Essentials of Data Governance

pexels-christina-morillo-1181341-1030x688 Essentials of Data Governance

In the era of emerging technologies, data has become essential for organizations. With rapid digital transformation across industries, gaining a competitive advantage is crucial for thriving in the market. Today, data is the new “oil” that forms an organization’s core for business growth. However, the rate of data generation has become enormous. A recent report by Towards Data Science produced the statistics of data generation that stands at a whopping  2.5 quintillion bytes. Additionally, the current projections state the data generation rate to rise to 133 zettabytes by 2025.

In recent years, the increase in the number of data breach cases has doubled. The imminent threat in a business is the possibility of data breaches. To bolster data protection, it is of utmost importance to have a robust data governance framework. As per IBM data breach reports, the average cost of a data breach is highlighted as $3.86 million, while the USA alone recorded a breach of $8.64 million.

There is a need for robust data governance framework to tackle such challenges. Standard data governance ensures data security, data quality, and integrity while providing the traceability of the data origins. Also, data governance can be successfully implemented when high-quality data is readily available with crucial information on the data types, which is achievable with a data catalog.  Besides, an organization attains firm control over its data usage policies when a regulatory body imposes stricter guidelines. Today, it is possible with some of the robust regulatory bodies available that put a strong emphasis on data governance. Among them, the most well-known is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Furthermore, a data governance approach can reach its ultimate goal within an enterprise with its essential components, namely processes, policies, access controls, and data protection, encompassing the entire data-related workflow within an organization. Tech giants such as Microsoft have contributed significantly to the data governance requirements with the Azure Purview offering that has reach achieved wide acceptance in the industry.

The article delves into the topic to provide a deep insight into data governance and its regulations.

Data Governance Overview

Data governance is a strategy that incorporates the practices, processes, and technical requirements of an organization into a framework by which an organization can achieve standardization in its workflow, thereby providing protection and the appropriate management of its data assets. A useful data governance model’s scalability is a must as it ensures that all the policies, processes, and use-cases are applied accurately for transforming a business into a data-driven enterprise.

Another crucial aspect of data governance is for an organization to conduct a risk assessment and compliance. The successful integration of data governance is determined by efficient data management and data security factors within the framework. An ideal governance policy must address the critical components of data storage,  the original source, and a well-defined data access strategy. Furthermore, data governance solutions focus on providing response plans relating to misuse of data and unauthorized access.

Data governance and data management are often used synonymously, but it is essential to understand that data governance forms a significant part of a data management model.

Data Catalog

A data catalog acts as the inventory of the critical data assets in an organization. The use of metadata helps to manage the data more efficiently. The data professionals benefit from a data catalog as it helps in data collection, organizing data, easier accessibility to data, and improvement of the metadata to support data discovery and governance. While the data generated is enormous in a day to day functioning of an organization, finding relevant data becomes challenging for specific tasks. Additionally, data accessibility is demanding due to various legal regulations of the organization and a particular country’s government. The key factors to understand are the data movement within an organization, such as the individuals who will have access to it and the purpose they want to access it. Such tracking of the data ensures the protection of the data as it limits unauthorized personnel. Thus a data catalog plays a crucial role in addressing some of the challenges related to data.

  • A data catalog provides all the essential data required by an organization; therefore, data accessibility from a single point ensures reduced time for searching data.
  • Creating a business vocabulary.
  • Efficient transformation of data lakes into data swamps.
  • Identifying the different structures of the data.
  • Availability of high-quality and reliable data.
  • Data reusability possibilities

An organization can achieve a competitive advantage with the appropriate use of data. Therefore the data should be trustworthy from the appropriate sources. Some of the organizations’ key members, such as C-level executives, use data for business decisions. Thus, a data catalog becomes useful for looking at cost-saving and operational efficiency factors with a keen eye on fraud and risk analysis.

Data Governance Framework

A data governance framework allows an organization to focus on achieving the business goals and data management challenges while providing the right means to attain them more speedily and securely. Besides, the results of a data governance integration are scalable and measurable.Key-Participants-in-a-Data-Governance-Framework Essentials of Data Governance

Figure. Key Participants in a Data Governance Framework. Source

 

Some of the essentials of a data governance framework are:

  • Use Cases

The data governance framework must address some critical factors, such as the use case for several business scenarios in an organization. The data governance use cases should interlink the need for a data governance framework and its contribution to achieving business goals. Ideally, the use cases are derived from significant factors in an organization, such as revenue, cost, and the associated risks. The category-related use case addresses the enrichment of products and services, innovations, market opportunities, and the ability to achieve them at a reduced cost of maintenance with efficiency, auditing, and data protection.

  • Quantification

The need to quantify data is an absolute necessity as it produces data governance integration in the organization. A business needs to ascertain that they are following, covering all the categorized use cases with evidence to monitor the performance and provide future insights.

  • Technical Benefits

With the technical addition in a workflow, the data governance solutions can efficiently address some of the critical components, thereby ensuring efficiency. The data governance must address factors like the need for technology investment and the primary members who will work with data-related processes. A technical infusion in the workflow also enables the easier discoverability of data definitions, data categories, data lineage, and the appropriate classification of data as trustable data or untrustworthy data. The technical addition also makes it possible to create a feedback mechanism for resolving regulatory issues and policies concerning data usage.

