That’s the way I remember it.

I remain suspicious of my memory.  I know it plays tricks on me, which I don’t mind, but I’d like to know just how distorted it has all become.  What was once contentious, now appears farcical.  And what was once troubling, now appears amusing.  That’s all good, and what’s even better is that what was once delightful is now even more so.

I did a little research, and it appears that it’s only natural to remember things more fondly.  Knowing that, I am bothered ever more by people who are still holding on to a grudge,  slight, or animosity from so long ago.  The best advice in life is to let it go.

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As 2016 comes to a close, my short term memory conjures up a year that rivals the past, and, in many ways, exceeds even the best of my memories.  The kids are all doing great, our businesses get more fascinating and global ever year, my friends are as enjoyable as ever, and life in Naples is almost surreal.  And as I pack to leave 85 and sunny for 25 and snowy, I’m definitely looking forward to it.  I’ll see you at Giancarlo’s by my table next to the wood-fired pizza oven.

Yes, it is all – if to be believed – phantasmagorical.  And it is.


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Capax Discovery 2.0

Welcome to the new Capax Discovery.  Our commitment to providing reliable enterprise archive solutions began years ago, but the past two years have proved to be the most remarkable time in the development of our company into the acknowledged world leader for comprehensive and secure information insight platforms.  While our two premier products, Capax Archive Solutions and Zovy Archive Solutions, have recently been recognized in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, they have, more importantly, earned their stature in the marketplace as the most advanced on-premise and hosted enterprise archiving solutions respectively …  and this is just the beginning of the new Capax Discovery story.

We have now successfully partnered with HPE, Microsoft, ownCloud, CISO Sentinel, and other best of class resources to create the most technologically advanced and secure archiving solutions that offer seamless compatibility with the most widely used platforms.  And, as always, we continue to provide custom software development, systems integration, adaptive machine learning for advanced eDiscovery, and much more.  We are now, more than ever, the most comprehensive information insight, governance, and security solution.

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Starting with the development of our new Capax Archive Solutions in October of 2014, Capax Discovery now features three strategic divisions dedicated to providing industry leading software solutions bundled with the best technical support, consulting, and training for information governance, security, and compliance.  The three new divisions of Capax Discovery are:

  1. Capax Archive Solutions [CAS].  Built on the EAS platform by our software development experts, our new enhanced archiving solution is now recognized in the Gartner Magic Quadrant.  Capax Archive Solutions is the acknowledged leader in on-premise and hybrid archiving solutions for enterprise customers who demand the most secure and flexible archiving and eDiscovery resource.

    And when it comes to providing our world class solutions, the deciding factor in their efficacy relies on the contribution of the engineering, professional services, maintenance, and support teams that assure secure and reliable performance.  Capax Maintenance & Support answers the call for all of our customers’ needs with a speed to performance that exceeds all industry standards.  
  2. Zovy Archive Solutions [ZAS].  Built on the HPCA platform by our Zovy development team, our new cloud archiving solution is the leader in managed, hosted, and cloud archiving solutions for enterprise customers who demand the most secure and flexible archiving and eDiscovery resource without the demands of expensive infrastructure capitalization.
  3. Sceven.  Our guarantee that Capax Archive Solutions and Zovy Archive Solutions will remain the industry leaders in information insight and governance is being fulfilled by a worldwide team of software development experts that have demonstrated their ability to engineer state of the art product performance ahead of schedule and in sync with our commitment to our customers.  

In addition to the development of our 3 new divisions, we have also partnered with CISO Sentinel to ensure that we provide the most secure solutions available today.  CISO Sentinel was the first solution to be awarded the FedRAMP ATO for secure continuous monitoring.  They are the foremost experts in the world when it comes to meeting the exacting NIST and DISA regulatory standards for information governance and cybersecurity.  We are privileged to be the exclusive provider of this most sought after security component, as well as proud to have CISO Sentinel available for all of our products.

We welcome all of our current and future customers to the new Capax Discovery.  For more information on how we can help you to more effectively and securely utilize all of our solutions, services, and products – please contact our Director of International Sales, JJ Contessa, at jcontessa@capaxdiscovery.com.  Thank you.

Bravado Isn’t Confidence

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Comment:  I received some great feedback on this post.  The best discussion revolved around how a con-man’s bravado is often mistaken for competency.  Of course, this led some to assume that I was commenting on The Donald, but I refrain from politics or religion.

Regardless, one point I was hoping to make [and didn’t get around to] was that I prefer insecure-competency to confident-incompetency.  I have often worked with people that were apprehensive about what they were producing, only to be amazed by the quality and inventiveness of their work; while all too often I have been misled by someone’s false bravado about what they were capable of producing, only to be dismayed by their incompetence.

