How to work from home and look good doing it [updated for 2020]

In this article, we'll discuss how to work from home, how to stay productive and secure, and what tools you might want to consider to do so.
Technology has enabled us to work remotely and we've seen a huge increase of that in the last decade, especially now with COVID-19 forcing businesses into a remote work policy.
Telecommuting offers wonderful benefits to companies and workers alike, with an improved work-life balance topping the charts. People who are working from home are also likely to be more engaged in their jobs, and being engaged can lead to higher profitability, mobile productivity, customer engagement, and other positive business outcomes.
However, remote teams cab experience problems of their own. At the forefront is the disconnection that naturally occurs when team members work separately from the rest of the team. If partially remote, with some workers in the office, remote workers don't get the same experience of office culture. However, with it becoming the 'new norm' many leaders are looking at alternative options to built culture remotely through online games and events, message boards, regularly scheduled video meetings and more.
If you’re new to working remote, here are some things you can do to make your experience as successful as possible:
Now that we've covered the basics to being successful when working remote, let's dive into some technology and tools.
As a result of COVID-19, many organizations are looking at moving their business to the cloud. What was once a scary and unknown place in technology, businesses are adopting a cloud strategy more than ever before. Watch our video below to see why you should consider the cloud for a remote workforce.
Our CIO Tony Pecora discusses how you can support a remote workforce with a modern workplace - a deeper dive on some of the tools discussed above. Check out the interview below:

Join a Skype Meeting with Skype for Business Web App [Updated for 2020]

Join a Skype Meeting with Skype for Business Web App

As written on support.office.com
This article has been updated for 2020.

Skype for Business will be sunsetting on July 31, 2021. Have no fear though, as Microsoft Teams will replace it for all your communication needs and empower you to do even more.

What's Teams? Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaboration platform that combines instant messaging, calling, meetings, file sharing, app integration and everything you essentially need to collaborate with your team, no matter where you all are.

If you are a current Skype user, the below still applies and will until it's expired. However, new users that wish to sign up for Skype for Business will be redirected to Teams.

Whether you're new to Microsoft or have been a long time user of Skype, you should be very excited about the transition to Microsoft Teams. Skype is very limited in its capabilities - sure you can chat, make calls and have meetings, but the functionality ends there. Microsoft Teams does all of that and more. Here are some awesome features of Microsoft Teams:

On top of all these great features, you can organize and sort them by different "teams" - clever, right? For example, you can have a "Marketing" Team within Teams that the marketing and sales team to access collateral. You can also have an "All Staff" Team in which everyone in the company has access to. Additionally, you could have an "Executive" team where only the leadership team has access. With these different permissions, you can restrict and control which employees have access to what and keep communication and collaboration organized.

Want to learn more about the benefits of Teams? Read more about Microsoft Teams as the ultimate collaboration tool.

 

If you don’t have the desktop version of Skype for Business, or don’t have a Skype for Business account, you can use Skype for Business Web App to join a Skype Meeting from your browser.
IMPORTANT: You don't need to download or install any apps to join a Skype Meeting with Skype for Business Web App. Just select the link in the meeting request email and follow the instructions in the browser window to join.
If you're having difficulty joining, check out Trouble installing the Skype for Business Web App Plug-in?.