  • Scalability

The data governance policies should be capable of providing scalable results. Using a scalable model provides growth opportunities for an organization by addressing the problems in a data lifecycle. The primary focus is to introduce new tools to reduce operational costs and provide data protection for business growth.

Data Governance Processes

The data government processes comprise of the following.

  • The organization must be mindful of the essential documents such as regulatory guidelines, statutes, company policies, and strategies.
  • A clearly defined workflow states legal mandates, policies, and objectives to be synchronized to help an organization meet data governance and management compliance.
  • Data metrics to be incorporated to measure the performance and the quality of the data.
  • Principles of data governance to be met.
  • Identification of the data security and privacy threats.
  • Control measures to ensure smoother data flow with a precise analysis of the risks.

Data Governance Policies

Under data governance, there are various policies to determine the effectiveness of the organization’s operational strategies. Some of the policies related to data accessibility, data usage, and data integrity are incredibly crucial for successful data governance implementation. The most important policies that an organization must follow for successful data management are as follows.

  • Data Structure policy
  • Data Access Policy
  • Data Usage Policy
  • Data Integration Policy

 Privacy and Compliance Requisites

The organizations are associated with a significant amount of highly sensitive data. Therefore, an organization needs to follow the regulatory compliance of data governance. In the context of business, privacy refers to an individuals’ right to have control over the type of personal data they want to be collected and used and the sensitive information that should be restricted. As per EU directives for data governance, sensitive data is defined as the data that contains a name, address, telephone number, and email address of an individual. On the other hand, sensitive personal data is distinguished clearly, as the data contains information on a person’s ethnicity, political opinion, religion, race, health-based information, criminal conviction, and trade union-based membership details. Such data have stricter guidelines that must be followed with due diligence.

Role of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  was established in the year 2016. The primary aim of the regulation was to provide a framework for data privacy standards. GDPR states that any company looking to conduct business in Europe must be willing to adhere to data protection norms. The GDPR has strict guidelines that ensure the protection and privacy of personal data for its citizens. The mandate was an update from the previous Data Protection Directive in Europe.

Crucial-Requirements-of-GDPR- Essentials of Data Governance

Figure. Crucial Requirements of GDPR. Source

 

Under GDPR, the mandate’s scope extends its reach in terms of the territorial horizon while providing a well-defined law for processing personal data by offering their business services in Europe. The organizations or individuals aiming to provide their services without the presence in Europe are monitored for their service offering under GDPR guidelines. The tracking of such services includes online businesses that require users to accept cookies to access their services. GDPR also differentiates the various data types and the data considered personal data under the mandate.

Furthermore, the direct and indirect data are interlinked with the identification of data subjects. The data subjects are people who can be identified with their information presented in the data. The data in this context is related to personal information such as names, addresses, IP addresses, biometric data logs, citizenship-based identification, email, and the profession.

Additionally, the GPPR mandate ensures that the data is collected within the limits of the law, and it should be highly secured while it exists the records of the organization with stricter rules for its uses. The primary categories of GDPR data governance requirements are:

  • There must be a classification of personal data, while personal identification data must have limited usability. The individuals can access their data and hold the right to request personal data removal or rectification. The mandate also states mandatory data processing requirements and portability of data.
  • Data protection is a must, and it should cover all aspects of safeguarding personal data collected. Also, there must be confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data collected for business purposes. The organizations should also adhere to data restoration regulations for scenarios that may involve data loss due to technical failure or accidents.
  • The collected data must be well- documented as per legal procedures.

Access Controls

Access controls form an integral part of access governance that regulates the accessibility of data. The critical areas covered comprise the guidelines to specify who can access the data and view it. Additionally, it specifies that there is a requirement to state the purpose of data access in the organization. The compliance of access controls allows eliminating unauthorized access of data.

As per the GDPR mandate, some of the data protection requirements must enforce specific procedures.

  • There must be accountability associated with data protection requirements. Data protection personnel must be appointed to manage data and monitor its activities for organizations involved in data processing activities. The appointed individuals must ensure that the data protection standards are met.
  • Data storage is the essential factor for data privacy. Therefore, organizations must have a data map and data inventory to track the source of data and its storage. The source includes the system from which it was generated while tracking the data lineage to provide comprehensive data protection.
  • Data accuracy is paramount, and organizations must keep up-to-date data to achieve high-quality data. Also, data quality reporting must be followed to keep up with data quality standards.

Data Protection

  • Data intelligence provisions for getting insights with 360 visibility of data.
  • Identifying data remedies for security and privacy issues.
  • To protect sensitive data with access governance and ensure no overexposed data exists with data governance methods.
  • Integrating artificial intelligence capabilities to identify dark data and its relationship.
  • Assigning labels with automation to provide data protection during the workflow and the lifecycle of the data.
  • Rapid data breach notification and its investigation.
  • Automate procedure for classifying sensitive and personal data.
  • Automated compliance and policy checks.
  • In-depth assessment of risk scores with metrics depending on the data type, location, and access consent.

Reimagining Data Governance with Microsoft Azure Purview

Azure Purview is a unified data governance service by Microsoft. The governance service enables management and governing of on-premise, multi-cloud, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) data. The users can have access to a holistic and up-to-date map of the data with automated data discovery. Besides, the classification of sensitive data is more manageable along with end-to-end data lineage. With Azure Purview, the data consumers are assured of valuable and trustworthy data.  Some of the key features of Azure Purview are discussed in the following section.

