nicer experience for the user.

A common sentiment is “Why should I use Angular or React when I already have JQuery?”  Angular and React are fundamentally designed to embrace building modern applications that seamlessly update the UI and gather data via AJAX / Fetch requests.  Of course, this has long been possible, but Angular and React take this concept to the next level, often to such an extent that they are coined “Single Page Applications” – a web application that never reloads the browser window.

When building these types of applications, JQuery may no longer be the best choice.  Using JQuery requires extra code to keep the UI synchronized, a manual task that may grow complex and difficult to manage.  In contrast, both Angular and React help to automate and simplify this chore, resulting in optimum performance.


Size & Scope

React Apps Platform SampleAngular is typically classified as a full framework while React is considered a library.  This means that Angular includes everything plus the kitchen sink, but React only concerns itself with the user interface.  React is more lightweight than Angular, but includes less functionality out of the box.

Which approach is better, the all-encompassing framework or the specialized library?  Well, that depends. Angular already includes all the tools you need within easy reach.  Meanwhile, React may need to be supplemented with additional libraries, but you have the flexibility to choose which ones.


Learning Curve

Angular Platform dashboardSince Angular is a full framework, it naturally has a longer, steeper learning curve.  Angular also requires the use of TypeScript (a statically typed version of JavaScript), which is an additional skill that must be learned.  On the upside, Angular includes a tool for almost every scenario, so there’s usually a standardized, well-defined path forward.

In comparison, React requires less time to achieve a fuller understanding of the platform.  React does not dictate a highly opinionated architecture, allowing for better reuse of previously learned knowledge and skills.  However, due to React’s open-ended approach, there’s probably a greater risk of running astray, and developers must take special care to ensure they are following best practices.


Popularity

According to a variety of sources (such as Stack Overflow, NPM, GitHub, and Google Trends), React has the edge when it comes to growth and popularity.  For example, according to Stack Overflow’s annual developer survey, React usage narrowly surpassed Angular in 2019, “a switch from last year”.  Perhaps more importantly, 75% indicated they would use React again, while only 58% would use Angular again.

Why is popularity an important metric to consider?  Primarily, it can indicate a measure of quality.  Secondly, it may also influence the amount of online resources and availability of job pool candidates.  No matter how you look at it, both Angular and React rank among the most popular web technologies, with only jQuery topping them in usage.


Summary

Both Angular and React provide great platforms to build web applications upon, and there really is no right or wrong answer.  Before making any decisions, do some research. In the end, the right technology is the one that best fits your team and the project at hand.  It could be Angular, React, or something else entirely.

If you would like to learn more about Angular or React, please reach out to our Applications Solutions Group to start a conversation with us.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Announcing Keller Schroeder’s NEW Data Strategy Group

 

Since our founding in 1978, Keller Schroeder has continually evolved to meet the technology and business needs of our clients.  In today’s digital economy, we subscribe to the idea that Data Science, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence are skills that are now vital to a company’s future.  To that end, we are excited to announce the addition of our Data Strategy Group.  Keller Schroeder’s Data Strategy Group can help businesses develop the culture, capability, and methods to use advanced analytics for a competitive advantage.

Keller Schroeder's Data Strategy Group
Tom Vargo
will lead the new division as the Director, Data Strategy Group.  Tom has over twenty-five years of experience in the strategic application of technology for business improvement, and has been heavily involved in corporate analytics and enterprise architecture.

Morgan Duckworth joined Keller Schroeder on June 19th as a Senior Data Architect, Data Strategy Group.  Morgan had 17 years of experience as an Applications Developer, Business Analyst, and Senior Data Architect.

Josh Pack joined Keller Schroeder on July 3rd as a Principal Consultant, Data Strategy Group. Prior to joining Keller Schroeder, Josh earned experience as a Senior Data Scientist and as a Manager of a Data Science team.

Bryan Blubaum joined Keller Schroeder on July 29th as an Enterprise Architect, Data Strategy Group. Bryan has experience as a Data Engineer and Work Stream Lead for Data Governance in addition to experience as a Systems Administrator.

If you have any questions regarding Data Strategy or would like to discuss how your company can begin utilizing an organizational data strategy, monetize your data, or fine tune the methods you are currently using, please reach out to us any time for more information.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Technical and Interpersonal Skills are Equally Important

 

Jeff Gorman Keller Schroeder PresidentJeff Gorman  – [President]

As an IT professional, knowing your strengths and learning to recognize how to best interact with others is not viewed as a technical aptitude, but it does allow each of us to perform better in terms of providing desired services to business areas who need technical resources to achieve their goals.

