Tag Archives: November 2008

rsz_ec

Main Event Entertainment Buys 6.4 Acres at Tempe's Emerald Center

 

Main Event Entertainment purchased a 6.4-acre retail site in Tempe for $2.05M and will build a new 57,000 SF indoor entertainment venue.

The property is located in Emerald Center near Interstate 10 and Warner Road in Tempe adjacent to IKEA and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, this will be Main Event’s first building outside of Texas where it has 12 locations.

Construction is expected to start in 2Q 2013. The freestanding building will be located at the NEC of Emerald and Commerce drives and will have more than 400 parking spaces. It lies directly south of a future 74,000 SF retail showroom called Furniture Row that is being planned for 2014. Furniture Row purchased the site in 2011 and the two new buildings will share common parking and easements.

Main Event Entertainment will attract indoor corporate and family events and offers bowling, billiards, laser tag, glow golf, rock climbing, gravity ropes, arcade games along with food and beverage services.

Dan Gardiner and Greg Laing of Phoenix Commercial Advisors represented Main Event Entertainment in the site selection process. Rick Robertson and Chris McClurg of Lee and Associates Arizona represented the seller, First National Bank of Hutchinson, Kan., in the acquisition.

The new building was approved for a use permit by the City of Tempe in June 2012 and is being designed by Hunter Engineering.

rsz_university_center

Cushman & Wakefield Negotiates $23.5M Sale of University Center

 

Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona negotiated the $23.5M sale of the three-building University Center to the Arizona Board of Regents. This marks an acquisition for future expansion of Arizona State University.

University Center , located at Rural Rd. and University Dr., is situated across the street from ASU. The three buildings, 1100, 1130 and 1150 E. University Dr., contain a total of 169,997 SF of space. The 1130 and 1150 E. University Dr. buildings are three-story office structures, while the 1100 E. University Dr. is a single story flex building.

University Center was constructed in 1986/1987 and is occupied by major tenants that include Arizona State University, ACS Commercial Solutions, Nationwide Recovery and Laureate College.

The Arizona Board of Regents purchased the property from Travelers of St Paul, Minn., paying approximately $138.40 per SF.

“We have had the privilege to work with Travelers and Arizona Commercial Management on University Center for over 14 years,” says Karsten Peterson with Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona. “This project has, and will continue to be, a quality location for years to come. University Center has always enjoyed a great relationship with ASU as a Tenant and we are pleased to see ASU progress this relationship into ownership.”

Peterson, Dave Seeger and Mark Gustin of Cushman & Wakefield represented Travelers in the sale negotiations. Peter Lyons of Arizona Commercial Management also assisted in representation of the seller. Curtis Brown of Ross Brown Partners represented the buyer.

 

 

For the first time, Dial Corp.'s research and development will be housed with the company's headquarters.

Dial Corp. Gets Ready To Move Into Its New Headquarters

By year’s end, Dial Corp. expects to have moved into a new 350,000-square-foot national headquarters in Scottsdale, and for the first time it will house its research and development operations under the same roof.

What’s more, Dial Corp. will be the first tenants in One Scottsdale, a luxury retail and lifestyle community at the northeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Loop 101. In addition to Dial’s presence, One Scottsdale will consist of high-fashion retail shops, upscale restaurants, boutique hotel rooms, office space and a diversity of residential housing.

The move from existing facilities in North Scottsdale was set in motion in 2005.

“Faced with an expiring lease at the end of 2008 on its R&D facility, Dial began searching for a new location,” says Natalie Violi, director of corporate communications for Henkel of America Inc., Dial’s parent company. “The goal was to purchase a large enough parcel of land to house a world class R&D facility and at the same time be located in a desirable location for our employees.

“It was during this process that Dial decided to also move its headquarters to the same location as its R&D facility to inspire collaboration between our scientists and businesses.”

Dial’s current R&D facility is located at 15101 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, where it has been for 32 years. It is near its current headquarters for the past 11 years at 15501 N. Dial Blvd. in Scottsdale. The current research center across from Kierland Commons likely will be razed as the new Scottsdale Quarters project takes shape. The owners of the existing headquarters building are looking for new tenants.

Violi says housing the headquarters and R&D facility under one roof is a first for Dial, including its former location on North Central Avenue in Phoenix, and before that in Chicago.

The amenities Dial employees enjoyed as neighbors of the Kierland Commons mixed-use development were a factor in choosing the new site, says Brad Gazaway, vice president and corporate counsel, who is the Dial executive in charge of the new building project.