  • Unified mapping of data

The Purview data map feature establishes the foundation of practical data usage while following the data governance standards. With Purview, it is possible to automate the management of metadata from hybrid sources. The consumer can take advantage of data classification with built-in classifiers that can Microsoft Protection sensitivity labels. Finally, all the data can be easily integrated using Apache Atlas API.

unified-data-mapping Essentials of Data Governance

Figure. Unified Data Mapping using Azure Purview. Source

 

  • Trusted Data

Purview offers a data catalog feature that can allow the easier search of data using technical terms from the data vocabulary. The data can be easily identified as per the sensitivity level of the data.

  • Business Insights

The data supply chain can be interpreted conveniently from raw data to gain business insights. Purview offers the option to scan the power BI environment and the analytical workspace automatically. Besides, all the assets can be discovered with their lineage to the Purview data map.

  • Maximizing Business Value

The SQL server data is more discoverable with a unified data governance service. It is possible to connect the SQL server with a Purview data map to achieve automated scanning and data classification.

  • Purview Data Catalog

The Purview data catalog provides importing the existing data dictionaries, providing a business-grade glossary of terms that makes data discoverable more efficiently.

Conclusion

Business enterprises are generating a staggering amount of data daily. The appropriate use of data can be an asset for gaining business value in an organization. Therefore, organizations need to obtain reliable data that can provide meaningful business insights. Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics provide an effective way of integrating data governance in the operational workflow. Today, tech giants like Microsoft, with their data governance offering: Azure Purview, have paved the way for other organizations to opt for data governance. Many startups follow in the footsteps and have acknowledged the importance of data governance for high-quality data while ensuring data privacy at all times, thereby offering several data governance solutions in the market. A robust data governance framework is essential for maintaining the data integrity of the business and its customers.

 

 

5 Tips for SaaS Business Success

tips-for-saas-business-success-scaled-e1615238708300 5 Tips for SaaS Business Success

With February came another exciting event in our webinar series: Learning from the Best SaaS companies, with guest speaker Boris Wertz. Wertz is the Founding Partner of Version One Ventures, a fund that invests in early-stage founders across North America. He has years of experience investing in consumer internet and enterprise companies and was generous enough to share his insights on how to create business success in SaaS. We talked about all things SaaS, from reducing the friction of initial engagement, to one of Wertz’s biggest tips, leveraging the preexisting to build something even more effective. Growing innovation is absolutely crucial and if you keep reading, you’ll learn our top tips for SaaS business success. 

Reducing Friction

When speaking about the critical importance of reducing friction, Wertz shared some wise words. “If you can reduce the friction of engagement for a new user, you’re onto something.” People want a user experience filled with ease, not hard work, and that’s the simple truth of it. The example of YouTube came up in the webinar, and how a lot of their initial success can be attributed to their easy video upload experience for users. It makes the service highly requested and attractive to clients. 

Leveraging the Preexisting

Another tip for the SaaS industry is remembering that there is no need to build everything from scratch. Leverage whatever you can that is already out there! As Wertz puts it, there is a lot of technology and infrastructure that can be “stacked” to create something unique and meaningful. And it has never been easier to do so. In this case, “it makes no sense to reinvent the wheel.”

Capital Efficiency

Capital efficiency was another topic that was touched on during this webinar. Being capitally efficient is one of the most important ways to ensure SaaS business success. Wertz gave the example of Slack, the highly profitable chat room app that connects all members of an organization. When they focussed on capital efficiency, they saw immediate results. Capital efficiency refers to when more annual recurring revenue is created in a year than burned. Something to keep in mind is that a big part of capital efficiency is market efficiency as well. Staying informed about pricing and upselling and expanding your business for current clients can help you stay above the curve and avoid churn. 

Developing a New Category

It’s been said before, but still rings true; if you can find a hole or area of need in the industry and find a way to fulfill it, you’re on the right path. Developing a new category can be difficult but it’s not impossible. The app Slack is an amazing example here as well! They had no enterprise sales at first but as the problem of communication within organizations evolved, they found increased success. One strategy to get started is to solve a small problem for a small group of customers but then expand from there. Wertz gave the example of Hootsuite, the popular social media management platform. They were able to pick up on a trend that needed some work and although they started small, they quickly multiplied in size.

Creating a Great Team

As with any other situation, having a skillful, enthusiastic team is a big part of achieving your organization’s goals. Communicating the importance of having the ability to learn and stay intellectually flexible is crucial when evolving your SaaS processes. A team that keeps a growth mindset while exercising a strong work ethic will quickly rise through the ranks. Finally, having team members that comprehend the power of storytelling is a big benefit. When interacting with clients or even within the organization, understanding how to sell an idea or weave emotion and meaning into it is a big bonus.

 

Want to learn more about creating SaaS business success? Read our blog Microsoft Tools to Grow Your SaaS Business.

Looking Back and the Trends and Predictions for 2021

trends-e1608583565273 Looking Back and the Trends and Predictions for 2021

What are Some Trends and Predictions for 2021?

Looking back at 2020, the year has been hectic no matter what industry you’re in. From agriculture to real estate, every industry has been impacted in ways that could never have been predicted. Revenue has dropped for many businesses, making it impossibly hard for some organizations to reach quotas, for example small family businesses and restaurants. The technology/business sector has been luckier than most. Although this year has pushed all industries to their bounds, we in the tech and business sectors have had the benefit of being the necessity during the crisis; the cloud really saved the day. We want to give you a look back at this year, and a glance into the trends and predictions for 2021, for communities of all sizes. 