Join the meeting

Here are the basic steps to join a Skype Meeting from Skype for Business Web App:
    1. Open the meeting request in your email or calendar and select Join Skype Meeting.
    2. Enter your name on the sign-in screen and select Join the meeting.
      skype-for-biz-web-app-managed-solution
    3. Follow your browser's instructions for installing the Skype for Business Web App Plug-in, which is required for audio, video, and screen sharing.
    4. Depending on the meeting options set by the organizer, you'll either join the meeting immediately, or be directed to the virtual lobby.Skype for Business Web App virtual lobby
    5. If you're in the lobby, the meeting organizer and other presenters are immediately notified that you're waiting.
      Admit someone who is waiting in the lobby
If you run in to trouble, or just want more detail, read on:
  1. To begin, do one of the following:
    • If you have Outlook or Outlook Web App, go to your Calendar, open the meeting request, and select Join Skype Meeting.
      OR
    • Open the email with the meeting request and select Join Skype Meeting.
      TIP:  If you’re having trouble joining the meeting, open an InPrivate Browsing session in Internet Explorer and try joining the meeting again.
  2. When Skype for Business Web App opens, do one of the following to join the meeting:
    • To join as a guest, enter your name and select Join the meeting.
      OR
    • To join a meeting set up by someone in your organization, select Sign in if you are from the organizer’s company orSign in if you are an Office 365 user, and then enter the same user name and password you use to sign in to your organization's network.
    TIP: Select Remember me on this computer to help speed up the join process the next time you use Skype for Business Web App. This option also gives you more choices for connecting to meeting audio the next time you join.
  3. Follow your browser’s instructions for downloading and installing the plug in. For example, in Internet Explorer, select Run when you see the alert at the bottom of the browser window.
    IMPORTANT: The Skype for Business Web App plug-in is required for audio, video, and screen sharing, so you should install it even if you plan to call in to the meeting by phone. You only need to install it once.
  4. In the Skype for Business Web App plug-in security alert, select Allow.
  5. If a Windows Firewall security alert appears, it’s OK to select Cancel if you don’t have administrator privileges on your computer. This won't affect your meeting.
  6. If you’ve already joined the meeting and the plug-in didn’t install, point to the phone icon and select Call to start the installation process.

Join the meeting with the desktop version of Skype for Business if the meeting request is from someone in your organization

If the meeting request is from a colleague or co-worker, you may be able install and use the desktop version of Skype for Business for more features and flexibility during the meeting. If your organization uses Office 365, you can install Skype for Business and other desktop apps from the Office 365 portal. Otherwise, contact your workplace technical support—typically the person who set up your Skype for Business account —for the location of the download.
IMPORTANT:

Join with Skype for Business Web App if Skype for Business desktop is installed

In some cases you may want to join a meeting with Skype for Business Web App even if the desktop version of Skype for Business is installed.
  1. In the meeting request, right-click or tap and hold the  Join Skype Meeting link, and select Copy Hyperlink.
  2. Paste the meeting link into a browser address box, and add ?sl=1 at the end. For example: https://join.contoso.com/meet/patrick/ABCDEFGH?sl=1
  3. Press Enter to join the meeting with Skype for Business Web App.

If you found this article interesting, you might want to check out some of our information on Microsoft Teams. Learn more about Microsoft Teams here.

Outsourcing IT Trends to Watch

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Updated December 2018

Outsourcing integration challenges have increased, production workloads, applications, and enterprise systems are moving to the cloud, and security is a top concern for everyone, no matter your industry.

What's next?

Nothing is certain, however, industry watchers expect a number of shifts in IT as it relates to overall business objectives and strategies.

We also expect to see maturation in cloud computing, robotic process automation (RPA), and cognitive capabilities while entities like the call center and business models based solely on labor arbitrage fade into history.

 

1. Industry insecurity reigns

“It will be one of a handful of times that outsourcing will be affected by the political climate, says Rebecca Eisner, a partner in Mayer Brown's Technology Transactions practice. The new U.S. administration has already had an impact on trade agreements, regulations, tax policies, visas, and immigration--which big or small have had an impact on the outsourcing industry, which continues to rely on the benefits of global labor arbitrage. And Brexit only adds to industry anxiety in the U.K. and Europe.

Companies have begun assessing and auditing their contracts to determine the impact, says Christopher A Seidl, partner and chair of the global business and technology sourcing group at Robins Kaplan. “This will lead to deeper discussions between parties, and more renegotiations, over terms relating to currency, changes in the law, and the overall costs of the deal,” Seidl predicts. “They will also seek to add flexibility into their outsourcing arrangements through, for example, new termination rights, rights to move locations, rights to insource, and other similar protections,” Eisner says.