Learning how to communicate effectively among people is equally important with knowing how to make technical systems communicate with each other.  There are plenty of stories from business units about projects failing because IT did not understand requirements.  There are also countless stories from IT about projects failing because the business units do not understand the technical implications behind their requests and actions.

At its most effective level, good Information Technology is about providing service to others to help improve business performance. Efficiently performing Information Technology takes both technical and interpersonal skills in equal parts. Beyond interactions with the rest of the business, even within IT there are frequently opposing objectives, which are not based on technical requirements but are critical to navigate successfully.

For example:

  • Security administrators want to keep systems patched at all times.
  • System administrators want to keep systems up at all times.

In most cases, it’s not possible to achieve both of those divergent objectives.  Common technical architecture principles say you get three choices among “good, fast, and cheap,” which inherently means as IT architects it is imperative you understand how to balance different needs and collaborate with others to determine the best courses of action.

The best administrators have to be effective communicators; listening with empathy, asking questions to seek context, establishing clarity on objectives and intentions, understanding a ‘big-picture’ outside of the tasks or systems they are responsible for to ensure their actions match the true ‘best case’ for the organization.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Thanks For Trusting Us Nashville

 

Rob Wilson- Keller Schroeder Leadership Team

Rob Wilson  – [Principal Consultant – Greater Nashville Area]

As we approach the two year anniversary of when we started to emphasize growing our business in the Greater Nashville Area, I wanted to give an update on how things are progressing. Road warriors no more, Lee Barron and I have both moved into the region as of earlier this year. In 2018, we more than doubled the number of clients we serve in Nashville. In the past twelve months, over one-third of our employee-owners have been engaged on projects for our Nashville area clients. There is much to be thankful for, but nothing more than the trust our new and existing clients have given us.

Trust is an interesting thing. We often think of it as something we must earn, when in fact it is something one must choose to give in advance. That’s why we don’t take trust for granted. It is the hardest thing for you to let go of. It is said that people do business with those they know, like, and trust. We can help you know us by making you more aware of who we are and what we do. We can help you like us by being likable. And, of course, we can influence your trust proving ourselves trustworthy. But it isn’t enough just to share how others trusted us and how we delivered for them, or even to tell you of the times we messed up and how we made it right. In fact, our trustworthiness is not something we can prove to you personally at all until first you give us your trust. Once you give it, the onus is on us to prove you right.

We’re very grateful for those who have trusted us, and then gave us the highest of compliments by trusting us again. It’s a big step, putting your personal seal on a relationship recommendation, and we know it. You have business objectives you are trying to achieve, and you need to make sure the right technology partnerships are in place to achieve them. Once you trust us on an endeavor, we share the responsibility of making it a success. We own that responsibility, and we care deeply about your success.

Another interesting thing about trust – it goes both ways. We have expressed our trust in the Nashville community through our investments of many types. Of course, you have delivered on your end. As we continue to strive to make positive, personal impacts on the businesses and communities in the Nashville area, through technology and other meaningful ways, we look forward to continuing to build upon that mutual trust.

In future posts, I’ll share more about the type of work we’re doing here and ways we are getting involved. For now, we just wanted to say thank you again to our clients and partners here for your warm welcome and for proving your trustworthiness to us.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Let Your Data Tell Your Story

 

Matt Mulherin - Keller Schroeder Applications ConsultantMatt Mulherin  – [Applications Consultant]

Currently, AI or Artificial Intelligence is quite the buzzword.  AI is defined as intelligence exhibited by machines or software.  AI is growing leaps and bounds in the business world and AI investment increased by 300% in 2017 according to IDC.  Deloitte reports 82% of organizations will be investing in AI by 2020. There are many levels of AI, some more advanced, costly, and complex than others.  Many smaller organizations hesitate, and rightly so, to take the plunge into the newest, costly AI technologies.  How do these organizations get started without having to invest too much time and resources into AI technologies?

Our answer is Microsoft Power BI, an affordable business analytics solution that visualizes data and allows you to share insights across the organization.  It can connect to many data sources and bring data to life with interactive, live dashboards and reports.  Power BI can integrate with Azure Machine Learning Services, which are a subset of AI, to analyze data and make future predictions about the business.  Power BI is available as a SaaS option running in the Azure cloud or as an on-premises option as Power BI Report Server.