Top Trends for 2020 and the Impact of the Pandemic:

In our recent webinar, Betty Rhiger said that the organizations who were prepared (ie. with online ordering or curbside pickup enabled) were able to react swiftly and adapt to handle the disruption of the pandemic. The digital transformation driver with the biggest ROI is a disruptive business model that has the ability to adapt to a changing market in an agile way. So what were the top business/tech trends of 2020 that allowed organizations to shift during the impact of COVID? 

  • Changing Business Models

The pandemic has pushed many companies to stretch and fill holes they didn’t realize existed. We know that oftentimes, people don’t realize what they are missing until the need arises, and it was the same with COVID. From local tech organizations to the massive tech giants at the forefront of innovation, everyone changed their business models this year. COVID “stress tested” cloud service providers, pushing them to their limits to keep up with demand. In April, Microsoft reported a 775% increase in the demand for cloud services. For more information on how the technology industry reacted to the pandemic, read our article here

  • The Increased Importance of Connectivity

As well as this, connectivity has taken on new importance. Not being able to see friends or colleagues at work has taken a big toll on company relations, but virtual collaboration has come a long way since the start of the year. Take Microsoft Teams for example. They have updated the platform to minimize “meeting fatigue”, save time, and keep people engaged. We can see connectivity as a trend in 2021, and predict it will carry over to 2021 just as strongly. To learn more about virtual collaboration and its future, click here

  • More Data-Driven Cultures 

And finally, prioritizing a data-driven culture is becoming more crucial than ever. With the omnipresence of the cloud, and the imminent need to collaborate regardless of location, there is a bigger need than ever to be relying on the same data. Organizations with a data-driven culture, better satisfy customers. 

Trends and Predictions for 2021:

We see many new trends and predictions emerging on the horizon for 2021, but we wanted to share a few of the most crucial. COVID doesn’t seem as though it will dissipate with the new calendar year, and so advanced connectivity will still be in demand. 

  • A Demand for Efficiency

Platforms like Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams will be under the most pressure to date; all organizations relying on remote operations will be pressing for innovation. With this also comes the desire for faster turnaround times in the service industry. From SaaS in cloud to Doordash, there is a new appreciation for efficiency because the majority of services are now virtual. There is a reduction in in-person interactions, therefore creating a need for quicker service. 

  • Automation and Digitalization

How do we see this happening? With more automation and digitalization. COVID has already taken most organizations to the cloud, but now there’s a need to stand apart from the crowd. The only way to do that is by becoming even more attractive and foolproof to customers, through automation, creating as little hold up as possible.

  • Cybersecurity and MFA

This all sounds very exciting, and daunting, for cloud service providers and those in the software development industries, but it’s important to note that trust, safety, and inclusion are more important now than ever. Data security has always been crucial, but now that everyone is taking to the cloud, cybersecurity and multi-factor authentication (MFA) is necessary. For more information on MFA and its benefits, read more here. How would we suggest managing your cloud security? Read our article on the “5 Cloud Security Best Practices” and get an inside scoop. We can predict that cybersecurity will be very vital in the months to come. 

Looking to the Future

This unprecedented time has taught us a lot as business owners and leaders, but more importantly, as humans. We have now seen first hand how resilient our communities can be, and how even in the face of adversity, we find ways to gather and support each other through difficult times. COVID has been scary and unsettling for many, not knowing what the future holds, but we at Optimus are hopeful that there will be more light than ever in 2021. We are gearing up to take on the new year and we are excited to see what it brings for the tech community. Happy new year! 

 

How Digital Transformation is Changing the Face of Business Management

business-management How Digital Transformation is Changing the Face of Business Management

Cloudy with a Chance of Management Theory: How Digital Transformation is Changing the Face of Business Management

What is business management? And how is it evolving as the world moves online? Along with overseeing operations, working face-to-face with customers, reviewing contracts, and pushing employees to their brightest performance, business management is also a key part of keeping a company caught up with the times. What do we mean by that? Well, as the world rapidly becomes more digitized, businesses have to adapt. Nowadays we see the cloud affecting management and customer service, and it pushes us to think: how is the cloud and digital transformation changing businesses? 

Digital Transformation is Inevitable So How Are Organizations Changing?

We’ve talked extensively about digital transformation in the past (for a recap, read our article on “Digital Transformation in a Nutshell”), so we won’t get into the nitty-gritty, but digital transformation is a looming inevitability on the technology landscape. You see, here at Optimus, we encourage you to look at how you can not only keep up with technological innovation, but also cut down on your workload and overhead costs at the same time. By moving to the cloud, all of these are attainable. And we aren’t the only ones realizing that. Organizations all across the globe are rapidly adapting to this idea. 

Digital transformation and cloud computing are on the horizon whether organizations choose to accept it or not. So how are organizations really changing? Well for one, workloads are scaling down, and businesses are scaling up. Or perhaps a better way to describe it is that it is increasingly easier to take on new customers while also increasing the quality of work. Because of this, the way in which tasks are overseen and assigned should change, allowing for mobility within organizations. We see an amalgamation of different sectors. Product design and customer interaction, as well as working with sales, IT, and marketing, creates a web of connections because everything is related to each other now. This comes with the move to the cloud; there is a move towards connectedness. And last but definitely not least, costs are being cut on menial tasks that were taking up valuable time and resources. 