“Finding a location that would afford similar — and possibly more — amenities was an important consideration in our selection process,” Gazaway says. “We believed this not only for the convenience that nearby hotels, restaurants, homes and retailers offer our employees and business on a day-to-day basis, but also the fact that such amenities and creative architecture and surroundings found in mixed-use developments can foster inspiring innovation and development that will bring about increased business productivity and results. Such environments also serve as a valuable platform for employee recruitment and retention.”

By relocating to One Scottsdale, Gazaway says, the move enables Dial to be “a part of an exciting and innovative environment in which our employees will thrive and flourish.”

Total cost of the project, says Gazaway, is “north of $100 million.”

Dial is looking for LEED certification for its new home. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings are healthier work and living environments, which contribute to higher productivity and improved employee health and comfort.

Going “green” may add somewhat to the cost, but should result in savings and other benefits in the long run. The building has many “green” aspects, such as workstations designed to be safe, healthy, comfortable and functional.

Gazaway mentions other “green” features. Natural lighting is emphasized, and a roof garden on the fourth floor with trees and benches is ideal for employee use at lunchtime, and for parties and receptions, he says. All of the wood used in construction is from recycled material. Excess materials were separated — wood in one pile and paper products in another — for recycling. Sundt Construction, the project’s general contractor, spearheaded the recycling effort, Gazaway says.

Furthermore, an enhanced heating and air-conditioning system meets LEED standards for performance. Additionally, Dial will provide special parking spaces for carpoolers, spaces for bicycles, changing rooms and a fitness room.

“In today’s environment, Dial wants to be in the forefront of consumer products as far as sustainability measures,” Gazaway says. “We want to show that we’re building a new facility and we are taking our environment seriously. We want to provide a building that our employees can enjoy for years to come. It’s important for us to take a leadership role in establishing new buildings. We’re falling in line with the city of Scottsdale’s mandates. Scottsdale wants all new buildings to fall under this LEED certification. It sets the right tone.”

Violi adds that being environmentally conscious is a core value of Dial’s parent company, Henkel of America.

Fully integrated office communication

Office Phones, Mobiles and Computers Are Finally Communicating Effectively

For years, communications devices have struggled to become fully integrated. Your computer, your office phone and your mobile phone have operated independent of one another, each with its own specific purpose.

The good news is that these devices have learned to coexist in ways previously unheard of, sharing some of the responsibilities that were previously exclusive to each device. And thanks to that improved relationship, you can now seamlessly integrate all your communications, saving you time, effort and stress.

Here are some of the most popular ways electronic devices are coming together:

Simultaneous ring
What it does: Think of simultaneous ring as call forwarding on steroids. Rather than routing calls to your office phone, then to your home office, then to your mobile phone, you can now program up to 10 phones to ring at the same time when someone calls your business line. You simply pick up the one you’re closest to.

Why you need it: With simultaneous ring, you only need one business phone number. That’s it. Your callers will be able to reach you in the office, at home, in the car or wherever you are, by dialing that one number, and that added convenience translates into fewer headaches for your callers and for you. Your caller won’t know where you are, unless you tell them. And don’t worry, you can easily add and remove the phones you want to ring with a click of the mouse, so you’re in complete control.

Voicemail-to-e-mail
What it does: When a caller leaves you a voicemail message, you receive that message in your e-mail inbox as an audio file (.WAV) attachment. Click on the file and it opens in your default audio program and plays just like a song. And if you get your e-mail on your mobile device, you’ll be able to open it there too, provided your device can open .WAV files. No matter which device you’re using, you can easily access your voicemail. As an added benefit, you can file, save or forward the message just as you do regular e-mail.

Why you need it: It makes retrieving voicemail so much simpler. You no longer have to sit in front of your office phone or call into it to access voicemail. Your voicemail comes to you. And when you receive a message you want to forward or share, it’s as easy as clicking “forward” in your e-mail inbox.

Mobile-to-desk call handoff
What it does: Allows you to transfer calls between your mobile and desk phone seamlessly, without interrupting the call. The caller never knows that you answered her call in your office and then finished it in your car, or vice versa.

Why you need it: Since 40 percent of mobile phone usage takes place in the office, you will save hundreds of minutes on your mobile phone plan when you hand off those calls to your office phone. Also, you will never again have to interrupt a call to switch phones.

Fax-to-e-mail
What it does: The fax machine may soon become extinct thanks to fax-to-e-mail. Similar to voicemail-to-e-mail, fax messages now arrive in your e-mail inbox as attachments (.TIF or .PDF files). You still have a fax number, but you no longer need a fax machine to receive the messages. Once received in your inbox, you can file, save, forward, or print them as needed.

Why you need it: No more paper to buy. No more paper jams. No more toner. No more fumbling through stacks of paper looking for that important fax. No more listening to that annoying beep. Need we say more?