Mistaking bravado for competency is core to the success of the ‘style over substance’ dynamic that our celebrity culture promotes and overwhelms us with.  It has permeated everything to some extent, and it is a rare occasion now when the hype is matched by the performance.

Every once in a while, however, a person or product truly amazes me by exceeding the hype.  Our new Dyson vacuum cleaner might make that list.  One item I would definitely include is the first strip steak Anthony made for me this summer with their new Sous Vide cooker.  He promised me the best steak I ever had – and it exceeded my expectations.

The first time I can recall the performance exceeding the hype was when I was a kid in the sixties.  My dad had a sample of the first SuperBall.  He told me they claimed it bounced higher than any ball EVER!  He handed it over – I threw it down – and I couldn’t believe how high it actually bounced.  It seemed to defy gravity.  To this day, I carry around a superball.

Maybe that will make for a good topic?  I’ll try to list all the people, places, things, and claims that exceed the hype.  I’m sure you have your own list.  A list of disappointments could be even more fun.  You’re going to love it … I guarantee it!


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Technology Leap Forward

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I have been thinking about the benefits and absolute necessity of new technologies in business, and I believe that at the Advantage Co we are currently operating at a growing disadvantage.  For starters, we need to improve the way we think about transforming data into better decisions.  

In the 90’s, I felt we were one of the most technologically advanced companies anywhere, but now, increasingly, I feel we are stuck in the slow lane [despite the fact that some of our core IT businesses like Capax Global are world class providers of business intelligence].  In business, it use to be the big crushed the small and the strong devoured the weak, but in today’s disruptive environment it is the quick that overwhelm the slow.  Therefore, we are embarking on a dramatic push to put us at the vanguard of technology.  I am convinced the Advantage Co has three years to be completely transformed by technology or we will lose our relevance.

The Advantage Co is all about creating opportunity, and while I am confident we will continue to grow our profitability [especially in the event of a recession] – we must accelerate the introduction of new technologies or we will no longer be able to provide a future rich with opportunity.  Our new business technologies will help us identify, develop, and otherwise create new strategic business opportunities.  We must learn how to model future demand uncertainties, how to predict the outcomes of competing choices, and how to choose the best course of action in the face of risk and reward.  We must introduce frameworks and ideas that provide insights into business opportunities, along with introducing the methods and software available for tackling our inherent challenges quantitatively as well as the issues involved in gathering the relevant data.

Productivity is the efficiency of processes.  Companies with a high level of productivity are often characterized by their successful integration of information technology and strong data management.  With newly developed and deployed technologies we will be able to make better data-driven decisions, create an app-centric environment, and increase productivity.  

We will start by recruiting and enabling a new Chief Technology Officer [CTO], who will work in our new C Suite at the Walker Center with our current CFO, Mike McGrath, and a new Chief Development Officer [more on that position later].

I have discussed the new CTO position with the two of the most tech savvy people I know, Jerry Hawk and Tom Thomson; and they both emphasized the need to not only have someone with the requisite tech skills, but a CTO with exceptional people skills as well.  Transforming our company with new technologies will most likely cause some consternation at every level.  Our new CTO will be challenged to introduce advanced business analytics into every aspect of our business.  Change is seldom welcome, especially when things are working so well, so it is going to take someone with the unique ability to deliver new technologies to an often unreceptive audience.

Our new CTO will have direct impact in four key areas:

  1. Business Intelligence [BI]
    Business Intelligence can be described as a set of techniques and tools for the acquisition and transformation of our raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes.  

    Our new and updated BI technologies will provide us with a historical, current, and predictive view of our business operations.  The core functions of our business intelligence technologies will be reporting, data mining, business performance management, benchmarking [comparing our business performance metrics to industry bests], predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics.  

    Business Analytics [BA] is the practice of methodical exploration of all our data with emphasis on statistical analysis.  Our business analytics will be used for data-driven decision making.  Recent improvements in data-collecting technologies have changed the way we can make informed and effective business decisions.  Good numbers and good instincts lead to good decisions.  

    Our new and updated business analytics will focus on developing better insights and understanding of our business performance based on data and statistical methods.  Our predictive analytics will be used to make predictions about unknown future events, while our prescriptive analytics will be used to find the best course of action for a given situation.  

    The management of our information – including the analytics used to transform it – is an evolutionary process, and we are just getting started.  Identifying new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy based on BA insights can provide us with a competitive market advantage and continued long-term growth.
     
  2. Accounting
    We typically rely on our accounting department for three things: knowing the rules, getting the math right, and submitting filings on time.  Their finance function has earned our trust, but more for the role of reporting and less for analytical insight.  Our accounting department must now start to evolve their role to be looking at the organization as a whole and discussing how to best optimize our performance.