How the Cloud Affects Customer Service

We’ve talked about how the cloud affects the inside end of operations, but what about the receiving end? What are customers experiencing? The constant release and uptake of new software creates a relationship between companies and clients like never before. Production time on new applications or products is cut down from many months to mere weeks. Business leaders will have to re-envision their models and also embrace new ways to provide value to customers. Not only does this mean taking on the process of moving to the cloud, but also finding new ways to deliver information, for example interactive dashboards or analytics software. 

The Misconception About What Drives Digital Transformation

The future is bold and bright for software services companies as well as non-technology related groups who are looking to apply digital transformation. People tend to focus a lot on the technology that comes with moving to the cloud, rather than honing in on how the people in the organization are taking the change. Tech Intensity is the combination of cultural and social aspects of technology in combination with the tools themselves. With big changes come big reactions. How do you manage people who feel threatened by these developments? It’s important to modify and plan this move to the cloud keeping all relevant parties in mind. New ways of thinking, and adaptation to new processes that come up with digital transformation will have to take place. 

Start your transformation small. Don’t focus on turning the whole organization around quickly, forgetting the effects it will have on the community. Instead, look at a more approachable sized problem that you may be facing. Know your “why”. Why are you making this specific change? Why will it be beneficial for the whole team? By looking at the whole process start to finish, you can identify your pain points and work on managing those throughout the transformation. And then you can focus on measuring your success and tackling the next challenge. 

So What Now?

We think it’s fascinating to analyze where the future of technological innovation is headed, especially in relation to the rest of the world. Cloud computing is undoubtedly changing the face of business management, and we at Optimus are a part of that. 

 

Want to learn more about what we do? Contact us here.

Positive Aspects of Working from Home

work-from-home-300x149 Positive Aspects of Working from Home

Barely hanging in there while working from home, or has it been surprisingly easy? It’s been almost three months since the majority of the city, and the world went into lockdown mode, with every major industry grinding to a halt. From agriculture to the technology sector,  major losses have been experienced everywhere. The technology sector has been a little privileged in retaining its jobs, and not only that, working from the safety of home. However, we recognize that it’s difficult to see the silver linings sometimes, especially in a dark time like right now. But we want to share with you some reasons why working from home can have a really positive outcome. 

More Time, More Benefits

Some people have the innate ability to complete work while on the way to work. Multitaskers are far and few among us, but they do exist. Managing calls while driving long distances to work, or pulling out their laptops on the skytrain, some people just have a knack for working on the go. But for the rest of us (not to mention those who suffer from motion sickness), it’s not always that simple. The daily commute, which for some adds up to a significant chunk of the day, turns into a dreary cycle of wasted time. Maybe this isn’t you, and you really enjoy the peace of the morning commute. But we’ve realized that this newfound time, perhaps tallying up to a couple of hours, is a joy to behold. 

What can you do with this extra time? For some, it means getting started with the work day earlier and in fresher spirits. It allows for some time and space in the day to breathe, or incorporate creativity and innovation into an otherwise jam packed schedule. Or maybe this means more time to sleep and recuperate, one of the most crucial parts of a productive lifestyle. Think sleep is overrated? Read this article by Harvard Business Review, it might change your mind. 

A Forced Pause = Re-Examining Internal Systems

This time, although stressful, is an excellent way to force a pause and examine the internal systems of your organization. How is your security system running? Do you have WPA2 encryption enabled on your home wireless network?  Do you use multi-factor authentication (MFA)? If not, this would be a great time to install it. Requiring more than one mode of authentication when logging into your Microsoft Azure portal is crucial in this day and age. For more information, click here.

Improved Work Life Balance

We, at Optimus, have always demonstrated a deep belief in work life integration. For some, this is a new concept, or something daunting that only a few can achieve. But in reality, it’s not! Work life integration is not about letting your work life take over your home/personal place of being. In fact, it stands for the opposite. How can you bring the best version of yourself to work everyday? And how can you bring that person back home to your loved ones, creating connections between the two? By intertwining two seemingly “separate” worlds, there is less room to get “burned out” at work as well as in day to day duties. This does not mean checking your work email at the dinner table, but it does mean having meaningful conversations about your day with those that you care about! 

So what does this have to do with working from home? Well, in this strange era, work and home life are colliding in ways that we haven’t seen before. For freelancers and many people in the creative industries, this is no big deal. But for those of us who are used to working 9-5 at a desk with coworkers, it may feel like the world is imploding. How can you work all day in a place where you live, eat, and rest? If you haven’t already checked out our article on maintaining/increasing productivity while working from home, it’s a great place to start! In addition to that, think of working from home as a new opportunity.

A New Opportunity!

What do we mean by a new opportunity? Well, with working from home comes additional flexibility. Depending on your team and management, flexible work hours could come into play. If you are now juggling kids and their schedules as well, all cooped up at home, it gets tiring! We get it. But try and see how you might be able to integrate your schedules with those who are also living at home. Take breaks and have meals at the same time. Maybe go for a walk together! Work life integration is key in a time like this. To make your transition more comfortable you should also look into the tools that you might need while working from home. We are hosting a webinar series that focuses on this aspect and would be a great place for you to start.