Integrated toolbar
What it does: You can manage all of the features mentioned above through a toolbar that integrates with Outlook and Internet Explorer. With a few simple clicks, you can quickly and easily update and change any of your settings. Add or remove phone numbers to simultaneously ring. Choose which calls get through, and which are rejected. View and place calls from your corporate directory. You can do all this and more right from your computer.

Why you need it: You’ve never had this level of control before, and if you did, you probably had to call an IT person to make these changes for you. Now you can do it yourself right from your computer, and it’s easy.

A more meaningful connection
So now that you know these features are available, you may be asking, “How does this work?” The answer lies in the intelligence of your phone system.

In traditional phone service, a semi-mysterious box known as a PBX resides in a closet somewhere in your office. This box contains the intelligence of your phone system and communicates with the phones on your desk, allowing them to receive calls, voice messages and more. This box, however, does not communicate with your computer or mobile phone, which is why you cannot access features such as those mentioned above with traditional phone service.

The solution is to switch to a hosted phone service. Hosted means you get rid of the box in the closet, and plug into a nationwide platform that contains all the intelligence previously held by that box, but so much more. You connect your computer and your phone to this platform through a secure dynamic T1 line, while you download applications to your mobile phone to connect to the same platform. That’s how your phones and computer can communicate so easily — they receive intelligence from the same source.

As convergence technologies continue to advance, the day will soon come when one device will serve as computer, phone and much more. No longer will we need multiple devices. Until that day, you can enjoy convergence technologies that allow your office phones, mobile phones and computers to operate as one big integrated family.

Angela Leavitt is director of marketing for Telesphere, www.telesphere.com

Students involved in cheating are more likely to engage in unethical practices such as insider trading.

University Of Arizona Program Teaches Undergrads The Importance Of Good Ethics

In the 21st century, incidents of corporate malfeasance have become commonplace. America witnessed the implosion of the onetime energy wonder Enron, the fall of telecommunications giant WorldCom, and the collapse of mortgage miracle Countrywide, just to name a few.

Not surprisingly, questions were quickly raised about the role business schools played in such scandals, the implication being that B-schools encouraged the blind pursuit of profit maximization and a “winner-take-all” mentality. While such fiery rhetoric is provocative, it’s important to point out that such pursuits run counter to the basic tenets of long-term, sustainable business practices taught in business classes.

While B-schools certainly have a role to play in promoting ethical practices, such a tremendous responsibility can’t fall squarely on the shoulders of B-schools. It is our families and institutions in society that must also demonstrate and reinforce personal and professional ethics.

Even though a host of ethics initiatives, centers, and/or institutes bubbled up across the nation in response to highly publicized cases of corporate corruption, nearly all are situated at the graduate level among MBA students and centered on matters related to corporate governance. The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona launched its ethics program in 2003, and it was met with interest and enthusiasm for being markedly different.

The Eller ethics program, E-tegrity (Eller Integrity), is aimed at undergraduate business students and is focused on connecting academic integrity in the classroom with future behavior in the workplace. As research suggests, student behaviors demonstrated in the classroom can carry over into careers. Put differently, students involved in cheating are more likely and at-risk to engage in unethical practices such as insider trading.

From the onset, E-tegrity was supported by Eller College Dean Paul Portney. Leadership from the top is always imperative to begin and maintain any program. Equally important is the buy-in from faculty and students. Faculty affirmed that the college had a responsibility to promote ethics and were invigorated with the prospect of establishing a culture of strong ethics. Students also proved deeply interested. With this broad base of support, E-tegrity began.

Prior to the start of the fall 2003 semester, faculty were asked to take three simple, but important measures in their classes: (1) include a college-adopted student oath statement on syllabi that addressed both academic dishonesty and academic misconduct, (2) formally handle all academic integrity cases, and (3) use the anti-plagiarism software (Turnitin.com) purchased by the college.

The code of conduct statements on syllabi would help ensure that faculty sent a consistent message to students. Formally handling cases would encourage that due process would be followed and cases would be officially reported. The anti-plagiarism software would help deter and detect plagiarism, which accounted for 70 percent of university academic integrity violations in 2002-2003. By adopting these measures, the faculty would take on the primary responsibility for the enforcement component of the program.

Because E-tegrity called for a cultural change in the college that centered on student involvement, in the same fall 2003 semester, students were invited to apply for membership to a new student organization known as the Eller Board of Honor and Integrity (EBHI). EBHI would ultimately be charged with the educational component of the program, working with students on a variety of innovative programs to help raise awareness. Members of EBHI would: (1) Develop a student oath that would be administered to students upon entry to the college; (2) offer presentations to students on the importance of ethics, whereby they not only promoted, but were expected to exemplify personal integrity and ethics among their peers; and (3) assist with the organization and delivery of a series of new and innovative programs that have come to define E-tegrity on a national scale.