 

2. Security stays top of mind

Information and data security will continue to be a major concern for the foreseeable future. “Traction for advanced security automation, threat intelligence, and security analytics solutions will continue to be robust as enterprises look to build a holistic approach to enterprise security and fend off business risks,” says Jimit Arora, a partner in the Everest Group’s IT services division. “As-a-service models to scale security capabilities and dynamically support cloud-based workloads will also gather steam.”

Vendors will take more of a lead role in protecting the enterprise through security offerings, adds Seidl. “Vendors won't simply be thought of as an entry point for hackers, but rather as an ally for regulators, politicians, and businesses who continue to be challenged in looking for solutions.”

We are already seeing many Managed Services and IT Providers become Managed Security Service Providers which can be attributed to the importance of security in today's business environment.

 

3. Intelligent automation drives down costs

"Intelligent automation and robotic process automation will take a step function forward for certain providers, disrupting existing commercial outsourcing structures and driving down costs and, to a lesser degree, prices in the market,” predicts David Rutchik, executive managing director with outsourcing consultancy Pace Harmon. “This will result in supplier margin expansion, greater savings opportunities for enterprise buyers, the need for enterprises to renegotiate existing outsourcing deals, and the bifurcation of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in the marketplace."

 

4. Customers demand more from the cloud

The cloud is no longer new and adoption continues to increase.  “Clients will force cloud providers to mature,” says Adam Strichman, founder of boutique outsourcing consultancy Sanda Partners. “Clients will become savvier about what a cloud service really means, and these ‘me too’ cloud services are going to have to grow up or be kicked to the curb.” Customers will be looking to leverage the cloud as the core platform for new internal and external initiatives, adds Arora. “Enterprises will demand significantly more value from cloud service providers to drive transformation in their business.”

 

With technology always evolving and businesses constantly innovating, it will be interesting to see what's next in the world of outsourced IT.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row font_color="#ffffff" css=".vc_custom_1471641930410{background-color: #6994bf !important;}"][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation="appear"]

Learn more about managed services provided by Managed Solution


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#GivingTuesday: A Global Day of Giving

#GivingTuesday was founded by Henry Timms, Executive Director of the 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center in New York City, back in 2012. His goal was to rally people to donate to their favorite cause on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
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“The idea around #GivingTuesday was that after all of the consumption of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, what if we could think about giving back?” Timms explains. It's a bit ironic that during a month that's centered around be grateful and thankful, we end it with these consumer holidays focused on buying things we don't need. Giving Tuesday brings back that gratefulness mentality and allows us to reflect on what we're thankful for that we have that others may not.
Giving Tuesday also fit nicely with the mission of the 92nd Street Y, “where we’re reimagining community for a new generation,” he adds. “In a world that’s increasingly so divided, that’s one thing we share, our capacity to give to one another.”
How is the technology community getting involved? Microsoft is leading by example and was one of the first to sign on, Timms says. “Microsoft got involved when we had no idea what this could be. It was experimental, and Microsoft’s commitment sent a message to the corporate world about what it could be.”
Ken Ryals, Senior Director for Microsoft Citizenship, says, "the idea, and the way it celebrates generosity, seemed a natural extension of the company’s ethos and Microsoft’s Employee Giving Campaign. It’s turned into a partnership that’s grown and grown. Together, we have made a real impact.”
Timms says one of the most exciting things about the movement he founded is watching it grow around the world. #GivingTuesday has grown massively and has now raised money in over 150 countries.  That's a whole lot of giving, and a whole lot to be thankful for.
His favorite #GivingTuesday story is a simple one, about a guy from a contracting firm who volunteered by working at a local homeless shelter. He told his supervisor it was the best day he’d ever had because it was the first time he’d been a part of giving back. (Something typically reserved for other people.)
“Prior to #GivingTuesday, he’d had no entry point into becoming a philanthropist,” Timms explains. “We are inspiring a new generation of philanthropy.”
Learn more and donate, here.

Meet the Tech Exec: George Suda, CIO, Smile Brand Inc.

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MEET THE TECH EXEC
George Suda
CIO
Smile Brand Inc.

