TechLink News

TechLink Services Named to Inc 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies for the 4th Year in a Row

We are thrilled to announce that TechLink Services has once again been named to the Inc 5000 List of Fastest Growing US companies. This marks the 4th consecutive year that we have been included in the prestigious list, and it is an honor to be listed alongside other industry leaders like Sandler Partners and our sister company, Broad Sky Networks.

 

“Being able to achieve significant year-over-year growth for 4 years in a row isn’t easy,” said Mike Mudd, CEO of TechLink Services. “I’m especially proud of the strong leadership and dedicated employees that have made this possible again in 2018. For TechLink, growth isn’t just about a number on a revenue sheet. It’s about the strategic intent that we put into everything that we do for our customers and technician network. It’s truly a group effort to keep the momentum going strong.” TechLink leaders point to two specific drivers of growth over the past year.

Increased Adoption of Digital Signage Solutions

Digital signage is becoming more mainstream with businesses in the retail, automotive, restaurant industries, as well as other consumer-based sectors. Improved adoption rates have presented a higher demand for qualified technicians to manage the installation of large-scale deployments, often at multiple locations across the country. Our nationwide network of highly-trained technicians gives us the ability to serve this market no matter where a customer is located. We expect this trend to continue over the next few years. In fact, Orbis Research estimates that the Digital Signage Market size will grow from USD 20.74 Billion in 2017 to USD 31.62 Billion by 2023.

Integration of Blue Ridge Solutions, Now TechLink Solutions

Last year, we acquired Blue Ridge Solutions, a North Carolina custom software development firm. Since the acquisition, we have worked on merging the two organizations together, uniting processes, personnel, and marketing power. Now officially branded as TechLink Solutions, the acquisition allows us to expand further into the manufacturing and high-tech sectors, offering custom software solutions, mobile application development, and web portal design to clients across the country.

 

We’d like to extend our sincerest thanks to our customers, partners, technicians, and employees for placing their trust in TechLink Services. Without you, we would not have been able to achieve the successes we’ve seen over the past few years!

 

For complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region and other criteria, visit https://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2018.

Top 3 Considerations for SD-WAN Right Now

Cityscape at night with SD-WAN connections

We’ve all heard the buzz around SD-WAN, or software-defined WANs, for the technology’s ability to help organizations support a more cost-effective, robust, and agile network. Software-defined WANs have evolved into an enterprise-ready solution that has stripped down once complicated, conventional hub-and-spoke WANs. SD-WAN replaces those with lightweight WAN routers that are agnostic to WAN transport. This capability means SD-WAN can enable hybrid WAN connections, which generally include a mix of MPLS and internet links, such as broadband, fiber 4G/5G LTE, and Wi-Fi or satellite. With access to hybrid WAN connections, SD-WANs can deliver traffic across hybrid cloud IT infrastructures, regardless of the underlying application architecture. It also ensures a high Quality of Service (QoS) for critical public cloud applications because it supports load sharing of traffic across multiple WAN connections in an efficient way.

SD-WAN technologies include a centralized cloud-based management console where users can set policies for routing business-critical application over private links, and other less-critical traffic over the public internet, all according to business and application requirements. With these benefits, it’s no wonder that IDC predicts that the SD-WAN market would total $8 billion by 2021, up from only $225 million in 2015. (Source: IDC). For enterprises looking at SD-WAN options, there are several paths to consider around how the solutions will be managed (i.e. Do-it-Yourself/DIY, service providers, or hybrid) and opportunities for branch deployments.

 

Managed SD-WAN vs. DIY in-house

Typically those that follow the DIY SD-WAN model are large organizations that have skilled network professional on staff to set up SD-WAN deployments, which can be a significant undertaking. Implementations require specific experience and skills to define and implement just the right SD-WAN solution and to manage and optimize its performance over time. Often organizations looking to add SD-WAN services to their existing MPLS private network look to outside managed service providers for help to meet their complex requirements. No longer seen as a commodity, SD-WAN delivered as a service offers many benefits including the opportunity to bundle other critical networking services such as security, reliability, service options, and connectivity.

SD-WAN hybrid management

For those companies that don’t fit neatly into one bucket or another, there’s the hybrid approach to SD-WAN deployment and management. This approach could include small and midsize businesses and even large enterprises. A hybrid approach is useful because an organization can lean on a service provider’s expertise and bundled options to fully optimize their SD-WAN deployments and then take over the reins to manage those SD-WANs in-house. An SD-WAN service provider may provide multiple types of broadband connections, private-link MPLS, and even mobile or LTE services into their branch offices. A managed partner can streamline management by merging these services, offering ongoing maintenance and support, and connections all on a single bill.  In many cases, when paying for SD-WAN as a service  that’s fully managed, or via a hybrid model, businesses can leverage providers’ direct connections into public cloud services, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or SaaS vendors. With the enterprises’ growing reliance on public and private cloud services, plugging into these providers’ direct connections with cloud vendors can deliver significant cost savings and more reliable application performance. By taking some management responsibilities and leveraging an SD-WAN provider’s WAN-to-cloud infrastructure, many organizations are finding the optimal balance between ensuring the highest level of performance for cloud-connected apps and keeping costs lower.