Ultimately, the programs of E-tegrity are aimed at three levels: K-12, collegiate and executive. At the K-12 level, there is the High School Ethics Forum. EBHI members facilitate discussions among the city’s top high school students on matters related to personal and professional ethics. At the university level, there is the Eller Ethics Case Competition, in which top B-schools from around the country send their very best students to compete in a three-day event that challenges the ethical reasoning of students. At the executive level, there is the partnership with the Tucson Chapter of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) where students from EBHI comprise a single vote in the BBB’s Annual Business Ethics Awards process. In the near future, EBHI members will also serve as teaching assistants in the college’s first ethics course. In this capacity, EBHI members will assist with the course objective of promoting ethical decision-making.

Over the past five years, E-tegrity has gained traction and matured as an ethics program. By connecting academic integrity in the classroom with future behavior in the workplace, the college motivates students to examine their personal values and consider all stakeholders in their decision-making.E-tegrity has been the recipient of various awards for excellence, and innovation has provided meaningful guidance to B-schools around the country looking to address and support ethical behavior on the part of undergraduate students and future business leaders. The real payoff will come in several years, when we begin to graduate students whose entire college career will have taken place in an atmosphere of high standards that are clearly articulated, widely honored, and vigorously enforced.

Paul Melendez is the founder and director of the ethics program at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. For more information on E-tegrity, visitugrad.eller.arizona.edu/etegrity

Do employees have a right of privacy in their e-mails and text messages?

Employers Should Learn Legal Rules On Employee E-Mails And Text Messages

Do employees have a right of privacy in their e-mails and text messages or may employers read them? May employers lawfully limit employee electronic communications? Are employees protected from retaliation for what they say in their e-mails? If so, can they lose protection if they go too far in what they say?

For several years, savvy employers wishing to monitor employee e-mails have issued policy statements to workers, putting them on notice that electronic communications they send on company equipment are subject to review by management. This notice is designed to preclude any reasonable expectation by an employee that his or her e-mails are confidential and may not be viewed by management, thereby shielding the employer from invasion of privacy claims.

A recent case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, with jurisdiction over Arizona, created quite a stir when the court concluded that an employer had invaded an employee’s privacy by reading the employee’s text messages, even though the employer had provided its employees with notice that their electronic communications were subject to monitoring by the employer. A careful look at the court’s decision, however, should dispel employer concerns.

The case doesn’t stand for the proposition that employer notice is no longer effective. A manager had undercut the employer’s policy statement when he told employees that their messages wouldn’t be reviewed as long as they paid for any monthly overage fees imposed because of excessive text messaging. When the employer was considering changing service plans because of recurring overage fees, it obtained employee text messages from the service provider to determine the extent to which non-work related messages accounted for the overages. The court concluded that employees had a reasonable expectation that the privacy of their messages would be protected because of the manager’s promise, despite the language in the official policy.

The lesson for businesses is that your employment policies are only as good as those who administer them. Managers and supervisors must be trained to properly administer your policies and not make statements inconsistent with those policies.

Employer restrictions on employee e-mail
Many employers have policies that prohibit use of their computer systems, including e-mail features, for personal communications. The difficulty with these policies lies in consistent enforcement. Non-union and union employers alike are subject to rulings by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which has repeatedly held that such policies may not be enforced against employees who send e-mails pertaining to employment matters or unions if the employer does not consistently enforce its policy against other personal e-mails such as party announcements, solicitation of money for retirement or birthday gifts, offers to sell sports tickets, or sales, or others pertaining to non-business matters. Effectively policing such a policy is often a virtual impossibility.

The NLRB recently issued a new decision holding that employers may adopt policies that permit some kinds of e-mails, but not others, based on content. For example, policies may distinguish between charitable and non-charitable solicitations, offers to sell personal property (e.g., a used car) and offers to sell commercial products (e.g., Avon), and invitations to a personal party and invitations to attend an outside organization’s meeting. Distinctions, however, cannot be based on legally protected content such as complaints about wages and benefits or other terms of employment. In the new case, the NLRB held that an employer had lawfully disciplined an employee for sending e-mails that had solicited support for a union. The employer’s policy had prohibited solicitations for outside organizations, except charities, and the employer had not tolerated e-mail solicitations for other non-charitable organizations.

Employers, therefore, should consider adopting or rewriting their electronic communications policies to carefully draw the line between permitted and prohibited employee e-mails.

