Being More “Customer-Focused” Doesn’t Always Mean “More Expensive”


Despite an organization’s best intentions, there are thousands, if not millions, of cases where a company’s overall operation, specific line of business, or even a particular product is ineffective because it has lost touch with the expectations and needs of the customer.  In my experience working in the financial services industry, banks are often especially guilty of missing the boat on being customer-centric.  Over time, many banks have been so focused on their internal technological or operational constraints that they have overlooked what the customer really wants. …

The Funding Challenge Of the Water Industry, Just Look to Technology – Part I

Part I: How did we get here?

This discussion of the challenges facing the water industry will be followed with “Part II”, which will provide insight on how technology can help meet these difficult challenges.

The water supply industry is feeling the pressure of extensive infrastructure replacement needs, rising operations costs, declining average customer consumption, and fragmented water systems. These factors combine to drive rates up, only to be met with considerable customer resistance. This is true for municipal systems, water districts, and investor owned utilities.…

If You Can Dodge a Wrench, You Can Deploy Your App to Azure

Are you a developer looking to get your .NET website hosted or interested in Azure: Microsoft’s cloud platform?  This blog post is a step-by-step guide on how to take your website and database from your computer to the internet for everyone to see all within Microsoft’s ecosystem.  Azure provides a handful of different services, but we will be going over how to host a SQL Server and a .NET website on Azure.  If you don’t have a website we will get you started.…

US Smart Meter Market – A Deployment Progress Report

How is the smart meter market holding up since the stimulus grants of 2009 have mostly expired?

Is there still enough interest to march towards a smarter, more informed utility and customer?

The US smart meter industry has deployed, as of September 2014, roughly 50 million advanced meters over the years after the stimulus program was passed. This provided the initial boost for utilities to begin pilot programs or full-scale implementations across the country. The current penetration level snapshot according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports roughly 34% of all meters in the US have been installed to date. …

How to Delete a Message from All Mailboxes in your Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013 Organization

Let’s face it: IT fire drills happen. Nobody likes them and everybody tries to prevent them, but yet you’ve found this blog post because you have an urgent need to delete a message from every mailbox in your organization. Maybe there’s a virus infestation, maybe a disgruntled employee sent an inappropriate email to everyone, or maybe HR accidently sent around some social security numbers. It doesn’t particular matter what the reasoning is, you just know that you need to get this message deleted quickly.…

AMI Deployment: Reasons “Why Not” are Fading Away

While in some parts of the country, Smart Meters and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology are old news –  only 30% of all electric meters in the United States are “Smart” according to a recent report published by FERC.  The large majority of utilities have yet to convert their core metering infrastructure for a variety of reasons, including an aversion to the perceived risks, the large up-front costs associated with such a transformation, a lack of available experience with the technology and implementation effort, and a perceived lack of reliable benefits to utilities and their customers. …

Cyber Attacks Part II – New Distribution Strategies by Hackers

Hackers are using a new channel of attack for penetrating networks.  A malware threat previously used in direct attacks against energy sector companies is now being aimed at organizations that use or develop industrial applications and machines.  This strategy introduces malware into systems that are then connected into target networks.

In early 2014 attackers began distributing new versions of a remote access Trojan (RAT) program via a new distribution strategy.  The new malware variation is called Havex. …

New Year, New Metrics: Evaluating and Measuring Diversity & Inclusion at Your Firm

Tory Paez

Consultants provide significant value to clients on each engagement because we can quickly survey and understand the current environment and processes at a company. Our knowledge of an organizational landscape and its procedures are the foundation for what changes we will recommend for implementation in the future. In fact, a significant portion of our understanding is from measurement and utilizing a baseline — a starting point from which to improve.  What I have learned at Catalyst, through my experience with the Fischer Fellowship Program, is that this fact is no different for organizations aiming to improve their diversity efforts. …

Cyber Attacks Part I – When, not if

The smart grid offers convenience, but it also makes cyber attacks more likely. Smart grids rely on technology that has created millions of new access points for hackers to breach. In a world where credit card breaches are becoming commonplace it’s not ‘if’, but ‘when’ will they become a target of focus for Cyber vandals or state-sponsored hacking? It may be sooner than you think.

The National Security Agency said the U.S. grid was successfully hacked in November by several foreign governments — likely Russia, Iran and China.…

Clean Power Plan: Latest News to Know

Hawaiian Industries to Increase Clean Electricity Production Following Merger

On December 3rd, NextEra Energy, Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) announced an agreement under which the companies agreed to combine. The transaction is valued at approximately $4.3 billion.  Jim Robo, chairman and chief executive officer of NextEra Energy, commented on the transaction, stating that the companies have “a shared vision to bring cleaner, renewable energy to Hawaii, while at the same time helping to reduce energy costs for HEI’s customers.”  While compliance with the proposed Clean Power Plan was not listed in the official statement as a reason for the merger, it is a driver for the desire to produce cleaner energy.…

The Right Way to Maximize Productivity in Your Warehouse: Coaching

Michael Harris

If your front line supervisors are disciplining under-performing associates without giving them a chance to learn or understand how improving benefits them, you are likely creating a negative effect on your bottom line. Coaching employees through proper observation, training, and follow up creates an environment of trust between management and associates. Instead of discipline where management owns the process and dictates the steps for improvement, coaching creates buy in by putting the ownership on the associates and helping them see why improving benefits them as well as the company.…

Plain Old Telephone Service is at Death’s Door

Dan Belmont_LoRes_120

More than a year ago I stated that it was, “The Beginning of the End for the PSTN” (Public Switched Telephone Network) which is what we all know as the traditional land-line phone in your home. In the last 12 months, the momentum has increased significantly and will continue at a rapid pace. Let me say, “I told you so.”

Along with those Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) lines are tens of thousands of commercial circuits utilized by businesses and mission critical applications for data being brought back by old school modems and the like.…

Regulatory Update: What’s Going on in Your State

Wil Mcnamara_120

The comment period for the proposed Clean Power Plan ended on December 1st, and EPA is beginning to review the feedback from impacted states, utilities, and other entities.  Following is a synopsis of some recent developments:

  • Peabody Energy’s opposition to the CPP was validated recently by comments from Laurence Tribe — President Obama’s constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, Vice President Gore’s Supreme Court lawyer in Bush v. Gore, and one of our nation’s leading constitutional law scholars. 

US Compliance with Recent International Agreement in Lima

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru was intended to lay the groundwork for a 2015 Conference in Paris where a comprehensive climate agreement covering all the world’s emitters is planned.  The Lima meetings reached a compromise that requires every country to submit plans for cutting their carbon footprints in the coming months.  This compromise differs from prior efforts to place full responsibility of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions only on highly industrialized countries; the new agreement would require all countries to submit their own proposals to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and other GHG emissions linked to climate change.…

What’s Your Personal Brand? Manage Your Brand for Career Success


 “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss

This inspirational quote from Dr. Seuss reminds us of the importance of being ourselves. This lesson from childhood applies to personal branding in the workplace today. In this blog post, part 1 of a 2 part series, I share my personal branding experience and explore the need for managing your brand in positively impacting your career.…


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