Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Startup Company

Sacramento’s Commitment to Community through Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development

Community Service, Coworking, Entrepreneurship, Event Recap, Hiring, Human Resources, Information Technology, Innovation, Innovation in the Public Sector, KAI Partners, KAIP Academy, Learning, Non-profit, Public Sector, Sacramento, Startup Company, Technology, The WorkShop, Training, Workforce Development

By Lucie-Anne Radimsky, CSPO

It’s an exciting time to be in Sacramento—especially if you’re looking at it from the perspective of our sports franchises. From the King’s most successful season in over 10 years to a potential Major League Soccer bid and subsequent arena built in the Railyards—the sky is the limit and our local economy benefits from this success.

Beyond making headlines in the sports pages, nothing screams vibrant economy like a strong workforce and a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

KAI Partners takes our community engagement role seriously. Our leadership not only makes community engagement possible—they make it a priority. Community engagement is fundamental to our values, and it is what helps us continue to thrive as an organization.

KAI Partners recently had the opportunity to participate in two events focused on community engagement through workforce development and entrepreneurship.

The first event, sponsored by Valley Vision, was the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Advisory Committee meeting. This event brought together educators and employers to continue to push forward important work around developing the ICT Workforce and relevant pathways.

A strong turnout by educators allowed for interesting discussions around curriculum and its relevance to various industries’ skill demands. In the future, I hope more employers attend events like these. Employers are one of the most important stakeholders in this ongoing conversation and after the ICT meeting, one thing was clear:

More exchange is needed between educators and employers.

An exercise we performed within our breakout group highlighted this disconnect between employers and academics. We were given two job descriptions and were asked to give feedback on the skills—both technical and soft skills—needed to perform these jobs. We found that the technical requirements that employers associated with specific degrees did not match the actual skills acquired through that academic program and were outdated. This highlighted another reason why all stakeholders must work in tandem to ensure perception matches reality.

Next up on KAI Partners’ agenda was Pitch Week, sponsored by Sacramento State’s Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The day-long event included two afternoon sessions of startup pitches sponsored by StartupSac and Future Four & More (an annual regional Business Concept Competition for northern California community college and California State University students, hosted by one of the participating schools in the region).

According to Katherine Cota, the Executive Director at the Carlsen Center, “The purpose of this event is to develop business startups, boost economic development, encourage entrepreneurial thinking, connect students to angel investors and venture capitalists, and provide them with a wider, regional network of students, mentors, and professionals.”

From a plant-based prepared meal service exclusively for kids, to a blockchain solution to reduce efficiencies for real estate land registries, it was gratifying to see entrepreneurs of every age and creed participate.

The future looks bright and KAI Partners looks forward to continuing to support the innovation ecosystem.

We will continue to partner with academia, non-profits and public servants alike to ensure our region becomes stronger, more innovative, and more resilient. KAI Partners is always looking to meet new people, support organizations, and help cultivate solutions—especially solutions around public sector innovation.

We’d love to get to know you better—drop us a line in the comments below, or stop by our coworking and collaboration space, The WorkShop Sacramento.

About the Author: Lucie-Anne has over 15 years’ experience in communications and business development in the U.S. and Europe, on behalf of start-ups and non-profits. She has represented clients within the technology, energy, and telecommunications sectors to government agencies, press, and industry analysts throughout the world. Lucie-Anne has both American and E.U. citizenship. She is fluent in English and French. Lucie-Anne is an active community volunteer and has served on numerous non-profit boards and led alumni groups in Paris, Washington D.C., and San Francisco. She holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Irvine. She currently resides in Sacramento with her Brazilian husband and two boys.

What does an Enterprise Architect Do?

Enterprise Architecture, Project Management, Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company

By Barbara Hill

The crossroads of complexity and volatility lead to enterprise architecture.

If the processes, people, technology, and other environmental factors that make up your business are very simple—but changing rapidly—you can probably manage without documenting your architecture in detail.

If these things are very complex—but changing very little—you still probably can conduct your business without detailing and diagramming your architecture.

But, when things get so structurally complex and are shifting unpredictably (startup and entrepreneur friends, are you listening?), then you will really need to have more precise information about those things, how they relate to each other, what their interdependencies are.