Working from home has been exhausting for a myriad of reasons. And we’re sure there are many we haven’t covered. But looking at the silver lining in this situation is often a good starting point to remind us of what we can be grateful for. 

 

Support For Our Community

COVID-19-Support-300x200 Support For Our Community

Small businesses and individuals around the world are feeling the negative effect COVID-19 has had on the economy. Here at Optimus, the health and safety of our employees and community remain our priority. We have encouraged our employees to stay positive and give back to the community where they can. We started a donation program where every dollar donated by an Optimus employee will be matched by the company itself. Our employees actively participated in this donation program and we raised over $8500 collectively from our Vancouver and Noida offices. We then donated the amount to Food Banks of Canada and other local organizations and are continuing with this initiative.

 

Want to contribute? Here are some organizations you can donate to:

Food Bank

Canada Helps

WHO

Vancouver Foundation

Playing Pretend: How to Keep Productivity Levels Up While Working From Home

tea-cup-laptop-apple-7360-scaled-e1585866114401-300x177 Playing Pretend: How to Keep Productivity Levels Up While Working From Home

When you are used to working from the office, staying home and trying to meet deadlines can prove to be a challenge sometimes. Various industries have been affected by COVID-19 in different ways, some more detrimental than others. We at Optimus are lucky to have the luxury of mobility; we can work from home. But when sitting alone on the couch, with no coworkers in sight, how can we stay focussed? We have a simple, yet absurd solution. Play pretend. 

Dress to Impress

Stay with us, we know how strange it may sound. But just as important as brushing your teeth and washing your face before working from home, we encourage you to get dressed up as if you were going into the office. Not only does it hit “refresh” in your mind for a new day, it puts you in the headspace of work, rather than lounging around. Dress as if you could be “Skyped by a potential client at any moment” says an article from The Guardian. It’s not just about having other people there to view you in professional attire, it is about taking the same time to respect yourself and get into the right frame of mind as you would on a regular workday. Keeping up your routine is key. 

Working From Home ≠ Working In Bed

“Why does that cause an issue? I should be fine working from bed! Shouldn’t I be comfortable while working?” Firstly, agreed. Don’t set yourself up in a sharp nook of your home and expect your finest work. But do remember: you’re not at the office. That itself creates chaos in what would otherwise be a smooth sailing ship. It’s hard to feel like working when you are sprawled out in bed, or laying out on the sofa. Just a suggestion, but we’ve found it helps to sit up straight and reside at a desk during work hours to encourage the same routine you would have had at the office. And speaking of routine, it leads us to our next tip: keeping a scheduled day including breaks and team calls (to keep your sanity and stay connected). 

Schedule Your Day

Not being in the office means a lack of people to bounce ideas off of, or grab a quick lunch with between meetings. But it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice some of these privileges completely. Why not schedule your day around outcomes, coming up with a daily goal to hit? And by laying your day out, and scheduling in some breaks for yourself, shoot your coworkers a calendar invite for a 15-minute brainstorm session, or maybe even a working lunch. Just because you are at home, doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself from the office community; stay connected! But while staying connected, remember to keep boundaries between your work and personal life. Getting stuck working all the time because you can’t “turn off” or not working at all because you are watching TV, is not productive either. 

Be Careful of Isolation

When staying home, especially if you live by yourself, it can get lonely sometimes. Just as it’s important to stay connected and integrated with your office community, staying in touch with family and friends is a surefire way to keep yourself from feeling isolated. Text, video call, and email those who are1 near to your heart, or maybe reach out to some old friends. 

Distractions 

Finally, when working from home, it’s easier than ever to get distracted. Along with following the tips above, we encourage you not to get too caught up with the news. Staying informed is always important, don’t get us wrong. Listening to trusted resources and turning your TV on is good, but we would suggest not having the news channel on 24/7. Not only does it take away from your mindshare, it also may create a worrying atmosphere considering the state of the globe today: not conducive to a working environment. 

This pandemic has affected everyone, and we hope that you are staying home and healthy. But while staying home, we hope that these tips will help keep your productivity levels on the rise, without compromising your working environment.

The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

Intern-Focus-300x143 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

Optimus Information offers an incredible internship program for software engineers unlike any other. Everybody at Optimus holds interns to the highest standard. There is no spoon-feeding or babysitting in the office. This 6-month program teaches interns the ins and outs of a variety of software and exposes them to experienced professionals. Along with technical skills, interns will build their soft skills through mentor-mentee interactions, team huddles, and extracurricular activities.

Since Optimus Information is a global company, applying for an intern position can be fairly intimidating. Those who want to learn from Optimus need to be motivated, resilient, and ambitious. The company seeks out individuals who are willing to increase their intellectual capital, eager to step into a self-led role, and ready to tackle all challenges that may come their way. 

From the perspective of current interns, we hope to share some insight on how to stand out and lay a strong foundation for an amazing, successful career with Optimus Information. Although we are not pursuing the usual software internship, we have the inside knowledge as HR interns. We have compiled a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” that will hopefully help those who are potentially looking to pursue a career with Optimus.

HR Interview

1-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternAlthough Optimus Information is a software company, your transcript, and coding knowledge are not the only fundamentals that will get you an offer letter. The perfect candidate for Optimus is someone who exerts confident energy and has a good understanding of social cues. During the first HR interview, your interviewer will be evaluating you on your personality and your demeanor. Based on how you present yourself and your communication skills, your interviewer will determine if you are the right fit for the company. If you can successfully impress your interviewer, you will proceed to the second round of interviews where you can demonstrate your technical abilities.

