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How Your Company Should Be Using SharePoint for Data Management

Events Data Management Microsoft

Your organization has a lot of data to manage. Your team members create files and documents, your customers generate data and your technology is likely churning out information as well. There are also several options available for storing that data: free services, paid services and even services you may have already invested in but don’t use. So where should you be storing your data so that it’s organized, searchable and shareable with everyone in your organization?

Healthcare and Data Breaches: How Microsoft Office 365 Can Help with Compliance in the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare Microsoft Events

Being in charge of IT for a healthcare organization isn't easy. You're responsible for vast amounts of some of the most sensitive information that an organization can deal in; medical data. You're also dealing with financial information, insurance, securing your organization's Internet of Things (IoT) and other information that requires you to be up on compliance for laws like HIPAA and GDPR. You have to stay within your budget, keep everything updated and make sure all of your organization's tech works. It's a lot, especially for smaller healthcare providers who don't have the budget to constantly update software, maintain a server, hire a large IT staff or — in some cases — keep a compliance officer.

5 Common Myths About Blockchain and Bitcoin

Blockchain Bitcoin Events

Blockchain and Bitcoin just turned 10 — both were introduced in August of 2008 and both are beginning to mature into mainstream technologies that have the potential to change the way business is done. Because they are so new, however, there are plenty of misconceptions about each. These misunderstandings run the gamut from over-enthused to jaded. Some people may assume that given the hype, blockchain will solve all their business problems. Others may view blockchain and Bitcoin with extreme suspicion.

2017 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium: Omni's Key Takeaways

#WeAreOmni Community Culture Events

If I asked you to rattle off cities that come to mind when you think of startups, I bet you may list: San Francisco, Austin, New York, LA, Boston, Denver, or some of the other major names. All those locations would make wonderful places to get your startup off the ground, but more entrepreneurs are realizing the challenges those markets produce as well: the inflated cost of living & doing business and heavy competition. 

Empowering Girls to Consider Coding

Events Culture Community #WeAreOmni

I recently attended the Smart Girls Rock event hosted by Miller Electric and the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, as a mentor to 100 high school freshman and sophomore girls from the area. This event was an opportunity for these girls to learn about STEM careers, emphasizing that careers in these fields aren’t just for men. The first half of my day was spent meeting with the girls and answering any questions they had about what I do, how I chose my career and what challenges I’ve encountered. Some of them had an idea what type of work they wanted to do and others were just gathering information to help them make their choices. While I personally didn’t speak to every girl, the careers I heard mentioned the most were medical/nursing or teaching. No one told me they were looking at IT, but I was able to explain to them that computers are likely going to be a part of any career they choose, so any knowledge in the IT area would be beneficial. When asked if they had considered a career in IT, many girls thought coding would be “difficult.” I heard the words “I don’t think I could do that” from multiple girls. My goal was to convince them that coding really is not out of their reach. The second half of my day was spent providing three separate groups of 10-15 girls the opportunity to do a hands-on activity related to IT. I demonstrated how to maneuver a Sphero robotic ball through a maze using just four lines of code from an app on a Bluetooth connected iPad. I also demonstrated how one could similarly write lines of code to direct the actions of an Ozobot. I then challenged them to write their own program to take an Ozobot through a pre-drawn maze that included segments where they could insert their own instructions, formulated from a cheat sheet, using red, blue, green and black markers. It was exciting to watch, as at first they weren’t quite sure what they were doing and then, just like that, it clicked. They started testing their code with the bots and making changes to their original codes. Some even added bowling pins to their completed mazes to see if their code would direct the Ozobot in a way that would take down all of the pins. It was exciting to watch them experiment with the different codes to see what they could get their bots to do. I handed out multiple copies of the maze, but also saw them flipping the paper over and drawing their own paths. I lost track of how many times I heard the phrase “These things are so cool!” As each group was wrapping up their time with the Ozobots, I was asked numerous time “Where can I get one of these things?” I do believe that I was able to prove to them that writing code is not out of their reach and that it can be fun. As I reflect back on what things were like when I was at the same point in my life as these girls are now in theirs, I can honestly say that I never really considered gender when I chose my career nor did I ever think I couldn’t do something just because “I was a girl.” You could say that with my career as an IT professional and my husband’s career as a flight nurse, we both stepped outside of what society considers “the norm.”