This is where an Enterprise Architect can help.

An Enterprise Architect’s goal is to help nurture an environment where your business can be more efficient, effective, agile, and durable.

A good enterprise architect works similarly to a personal trainer. When you look for a personal trainer to help you get in shape, the trainer will ask you what your goals are. Are you trying to lose weight for an upcoming reunion? Do you need to lose weight for serious health reasons? Are you trying to accomplish an athletic goal, like running a marathon?

An Enterprise Architect looks for similar answers regarding the health of an organization or business. They want to know about the organization’s strategic goals, discuss the business needs, and assess the overall organizational fitness to achieve their business strategy.

Typically, this results in some diagrams and narratives relating to the current “As-Is” state of the business along with the desired “To-Be” future state. Is the business a start-up trying to handle tremendous growth? Is it a recently merged enterprise, trying to meld disparate cultures and organizational approaches? Has it had to recently downsize and is struggling with poor employee morale and customers skeptical of its ability to deliver?

An Enterprise Architect works with your organization to assess how “fit” your organization is today and helps you formulate an appropriate improvement plan to achieve your desired goals. This is often accomplished via a maturity model, which you can use to help determine how fast and in what areas you wish to proceed. This helps in planning out what is reasonable to accomplish, setting out both long-term and short-term goals, based on your organization’s particular strengths and weaknesses.

Just as for individuals, getting an organization more fit for its purposes involves stamina, strength, dexterity, suppleness, agility, speed, and a slew of emotional well-being components. An Enterprise Architect will help you devise a roadmap that sequences projects and initiatives to best optimize the time, risk, and cost needed to achieve your organization’s strategic goals.

An Enterprise Architect uses their considerable wealth of knowledge to tailor their recommendations of tools, methods, policies, and procedures to fit the specific business requirements and culture of your organization. There is no “one-size fits all” approach to improving the health of a business enterprise. To ensure the plan is working requires regular monitoring and check-ups—an Enterprise Architect makes recommendations for establishing and regularly reviewing business performance metrics.

The very best personal trainers are experts at motivating and cheering their clients to victory. Similarly, the very best Enterprise Architects also must be strong communicators who have tremendous empathy and support you in your efforts to adapt to the volatility of the increasingly complex world in which you conduct business.

About the Author: Barbara Hill is a Senior Enterprise Architect with KAI Partners. With over 20 years of experience working with both California state government and private sector companies, she has been instrumental in helping clients address the complexity and volatility of change, while ensuring alignment between strategic goals and operational realities. Barbara has held Enterprise Architecture certifications from Zachman International and Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture (PEAF and POET) and is currently working on certification from the Business Architecture Guild. Her Enterprise Architecture practitioner’s bag includes considerable knowledge and experience with organizational change management, quality improvement practices (such as LEAN and Six Sigma), knowledge management, data management, and data governance. Barbara’s wide-ranging work interests are a reflection of her nomadic early days, having resided in a number of different U.S. locations, as well as Mangla, West Pakistan and London, England.

What is Enterprise Architecture and Why do you need it?

Enterprise Architecture, Healthcare, Program Management, Project Management, Sacramento, Startup Company

By Barbara Hill

In the public healthcare community, there is a well-known parable of the “Three Friends.”  As this story goes, three friends are out for a walk on a beautiful day. They pass a tremendous waterfall and pause to take in its majesty and beauty. As they continue their hike upstream, they see a child being carried by the fast-moving water towards the fall. They quickly rescue the child, but in doing so, notice more children coming downstream towards them.

One friend decides to focus on those most immediately in need of saving before going over the edge of the waterfall, while the other two start building a raft to save more children. But there are still more children coming, and the three friends quickly get overwhelmed trying to save them all.

At some point, two of the friends realize their third friend seems to have disappeared, but looking up, they see this friend moving far upstream, helping children along the way, but moving farther away from the waterfall. They call out, “Where are you going? Why are you abandoning us? We still have so many children to save!” The third friend calls out a reply, “I am going to find out who or what is throwing these children in the river and stop them.”

