Lodestar Solutions is Thankful

Lodestar Solutions is Thankful
Lodestar Solutions is Thankful
Written by the Lodestar Solutions Team, November 18th, 2021

This week we are going to take a brief time out from our normal value driven IBM Cognos and coaching blogs.  We at Lodestar Solutions have a lot to be thankful for both personally and professionally.  Please take a moment and read our thoughts below.

Heather Cole

2021 Started out as a year of hope.  The vaccine was being released and I think we all hoped that life would return to “normal.”  But what is normal?  Despite the fact for many of us the world might not have gotten back to where we wished I believe there is still a lot to be grateful for! 

I am thankful for being asked to speak at various virtual events.  I love inspiring people and missed the stage.  I am grateful I have been able to surround myself with amazing individuals remotely like our clients, the new global Artificial Intelligence Data Analytics User Group for which I am a founding member, my fellow high-performance coaches and of course my family and friends.  I love being around people that challenge me to think bigger and act bolder.  On a personal note, my husband Gary was given his green card, so I get to keep him.  We also added a new furry to our family, Louie.  But most of all I am grateful my family and friends have been safe during this uncertain time.

Louie

Mike Bernaiche

Thanksgiving is always a great time of the year to really sit and take stock on what you have to be thankful for.  As I write this, I’m thankful for so many things both professionally and personally.

In a time when many have had to change their career path due to the pandemic, I’m blessed to have a stable job and work for a company that provides so many opportunities for growth and development.  I work with the best clients, peers and team members a guy could ask for. 


Mike Bernaiche

Personally, I’m so thankful and blessed by my family.  My wife is an amazing partner in life and the best wife and friend a person can ask for.  My oldest daughter is a senior in college (yes, I’m starting to feel old) scheduled to graduate in May 2022.  We had another daughter graduate high school in June and she is now in college working towards her future goals.  Our other daughter is now a senior in high school and is applying to a number of colleges and is very interested in political science as a major.  My wife and I are basically empty nesters now and we are so very proud of our children and how successful they are at such young ages. 

In a time where Covid is still a major issue, we all have health and happiness and for that I’m forever grateful. 

Christina Vandeveer

As the year draws closer to the end, I feel I have a lot to be thankful for. In May my husband and I welcomed our 3rd boy to the world, Hunter Thomas Vandeveer. We rescued a four-year-old Boxer named Clark. We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. We have overall had good health as a family, getting through COVID together at the end of my pregnancy. I am thankful for my work with Lodestar Solutions, being able to work from home and be a full-time mom to my three boys and still contribute to the work force. I am able to have such valuable time with my boys when they seem to be getting so big too fast!

As I reflect on the year, I am reminded how easy it is to forget what I have to be thankful for and sometimes focus on the struggles the year has brought. 2021 has not been easy, we are still battling the pandemic and are living in a world that can seem so full of anger and loss. It sometimes is easier to just succumb to the weight of the world than to try to find the joy in every day. My encouragement to you and reminder to myself is to not take one day for granted. We are not promised tomorrow. We have to choose each day how we will live. We can complain about what we don’t have or choose to focus on all we have to be thankful for. I am thankful for so many wonderful people that make a difference in my life for the better every day and I pray that I will choose to do the same. Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving!

Hunter
Clark

Recent Lodestar Solutions Blogs

Thank You

As you can read, we have a lot to be thankful for at Lodestar Solutions.  Thank you to all our clients for an amazing year.  We sincerely appreciate you and the relationships we have developed.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Lodestar Solutions Reflects on 2020 & Goals for 2021

Lodestar Solutions Reflects on 2020 and Goals for 2021
Lodestar Solutions Reflects on 2020 and Goals for 2021
December 31st, 2020

Every New Year I take the time to reflect on what our Lodestar Solutions team accomplished, what we learned, and then set goals for the new year.  This year I thought it would be fun for some of our team members to share their experiences and would love to hear yours too!