Protected e-mails and unlawful retaliation
The courts and the NLRB have broadly protected employee e-mails that pertain to wages, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment, even when those e-mails have criticized the employer, its officers or managers, and even when those e-mails have been addressed to customers, competitors orthe press. Employees may not be lawfully disciplined or discharged for sending such e-mails. Anotherwise protected e-mail, however, may lose its legal protection if the author attacks the employer’sproduct or service, encourages unlawful activity or otherwise crosses an often nebulous line between reasonable and unreasonable content. Note that the NLRB allows for some degree of employee indiscretion, without the loss of legal protection, because it recognizes that emotions often run high in this context.

Questions about the protected status of employee e-mails should be addressed to a competent labor attorney.

Jon E. Pettibone is chair of Quarles & Brady’s national labor and employment practice, where he advises management on labor and employment strategies. He can be reached at JEP@quarles.com.

luxuryrealestate

Housing Crash is Hurting The Valley’s Luxury Real Estate Market

A meticulous five-bedroom, remodeled home sits nestled in one of Paradise Valley’s most beautiful neighborhoods. But the most remarkable thing about this home is not its one-acre lot, new flooring or up-to-date kitchen. It’s the “For Sale” sign that has graced the front yard for two years.

Two years, two different realty companies and several price reductions later, the home finally is generating some energy and a contract is in the works. But, according to information from Coldwell Banker’s luxury home experts with The Walt Danley Group, that never would have happened if the price hadn’t dropped 20 percent in one year and 40 percent from the time it first went on the market.

This scenario is playing out to varying degrees throughout the Valley’s high-end home submarkets, from the Biltmore area to Paradise Valley to North Scottsdale. Real estate professionals say that while wealthy clients clearly are insulated from some of the economic hardships that face production-home buyers, they are not completely immune from them.

Inventory is high, homes are sitting on the market longer and Realtors must convince sellers to lower their expectations on price.

“What’s happening in the marketplace,” says Sandra Wilken of Sandra Wilken Luxury Properties, “is we are trying to get our sellers to be extremely realistic on their list price. The ridiculous prices of three years ago are not going to happen.”

In 2007, Wilken says buyers in Paradise Valley purchased 133 properties worth $2 million or more. The most expensive home sold for $8.8 million. This year, 62 homes have been sold in that range, with the highest fetching $7.62 million.

Information from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service in two high-end zip codes, Paradise Valley’s 85253 and North Scottsdale’s 85256, shows inventory climbing through 2007 and the first half of 2008 compared to accepted offers. The average price for a property sold in Paradise Valley in September 2006 was $2.328 million. This past August it was $1.606 million.

Break it down
It is important to understand that in the luxury home market, different segments are performing in different ways.

Buyers who can afford a $2 million to $4 million home, or higher, are more insulated from current market conditions.

Tom Fisher calls them “program buyers,” successful and affluent business people who are on track to build homes that some call “family resorts.”

Fisher, owner of Fisher Custom Homes, builds houses that start at $2 million. His clients’ income or cash flow often is tied to the stock market, and while that has bred caution in their spending, in his experience it hasn’t derailed many building plans.

Walt Danley agrees there still is activity in the high-end market, but poor economic conditions fostered by sub-prime lending have, in a sense, trickled up.

Credit crunch
Credit in the form of jumbo loans, or loans for more than $417,000, has dried up as well. Several years ago, buyers could purchase a $1 million home with as little as 5 percent down, says Dean Bloxom, president of iMortgage Services in Phoenix. Some banks asked for 10 percent on $2 million.

Today, loans are available but banks want at least 20 percent down, and clear, documented evidence of someone’s assets and income — a correction that should have happened earlier, Bloxom says.

There are indications the market may pick up some velocity, says Cionne McCarthy, an agent with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty.

The Luxury Home Tour, which showcases homes in Paradise Valley and the Arcadia and Biltmore districts, recently released figures that show homes in August spent less time on the market.

From Aug. 8 to Sept. 6, homes spent an average of 151 days on the market, compared to an average of 223 days between August 2007 and August 2008.

Medical supplies

Applying Supply Chain Management Techniques To The Health Care Industry

Businesses in the 21st century frequently attribute success to the ability to tame their supply chains.

The business of hospitals, in comparison, is quite different. Hospitals are service organizations with diverse customers, including physicians who have strong commitments to given manufacturers and products. Patients, of course, are customers, and their treatment often requires costly items. Because their customer base is so diverse, and because the associated costs can be high, it is increasingly important for hospitals to purchase materials at the best price possible.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the health care industry is the prevalence of national group purchasing organizations that leverage the purchasing power of many hospitals. In Phoenix, Premier provides Banner Health and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center with strategic procurement services. Mayo Clinic is a member of Novation, giving it access to services that support standardization for expensive clinical items. Amerinet assists Scottsdale Healthcare in managing purchasing costs and improving processes.