Even if you are not quite ready to go big with AI, your business will benefit greatly from Power BI because of its easy-to-use capabilities to create reports and dashboards to gain insight into your data.  Different departments in an organization have different needs for the type of data, reports, and visualizations they use to monitor performance.  For example, Finance might want to see visualizations around revenue, profitability, and expense management, while individuals in Operations have a need to see inventory performance and resource consumption trends.

The great news is that Power BI is affordable.  You can sign up for a free account to give it a test drive or subscribe for $9.99 per month per user.  There is a premium license available for capacity-based pricing.  Compared to other tools it can be much more affordable to get started, providing you more time to get buy-in from the organization before investing too much up-front.

Power BI is a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms. This is quite an achievement for only being in the market for 4 years, but Power BI is a cloud-based platform built using technologies from Microsoft that have been around for the last 20 years.  It is an industry-leading product and can scale as your data analytics and AI practices grow within your organization.

Power BI Desktop is a free downloadable client desktop tool used to configure, model, and build visualizations and reports in Power BI.  It is designed for a power user, someone with data and technical skills, but not necessarily programming skills. Power BI Desktop uses Excel like expressions called Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) for extending your data model for reporting purposes.  No coding is required.

The process for getting started using Power BI is straightforward.

  1. Connect to your data using over 100+ built-in data source connectors
  2. Easily clean the data using the user interface options and load it into Power BI Desktop
  3. Shape the data to match your analysis and reporting needs using DAX
  4. Create relationships and enrich your data model with new calculated columns and metrics
  5. Create reports with dozens of customizable pre-built visualizations
  6. Publish the reports and datasets to the Power BI service for collaboration and consumption by others in your organization

As a consumer of Power BI, you choose datasets and fields you want in your reports, filter the data, build dashboards, share with others, use natural language to ask questions of the data, and view visualizations anywhere on your mobile device.

In the data culture we are currently living in, gathering data from multiple sources and analyzing it in order to clearly understand what story the data is telling can be a daunting task.  Power BI enables you to easily connect, model, and then explore your data with visual reports so that you can collaborate, publish, and share.

Keller Schroeder can help you purchase, configure, model your data, and build visualizations that will change your data into insights using Microsoft Power BI.  Gaining insights and telling a story with your data can be the first steps to utilizing AI in your business and modernizing your organization’s data strategy.

If you would like to learn more about Power BI, please reach out to our Applications Solutions Group to get started.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Keller Schroeder Cloud Readiness Assessment

 

Matt Barton  – [Director, Data Center Services]

Quick quiz: How many of the following Cloud related terms can you define?

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, DRaaS, BaaS, HPC, AI, BI, Cloud Native, Private, Hybrid, Public, Hyperscale, Serverless, Burstable, Elastic, CDN, EC2, Containers, Objects, Multi-tenancy, Microservices, CSP, SLA, IoT, VPC, AWS, and Azure.

Confused?  You’re not alone.  The cloud market in 2019 is a mash-up of thousands of vendors and tens of thousands of applications.  From Cloud Native, to ‘Cloudwashed’ re-branded on-premises applications, there is no shortage of solutions for any problem facing your business.  Deciding what to migrate, when, and to which cloud provider are all important decisions.  Monthly costs and a predictable budget are not necessarily a sure thing, either.

Thankfully, Keller Schroeder can help!  Using the recently launched Microsoft Azure Migrate product, Keller Schroeder can help simplifying key technical decisions surrounding migrating apps to the cloud:

  • Assess whether your on-premises machines are suitable for running in Azure.
  • Get size recommendations for Azure VMs based on the performance history of on-premises VMs.
  • Get estimated costs for running on-premises machines in Azure.
  • Visualize dependencies of on-premises machines to create groups of machines that you will assess and migrate together.

Azure Migrate, combined with Service Map gather information about all TCP-connected processes on the server where they’re installed and details about the inbound and outbound connections for each process.  This prevents migrating dependent apps on different servers, racking up potential additional bandwidth charges.

In addition, data collected from Azure Migrate can be used to determine if a local SQL server should migrate to an individual SQL VM (costly) or to SQL as a Service (much cheaper).