Heather Cole -

Biggest Accomplishment 2020 –

Personal - On a personal side I have to say my biggest accomplishment was having one of the first Zoom Weddings.  Gary and I were returning to the US when the world shut down.  He is English and was scheduled to head home to the UK when his flights were cancelled repeatedly.  The realization that if he left, we had no idea when we would see each other again was just the nudge we needed.   Since we have family and friends all over the world it was perfect as everyone could attend. 

Work Related -  I have to say my biggest accomplishment was figuring out how to pivot to better serve our IBM Cognos clients in the new COVID world.  Lodestar Solutions worked hard to help clients do more with the resources they had and software they owned.  We revamped our user group to be virtual.  We got creative and found new ways to help clients save money on their support renewals and licenses.

Learning Experience – This might be more of a reminder then something I learned about the power of reaching out to people and just showing you care.  I started sending more cards in the mail and calling people that popped into my head just to say hi.  The add by ATT to reach out and touch someone should be recycled.  Everyone is missing the personal connection, so it is even more important to get on camera just to say hi. 

Goals for 2021 – 

Say No More - For 2021 I am going to say “no” more, and only say yes to things that are in alignment with who I strive to be.

Volunteer More - I am committing to leading at least 3, Ready for Jobs programs where my husband and I teach youth that age out of foster care how to map out their future and interview for a job.  We are always looking for job coaches if you want to join us.

Random Act of Kindness - At least once a week I will do a random act of kindness.  It can be something as simple as paying for someone’s coffee at Starbucks or leaving flowers on a neighbor’s doorstep, because the world can benefit from even a little more kindness don’t you think?

Automate more – As for a business goal, I want to automate more processes, so Lodestar Solutions runs even more smoothly.  The first thing I will overhaul is our partner program and contract process.  Think about your life.  Is there a repetitive task you must do that could benefit from automation? 

Mike Bernaiche -

Biggest Accomplishment 2020 –

Personal - As I thought about this one, my thoughts went to, “what a year!”  As March hit and COVID started spreading to the US and shutdowns started, life changed in many ways for many people.  Me included.  However, I look back and think it was a blessing in disguise to spend more time with my family, to slow down and be thankful for what I have in my life.  Yes, I missed out on playing softball, coaching basketball, and going on vacation.  All things that are very important to me.  Yes, I struggled some days but honestly, I am just so thankful to work, have an amazing wife and family and slow down and re-prioritize my life.  This pandemic will end and so many in the world will have lost so much.  I think it is important to step out of your own mind and see the big picture.

Work Related - In the COVID world I had to learn to be as agile as possible.  Learn to shift and add more value to our wonderful Lodestar Solutions clients.  I shot videos to provide more info, we created a virtual user group that has been extremely well received and I tried to provide more and more value. 

Learning Experience - I think my learning experience is a combination of personal and work related.  Things in my personal life that I thought were “everything” are just things I did.  They were not everything.  I do look forward to playing and coaching again but now I believe those things will be a part of my life, not my life.  From a work standpoint, adding more and more value is what matters. 

Goals for 2021 -

Learn from Lessons Learned – It is one thing to learn the lesson, it is another to continue to grow based on those lessons and not step backwards.  I am committed to striving to add value and prioritize my work and personal life in 2021.

Senior Year – My middle child is a senior this year.  Her year has been rough starting in March due to COVID.  She is in virtual school, missing out on sports seasons and senior type things like homecoming, football games and just hanging out with friends.  My wife and I have committed to making this best of this year for her.  It is tough and I feel awful for her, but we must stay positive and make it the best we can.

Random Act of Kindness – I am going to steal from Heather on this one, but I feel it is so important.  In this very divided world, I think it is more important to show kindness, compassion, and love.  I will commit as Heather did to a once-a-week random acts of kindness.  I will ask Heather to keep a journal of hers and I will do the same for mine.  Check back towards the end of next year to see all of our random acts of kindness!