DO review your CV.

If you 2-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Internhave double-checked your CV, triple-check it. The way your CV is laid out will tell a lot about your character before the interviewer even meets you in person. Ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors and that everything on your CV is accurate and up to date. Your interviewer will ask questions based on what you have written on your CV. For example, if you added “skills in C++”, don’t be surprised when the interviewer asks you to discuss concepts and theories behind the language.

DO dress to impress.3-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

First impressions are the most important component of any interview. Show the interviewer that you want the position before you introduce yourself. An interviewer will respect those who put effort into the way that they present themselves. Let the interviewer know that you are a professional who cares.

DO respect your interviewer.9-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

Wait for your interviewer to ask you to grab a seat before sitting down. This minuscule detail will show the interviewer that you understand respect, as it is a huge component to succeeding in the corporate world. Be polite and confident.

DO speak in English.

4-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternAs Optimus is a global company (with its headquarters in Vancouver, Canada), you will be dealing with overseas clients. English will be the primary language that you will communicate. Prove to your interviewer that you can communicate well in English. Freshen up your grammar and sentence structures prior to your interview to ensure fluidity and accuracy in your speech.

DO NOT be too nervous.

Your interviewer is trying to learn more about you.5-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern They want you to sell yourself to them and demonstrate your incredible personality. Although it will feel intimidating, know that they are there to help you achieve your goals. Non-verbal communication can tell a lot about somebody’s character so keep a mental note on your body language. Listen to what the interviewer asks and answer it to the best of your ability. Avoid losing your train of thought due to your nerves. Be confident and proud of who you are. Show them what you are capable of.

Bonus: Congratulations! You passed the interview. Here are some tips to help you become and remain a successful Optimus intern.

The Optimus software internship is not a walk in the park. You will be working from 8 AM to 8 PM Monday to Saturday for 6-months. Be prepared to work hard and learn a lot. Since this is a challenging program, only the goal-oriented, ambitious-driven, and strong-minded individuals will be successful. Luckily for you, we have the tips to help you stay on top and remain optimistic.

DO communicate with your mentors and buddies.

6-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternYour mentors and buddies are there to help you transition from college life to corporate life. They are there to help you with professional and personal issues so do not be afraid to reach out. Most of the mentors and buddies at Optimus were past interns who have already experienced the Optimus internship. All you need to do is ask for advice and your buddies will definitely be there to help.

DO stay positive.7-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

If you ever feel stressed or overworked, just remember the end goal. Keep pushing forward and do your best. Know that you have your team of interns throughout the next 6 months who are experiencing the same ups and downs as you. Keep each other accountable and motivate each other to push on.

DO NOT rely solely on somebody else.8-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

One of the Optimus Values is to be self-led. You will learn to tackle challenges and obstacles on your own. It is okay to ask for help but do not rely on someone else to have the answers to all of your problems. Self-reliance will be a key learning takeaway from this internship.

DO NOT be afraid to take initiative.

10-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternHaving an entrepreneurial spirit at Optimus is highly praised. If you find an opportunity, take it. Pitch your ideas to your mentors or supervisors and take initiative. Learn from others and implement these skills to your own work.

Optimus Information emphasizes on high intellectual capital. Many people may feel like the internship program pushes them to their limits but those who complete the program remain on top compared to their colleagues. Good luck to all future candidates.

 

4 Tips to Prevent “Run-Away” Azure Costs

Imagine you return to the office on Monday morning and discover a mysterious spike in your Azure consumption. You are now significantly over your monthly budget. As you feel a headache forming, you ask yourself: “Wasn’t moving to the cloud supposed to reduce spending?”

Here are 4 easy and basic actions you can take to prevent a run-away Azure cost incident.

1. Delete or deactivate unused resources

According to Microsoft, “The challenge with cloud computing is that once you flip the switch on, the meter keeps running until you switch it off” (Aleenah Ansari). You don’t leave the heat on when you take a weekend trip. So, why would you pay for unused resources in the cloud? Part of optimizing for cloud is deleting all unused resources so you are not unknowingly incurring cost on an unused resource that is still active. If the resource needs to be kept, place the resource in a free or low-cost configuration (for example, a dev or test configuration which automatically starts at a lower price tier). 

Read this article to learn more about how to optimize your cloud investment with Azure Cost Management.

2. Create subscription budgets and alerts

Just like managing your own personal finances, you can set limits for your Azure budget. Microsoft  Azure allows you to set alerts and thresholds to monitor your budget based on cost or usage. You can even set up an automatic trigger when a given budget threshold is reached. For example, you can notify operations staff, trigger VMs to shut down, or you can move your infrastructure to a different pricing tier when you hit a certain budget.

As a best practice, it is important to review your budget regularly to see how much you have spent and to make proactive changes if needed. Use this tutorial to create and manage Azure budgets.

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Based on the fields chosen in the budget a graph is shown to help you select a threshold to use for your budget.

3. Use management groups to roll-up observation across all subscriptions

Modern TV streaming services give you parental controls to easily see who’s watching what and manage who should be allowed to watch what. Azure offers a similar feature to easily and efficiently manage multiple subscriptions within your organization. Azure management groups allow you to manage access, policies, and compliance of those subscriptions by providing a level of scope above subscriptions.  