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
George Suda joined Smile Brands Inc. as Chief Information Officer in January 2008. George is responsible for all of the company's technological systems and projects, plus he oversees all Central Business Office functions.
In his career George spent 11 years with Apria Healthcare, the country’s leading provider of home healthcare products, ultimately as the Executive Vice President and CIO. In this role George was responsible for managing all aspects of the information services strategy in all 50 states. He was responsible for making significant changes in the billing and collections process that had substantial effect on insurance denials and company Days Sales Outstanding.
George attended Oklahoma State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix and an Executive MBA from Chapman University, where he also received the Beta Gamma Sigma & Dean’s Award as the top MBA student. George continues to be involved at Chapman serving on the Board of Counselors.

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Tell us a little about Smile Brand and the role of IT within the company.  
We have about 400 offices across the U.S., and the IT department supplies all technical support to those offices including phones, data, management systems, reporting, financials, the whole works. We also support a lot of the x-ray functionalities, since it’s all digital, so we move somewhere in the vicinity of 30,000-40,000 x-rays per day across our network, across all locations. We have all phases of dental from general dentistry to oral surgery, so we have a lot of lines of business across the organization. Our help desk is in Texas of 10 employees, so they'll call our help desk first.   
What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?   
I wanted to be a pro football player. I played college ball and got injured and that was that. IT wasn't on my mind but after taking a couple of classes, I thought it was pretty neat.   
What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/Key Executives about their partnership with IT?  What are they expecting you to look at?   
How can we better support them and all processes. We just brought on someone who's business analytics and process improvement to see how we could use tech to eliminate manual steps and improve processes. We've been continually doing a lot of development projects that work directly with the business leaders. I think we shifted more from short term projects to long term projects with the scope of projects expanding fast. We were always aligned with the executives but now we've more aligned with the development team to release a lot that is helping the business.   
How do you see the role of the CIO changing as IT becomes more essential to business operations? 
I think one of the big changes that I see is that IT has definitely gotten more complicated. Some of the traditional solutions we've considered in the past aren't looked the same as they used to be. The decision that we're making on technology are a lot different and there are a lot more web based solutions for us. There are more hybrid development solutions that are more viable now than they've ever been. With pay as you go, it’s a lot easier to do ROI rather than spending millions of dollars so you could scale with multiple applications.    
As a CIO, what is your biggest technology challenge or concerns for the upcoming year?   
Security is what keeps me up at night. It's eating up more and more of the budget and we're seeing more and more threats. It's what you don't know; before, security was pretty easy, but now we've got cloud based servers all over the place and there are threats coming from every direction. Keeping that environment up and making it top of mind is one of those things that we always have to address. It's one of those things that we constantly revisit and it takes up a lot of our conversations. A lot of companies think going to the cloud increases security issues but let me tell you: if you think any company can do security better than AWS, you're wrong. They put more money into security than most companies put in their IT budget.   
 What’s your take on public cloud vs. on premise?  
We are about 60% in the cloud now. We are big proponent of moving stuff to the cloud. In today's day and age its really difficult to get the skill set with all of the skills you need. We have another push to move data to the cloud in October – November. We do have servers for handling x-rays in our offices we won't move because if we lose connectivity to the network, we cannot conduct business. That's why we do have some data that we prefer to keep on premise.   
Has the idea of using cloud changed your mindset of using outsourced/Managed Services? 
We actually worked with a company to help move us to the cloud and we ended up firing them in three months. You really need to be careful with what you outsource because we don't want to end up held hostage. We ended up doing things quicker when we did it internally. We do pay a maintenance agreement with Amazon so we get some of their support which has worked fine for us. We use a diverse base of technology and the skills of the managed service provider we tried using just weren't where we needed them to be.; they tended to push us toward their wheelhouse rather than aligning with our project plan and getting us to where we wanted to be.   
 Have you had experience hiring millennials? If so how is this different from traditional hiring?   
We're doing a lot of web based java so it fits right into what we they are doing. We've hired a couple of people right out of college that have grown with the company. You need to make sure you're bringing them up; that you are aligning the salary with the skillset of millennials who are adapting quickly and bringing value to the organization. I used to be on the board of counselors at Chapman University and I am close with their dean of the business school, so I'm around young adults frequently.  
Do you feel IT still carries the title of a cost center rather than revenue driver?   
The closer you get to the business the more of a revenue driver you are. I got the call centers initially because there were problems with them and a lot of what goes on in the call centers is driven by technology. We were able to really put some analytics around it that added technology which allowed us to take more calls with the same amount of reps, driving revenue. To be successful, you need to be either driving revenue or cutting costs, but either way you need to be helping.  
 If you could give guidance to any CIO, IT Manager Director about how they position their careers what would you tell them?   
One of the things is when I get in meetings with the business people, I don't talk tech (bytes, servers etc.). That may be IT's job but that's not the business' job. I think you need to understand business first so you don’t confuse people with the other stuff. You need to understand and learn the business before you talk to the business people. If all you know is IT they are not going to listen. The only way to solve business problems is to understand those problems.   