Christina Vandeveer -

Biggest Accomplishment 2020 –

Personal – This last year has gone by so quickly and yet so slow at the same time.  Due to COVID I had to adapt many things for my family.  Childcare was shut down, and my husband (works for UPS) went to mandatory six day work weeks.  For several months it was just myself and our two boys, ages 1 and 2 at the time.  I had to learn how to create a sense of normalcy for them when everything had changed.  That didn’t stop once summer came, it really has continued through this whole year.  It has been a struggle, however I am proud of how I have grown as a wife and work from home mother during this last year.

Work Related – Working for Lodestar Solutions has been one of the biggest blessings of 2020 for me.  It has allowed me to still contribute to my family, while being able to stay home with my kids and raise them.  While I have missed having childcare, I haven’t missed a moment with my kids and that is a huge win!  I am happy with how I have been able to juggle learning new ways to help out clients and new ways to juggle work and home.

Learning Experience - I have learned a lot about myself this year.  I am a very social, active person and those were all the things that had to stop in 2020 with COVID.  So, I learned to adapt.  One of the biggest things I discovered is if I am happy and whole, I am a better mom, wife and employee.  So, I stuck to my daily exercising as much as possible.  I found accountability in my gym/coaches and neighbors.  We made goals and stuck to them.  I learned that if I really focused, despite all the negative in the world I was happier.

Goals for 2021 -

Family of 4 to Family of 5! – Our family is expecting a little one at the end of May 2021.  We are excited and slightly terrified but so filled with joy for this blessing!  Looking forward to growing and adapting even more as a mom of three. #teamgirl

Love in Action – One of my love languages and strengths is acts of service.  I feel the most alive and closest to God when I am serving others.  Just because the year flips from 2020 to 2021 doesn’t mean the struggles of today won’t be here tomorrow.  My goal is to face those challenges with hope, and to make sure I find ways throughout the year to do what I know fills my cup.  Plans I have are to continue to serve on my church’s mission board and run the youth basketball league for kids in 1st-12th grade.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  We here at Lodestar Solutions hope it will encourage you to leave 2020 with hope for 2021 and be ready to have your best year yet.  Remember, if you need anything in regards to software licensing we are here to help, email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  To stay up to date on all our blogs click here.  You can also subscribe to our mailing list by clicking here

Thankful Thoughts from the Lodestar Team

Thankful Thoughts
Thankful Thoughts
November 25th, 2020

As the Lodestar team is preparing for our end of year we wanted to share some Thankful Thoughts with all of you.  2020 has been a different year for everyone.  You could describe it as tough, frustrating and exhausting.  But despite the challenges that have been thrown at us this year, we all have much to be thankful for in 2020.

Thankful Thoughts from Heather Cole

Heather Cole

2020 was a year of change. As whole I agree with the rest of the world it was not a good year with COVID, but I like to turn lemons into lemonade and as a result I think 2020 has been one of my best years ever! Yes, crazy right? But not all the effects of the COVID world were negative. And I like to always focus on the positive.

Therefore, I am grateful for:

  • COVID making me realize what is important in life! Friends, family and health!
  • The fact that despite several family members getting COVID everyone is healthy and thriving.
  • COVID giving me the nudge and maybe the courage to get married and doing it on zoom.
  • Having the most amazing husband, who was willing to put his career and gypsy soul on hold to marry an American and apply for a green card.
  • COVID motivating our organization to provide even more value to our clients, especially in struggling industries. See our previous blog on adding value.
  • The amazing Lodestar Solutions team members, partners and clients.  They show up with positive attitudes every day and make the magic happen.
  • Zoom for keeping us all connected. Heck even my almost 80-year-old mother is a zoom expert now, she wasn’t going to miss the wedding.
  • Finally, I am grateful for the best clients in the world! You guys inspire me, challenge me, and make me a better person!

So, how about you? What are you grateful for?

Thankful Thoughts from Mike Bernaiche

Mike Bernaiche and Family

2020 has been an unprecedented year for the world. Icons of different industries have passed. This includes but not limited to - NBA star and his daughter, Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Black Panther Actor, Chadwick Boseman, TV stars Alex Trebek and Regis Philbin, original James Bond, Sean Connery, legendary guitarist, Eddie Van Halen and congressman and civil right icon, John Lewis. 