    In the accounting world, BI means automating the process of weeding through mountains of financial data to glean actionable insights to help us grow revenue and manage risk.  Today we are witnessing the the emergence of business intelligence as a way to leverage the valuable data our accountants collect every day in the ordinary course of business.  These new accounting solutions need to be fully integrated throughout our sales, production, and servicing functions allowing informed decisions at a glance, while automating repetitive functions to alleviate strain on human resources.
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  3. Operational Intelligence [OI]
    Companies of all types have critical business processes they must manage in real-time.  BI solutions are unable to address the moment-to-moment need for real-time decision making.  Operational Intelligence represents a turning point in the evolution of BI.  Traditionally, BI has been the province of business analysts who analyze trends and patterns in large volumes of historical data to improve the effectiveness of strategic and tactical decisions.  But OI changes this equation: it moves BI out of the back room and embeds it into the fabric of the business, intertwining it with operational processes and applications that drive thousands of daily decisions.  In essence, Operational Intelligence merges analytical and operational processes into a unified whole.  

    Operational Intelligence is real-time, whereas BI is an after-the-fact and report-based approach to identifying patterns.  OI is primarily event-centric, whereas BI is primarily data-centric.  Although BI tools give clues about business processes, they don’t give any real insight into the business process itself.  This operational insight is provided by a comprehensive OI solution.

    Our operational Intelligence (OI) will be a form of real-time dynamic, business analytics that will deliver visibility and insight into our business operations.  Our OI solutions will run query analysis against live feeds and event data to deliver real-time visibility and insight into our business and IT operations.  This real-time information can be acted upon in a variety of ways: alerts can be sent, business processes can be triggered, and  executive decisions can be made and implemented using live dashboards.  More often than not, our Operational Intelligence will be enabled for its real-time monitoring capabilities when we want to take immediate action.

    Additionally, our OI will increase the value of our BI by delivering information and insights on demand to all participants – from the shipping department to partners – so they can work smarter and faster to achieve our critical business objectives.  In essence, our OI must deliver the right information to the right people at the right time so we can take action.
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  4. Customer Interface
    The customer interface is the environment in which our products or services are delivered.  It involves contact with the customer [encompassing interactions that are person-to-person or via an app, email, phone, Skype, blog, website, ecommerce, or some other medium].

    Our customers expect us to anticipate their needs and wants.  This requires a set of integrated solutions that will allow us to create an environment where customers get what they want, when they want it.  We must bring together solutions that are able to push and pull data so we can use the most complete insights.  We can then use these deep insights to predict what our customers want, at the right time, and in the right way.

    For us to realize the benefits of recent innovations in customer interface technology, we need to understand the value consumers place on technology as part of the shopping process.  Customers today are less satisfied with the level of service provided, the availability of product information, and the speed of the shopping process.  New technologies can enhance the shopping experience, but our applications must be tailored to the unique requirements of our customers.

    The essence of Customer Experience Management [the process of managing a customer’s entire experience with us] is treating customers as individuals.  However, with the growing trend toward online purchases, successful interactions through traditional channels [such as in-store purchases and call center communications] often fall to second place behind social media.  While it is important to stay ahead of the product comment pages, user-generated content, positive and negative feedback from referral sites, and other online customer data, it is equally important to create a customer experience strategy that incorporates all customer touch points.  In particular, this includes the impact of customer-facing employees who will require more technology than ever to be at their disposal in order to fully ensure a successful customer experience.

    Our goal is to merge the digital space with our physical environments.  We’re not there yet [and it may take beyond 2017 to get there], but we need to create a mobile and digital app-centric interaction with our physical environments as the main area for continued growth:
  • Mobile payment and rewards solutions [like Apple pay].
  • Geolocated advertising based on our customer’s proximity to our physical location.
  • Digital interactions with products, services, and promotions for our customers while they are in our environments [not only the environment itself but the actual department notices that our customer is there and starts communicating with them, via their phone app, about product info, FAQs, and promotions].

We certainly have a long way to go, but I am confident that over the next three years we will be able move out to the forefront of technology.  We are going to put together a tech panel of experts (starting with Jeff Wynn), and I would really like everyone to participate.  I will have more on this over the next few weeks.  I am heading back to Naples for 10 days to put together a gameplan.  

And if you know of anyone who would make a great CTO, let me know at tonywalker13@yahoo.com.


PS  I took liberal advantage of several websites for the information and descriptions used above.


Mission Statement:  Business technology encompasses a wide range of hardware, software, and services that keep companies running and enhance operations.  Technology plays into every aspect of a business, from accounting to customer interface to product design and development to distribution to sales to service, etc.

Advantage Global Management will develop new business technologies over the next three years in order to push us to the vanguard of technological innovation.  With newly developed and deployed technologies we will be able to make better data-driven decisions, create an app-centric environment, and increase productivity.  

Additionally, by making our new business technologies available to clients as a comprehensive SaaS and MBaaS solution, we will be able to stay at the forefront of technological innovation without the burden of escalating costs as our new technologies become a profit producing enterprise [on their own].