Moving to software-defined branch office

For those companies transitioning to SD-WAN specifically for branch office support, there are additional factors to consider. Re-architecting WAN connections to branch and remote sites can be a significant challenge. Creating a software-defined branch means giving organizations the ability to manage many network functions via the cloud and a centralized control panel. SD-WAN for branch sites means consolidating the equipment used at a remote location, such as routers, firewalls, wireless access points, security and threat management systems, and WAN optimization tools, into a single virtualized system. Managed service providers can deliver guidance on setting up cost-effective and efficient software-defined branches, ultimately allowing enterprises to be more flexible and competitive. Once set up, organizations can spin up sites more quickly and cheaply and either take over SD-WAN management and maintenance or keep it with the provider.

 

SD-WAN is moving fast to replace the traditional enterprise WAN for its ability to reduce service costs and downtime and to improve network security and flexibility. With software-based control through virtualization and a cloud-based management console, enterprises can expect simplified branch network operations and a higher QoS of software and applications delivered via the cloud. Whether transitioning to an SD-WAN and managing it in-house or working with a managed service provider, SD-WAN offers a more flexible approach to networking that meets diverse requirements, either for on-demand bandwidth or the need for consistent network performance across multiple sites.

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Self-Service Kiosks Aren’t Just For Quick-Service Restaurants!

Just like the drive-thru window revolutionized the Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) industry in the 1960s, self-service kiosk technology is poised to do the same in the late 2000s. Restaurants like Panera, McDonald’s, and many others are turning to self-service kiosks in record numbers. QSR’s see digital ordering capabilities a critical differentiator that saves customers’ time, adds convenience and increases menu-customization options. These restaurants are also finding the self-service ordering model also helps free up employees to focus on other customer needs that contribute to higher-quality customer experiences. Not only that, whether it’s a touch-screen tablet or innovative self-service kiosk, younger buyers are even more comfortable with the digital technology. According to AdAge, millennials and Generation Z (ages 2-19) will change how customer service is defined dramatically in the coming years. Those groups are digital natives and exceptionally technologically savvy. Think about it: Generation Z-ers have never known a time before Google! And, they expect to be able to self-serve, while also receiving assistance anywhere along their personalized customer journey. (Source: AdAge). By digitizing their businesses now, companies are striving to build strong connections with this younger demographic and their next-generation of customers.

For those reasons, the adoption of self-service kiosks is also expanding way beyond our favorite fast food locations. Today you can see these digital technologies being leveraged everywhere from the supermarket checkout line at Whole Foods or Kroger, to the airport counter, to gas stations, as well as other areas such as hospitality, government and retail, and banking. Let’s explore how some of these other industries are utilizing self-service kiosks and how they are changing their business models in exciting ways.

  •    Healthcare- Healthcare kiosks span the gamut from appointment check-in centers to those kiosks with personal information related to medications, referrals, pharmacy reminders or instructions for scheduling a follow-up appointment. Many sophisticated healthcare kiosks also offer privacy screens, biometric identification or cameras, and scanners for insurance cards and payments.  In-clinic kiosks help to streamline and enhance the patient’s experience and improve critical workflows that ensure HIPAA compliance. Self-assessment kiosks and those that offer screenings like weight and blood pressure, help individuals and encourage repeat visits. Interactive kiosks also have the unique ability to deliver targeted messages about brands that are personally relevant, according to assessment results. Other digital booths are more information such as ones outside pharmacies that provide details about new generic drugs available, or those that offer health and wellness and nutritional information. Informational kiosks may even be located at community centers like the YMCA or local gym.
  •    Retail- The user interface improved dramatically over the years and now include everything from touch-screens to next-generation technologies like gesture-based interactions and augmented reality (AR) applications. These advancements are keeping visitors in the store longer and allowing customers to explore the breadth of what the store has to offer. They also sync more customer data with loyalty-building programs, enabling more targeted and personalized promotional. Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, for example, now offers its customers free phone charging stations. Because these kiosks require shoppers to enter their phone number, they double as a customer acquisition tool, where the store can send a targeted text message to shoppers within 30 minutes of removing their phones. Taking the digital kiosk even further, the company also introduced a Memory Mirror application that acts as a full-sized fashion mirror, giving shoppers the ability to record a video of themselves in an outfit, and download or share it instantly via social media. (Source: Retail Dive) By linking in-person digital experiences with other marketing programs like email, loyalty programs, and mobile-based efforts, retail-based kiosks are changing how companies connect with their best customers.
  •    Hospitality- While most of us are very familiar and comfortable with booking hotels online, fewer hotels offer the same convenience and flexibility for their check-in and check-out processes.  However, recent studies show, there’s a significant opportunity in this area. According to JD Power & Associates, today only 4% of check-ins and 1% of check-outs today occur through mobile apps, but when it is used, it is associated with higher guest satisfaction. (Source: J.D. Power & Associates). For hotels with frequent international guests, kiosks also level the playing field, giving guests multiple language options. While digital self-service applications and kiosks don’t replace hospitality staff members, they free up staff to attend to other guest needs, overall enhancing the level of customer service.

Leading companies today are finding innovative ways to turn what was once transactional encounters (i.e., ordering food or checking into a hotel room or doctor’s office) into personalized and interactive digital experiences that are unique and interesting, as well as efficient. Today more than ever, consumers form strong attachments to brands that can offer these types of engagement. Talk to TechLink today about how self-service kiosks may fit into your overall customer service strategy and how we can help your business, select, design, and deploy innovative digital technology that can save money, enhance customer support, and transform your business.