Ozobots, IT and 3,700 Eight Graders...Omni Style

Events Culture #WeAreOmni Community

“Hey Keegan…want to get out of the office for the day and staff our booth at the Greater Green Bay 8th Grade Career Expo?” Seems like a no-brainer, right? Of course I do was my answer! But, boy oh boy, did I forget what it was like to interact with students all day long. Don’t get me wrong. I had a ton of fun talking to 3,700 students about career opportunities in the technology field. Although, being a former teacher, I should have remembered what it was like to be on your feet most of the day and answering similar questions over and over. It was exhausting! But, it was also very fun and I left feeling like I helped expose some kids to our industry as a potential for a career in the future. With over 60 exhibitors participating in this year’s event at the KI Convention Center, it was obvious that many organizations in our community really do truly care about the future and investing in our children. It was really entertaining to see the level of engagement at each exhibitor’s booth too. There were real live calves in the agriculture area, the fire department had real gear for students to try on, and many companies gamified their booths to make things more appealing to the demographic they were serving. We used the kid favorite, Ozobots, to give students a quick glimpse into what coding can be like. We have developed a one-pager that gives the students the different command lines they can draw to make the Ozobot do certain things, like go fast or do a tornado. Kids tend to have a ton of fun in a real-brief period of time…which is all we had. In about 15 minutes we attempt to get them to “write their line of code,” test it, and then place it on the master code. We then answer questions they have about careers in the field of technology and try to apply some of the principles they learned with the ozobot to what they may be doing if they were programming. Why do we do it? If you work in the IT industry, you are well aware there is a shortage of qualified talent in the field. We have to figure out more ways to expose kids to this industry than what has always been done and this is one way to do just that. It also feels like something we should do. We choose to have our company locations in various parts of the state and we do what we can to give back in those areas as a party of our civic duty. And honestly…we have a blast doing it. If you take a look at the photos from the event, you can see we were all smiles all day long. The event is titled, “Find Your Inspiration” and we hope we were able to help do that. And thanks to the organizers, other businesses, teachers and students for leaving us feeling inspired as well.

Talent Upload: Attracting Talent as a Community

Events Culture #WeAreOmni

If you have seen a presentation recently about millennials, you have probably heard something along these lines, “millennials aren’t choosing a career or job first. They are choosing a place to live and then figuring out the career part second.” As a Gen-Xer this can be a hard concept for me to grasp, but after interacting with students that take part in Fox Cities Talent Upload, I know it is a very real fact and one that employers need to take seriously. Fox Cities Talent Upload is “an immersive three-day event for students and employers to build relationships in the Fox Cities. The mission is to familiarize college students from around the Midwest with the Fox Cities community, its top employers, and the limitless career paths available here. High-tech companies in the Fox Cities depend on high-quality talent to meet current needs and facilitate future growth. Talent Upload is the matchmaker, giving students an opportunity to explore life as a young professional in the Fox Cities and employers a chance to engage them before they enter this ultra-competitive market.” That was a lot of nice words…but let me break this down for you: students are picked up from their various colleges by coach bus and brought to the Fox Cities. They are put up at The Radisson Hotel in downtown Appleton. They are given spending money when they arrive. They are fed the entire three days…and I mean fed well. Students are given tours of companies in the career areas they are interested in. They are exposed to employers at various events throughout the Fox Cities at unique locations. They have the opportunity to win some sweet prizes, like Beats By Dre headphones. And the best part is, a majority of them walk away with internship or job offers from the sponsoring companies in the Fox Cities. Omni was happy to sponsor Talent Upload since its inception and we have enjoyed playing a role in the last three iterations of the event. I am impressed with the caliber of students I encounter during the three days each time and I am surprised that more students don’t take advantage of this opportunity that is given to them. I think back to my college-self and hear the words “free food” and think I would have signed up immediately. One common theme I did hear throughout was that the city or community was the most important factor in a student's career move.  I am also personally impressed with the team at the Fox Cities Regional Partnership for their efforts in coordinating this major undertaking. It really is a major credit to the organizations within the Fox Cities that they can come together to provide this experience for these students. It shows that we understand this is about showcasing what our community has to offer and that the students can make their choice of where to work based upon the community they are in first. This concept was so well received that Fox Cities Talent Upload earned the International Economic Development Council awards for Best in Show and Special Events this past year. If you are or know a college student in the Midwest that is interested in a career in computer science, IT or engineering, I strongly encourage you to have them check out this event next fall!