Along with these losses the United States has lost 250,000+ citizens to the COVID pandemic and the world has lost over a million more and growing daily. People continue to worry about their jobs, the economy and their health and loved ones as the pandemic surges. With all this tragedy, it is important to take a moment and think about what you are thankful for. Here is my list of thankful thoughts. 

I’m first and foremost thankful for my faith that I can lean on through tough times. I’m thankful for my wife and children. My wife and oldest daughter were both sick throughout the year with COVID and they have both recovered well. With preexisting conditions, I was worried for many weeks. Thankful that Lodestar Solutions is a company that is agile and shifted accordingly to changing economic conditions due to the pandemic. (See our recent blog, 5 Tips to Hosting a Virtual User Group).

We have all had to change what and how we are doing things and Lodestar is having one of the best years in its history. I’m thankful for a boss that cares not only about clients but employees and provides us with opportunities to grow and improve. I’m thankful for good friends, a roof over my head and food on my table. Was this year different because we stayed in and didn’t do a whole lot outside of the home, yes. Was it stressful at times, yes. Do I realize that I’m fortunate that my family and I have weathered this storm pretty well, YES.

My wish and prayer for all during this holiday season is to sit back and be thankful for what you have, be considerate and helpful to those who may be going through more difficult times and that we come together as a people to beat this pandemic.  Let’s get back to the gatherings, the fun, the sporting events, and concerts, back to work and back to as much normal as possible.

Thank you for your support of Lodestar over the years. All of us at Lodestar are incredibly thankful for you.

Thankful Thoughts from Christina Vandeveer

Christina Vandeveer and Family

2020 has been a whirlwind of a year for my family and me.  This was my first year not working outside of the home and being a, “work from home mom.”  I embraced this new role as I was able to spend more time with our two boys, ages 3 and 2 and work.  I had childcare two days a week so I could still “adult” and then have intentional time with the kids.  And then… COVID. 

For many this forced families to work out of their homes.  Husbands and wives split time caring for their kids and working.  I watched as my neighbors all took lunch breaks together from work or virtual school and enjoyed time together as families.  That wasn’t the case for our family.  You see, my husband Richard delivers for UPS and when everyone was forced to stay in, he was forced to stay out.  The Christmas “peak” season ended and a short while later it’s like it began again.  Online ordering skyrocketed and he was pushed to mandatory six-day weeks again.  His mom moved in with us for the first two months of quarantine to help give her some companionship, and me! 

The craziness of Richard’s work never really slowed down, and now we are back into the holiday, “peak” season once again.  It would be easy to sit here and complain about being stuck at home with two toddlers and another baby on the way, #teamgirl!  Or stress about time away from my husband.  But that is not what I am going to choose to do, I am going to choose to be thankful!  Here are some of my thankful thoughts:

  • The love and grace of my Heavenly Father.
  • My family, that they live close by and we work as a team to weather the storm of life together.  They are my best friends!
  • My gym, TRVFIT Fitness in Pinckney, Michigan.  They have come up with creative ways to keep us engaged and still reaching our health and fitness goals even when we can’t meet.  I lost 20 lbs. during quarantine and competed in my first ever exercise competition.
  • My husband and his work ethic and love for our family.  We are a team, and I couldn’t choose a better one!
  • UPS, for going out when others need to stay in.  For providing a wonderful job for my husband.
  • COVID forcing many of us to slow down.  I was able to truly connect with my neighbors this year and form new friendships because I wasn’t distracted with the busyness of life.
  • My job at Lodestar Solutions and the opportunity it provides me to still learn and expand my knowledge outside of my at home, “toddler world.”
  • Co-workers and a boss who value giving back to others!  See our previous blog, Lodestar Gives Back.
  • Our clients.  Often you are the only adult interaction I may have in a day and I appreciate our conversations.