Azure Migrate automatically suggests VM sizing based on ACTUAL on-prem performance requirements; no need to manually adjust the sizing of those VMs you KNOW are oversized.  Consistent costs and a fixed budget are possible by starting with properly sized Azure resources:

Azure Migrate is quickly & easily deployed into most VMware environments, and support for physical servers is due out soon.  Reach out to your Account Manager for more information!

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Square Peg in a Round Hole

 

Jeff Gorman Keller Schroeder PresidentJeff Gorman  – [President]

Years ago, a commercial aired with two mechanics pounding on an obviously incorrectly sized car part saying, “It will fit, we’ll make it fit.”  The advertisement worked because the concept of forcing the wrong solution onto a problem was relatable.  Common sense tells us square pegs do not belong in round holes.  If the problem you are trying to solve is filling in a round hole, and someone offers to assist by giving you a square peg, you will likely suggest they help someone else instead.

Square Peg in A Round HoleAs simple as that concept is for people to understand, somehow it frequently gets lost in the world of technology.   People become infatuated with the newest “square peg” technology and become fixated on pounding it into a “round hole” issue just to have the privilege of using the latest and greatest.  As a technology company in the performance improvement business, Keller Schroeder firmly believes the role of Information Technology is to make businesses perform better.  Information Technology companies and departments should serve the business functions, not vice versa.  IT professionals should have a box full of different shaped pegs, and when they collaborate with business units, should be able to identify solutions that specifically address business needs and improve overall performance.

Business units should not play the role of being a showcase for technology; technology should be used to better showcase and empower business units.  Your company and companies you partner with for technology must understand and perform in a manner which makes it clear everyone agrees with that intent.  If not, you may end up with some really cool “square pegs,” having made no progress in filling your company’s “round hole” issues.

Look for our newsletters this year to follow this theme.  We will talk more about the issues affecting different industries and how to apply technology to solve specific problems.  For more than forty years, we have grown relationships by first seeking to understand the business of our partners and then leveraging technology to improve their business’ performance.  If you want to talk more with us about how technology might be able to solve a business problem you are experiencing, we would love the opportunity to meet with you.

 

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Making Positive Impacts – You Did The Golfing, We Did The Giving

 

Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt Golf and Giving Recipient

Keller Schroeder continues its effort to make positive impacts in our communities by hosting unique events that allow us to enjoy the company of our current and potential clients, as well as give back. We recently hosted a Golf and Giving event at Top Golf in Nashville (home to our second office) where attendees golfed to earn points toward charitable giving. (Thus the tagline – you do the golfing, we do the giving!)

The clients in attendance had the opportunity to vote for their favorite charity to receive the donations for the day. The winning charity was Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Principal Consultant Rob Wilson and Director of Impact Growth Leesa Richardson delivered a $500 check to help fund the amazing work the organization is doing. Thank you to everyone who attended and helped us make a positive impact in the Nashville community!

 

 

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Nashville Update – New Year, Same Focus

 

Leesa Richardson Director, Infrastructure Growth

Leesa Richardson – [Director, Impact Growth]

Keller Schroeder Nashville Heritage

Although we have been headquartered in Evansville, Indiana for over 40 years, Keller Schroeder has successfully served the Nashville area for many of those years. As our desire to make a greater impact on those we could potentially serve kept increasing and knowing how proximity is important to those we currently serve, we decided to open a new office and become a proud member of Nashville’s heritage in 2018.

Over this past year, we have found the hearts of the people in Nashville are very similar to the hearts of those in Evansville.  This made our journey to connect with IT and business professionals to discuss the possibility of partnering in business and giving back to the Nashville community, a successful and rewarding one.

2018 Keller Schroeder Giving Alive Hospice

In 2018 we met with over 200 business professionals in the Nashville area and partnered with several businesses who have the same passion for community.  It was a simple concept, for meeting with us they chose their favorite charity, and we did the giving.

Through the contacts we met, we impacted businesses through the use of our talented IT staff from application development/integration, to infrastructure solutions, and staffing/contractor needs.

Even more exciting than the new business partnerships formed, we also donated thousands of dollars to many local United Way charities like Second Harvest Food Bank, Alive Hospice, and Renewal House to name just a few.

As we move into our second year of having a physical presence in Nashville, we look forward to the opportunity of connecting with many more Nashville area organizations. If you would like to connect with us, please give us a call at 615-208-7726.

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