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Meet the Tech Exec: Jim Phillips, SVP & CIO, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

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MEET THE TECH EXEC
Jim Phillips
SVP & CIO
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Jim Phillips has over twenty five years of experience in financial services in both banking and insurance. Prior to joining SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union he was the SVP & CIO at Stanford Federal Credit Union where he led enterprise transformation efforts including a core system conversion, infrastructure upgrades, and deployment of innovative new online and mobile technologies. Before Stanford Jim served as SVP & CIO at Arizona Federal Credit Union in Phoenix Arizona managing infrastructure upgrades and large scale projects around disaster recovery and data analytics. Jim previously served as President of a banking consulting group working with mid-sized Banks and Credit Unions around the country. He was a Senior Manager in the Financial Service practice at Accenture, and a Vice President at Bank of America for Business, Commercial and Trust systems. Jim’s is best known for development of enterprise technology strategies that add value to the business units he serves. 

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What did you want to be when you were a kid?  
Growing up, my dad managed a small, regional bank. I thought it was really cool and professional and wanted to follow his footsteps. After developing a new IT system for a life insurance company, I discovered that combining my love of development with helping people achieve financial security was the right direction for my career.  
Now, serving as the CIO for SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union - and helping our Members’ better their financial lives - I am doing exactly what I’d dreamed of all those years ago. 
What’s the #1 area of focus CIOs should concentrate on?    
In today’s world, I believe every CIO’s top focus should be on keeping their customer’s information safe – I know that’s what keeps me up at night. In our case, our Members have trusted us with their personal information so that we can help them fulfill many of their financial dreams. It is our responsibility to keep their information protected in an increasingly connected retail environment. More and more consumers are using their debit and credit cards through wallets, apps and smartphone “pays.” With hacking and cyber attacks becoming more prevalent, sophisticated and agile, IT areas must focus on continuous improvement of security programs to keep both their customer’s information and their brand’s reputation secure. 
Have you experienced any challenges in hiring millennials?    
Compared with online gaming companies, startups and tech giants, financial services is not always perceived as the coolest place to work. However, as an industry, we are progressively evolving away from a more traditional work style to one that allows flexibility to attract the many different generations in the workplace today.    
For the most part, millennials are looking for organizations that allow them to learn and develop. They want their job to fit their life and are looking for their work to have meaning and purpose.  
This aligns very well with the credit union principles and philosophies that have been part of our culture since our founding. We are a not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by our Members, living the “people helping people” philosophy each day while supporting the educational communities and cities in which we operate. Because we’re an educational-based credit union, training, developing and providing opportunities for intellectual growth for our employees is very important to us.  
For these reasons, I believe we’re a great fit for millennials.  
What’s your take on public cloud? 
The benefits of using a public cloud are increasing from price to access and configuration. While we are still primarily an on-premise shop, that is changing for us and other financial institutions as well. A few years ago we were hesitant to move services to the cloud because of the sensitive nature of the data that we manage. We’ve gotten to the point that we are fully confident in the security of hosted cloud solutions and are looking to move some of our mobile services to the cloud. Historically, we've managed our own data centers, but now many banks and credit unions are moving to colocation facilities that are better maintained and managed by leading data centers. 
We are hearing so much about the internet of things – what does or could the internet of things for your business look like?  
We started to see the internet of things pop up about two years ago. There are some pretty exciting things happening and we’ve been evaluating opportunities to leverage that would make it even easier for Members to transact with us. We’re exploring integration opportunities with Fitbits, the Alexa app with capabilities for simple transactions like transferring funds that would improve our Members’ experience. There’s also a lot going on in the financial payments space with the ability to pay with your watch or fingerprint, so we’re also talking to our vendor partners about IoT embedded information. 
What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/Key Executives about their partnership with IT?  What are they expecting you to look at? 
Our CEO relies on IT to be an advisor for the entire organization. We’re here to provide our internal partners with more than just technical deliverables. They need us to be consultative, take the time to understand the objectives they’re trying to accomplish and come up with the right solutions. Often IT departments have a back office mentality -  that needs to change.   
If you could give guidance to any CIO, IT Manager, Director about how they position their careers what would you tell them? 
Let’s face it – us IT geeks love technology, and it’s easy for us to become enamored with developing and launching technology for technology’s sake. What’s most important is to stay focused on meeting the needs of your audience with relevant technology that helps make their lives better. At SchoolsFirst FCU, we begin with our Members; seeking their feedback and reviewing their input to implement technology that makes it easier and safer for them to interact and transact with us.   