Long story short, 2020 was tough.  But I have so much to be thankful for.  My encouragement to you is, don’t rush off into 2021 without taking a moment to focus on all the good that did come out of this past year.  If you look, you will find it!

Let’s finish 2020 strong together.  Lodestar is here for all your IBM Licensing needs. Contact us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com.  

Lodestar Solutions Team Shows Up During COVID-19

May 21st, 2020 ​

Our world will never be the same.  During crisis and times of uncertainty, we all have a choice!  The choice is how we each show up in the world!  As the CEO, I am proud that Lodestar Solutions’ team shows up during COVID-19. 

Showing up and giving back does not require a huge effort or a lot of money.  It just means you choose to help uplift people.  You choose to think of others and ask yourself, how can I help?  I have learned that giving and helping is one of the most rewarding feelings.  The trick is to expect absolutely nothing in return.  Do not look for recognition. Do not get upset if the people you help don’t even say thank you, because they could be in such a bad place, they are just in survival mode.

Here is how the Lodestar Solutions team has showed up.  I am sharing this because I believe they deserve recognition and I hope that this will inspire you to examine how you show up today!  Every day is a choice! 

Cheering on the UPS Drivers - 

UPS

If you are a Lodestar client you have probably worked with Christina, our support renewal specialist.  What you might not know is that her husband is one of thousands of dedicated delivery personnel risking their health and the safety of their families to deliver your online orders. Her husband works at a UPS facility in Michigan where they lost a team member due to complications with COVID-19.  Imagine the fear and grief they must feel every morning knowing they lost a co-worker.  Well, Christina has one of the biggest hearts I know, and she helped organize an event to honor the UPS drivers and raise their spirits.  She arranged for lunch to be delivered but did not stop there.  Christina, Mike Bernaiche, another Lodestar team member, and several of their friends and family lined up in cars, social distancing of course, just outside of the UPS facility with signs cheering on the drivers as they started their routes.  I am sure the drivers and UPS team was uplifted by this experience, but what I loved to see, is how their generosity uplifted Christina and Mike.  Christina was almost giddy with excitement.  Which during these trying times, is fabulous to witness. 

Ready for Life Food Drive

If you have been following Lodestar for a while you also know that I am involved with a charity called Ready for Life in Pinellas County Florida that helps youth that age out of foster care.  The youth in this demographic have a tough time normally but with the pandemic they are especially at risk and many have lost their jobs.  After receiving a text asking for help, we immediately sent funds to cover a week of groceries for the youth and their families.  If you would like to contribute to this amazing organization, please check out their website, Ready for Life Pinellas.

Extra Mile at Work

Giving and showing up can also be done at work. Lodestar Solutions realized that this crisis was going to hit industries like hospitality and travel much greater than other industries.  For clients that had upcoming IBM Cognos renewals in high risk industries, we jumped into action. Lodestar recognized the fact that cash preservation was going to be a top priority, so we worked with IBM Global Financing to get financing for client’s renewals.  Many clients do not realize that IBM Global financing is available for renewals and can often save clients money. See our previous blog on this topic.  

If you have a renewal and would like Lodestar to provide a competitive quote, please email Renewals@lodetsarsolutions.com.

The Wedding

The Wedding

I would be remised if I did not take this opportunity to thank Mike Bernaiche, whom many of you have worked with at Lodestar for stepping up in a way that I will never forget! On May 8, 2020 my boyfriend and I got married in a virtual zoom wedding.  With the help of Mike and our close friends Chris Orlando, our virtual MC and Connie Klingler, who married us, we broadcasted our wedding all over the world to friends and family.  We had over 100 people join our amazing day from 4 continents and 10 time zones.  Mike was our zoom master!  He ensured people were muted during the ceremony and unmuted for the world-wide toast.  But most of all, their efforts gave our moms who were in London and Chicago a front row seat. What I did not realize when we planned the wedding just weeks before, was what a positive uplifting impact it would have on everyone.  People dressed up in silly hats, they gathered their families and had zoom pre parties.  Without even asking, our neighbors all contributed to make the day amazing!   I think during this time we all just need a little joy. Or maybe it’s hope.