Let’s look at this parable in the real world—for example, the healthcare industry:

  1. The first friend represents those care givers we all go to when we are in desperate need: ER doctors, ICU nurses, trauma surgeons, etc.
  2. The second friend represents the caregivers who help keep us healthy on a regular basis: The doctors, nurses, and clinicians who give us our annual checkups and make sure we are up to date with our vaccinations.
  3. The third friend is not as easily found. These are the “upstream doctors”—the ones looking to understand the wider system dynamics that affect a person’s health. They consider how our health depends on a broad range of factors, such as where and how we live and work (i.e., the “social determinants of health”).

Enterprise architects (EAs) are the “upstream doctors” for businesses.

For many businesses, their primary efforts fit into the realm of the first friend. They are totally consumed with keeping the business going, getting product out the door, making sales, and bringing in revenue; they are “heads down” on making things happen.

Some businesses may have a few of the second type of friend, perhaps consultants to help them improve their business processes, or suggest new tools and technologies that might help them get a few more dollars into their pockets.

Rarer still are those businesses including the third type of friend, someone looking far upstream to better understand why and how their business operates the way it does, someone who is focused on the larger context within which their business operates and the sources of their ultimate success or failure.

An Enterprise Architect (the third friend) works to ensure all parts of your business and the relationships between them work towards achieving your overall strategic goals.

This means your business architecture (your business capabilities and processes) are well-aligned with your information architecture (your data definitions, flows, and repositories). These are in turn facilitated by the software applications and systems you use to perform your work and are supported by the technology infrastructure everything is built upon.

KAI Partners’ Enterprise Architects look more widely at the ecosystem your enterprise fits within, looking at how your suppliers, competitors, partners, and government regulatory bodies effect how well you can stay healthy and not go tumbling over the waterfall.

Here is a little bit about KAI Partners’ Enterprise Architecture services:

  1. Enterprise Architecture Program Development Services. Customized for your organization’s needs, we assess the maturity level of your organization’s Enterprise Architecture, as well as the Current State, Future State, Gap Analysis, Roadmap, and more.
  2. Enterprise Architecture Team Implementation Services. We assess the existing level of your team’s Enterprise Architecture Maturity and help design and/or advance your existing Enterprise Architecture program.
  3. Business and IT Strategy Alignment Services. Some of our services include Strategic Planning, Business Architecture, Business Operating Model, and Application Portfolio Rationalization.

As noted Enterprise Architecture pundit Tom Graves said, enterprise architecture is based on one central idea: “Things work better when they work together with clarity, with elegance, on purpose.”

Interested in learning more about KAI Partners’ Enterprise Architecture services? We’d love to talk to you and get an understanding of your organization’s needs! Contact us today at 916-465-8065.

About the Author: Barbara Hill is a Senior Enterprise Architect with KAI Partners. With over 20 years of experience working with both California state government and private sector companies, she has been instrumental in helping clients address the complexity and volatility of change, while ensuring alignment between strategic goals and operational realities. Barbara has held Enterprise Architecture certifications from Zachman International and Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture (PEAF and POET) and is currently working on certification from the Business Architecture Guild. Her Enterprise Architecture practitioner’s bag includes considerable knowledge and experience with organizational change management, quality improvement practices (such as LEAN and Six Sigma), knowledge management, data management, and data governance. Barbara’s wide-ranging work interests are a reflection of her nomadic early days, having resided in a number of different U.S. locations, as well as Mangla, West Pakistan and London, England.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The Systems Engineer

Alpen Technology Group, Information Security, Information Technology, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, Managed IT Services, Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company, Systems Engineer, Technology

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of David Baker, a Systems Engineer with our managed IT services division, Alpen Technology Group. Alpen Technology Group provides organizations the benefits of an internal IT department at a fraction of the cost of staffing one themselves.

The role of the Systems Engineer within IT services is critical. On any given day, Mr. Baker’s responsibilities include troubleshooting advanced security technologies such as Single sign-on and Multi-factor Authentication, managing IT initiatives, collaborating with clients, providing strategic advice on using technology to achieve goals and objectives, supporting new technology implementation, training users, and more.

Today we’re excited to share more about Mr. Baker’s Managed IT background and his current role.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into your line of work?