Escalating costs
Increased costs associated with health care represent a challenge, however, it is not always clear why or where health care costs are escalating. The escalation of supply costs, frequently at greater than 10 percent annually, means that supply costs are the second-highest area for hospital expenditures after labor.

Paul Carmichael, director of materials management at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH), fears that manufacturers will not continue to absorb supply-cost increases on their own. In addition, an aging population that demands a high quality of life will also drive up overall costs.

Hospitals require significant supplies. Mayo Clinic Arizona, for example, itemizes more than 100,000 products. Banner Health, which operates 22 hospitals in Arizona, reported $2.2 billion in net revenue, with supply expenses estimated at $390 million. Of this, $190 million were expended for medical/surgical supplies and $90 million for pharmaceuticals.

Doug Bowen, Banner’s materials manager, points to the challenges associated with pharmaceutical costs that now consume almost a quarter of supply expenses. Banner very strategically employs centralized control and standardized processes to optimize its supply operations. Bowen believes that Banner’s data warehouse system will disseminate best practices across the system.

Ryan Kirane is materials manager for Mayo Clinic Arizona and points with pride to the integration of the supply chain organization across the Mayo network and the subsequent supply chain excellence. In Arizona, Mayo’s net patient revenue of more than $500 million is balanced against a supply expense of approximately $125 million — signaling supply-intense procedures such as implant surgery. With pharmaceuticals making up about $45 million in expenses, Mayo echoes Banner’s concern with the cost of medications.

Each hospital faces different challenges in managing the supply environment. PCH, whose patients range from infants to adolescents, requires up to a third more products due to patient-size requirements. PCH utilizes advanced supply chain management technologies, such as “just-in-time” stock replenishment, to maintain low levels of inventory, yet excellent access to products. It has also worked with its national distributor, Owens & Minor, to utilize activity-based management principles,leading to improved product access and efficiencies. With almost $360 million in total patient revenue, PCH reports more than $62 million in supply expenses for the thousands of different items necessary to deliver care.

Solving the problem
In 2004, the Health Sector Supply Chain Research Consortium was founded at the School of Health Management and Policy at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business. The consortium brings together U.S. firms to solve problems unique to the health care supply chain.

Eugene Schneller, Ph.D., is professor and Dean’s Council of 100 Distinguished Scholar in the W. P. Carey School of Business, School of Health Management and Policy. He can be reached at gene.schneller@asu.edu.

Tanya Wheeler is president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association.

Arizona Bankers Association Continues To Advocate For The Banking Industry

One thing that hasn’t changed at the Arizona Bankers Association since it was founded 105 years ago is its dedication as an advocate for the banking industry. The cornerstone of the association has always been advocacy of bank-related issues with elected officials, state legislators, members of Congress and regulators at the state and federal levels.

“It’s the most significant service we offer,” says Tanya Wheeless, president and CEO of the ABA. “We serve as a clearinghouse when those decision-makers are considering new legislation or regulations. We can weigh in on behalf of the industry on anything that might have an impact on banking. And we do it with a single voice. That’s why we started and that’s what we still believe in.”

The association’s Grassroots Advocacy Resource Center focuses on communicating with state and federal lawmakers and arranging meetings between bankers and local legislators and in Washington with members of the Arizona congressional delegation.

“When we need to communicate on a bill,” Wheeless says, “we provide our members with contact information. Nearly 1,000 letters from Arizona bankers were sent to our congressional delegation opposing a farm credit bill earlier this year, and we were successful. It didn’t pass.”

But the association doesn’t overdo its use of the grassroots program.

“We only pull the trigger when we need to, when it’s really an important issue,” she says.

Wheeless characterizes banking as being different from other businesses.

“They compete viciously in the market, but they all offer basically the same products and services,” she says. “Where banks set themselves apart is in customer service and convenience. Even though they are great competitors, they recognize that when it comes to laws and regulations, we’re all in it together. A law that’s bad for one bank is bad for the bank next door.”

By the same token, a good law helps all banks. For example, the Arizona Legislature passed a bill this year that requires loan officers to be licensed and to undergo continuing education. Sponsored by Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, a Chandler Republican, the measure was supported by the Bankers Association and the Arizona Mortgage Brokers Association.

“It passed in the final hours,” Wheeless says. “Mortgage brokers were largely unregulated. They had to have a license, but little could be done to revoke a license and communicate problems to others — like don’t hire this person. This law provides that they have the same oversight and training that banks have to provide. There was a time when you had people doing mortgages in Starbucks. They had passed a test, and that was all they knew about the mortgage industry.”