Showing Up for Others!

I am so proud of how the Lodestar Solutions’ Team shows up during COVID-19. But it does not surprise me. But I must ask you, is there something you could do to bring a little more joy to someone else’s life?  Maybe sending a card, calling someone you lost touch with, or maybe your company could extend terms to a client in need. It does not take much. Today, do one thing to bring a smile to someone else. Seek nothing in return and watch the magic happen.  Good deeds are contagious!  Let’s infect the world!

Lodestar Solutions CEO Awarded IBM Information Champion for 2020

IBM Information Champion 2020
IBM Information Champion 2020
February 6th, 2020

We are proud to announce that Heather Cole the CEO of Lodestar Solutions, Inc. was nominated and selected as a 2020 IBM Information Champion. “It’s an honor to be awarded the Information Champion designation again this year. Through the IBM Information Champion program, I have met amazing people that are changing the world,” said Heather. 

What’s an IBM Champion?

An IBM Information Champion is a business partner or customer of IBM who is an IT professional, business leader, developer, executive, or educator who influences and mentors others to help them innovate with and make the best decisions around IBM software, solutions and services.

Heather Cole was given the IBM honor for her activities as a strong advocate helping people and organizations succeed at implementing analytic solutions. The award is based on being a thought leader in the technical communities in 2019.

Heather Cole’s Accomplishments

Last year in addition to numerous speaking engagements and videos where Heather entertained audiences with engaging stories and proven frameworks for success, Heather also wrote her second best-selling book, Solving the CIO Identity Crisis:  The Art of Becoming A Respected Executive Leading Innovation and Transformation. 

Time to Upgrade​

Heather enjoys coaching IBM clients on IBM Cognos Analytics, Cognos Planning Analytics and SPSS functionality and licensing.  Her goal is to influence every Cognos BI client to upgrade to Cognos Analytics and benefit from the tremendous functionality IBM has added.

Lodestar has a series of videos to help you plan your Cognos Analytics upgrade.

She also works with TM1 clients to upgrade to Cognos Planning Analytics. “If a client is still on TM1 10.2 it’s time to upgrade because it’s too risky to be on an unsupported version.  When clients upgrade to Planning Analytics, they really should consider reviewing the design of their models to leverage powerful functionality like hierarchies and Planning Analytics Workspace,” says Heather. Video on Workspace.

Build Your Analytics Roadmap

Heather is passionate about helping clients create their analytic roadmap. “Clients need to start thinking past their Cognos Business Intelligence, and TM1 implementations and start planning how to realize the benefits of Predictive Analytics with SPSS and Prescriptive Analytics with Decision Optimization.

Analytic Roadmap

As an IBM Information Champion Heather Cole loves helping clients. If you would like to setup a call to chat with Heather about your analytics roadmap or Cognos upgrades, email Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Congratulations to all the 2020 IBM Champions

To view all the 2020 IBM Champions and to learn how you could become a 2021 Champion, check out the IBM developer site here

What It’s Like To Work with Lodestar Solutions

6/12/2018 
work with lodestar solutions
work with lodestar solutions

Have you ever worked with data and analytics experts that truly understand your business? Maybe they come in and worked with you to implement a reporting or budgeting tool within your Office of Finance, but that’s it. Have you ever worked with a firm that starts the relationship off by asking you what your largest business challenge is? That’s one of the unique differentiators that sets Lodestar Solutions apart from the other firms within the data and analytics space.  Read on to find our what it is like to work with Lodestar Solutions.

You can also expect the following when you work with Lodestar:
  • On time, excellent client/partner communication. If we don’t have the answer to your question right away, we have a dynamic team of individuals that will be able to answer it within a quick turnaround time!
  • Work with consultants and trainers who have been in your shoes as the client. They understand your challenges because many of them have had the same challenge or have experienced similar ones.
  • We provide Return On Investment (ROI) Calculators, our Business Intelligence Action Assessment Indicator, Software and Demo Requirements Checklists and many more assets to help you personally sell internally to your stakeholders. We make it easy for you to prove the ROI on your next data and analytics investment – all while helping you solve your largest business challenge!   