David Baker: My troubleshooting skills caught the attention of an instructor of mine who had just started a software training/consulting firm. He was impressed at my ability troubleshoot and reconstruct the computer. He was also looking for someone who loved computers and tech. I was able to work summer days and nights while going to school and increasing my technical knowledge. IT was fun, and I love playing video games, so it led down this road.

KAI: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

DB: I have a certification through Microsoft—the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)—as well as CompTIA’s Network+ and A+. I am also currently working on a certification with Amazon Web Services.

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

DB: My favorite part about my line of work is creating new networks for clients. \ Completing a project gives me a sense of satisfaction. I take pride in knowing that I have created something that will help a client meet their goals.

KAI: What is one of the most common question you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

DB: The most common question I get from clients is how we can save money on IT. I tell them let’s look at your environment and streamline it. For example, I once moved a client from physical servers to a virtual environment, which saved them money on cooling and electricity use.

Now that we’ve learned more about David’s Systems Engineer work, here’s a little more about him!

Quick Q&A with David:

Daily, must-visit website:  www.techcrunch.com

Preferred genre of music: Blues

Best professional advice received: Never give a firm time to resolve an issue in IT. You do not want to set an expectation that you cannot meet due to Murphy’s Law or other outside factors.

Book you can read repeatedly: “Who Moved My Cheese?”

Most-recent binge-watched show: Dear White People

About David: Mr. Baker has 11 years of experience in IT ranging from help desk to network/systems engineer and working with different technologies such as Cisco, SonicWALL, Dell, VMware, and Microsoft. Mr. Baker currently works for KAI Partners as a Systems Engineer, helping clients meet their IT needs. For fun, Mr. Baker enjoys enjoy BBQing, photography, and fitness.

Interested in learning more about how David and the Alpen Technology Group can help your organization? Call 916-465-8065!

Why Your Small Business Needs Managed IT Services

Alpen Technology Group, Information Technology, KAI Partners, Managed IT Services, Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company, Technology

By Steven Duart

As you may have heard, KAI Partners recently partnered with Managed IT Services firm, Alpen Technology Group, to provide comprehensive managed IT solutions for businesses.

As a small business, you have enough going on to make sure your business succeeds. Managing your IT systems shouldn’t have to be yet another item on your to-do list.

So, what exactly does our managed IT team do for you? Think of it this way, if it has an on/off switch—server and networking equipment, desktops, tablets, phones, and copiers, basically everything you need to run your small business—we can manage it for you.

In short: We are your IT department.

Alpen TG provides all the benefits of an internal IT department at a fraction of the cost of staffing one yourself. Here are a few other benefits of our managed IT services:

Comprehensive Network Confidence. A critical part of your success as a business is your computer network and making sure it runs predictably, optimally, and securely. You need to be able to focus on your organizational mission and not your IT network, which is why Alpen TG’s fully managed service is the ideal solution to provide the utmost in network reliability and quality service.

Improved Productivity. Continuous insight into your network lets us reduce the business impact of IT failure by shortening the time from network failure to issue resolution.

Decreased Downtime. Through our service management service, we perform preventative maintenance activities that keep your network operations up, and we reduce the number of incidents and downtime that you encounter.

Tailored IT Plans. Every organization is unique and has unique needs. We provide customers with tailored recommendations that align with your business vision and strategy. Through a comprehensive IT assessment, our team identifies essential business criteria and develops a strategy to create tailored IT plans.

We provide remote and on-site support, monthly network health reviews, security and backup management, and more. We do all this to give you the time and energy to focus on what’s important to help your business grow—and most importantly, to give you peace of mind that your IT system is managed adequately.

Interested in getting a quote or learning more about how Managed IT Services can help your small business? Call 916-465-8065 or email Sduart@alpentg.com.

About the Author: Mr. Duart is a Managed IT Services expert who has been integrating people, process, and technology and providing comprehensive technology solutions for businesses and outstanding support for over 13 years. Steven is dedicated to striving to make a difference in the local community by offering Non-Profits CIO-Level consulting at a fraction of the cost. Steven successfully started his own MSP firm and partnered with KAI Partners to expand Managed IT Services offerings in California. Steven holds a Master’s degree in Computer Information Systems and graduated with honors from St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas and is currently working on his PhD.

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