Once you have organized your subscriptions into containers called ‘management groups’, you can apply your governance conditions to all your subscriptions in that management group. Note: All subscriptions within a single management group must trust the same Azure Active Directory tenant. However, once they do, the costs from individual subscriptions can also be rolled up to the containing management group, allowing for convenient budget monitoring and alerting across multiple subscriptions.

Root_Management_Group-1030x635 4 Tips to Prevent “Run-Away” Azure Costs

Azure management group hierarchy.

4. Improve system monitoring, alerts, and notifications

Your smartwatch counts your steps, monitors your sleep habits, and notifies you when you’ve been sitting too long. Wouldn’t it be nice if you received similar alerts about your Azure account? Using tools like Azure Monitor and Application Insights can help you understand how your applications are performing and can even proactively identify issues affecting them and the resources they depend on.

Azure Monitor can be used to monitor the availability, performance, and usage of your web applications. Alerts in Azure Monitor also notify you of critical conditions by sending a text or email to an administrator responsible for investigating an issue. Alerts can also attempt to take corrective action, such as launching an automated process that attempts to correct an error condition.

Azure_Monitor-1030x567 4 Tips to Prevent “Run-Away” Azure Costs

A high-level view of Azure Monitor.

Managing a cloud tenant can have unexpected challenges. However, using these features from Azure will help you maximize your cloud infrastructure without extending your budget. Reach out to us if you want to learn more about optimizing your Azure infrastructure.

 

All product names, trademarks and registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Corporate Social Responsibility at Optimus

What Community Service Means to Optimus:

It’s undisputed that giving back is a core connector in large communities and companies. At Optimus, contributing time and funding to various causes in society is something that brings us all together, reigniting our humanity. Especially in a large company like ours, corporate social responsibility through is especially important and we find that community service keeps us humble and grounded. For both the Vancouver and Noida offices, philanthropy is of the utmost importance; we want to make connections and see how we can make an impact. To us, community service isn’t just giving donations. We take the time to hone in on how we can make a difference to the communities surrounding ours. 

How We Choose to Give Back in 2019:

We believe that giving back to local communities is crucial in establishing tangible change. In Vancouver, we have focused on helping those in close vicinity to the office by creating small yet meaningful movements. In the fall, we gathered together in Oppenheimer Park, a recent safe place and home to many homeless citizens. A group of volunteers from our team spent a Saturday afternoon handing out hot samosas in this area of the Downtown Eastside. On that day alone, we estimate that we served close to 500 individuals.

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Vancouver CSR Team in Oppenheimer Park

In 2019, we also had a sandwich fundraiser to raise money for the Zajac Ranch for Children. A summer camp that provides fun experiences for children with disabilities, Zajac Ranch makes accessibility their top priority; medical conditions don’t hold back the children from enjoying the full potential to just be kids. Optimus and Enkel, our sister company, had volunteered to match the given donations dollar for dollar. We organized a sandwich fundraiser and collected personal donations from the staff which were matched by the company. Furthermore, we plan to organize a volunteer day and visit the camp later this year. 

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Vancouver Team putting collected items together for donation bags

Aligned Global Contributions:

During the harsh winter months, both the Vancouver and Noida offices contributed winter bundles to local communities. The Vancouver bundles included toques, gloves, socks, toothbrush/toothpaste, and a snack. In India with cold temperatures, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Team collected blankets and clothing to donate to Uday Foundation, which provides shelter for women and children undergoing medical treatment. Over the past year, in Noida, we also worked closely with the Smile Foundation, which has an initiative for every child to attend school. Currently, they have 30,000+ children across 27 states in India attending school through Mission Education Projects. Optimus Information’s Power of 10 Initiative provided to this organization. In addition, visits and drives occurred to local charities. 

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CSR Team in Noida visiting Uday Foundation

In July and November, team members from Optimus visited children at Deepalaya. This organization is focused on identifying economically and socially deprived children to help them become educated and skilled. We gathered our resources and were able to donate stationery as well as computers. We celebrated Children’s Day on November 14th at Deepalaya, by bringing the children lunch and continuing to encourage them on their path to higher education. By picking different organizations throughout the year, we hope to make an impact for various communities of people around us in both Canada and India. 

Where We Want to Be Helping in the Future:

Optimus is deeply passionate about making a difference in the local community. Our company has launched an initiative in 2020 to reach a goal of 5,000 volunteer hours collectively in both the Vancouver and Noida office. Moreover, our efforts will be mirrored with a concentration on education, healthcare and environmental conservation. 

Looking ahead into the new year, the CSR Team continues to engage with local NGOs. By circulating a survey to employees on what socio-economic issues are important to them, we are able to focus on issues that have a personal impact as well. Our unified efforts are primarily focused on education, as we believe it is the path to empowerment.

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Spending time on Children’s Day in India with the Deepalaya organization

Through company collaboration, we are able to put our best collective efforts forward. Feedback from our employees to focus our efforts on upcoming corporate social responsibility activities include organizing backpacks to give to those less fortunate, stocked with basic necessities. We continuously donate at a blood drive and intend to carry on doing so. We feel that in order to truly make a difference, you must donate your time not just your money. Connecting on a deeper level is always the core purpose behind our philanthropic initiatives. To give our time is what matters most to us. We hope to truly make a difference in whatever way we can.