Whether you are just getting your feet wet with data and analytics or in the middle of your analytic journey, we are here to help make you look like a rockstar! You might be thinking about how your business can benefit from predictive analytics…maybe you’d like to enhance your basic reporting and take it to the next level…tired of budgeting in Excel and want a more robust solution? It all starts with a journey. The first step to starting or enhancing your analytic journey is setting up time to speak with one of our highly skilled, Business Analytics Advisors.

Raising the BAR!

Your Business Analytics Advisor will walk you through Lodestar’s Raising The BAR (Business Analytics Roadmap) workshop and determine if your organization is a good candidate for the program. Lodestar’s Raising the BAR workshops are structured to facilitate the process of defining, prioritizing, evaluating, communicating, developing, and executing your organization’s Business Analytics Roadmap. After all, who wouldn’t want to leverage their data and analytics to get faster results that impact the bottom line? Email services@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule your complimentary, 20 minute, Raising the BAR consultation today!

How to Lead Innovative Organizations with Data and Analytics

Lead Innovative OrganizationsHow prepared are you to lead your organization to capitalize on the analytics age?

Heather Cole, a thought leader and expert in Business Analytics spoke at the January 2015 meeting of Financial Executives International Tampa Bay Chapter also known as FEI.  She gave an engaging and illuminating presentation to attendees on “How to Lead Innovative Organizations with Data and Analytics”.

The age of analytics is here and Heather Cole from Lodestar Solutions is here to help guide you to be successful.  Digital Disruption is creating new industries faster than ever.  Companies that learn to embrace and leverage the vast amounts of data being collected daily can change the course of their industries.  Only 26% of large companies surveyed believe their teams have the skills needed.  Only 27% thought their companies will put the right resources (people, budget and time) to leveraging data for innovation.
Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation by James McQuivey

For more information on how Heather Cole and Lodestar Solutions can help you and your company, contact us at Sales@LodestarSolutions.com

 

 

 

What do you mean, My Cognos licenses expired?

What do you mean, My Cognos licenses expired?

For those of you who have been taking advantage of price savings by moving your IBM licenses to an IBM Passport Advantage Agreement (PA#), you may run into this situation.  IBM has changed the way they have been emailing notices for your licenses that are due to expire.  Instead of sending the email 75 days prior to the expiration of the license, they are sending out the email 75 days prior to your PA# Anniversary Date.  This could result in IBM licenses that are expiring prior to the Anniversary Date being left in the lurch.  I have not seen IBM put a client in the position they have to have the expired license reinstated and pay a penalty.  However, it could put you in a precarious position when you attempt to log a support ticket by finding out your license is flagged as expired.  During a time when you need their support, the last thing you need is to jump through hoops to get IBM to manually authorize an extension for support.  As we all know, this will only happen at the most inconvenient time possible and will only add more stress to the problem that is requiring you to log a support ticket.

In essence, keep track of IBM licenses that expire mid-term and follow up with your Business Partner to see if you might run into this situation.

As an additional reminder, make sure that your Primary and Secondary contacts authorized with IBM are current.  Only the Primary is allow to download software and updates, authorize the Secondary to be able to log support requests and will be the only one to receive notice of license expirations.  Many clients forget when an employee is moving to a different position or is leaving the company to have this updated before that occurs.

Tip for BI Success: Stop Hiding Behind Email

I recently posted a discussion in the LinkedIn CIO group, stating:  “Studies show up to 93% of all communication is nonverbal. This can be further broken down to 55% through nonverbal elements like facial expressions, gestures and posture, and 38% in vocal elements like pitch, speed and volume. By communicating via email or text, you are filtering out 93% of the communication. It’s not surprising how often we deal with miscommunications caused by email. By communicating via phone, you are filtering out 55% of the communication. The only way you can get 100% communication is to be physically present with the person. I realize this is not always possible. In the event you can’t meet in person, leverage a web camera. You may not be able to see their posture, but you can definitely learn a lot by seeing their facial expressions. (Stats from Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages)”

The response was awesome, but not all responders agreed with me.  A few ripped me for taking Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s research out to context; which I agree that I was using the stats to make a point and probably moved a little into the gray area.