The bill was a good way to provide some uniformity in education and licensing requirements, regardless of who the employer is, Wheeless says.

In collaboration with the governor’s office this year, the association produced 50,000 cards containing resource information for people feeling financial pressures, Wheeless says. Printed in English and Spanish, the cards were distributed through grocery stores, nonprofits and social service agencies.

Luxury Home - AZ Business Magazine November 2008

Housing Crash Hurts The Valley’s Luxury Home Market

High-End Distress: The housing crash is now hurting the Valley’s luxury home market


A meticulous five-bedroom, remodeled home sits nestled in one of Paradise Valley’s most beautiful neighborhoods. But the most remarkable thing about this home is not its one-acre lot, new flooring or up-to-date kitchen. It’s the “For Sale” sign that has graced the front yard for two years.

Two years, two different realty companies and several price reductions later, the home finally is generating some energy and a contract is in the works. But, according to information from Coldwell Banker’s luxury home experts with The Walt Danley Group, that never would have happened if the price hadn’t dropped 20 percent in one year and 40 percent from the time it first went on the market.

This scenario is playing out to varying degrees throughout the Valley’s high-end home submarkets, from the Biltmore area to Paradise Valley to North Scottsdale. Real estate professionals say that while wealthy clients clearly are insulated from some of the economic hardships that face production-home buyers, they are not completely immune from them.

Inventory is high, homes are sitting on the market longer and Realtors must convince sellers to lower their expectations on price.

“What’s happening in the marketplace,” says Sandra Wilken of Sandra Wilken Luxury Properties, “is we are trying

to get our sellers to be extremely realistic on their list price. The ridiculous prices of three years ago are not going to happen.”

In 2007, Wilken says buyers in Paradise Valley purchased 133 properties worth $2 million or more. The most expensive ho

me sold for $8.8 million. This year, 62 homes have been sold in that range, with the highest fetching $7.62 million.

Information from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service in two high-end zip codes, Paradise Valley’s 85253 and North Scottsdale’s 85256, shows inventory climbing through 2007 and the first half of 2008 compared to accepted offers. The average price for a property sold in Paradise Valley in September 2006 was $2.328 million. This past August it was $1.606 million.

Break it down
It is important to understand that in the luxury home market, different segments are performing in different ways.

Buyers who can afford a $2 million to $4 million home, or higher, are more insulated from current market conditions.

Tom Fisher calls them “program buyers,” successful and affluent business people who are on track to build homes that some call “family resorts.”

Fisher, owner of Fisher Custom Homes, builds houses that start at $2 million. His clients’ income or cash flow often is tied to the stock market, and while that has bred caution in their spending, in his experience it hasn’t derailed many building plans.

Walt Danley agrees there still is activity in the high-end market, but poor economic conditions fostered by sub-prime lending have, in a sense, trickled up.

Credit crunch
Credit in the form of jumbo loans, or loans for more than $417,000, has dried up as well. Several years ago, buyers could purchase a $1 million home with as little as 5 percent down, says Dean Bloxom, president of iMortgage Services in Phoenix. Some banks asked for 10 percent on $2 million.

Today, loans are available but banks want at least 20 percent down, and clear, documented evidence of someone’s assets and income — a correction that should have happened earlier, Bloxom says.

There are indications the market may pick up some velocity, says Cionne McCarthy, an agent with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty.

The Luxury Home Tour, which showcases homes in Paradise Valley and the Arcadia and Biltmore districts, recently released figures that show homes in August spent less time on the market.

From Aug. 8 to Sept. 6, homes spent an average of 151 days on the market, compared to an average of 223 days between August 2007 and August 2008.

Arizona Business Magazine November 2008

Bioscience in Arizona - AZ Business Magazine November 2008

Arizona Is Staking A Claim In Bioscience Territory

There’s no doubt Arizona’s public and private sectors have worked hard this decade to turn the state into a high-profile player in bioscience. And there’s no question these efforts have paid off with a number of successes. But no chart, report or press release drives these points home as effectively as an experience enjoyed by some Arizonans attending the BIO 2008 International Convention held in San Diego last June.

The annual event, staged by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, attracted more than 20,000 industry leaders from 70 countries and 48 states. A sizeable contingent stationed at the Arizona pavilion included, among others, representatives from the Arizona BioIndustry Association, the Department of Commerce, all three major universities, several Arizona cities, private firms, the Flinn Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, Science Foundation Arizona and TGen Drug Development Services, an affiliate of the Translational Genomics Research Institute.

Brad Halvorsen, the Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation’s assistant vice president for communications, is one of the people who noticed a difference this year.