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WEBINAR: Pay-as-You-Go Market Disruption - How to build a Strategic Licensing Plan

WEBINAR:  Pay-As-You-Go Market Disruption – How to Build a Strategic Licensing Plan

You might have missed our live webinar lunch-n-learn series on December 9th, but you don't have to miss out on licensing strategy. We have a recording of the webinar below so you don't have to miss out! Watch the video to hear Founder of Managed Solution, Sean Ferrel, discuss how Pay-as-You-Go Licensing can help you save money and keep your business growing.
A Strategic Licensing Plan can save you and your business from pouring time and money into cloud solutions. Learn how to compare, purchase, provision and manage licensing through these game-changing cloud licensing portals.

 

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta_button2 h2="Licensing and Licensing Deployments have never been easier." title="Purchase Pay As You Go Licensing Through Your CSP Partner Today! " link="url:http%3A%2F%2Finfo.managedsolution.com%2Fpay-as-you-go||"]Managed Solution is in the top 1% of Microsoft Cloud Service Providers worldwide, is an award-winning Microsoft National Solutions Provider and premier partner aligned with Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.[/vc_cta_button2][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Meet the Tech Exec: Charles Podesta, CIO, UCI Health

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MEET THE TECH EXEC
Charles Podesta
CIO
UCI Health

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Over thirty years experience in Information Technology for Healthcare, the last eighteen years as a Chief Information Officer, Podesta has worked for Academic Medical Centers, Health Systems and Community Hospitals. He is currently the CIO for University of California Irvine Health. Previous to this engagement Podesta was SVP & CIO of Fletcher Allen Healthcare, a large academic medical center and health system in Burlington, VT.
Other positions included SVP & CIO at Caritas Christi Health Care, now Steward Health in eastern MA, CIO at Berkshire Health Systems, Pittsfield, MA, Director of IS and Interim CIO for Baystate Health Systems in Springfield, MA. And prior to that, leadership positions at St Vincent Hospital, Worcester, MA; UMASS/Memorial, Worcester, MA and Magee-Women’s Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA.
Over the years, Podesta has made numerous presentations at national conferences and is quoted widely in healthcare publications on a variety of IT topics including Epic’s Community Connect Program.