The comments came in from around the world.  IT professionals that deal with multiple cultures and time zones defended email.  I also noticed that the responses defending email depended on the industry.  In more transaction and non-relationship based industries, email was defended.  Depending on the industry, the dependence on email varied quite a bit.

One of my favorite comments came from Christian Willoch – Manager, Internal IT at Centric, where he posted:

“I recently ran a 2-year development project where I was the Product Owner. We used Scrum as the method. The developers were in Sri Lanka and the stakeholders were in 5 different European countries.

During the project kick-off, I made clear one rule of communication: Email is *not* allowed in this project. All types of communication should be done through whatever other appropriate channel is available and is dependent on the nature of the communication (one-to-one, discussions, meetings, clarifications, information, etc.). So we extensively used tools like Skype, Yammer, Confluence (a wiki with great collaborative power), Jira (issue/story tool with same collaborative power as Confluence), phone, face2face, Cisco video conference.

I pushed it as far as I could, and it worked like a charm. Never have I run a project so efficiently from a communications point of view.

And I observed a big paradox:

In the consumer world, email is decreasing rapidly as a communication channel, replaced by other collaborative tools (ever tried to send an email to your young children? Even telefax or good old “snail mail” would get a quicker response…).

But once we move into the corporate world, email is the standard method of communication. And getting enterprises to move into more social and collaborative tools is extremely challenging.

Be aware, though. The near-future employee may not even know what email is.

Who misses the telefax? 😉

Kudos to Chris!  Scrum is designed to help improve communications.  We can discuss that in another blog.

Personally, I believe as data and analytics are changing how organizations make decisions, it's imperative that IT professionals step back from the computer and interact with the business. The effectiveness of requirements gathering will skyrocket and lead to successful projects if we improve our communication skills and learn to actively listen, which I believe is not possible with email. If we, as a group, work hard to improve our soft skills, we can lead our organizations to innovation and profitability.

So for the next week, stop and consider how you are using email.  Is it the best way to communicate?  Or could you build rapport and be more effective by picking up the phone?  Or, better yet, walk down the hall and meet in person whenever possible?

Diversity Supplier Programs – Why You Need In!

Business in the 21st century; it’s very much dog eat dog. However, one way organizations are able to meet the challenges of an ever-changing global market is by incorporating a diversity supplier program into their business model. Mid-market, as well as larger corporations such as Hilton Worldwide, Target, Boeing, and Darden Restaurants Inc., are taking advantage of this changing landscape by linking with minority-owned suppliers of goods and services.

From a corporation’s perspective, how would you feel about penetrating an underserved market niche? That’s exactly what Michael Byron, a senior director of supplier diversity at Wal-Mart Stores, noted in a recent seminar, saying that minority suppliers are frequently involved in their communities. He stated that doing so could not only help improve that retailer’s image, but may better meet the needs of those minority communities. And what could give you a leg up into gaining access to a government contract more than having a supplier, such as Lodestar Solutions, which is an upstanding member in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council? It’s all about searching for suppliers, like Lodestar Solutions, that bring not only value to clients, but a fresh perspective.

Truth be told, not only do you have the obvious identifiers like gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and religion, but you must dig deeper and look to towards other characteristics such as marital status, socioeconomic status, accent or even appearance. It’s these segments which could lead to other doors of exposure, expansion, and ultimately, profit.

If you are thinking about adding a diversity supplier program, or if you already have one in place, I would suggest taking a look at those suppliers, such as Lodestar Solutions, who can bring not only diversity credit to you, but also help you unlock more innovative solutions or niche markets. Who knows, by using them, you could end up being one of the “big dogs” on the track with all the others chasing you.

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