Retail’s down but not out


Retail has been hit hard, I know it, and you know it. According to the July 2020 U.S Retail Sales report, restaurant and bar sales are down 26.5%. The pandemic has forced many to shutter their doors, close their tills, and pack up their shops. These are rough times.

But there is hope. The report also demonstrates that there is a recovery, a slow one, but positive nevertheless. Gas stations are up by 6.2%, clothing stores grew 5.7% for the month, drug stores posted a gain of 3.6%, and those same restaurants and bars posted a month on month increase of 5%.

I’m curious about what happens next. As we re-connect with each other and re-engage with coffee shops, cafes, and co-ops, what do we need? My guess? It’s all about the experience. We want sheltered safety and creature comforts and internet bandwidth galore. We want to huddle around a warm fire or a steaming cup of coffee, eating carbs, and sharing stories, and streaming it in all its togetherness glory.

That time is coming, that experience will return and when it does technology is here to help. Business needs may differ but all are similar in that they seek to improve productivity and provide an amazing online experience.

New WiFi technology provides performance, ability to roam, baked in security, all wrapped in a support bundle that includes a warranty, and help via any medium you desire, be it chat, phone, or web-based.

There are many ways to provide an internet experience but we have partnered with Aruba who has created a package that provides a great experience.

So, grab your coffee, your friends, and your tablet, because we are coming back to a coffee shop near you.

Rules of the Virtual Meeting World

Remote work is still a new phenom for some of us. And, we have all made mistakes. Forgot to comb our hair? Failed to record a really important meeting? If you and your team are working remotely or perhaps just starting to learn and use collaboration tools, here is a quick infographic to help.

As always, if you’d like more help, please call. We’d love to help – it’s what we do.

Putting the “Dream” in Team


Did you find the file you were looking for before your 9 am meeting this morning? Where did your computer save it? Was it in email? Teams, Webex? Wait, was it in that new web app you are using? If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.

The way we work is changing, that much is obvious. And while we have had collaboration tools for a number of years they have never been battle-tested on a grand scale brought by COVID-19. Sure, businesses have been able to rely on cloud applications including, project management, file storage, and even cloud-enabled systems for a few years now. But this has yet to function in a logical, integrated manner where the user experience really works and disparate systems talk together.

The magic happens when they work together, in unison and our organizational structure allows for a single pane of glass within which we can run our organizations, manage our teams, and delight our customers.

The image above does a great job of illustrating the complexity of the issue and unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to solve all of the issues we see today.

You are likely experiencing some or all of the issues and that collectively we will spend the next few years navigating the digital space looking for resolutions. Microsoft Teams can help, but it isn’t the only solution. Dropbox is nice but only solves one specific problem and to a degree, it introduces a few more. There is no shortage of tools, the question is are they the right tools for your business?

Potholes, Bezos and IoT

Not one of ours, we like to keep our conversations private. Instead a photo by Rahul Chakraborty

Would you like to guess how many IoT devices are in service today? According to a recent study, there are about 20 billion connected devices in the world. By 2025 it is estimated that this number will grow to over 25 billion devices – that is a lot of gadgets!

We should put that into perspective – just for fun.

There are about 1 billion cars on the planet, McDonald’s sells about 900 million Big Macs, worldwide every year, and on one day in January of this year, 2020, Jeff Bezos made $13.2 Billion. That probably has no bearing here other than it is an incredible fact.
We know that there is massive, exponential growth in IoT across this blue planet we call home. The issue is that every one of these devices needs to be connected to infrastructure in order to operate. And this is the rub. That network infrastructure is aging and not being replaced at the speed our innovation requires.

It is a little bit like having all these brand new convertibles on the road but the road is less road-like and more like a tired-looking, pothole-ridden, excuse for a surface. A bit like driving in Duluth.
Now, I don’t know about you but the quality of the road makes for the quality of the drive, and networks are just the same. A recent article described the flurry of net new IoT devices as a “decimator of networks.”

In the work we do, across the markets we serve, we see this all the time. Budgets are spent on new devices, tablets, laptops, desktops, thermostats, cameras, lighting, and a myriad of other sensors with no regard for where they are connecting. The infrastructure plays an invaluable role in defining how efficiently the device functions as well as the user experience.

Here’s an idea, let’s split the budget. Let’s double down and tend to the infrastructure for a change. Let’s invest in modern switches, state of the art WiFi, and of course firewalls. Spending here will ensure that our devices can seamlessly and securely transmit their data to their desired destination. Whether it be for analytics or Netflix, our data deserves a better road to travel on.

5 Lessons learned from lockdown

CITON Pandemic Response Group

Just when you think it’s going to end; this pandemic seems to be picking up steam. This makes the lessons we learned during the first phase of lockdown really important.

Our adaptation to working from home was forced, quick, and had to be comprehensive enough to provide the same resources we had at the office inside our homes.

Based on customer experience, this is what made the difference:

  1. The design matters
    Network design seems a little mundane these days. However, thinking about how the design will work in a remote world makes a big difference to the user experience. Data, backups, accessibility, security, and functionality are still affected by the overall design. We found that our technology stack made it easier to reliably provide access to everyone to work from home, all while providing superior performance and security.
  2. Tools make a huge difference
    As a provider, we subscribe and pay for a host of tools that allow us to monitor, assess, report on, and remotely maintain networks across the markets we cover. The right tools are reliable and allow us to dynamically maintain your systems by packaging and rolling updates out to our customer base. Done well, this makes the difference in user and network reliability.
  3. Security is more important than ever
    Earlier this year we started with a clear understanding of the number of devices that we were managing. That all changed in February when we entered lockdown. Now, we had work devices, home devices, new devices that required access to corporate data. This explosion of devices and access meant that our technology stack had to dynamically secure all of these new endpoints. Layering security, across the network and the devices, was clearly the right way to mitigate risk.
  4. Cloud is the clear winner
    We saw a clear difference between cloud-enabled customers and those with either hybrid cloud or on-premise networks. Our cloud adopters had little to no change required when the pandemic forced us to work from home. The same applications that were allowed from the corporate sites were immediately made available to any user, on any device, in any location.
  5. Consistency still wins in I.T.
    At CITON we are big believers of the power of consistency – it’s our “jam.” We vet, we test, we audition new technology each quarter. Only the best make it to the show. Citon’s technology-stack, C-STACK is a curated set of hardware, and software tools that we know, love, and passionately believe will improve the way you work. We train and educate everyone in our organization on our “c-stack” to ensure we can consistently design, build, and maintain the technology while the stack delivers the performance of a lifetime – protecting your data.

Now that’s a show we can all applaud.