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What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?
I was interested in being a major-league baseball player or being in a band, and I currently play spoons for bands so I kind of made it. Maybe not with a real instrument but it’s fun, you can check out my YouTube account to learn more -just type in Chuck Podesta Spoons.
What innovative projects are you the CIO focusing on this year to support the vison and mission of UC Irvine Health?
We're currently working on a huge strategic project with UC San Diego, we're changing our electronic health records from all scripts base to the Epic system. UC San Diego has already migrated to this system and will be hosting us, which is saving us a lot of money being we won't have to build a system from scratch. We're doing it as a collaboration with UCSD so from a strategy perspective we'll have two independent academic medical centers on a single instance of that electronic health record. Patients that we both serve will be in a single database so when physicians access that information they could see patient data from anywhere in the UCSD or UCI network. We're moving to population value based care and strategically working together on joint programs serving areas that may be underserviced from a standpoint of health. Having a single electronic record between the two organizations really supports that effort both in Orange County and in San Diego.
We go live in November with this big project but parallel to that we’re looking at a single support model from an IT perspective between San Diego and UCI because if we have a single instance of the electronic health record we don't really need two IT teams supporting it separately. We're going through a process looking at where we can share and centralize resources with the implementation. It's pretty exciting, we'll be the first two academic medical centers on the same instance of electronic health record in the United States when we go live. It's never been done before. We're making the single support model scalable so other UCs could potentially take advantage of that as well to reduce costs. It's more about IT following strategy, making sure you create the IT components to follow your business strategy and being a key partner throughout the process.
What's your take on Public Cloud and how have you as the CIO improved academic healthcare workflows due to cloud technology?
I just had a keynote speaking engagement on a panel at a recent cloud conference. If you look outside of healthcare, yes everyone is moving to the cloud. The issue with healthcare has always been with the Protected Health Information (PHI) and as CIOs we have been nervous about moving that information to a cloud based system with the risk of having a breach. That's always been in the back of our minds with the thought of how fast you really should move to the cloud. Some of the technologies we use aren't architected for the cloud, which is another reason we've been slow to adopt, but now it's starting to rapidly move in that direction.
When we first started working on a recent analytics project, we had a large new data warehouse on premise that we just recently moved to the cloud. With HIPAA protection in place the savings are tremendous because now you're able to scale up or down and easily add more storage when its needed, making it a lot less expensive. We're seeing huge benefits from that right now so what I think you'll see is more and more movement going forward. Every time we look at a new
application we always look to see if we can run it from the cloud, either private cloud or public cloud. Now with all the security protection public cloud vendors are all moving in that direction, getting into the healthcare side of the business.
With our Epic project, both UCSD and UCI are having Epic host us on their private cloud at their large datacenter headquarters in Wisconsin. Electronic health will technically be in the cloud. If you talk to 100 CIOs you'll get 50% that express wanting to move to the cloud and the other 50% that aren't ready to move, I think we are at a crossroads. It's about timing, a few of us should try it; as we get a year or two down the road and see the savings without breaches the fear will be eliminated and others will get more comfortable.
What innovative projects are you the CIO focusing on this year to support the vison and mission of UC Irvine Health?
We're working with a start-up company doing quite a bit on the analytics side. We're building what we like to call an ecosystem with a new data warehouse. We like to call it an ecosystem because it's a living, breathing entity instead of thinking of it as a being a black box that receives information from all various sources like electronic health records or lab systems, mapping it to some data warehouse that you must update once a day for reporting. That worked in the past with Microsoft SQL but we're moving into a more native format wherever it comes from whether it be social media, IoTs sensor information, and again the electronic health record, tracking the data in real time and being able to use it right away. This way you don't have a bunch of people mapping the information, you've created a self-service environment. We now have dashboard graphics to display as data is refreshing in real time on a second by second basics, so they could start to use the data for research or operations. That's why we call it an ecosystem because what is looks like right now is different from what it looks like 30 seconds from now based on the data that its ingesting.
We're starting to do a lot of subscriptions with social media, it's amazing what's out there. Just from turning your location services on it's unbelievable with the amount of information being sent to the cloud. We could look at patients and see how they are using applications and how they prefer to collaborate, email vs. text messaging. If you’re going after a specific demographic with a message you could now see how you should target them based on the analytics.