Looking Out for Women in Technology

Events Culture #WeAreOmni

This past September I attended the monthly Women in Technology breakfast series. September’s meeting was a panel of three women CIO’s from the Fox Cities area. They answered questions about their backgrounds, provided tips for difficult situations, and discussed ways to get girls interested in technology careers. What I found the most interesting was that these women had a story much like my own. All of them had taken various steps that led to their careers in technology, despite not ever planning on that future. Since I joined Omni, we often have students come into the office and have panels of our own. Every time it is my turn to discuss my background, I start off with the fact that I probably had a different start in technology than my peers. I made the assumption that my peers knew they wanted to be in technology, went to college for it and had it all planned out. When the panel at WIT mentioned this was not the case for them, that assumption started to dissolve. Eyes Open Towards the end of the panel, the discussion was opened up about how we can get more women to take that leap into technology. A lot of great tips and personal advice were provided, and it got me thinking even more about what my thoughts were on the topic. I came to one simple conclusion: KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN! Each day we come into work and immediately start focusing on what we need to accomplish. We diligently work on our tasks and before you know it, the day is complete. Then we go home and continue to focus on tasks. Grocery shopping, cleaning the house, yard work, kids, etc. We are a culture that is always thinking about the “stuff” that needs to get done. Due to this, I think we sometimes fail to keep our eyes open to our surroundings. Now I am sure you are asking, what does this have to do with bringing women into technology? Well, this one small thing about our lives is how I fell into technology. What They Saw About five years ago, I was working at a job that felt like it kept getting pulled out from underneath me. Within my first two years at the company, I had changed regional managers three times and my company had been bought by another company, twice. Every time I felt I was connecting with my manager, something would change and I would no longer have that person in my life. By the time I reached my third regional manager, I admit I was hesitant to jump in and really be a part of his team. I am not a naturally outgoing person, and here was another manager who had an established team that I was being thrown into. Shortly after I joined his team, I was told I was going to give a financial presentation to the VP of the company. As I had just started being a part of the team, I was not sure what I was supposed to do for these types of presentations. After days of being frustrated, I just did the presentation the way I thought I should and hoped for the best. I was pulled aside after the meeting and immediately got nervous about the feedback I was about to receive. That was when I was asked “Did you have any interest in working at our corporate office?” Shortly after this meeting, I was emailed a job description for an Agile Product Owner in our corporate office in South Carolina. I read the job description and was completely confused. This had nothing to do with my prior experience or the presentation I gave, and it was full of acronyms (90% of what IT is) that I didn’t know. In talking to my manager, he reassured me that I would be great and I just needed to go in for the interview. So a few weeks later, I was on a plane to South Carolina. I will save you the fun details of how I continued to be confused during my seven interviews and just let you know that I was offered the job, accepted, and it started my technology career. Keep Looking That manager (and a few others), saw the skills and natural ability that I had, and knew it could be applied to a completely different role. It was a vision, idea, and future that I could not have seen or planned. None of that would have happened, if the people around me did not have their eyes open and were paying attention. This is why I think the best way to bring more women into technology is to keep looking outside of the traditional IT field. My story and the story of those amazing CIO’s at the WIT panel, are a reminder that skills you learn at every job, can be used towards a future you may not even see coming.