Our 38th Anniversary

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I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to, but I am counting on it being a productive summer, so hopefully I’ll catch my stride.

I am back in Western New York for a while, and it is good to be home.  I was welcomed back by family, friends, and the latest iteration of the Walker Center – and it has been exceptional in every instance.  The weather has been fantastic, and it makes it easy to say that there is no place better on earth from Memorial Day to Labor Day than Western New York.

Just as I was heading up north, John Baiocco was able to close the deal on Capax Discovery’s license purchase of ACA from Hewlett Packard [HPE] – the final piece to our industry leading on-premise enterprise archiving solution.  What John and Jeff Wynn have done to make our suite of archiving solutions the industry leader is beyond expectation.  With enterprise clients like LLoyd’s of London, Citi, Bank of Tokyo, Bank of NY, Christie’s, and several hundred other leading companies – we are creating an information insight platform that is becoming the de facto standard worldwide.

But, as outstanding as that is, it’s not nearly as much fun as what the kids have cooked up at the Walker Center.  As I arrived home, Anthony and Gabriela were just finishing off building the new Giancarlo’s Bar and Patio – and what an amazing job they did.  Add to that our latest unprecedented and remarkable version of Tony Walker & Co, and it’s easy to see why customers are having trouble finding parking spots at the Walker Center [especially on Wednesday nights when Vinnie DeRosa is performing for our Summer in the Center series].

So, yes, life is good at the Walker Center.  And if you are in town, stop by Giancarlo’s, and you’ll find me at my favorite table convening with friends, family, and food.

And, by the way, today is the 38th Anniversary of the Advantage Co.  A heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been a part of this uncommon tale.

Congratulations, Peg!

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Collier County Betting On PickleBall As A Draw For Years To Come
By Greg Stanley of the Naples Daily News

Collier County crews are scrambling to get ready to host the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships in April.

The weeklong event is expected to draw about 5,000 spectators to East Naples Community Park, as some of the top pickleball players from around the world compete in the inaugural open.

The county needs to build 12 new permanent courts along with six temporary ones for the event, which will include as many as 1,000 players in a mix of highly competitive and more casual events. The work, which will cost about $250,000, will start next week after commissioners streamlined construction by waiving a public bid process to make sure the courts will be ready in time.

The type of surface the county is using — called DecoTurf — takes about a month to settle, leaving just a few weeks to start the work in time to make the tournament, county officials said.

The pricey surface is the same used in Flushing Meadows for the U.S. Open Tennis Championships and for tennis events in each of the last two Olympics, said Terri Graham, founder of the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships. The surface gives a little more bounce than asphalt, and is more forgiving on a player’s knees, joints and ankles, she said.

“It’s more cushioned for your body, but it still doesn’t affect the way the ball bounces or playability,” Graham said. “This will be the biggest and best pickleball facility in the world, not just because there will be so many courts but because of how they’re surfaced.”

The county is essentially hoping to get in on the ground floor of the increasingly popular sport and is betting that demand for pickleball courts and events like the U.S. Open will continue to grow.

Collier County has a contract to host the championships for the next three years, and tourism officials hope to host it for the foreseeable future if the event is a draw. County parks officials are looking to add more pickleball courts to keep up with demand.

It’s a sport that in many ways is tailor-made for Collier County.

It’s particularly popular among the plus-55 crowd, said Graham, who spent 21 years with Wilson Sporting Goods as has been involved with racket sports for most of her life.

“What you see is that many people as they’re getting older can’t have that big whipping tennis serve they used to or they don’t have the movement they did in their younger days,” Graham said. “Pickleball is very forgiving on the body. It’s mostly doubles. You can play for hours and hours.”

It’s also a more social game than tennis and other racket sports, she said.

Pickleball has always been played more in the style of a pickup basketball game, where anyone can show up to a court and expect to get added to a team. Tennis, on the other hand, has always been more of a bring-your-own partner kind of deal.

The park system needs the new courts, which will be open to the public after the championships, to keep up with demand, said county spokesman Daniel Christenbury.

“It’s a sport that is definitely gaining a lot of attention,” Christenbury said. “We’re trying to prepare for that boom. The great thing is we’ll have these professional grade courts now available to the public. And we can also get dual use out of some of them, because courts can double for both tennis and pickleball.”

It’s not often that events in East Naples can draw a few thousand spectators plus a few travelers and players from overseas, said Commissioner Donna Fiala.

“Who would have ever thought that people from Europe and across the country would fly over at end of April to come here to play pickleball?” Fiala said. “I’m tickled to death. I think this will be just about the funnest thing to happen to our community in quite some time.”

The championships will run from April 26 to May 1.  Most events will be free for spectators.  Tickets will be sold for the championship court.  For a list of events or to register a team go to usopenpickleballchampionship.com.