With these analytics, we’re trying to create a personal experience designed to target a personal persona based on the data as a corporation group. Design an experience for patients without having to ask, we just know from the data insights. Part of how you get reimbursed is based on the patient experience. You're going to see a lot of Chief Experience Officers coming in to drive that experience into the healthcare space. We want patients to have a satisfying experience when they’re spending time to visit our facilitates.
What are your specific hiring challenges if any?
It's a very competitive area, Epic is one of the leading electronic healthcare systems along with Cerner, they probably take up 80% of market share between the two of them. Once you get on that specific platform it's hard to find talented professionals with those specialized skills and once they get the certifications in the product they become highly marketed, so consulting companies are recruiting your best employees. You need to get creative with some strategies, our UCI
undergraduate and graduate school is filled with smart engineers, as well as excellent students with math, science and even English majors. When you hire millennials right out of college and get them certified on Epic they get up to speed quickly because you’re trying to hire the best and brightest. I've had success managing and measuring success during my tenure at the University of Vermont where we would hire two or three millennials per year. Managing them is different. They produce very productive work but have a work hard, play hard attitude so actually work better and faster without a deadline. They enjoy completing projects so they could move on to the next thing, rather than waiting until the last minute when a deadline is provided. New graduates are also compensated at a lower pay scale so you may lose them after a few years as their pay scale goes up, if you manage them well they work very well. Don't get me wrong you also need to recruit employees with more experience, you should just leverage millennials as a strategic way to recruit.
What kind of messaging is coming down from key executives about their partnership with IT?
With the Epic implementation, our joint collaboration has been huge, we have 700 people across the organization working on this project. I just did a big presentation to our executive team addressing where we are on progress and the benefits in each of the areas whether it be revenue cycle or clinical, they are all looking for efficiencies within their area based on the new electronic health record. This is making nurses and physicians more productive while the revenue cycle is calculating charges we may be currenting losing so getting up in revenue by utilizing technology to empower the business going forward is key. Right now, we have a bunch of different systems but Epic will provide us with a single system that integrates efficiencies so everyone can really see where the information is flowing. That’s what they’re looking for right now. Our collaboration with UCSD is huge for us as they've been live on the system for a while now so they're educating us on how they are using it best.
If you won the lottery, what would you do?
I would start a foundation, build a school somewhere either in the United States in a poverty-stricken area or outside of the United States. That's something I've been thinking about anyway. I’m passionate about running marathons that support charities, so I'm at a stage in my life where I want to give back. I've been blessed with a wonderful family and life so I would definitely want to start a foundation that would give back in some way.
Has the idea of using cloud changed your mindset of outsourcing IT?
We still mainly handle IT inhouse but outsourcing, which we now refer to more as managed services has its place for certain things if you can get creative around that. I think outsourcing to other countries will slow down more, especially in healthcare. You really need to look at your core competencies and consider what you need to accomplish for them. We are outsourcing our datacenter to the cloud and letting those experts manage it as it’s not our core competency so I look at that as smart outsourcing.
If you could give guidance to any CIO about how they position their careers what would you tell them?
It’s interesting because it depends what they actually want to accomplish. Do they want to be a CIO or VP from an Operational standpoint? There is a place for both and depending on your work style you need to sit down and consider how you prefer managing and leading. Ask yourself the question, am I tactical and results driven when leading people day to day or do I like to sit back and look at what should be happening a year from now and take more of a strategic standpoint. Then you need to consider what both entail. I’ve seen employees get promoted to a VP or Director role and do extremely well there because they are hands on and could still patriciate in strategy but really excel in the day to day operations. I would say that role is 30% strategic and 70% technical from an operational standpoint. I’ve seen employees excel in these roles and get promoted to CIO and get lost, finding it hard to make that leap and start thinking in a unique way. You need to be introspective about yourself and really consider if you want that change because both roles are very important so if you excel as a Director or VP you could be very successful staying in that role rather than taking the leap. When I was in that role and interested in becoming a CIO I got a mentor who I asked to coach me in understanding the differences of the roles, so if you are ready for that leap there are defendable ways to achieve that but my initial advice would be to consider what role you would be more successful in as they are both very important.
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