Omni Takes on Employee Ownership Month

Events Culture Community #WeAreOmni Employee Ownership

For over 20 years, employee-owned companies have been encouraged by the ESOP Association to celebrate this unique trait during the month of October, which has been designated as Employee Ownership Month. Omni has done just that since it went from being privately held by one owner to now being owned by its more than 100 employees. Omni became an employee-owned company in 2009 and the employee owners have been fortunate to see individual benefits in the increase of their stock prices over the years. But being an employee-owned company is more than just having a financial share in the company. I personally feel like I have more of a voice in my company, because I truly am an owner. One area where I have had the most fun with my role as an owner is in the planning of Employee Ownership Month activities. I helped plan and coordinate the many activities last year and am excited about the plans we have in store for this upcoming October. We developed a calendar of events to share with all of our owners and just about every day during the month of October, we have something going on as part of our efforts for Employee Ownership Month. I would like to highlight several of them below that I find especially fitting for the month. Techies Day – Did you know it is National Techies Day on Monday, October 3rd? How fitting is it that this day falls in the month of October for a technology consulting company that is employee owned? It’s an easy way to recognize our team that day. Cell Phones for Soldiers Drive – At Omni, we typically have a charitable or civic cause we try to tie into some activity during the month. Each branch is asked to make a difference during Employee Ownership Month this year by bringing in old cell phones, smart phones, or tablets to be donated to the Cell Phones for Soldiers Organization. Donated phones are sold and that money is used to purchase calling cards that soldiers can use to make phone calls home. We figured it was time to try something related more closely to the tech world for our give back. If you want to stop by our branches in Appleton, Madison or Milwaukee and drop one off as well, you are more than welcome to. Running Man Photo Contest - Our branding has one image that has been labeled by many members of our team as the “running man.” We plan to have some fun with that element! We are encouraging employee owners to submit their best “Running Man” photos that feature them. They have free reign on creativity and they are allowed to use any graphics programs they wish to. Look for these photos on our Facebook page the week of October 24th and vote for your favorite entry by “liking” it. The employee with the most likes will receive a $100 Amazon gift card for their efforts! ESOP 5 Question Quiz – Each Monday, employees will receive an e-mail with 5 questions related to ESOPs, financial terms, Omni, etc. The employee owner with the most correct answers at the end of the month will be awarded an Omni branded item of clothing. This is a fun way to engage the owners in some ESOP and Omni education. Alien Recon Game – Members of our development team created a game for That Conference this past summer called Alien Recon. It is a photo scavenger hunt web app that can be played with a mobile device. It was a huge hit and we are doing our second go round with our employee owners because they also got a kick out of it. Look for a future blog on Alien Recon with a little more detail! ESOP 101 – While we typically give an ESOP 101 presentation to all new employee owners when they start, we try to have an offering at least once a year with our Chief Financial Officer that is open to all employee owners. After all, the longer you are part of the ESOP, the more invested you become, which typically means the more questions you have. It’s natural. This presentation is an easy way for us to educate our team. Halloween Costume Contest – With Employee Ownership Month being in October, it only makes sense to include a costume contest component to our list of events. Employees are encouraged to dress in costume or Halloween spirit on the 31st and also submit photos of themselves in costume. We award our most creative individuals with gift certificates. This is a small list of events. Our calendar also includes six different lunch and learns led by employee owners, presentations and attendance at business and community events throughout Wisconsin by our owners, a blood drive, a LAN party, and health risk assessment coaching. There is no doubt that our employee owners will find themselves involved in something at Omni during October. What are you doing for Employee Ownership Month? We are always looking to change up the plans year to year and welcome new ideas.