This year CDW tried something new at BTEX, gathering a panel of its solution architects to share their stories about helping customers keep pace with change, manage security threats, and leverage AI and machine learning.
Senior Manager Brian Matthews moderated the panel, which featured Owen Dykstra (Inside Solution Architect, Security), Ali Syed (Field Solution Architect, Networking), Tolu Osho (Field Solution Architect, Collaboration), and Puneet Duggal (Inside Solution Architect, Networking).
The following conversation has been abridged.
BRIAN: Puneet, tell us about a recent project that you’ve done with one of our customers at CDW to design and implement an innovative, next-generation technology, and what was the business outcome.
PUNEET: A customer in the entertainment industry came to us and said that they wanted to make technology a bigger part of their business. Wi-Fi had been used by more and more of their end customers and they wanted to make it a part of the experience, so if someone comes to a concert, or someone’s having a sporting event, they wanted it to be very easy for their fans to find the nearest concession stand or bathroom that’s not busy, or how they can use a phone for things like ticketing. What they really wanted to achieve was the interaction part.
BRIAN: Owen, give us an example of one of the projects that you’ve been working on.
OWEN: The first one that comes to mind is a small regional government in southwestern Ontario. They were having a challenging time with their legacy email solution. It was allowing too much spam and malware into their network. After having a good meeting with the customer and understanding what they were trying to achieve, I selected a next-generation email security product for them and we got some professional services to help get that product installed in their environment. Within days we heard back from the customer. They were super-happy with the solution, and happier that they could finally rely on their email as a reliable business communication tool.
BRIAN: The pace of innovation is astounding, and it’s only getting faster. What would you recommend for technology leaders, business leaders, members of a technology organization, when it comes to keeping up with the pace of innovation?
OWEN: The CDW ITS team has a ton of experience across every category of every vertical you can think of. I would recommend engaging one of us to be your trusted advisor to help find that solution for you.
BRIAN: What would you say about keeping up with the pace of change?
ALI: A lot of things are changing. People are using AI, machine learning. The traditional way of setting up a network is quite complicated. We have to adapt accordingly. The traditional firewalls, the traditional IPS (Intrusion Prevention System), the traditional patching once a week, does not help now. We need to use AI, machine learning, get some tools that help analyze the data.
BRIAN: When customers do decide to move to a modern infrastructure or move to a new technology, what are some of the challenges you’ve seen them encounter in your experience?
PUNEET: I think people are used to being a firefighter when it comes to IT: if it ain’t broke, don’t touch it, let the customers or users go on with their day and don’t update until they need to. But you have to assess the performance – are we looking at where these workloads would be better optimized, are we looking at potentially a roadmap that includes some proof of concepts, that lets you introduce some of these technologies? It’s a matter of working with CDW, working with our partners in a way that’s more strategic, where we’re your trusted advisor building your roadmap together, helping you test these things when it’s ready for your environment, and finding out what works best for where you’re trying to go.
TOLU: One thing I’ve seen in my space when a new technology is being implemented is the right training not being delivered to the customer, and at the end of the day that can be the gap between an excellent product and an excellent result. When we sell to the customers, we don’t just leave you to figure it out yourself. We stay with you, helping you through the learning curve, helping your end users through the learning curve so you can get the best from what you paid for.
BRIAN: From start to finish, from end to end, whether it’s doing a proof of concept, whether it’s coming into one of the CDW or Scalar labs in Toronto and Vancouver, whether it’s doing some things virtually from a demo perspective, whether it’s training services, implementation services, managed services, you start to think about these projects and where we can help you at every stage.
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