He’s been to the last four BIO conventions and remembers the first time around when people were asking “Arizona does bio?” This year, however, visitors to the Arizona pavilion were inquiring about such specific topics as who at TGen works with proteomics.

This, according to Halvorsen, demonstrates a growing awareness that “Arizona’s not only a bioscience player, but an increasingly substantial one as far as what we’ve been able to do, not only here in-state, but on the national and international level.”

Of course, none of this would be possible without a coordinated effort — one in which the Flinn Foundation plays a major role.

Saundra Johnson, Flinn’s executive vice president, came onboard in 2000, just as the privately endowed foundation was going through an 18-month strategic planning process that culminated in a multimillion-dollar, 10-year commitment to advancing the biosciences in Arizona.

“That was based on a great deal of background work that staff and consultants had done about the tremendous potential at our research institutions,” Johnson says. “And we really believed that … bioscience and life sciences would be a wonderful opportunity for Arizona to build on those core competencies and really leapfrog into a more knowledge-based economy.”

The Flinn Foundation became one of the first and most significant contributors to a statewide effort to help geneticist Jeffrey Trent launch TGen, a nonprofit research institute focused on early disease diagnostics and treatments, and to lure the International Genomics Consortium here. The IGC is a research foundation working to fight cancer and other complex diseases by, in part, “expanding upon the discoveries of the Human Genome Project.” Both organizations have been sharing a Downtown Phoenix building since December 2004.

Maybe more important, the Flinn Foundation commissioned a Cleveland organization, the Battelle Memorial Institute’s Technology Partnership Practice, to conduct a 2002 study that resulted in Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap. It’s a constantly evolving 10-year blueprint for helping Arizona achieve bioscience success.

Flinn found willing collaborators at all levels of government and in higher education.

“They have been wonderful partners and have embraced the Roadmap,” Johnson says. “Without strong public-private partnerships, you can’t succeed in the kind of work the foundation’s trying to do in terms of actually moving an economy in a direction very quickly.”

Sandra Watson, the Department of Commerce’s work force and business development director, sees several areas where the state has made major contributions to the effort, ranging from increased funding for university research and facilities to tax credits for those making early stage investments for qualified small businesses — especially in the biosciences.

In fact, the department has established the Arizona Innovation Accelerator Program, which combines a variety of grants, tax breaks and tools to help businesses evaluate, develop and commercialize technologies.

“What you’ll find in Arizona is that we are a very collaborative state,” Watson says. “We, along with our partners, have identified key targeted areas and are very focused on developing strategic initiatives around those areas.”

Despite current economic conditions, she is not aware of any plans to cut back current programs. Increased higher-education funding has helped propel the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University’s Strategic Alliance for Bioscience Research and Education.

The key is that state universities not only help educate a future bioscience work force, they have an active role in the business community. One of BIO5’s main objectives, for example, is to help take research from the labs to the marketplace, and it accomplishes this through material transfer, facility-use agreements and collaborative efforts to create new companies.

“What I hope is that the community knows that if they need something — research expertise, facilities, whatever — that they can start by contacting me or someone in BIO5, and we can help them find what they need to help their business,” says Nina Ossanna, BIO5’s director of business development and vice chair for AZBio, the statewide trade association.

To understand the growing strength of Arizona’s bioscience industry, one needs to understand its diversity. That starts with a short course on terminology. Too many people throw around the term “biotechnology” when they really mean bioscience or life science.

Biotech, according to the Flinn Foundation Web site, www.arizonabiobasics.com, is a subset of bioscience. It is technology based on biology, especially when applied to agriculture, medicine and food science. Many associate it most closely with research and development.

Bioscience, as defined by Battelle, is segmented into five distinct areas: agricultural feedstock and chemicals; medical devices and equipment; drugs and pharmaceuticals; hospitals; and research, testing and medical laboratories.

While some areas around the country are especially strong in biotech, Arizona seems to cover both the gamut and a lot of ground. The so-called Arizona Bio-Corridor stretches from Tucson to Flagstaff. But it would be remiss to leave out areas such as Yuma, where there’s a lot of agricultural work going on.

There’s also a great deal of synergy taking place in different regions. Consider Tucson, where the optics industry is nationally recognized. Local optics expertise is now resulting in microscopic-imaging instruments.

Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, offers another benefit of bioscience.

“While we work and develop the bioscience sector, we actually make our health-care delivery system better,” Broome says. “And from our standpoint, we actually see it as something that basically creates a kind of economic wellness. So it’s not just about high-level employment.”

Broome points to the example of a diagnostics company that specializes in evaluating therapies for certain brain cancers. Beyond the economic benefit the company brings to the region, it helps physicians and hospitals make better treatment decisions for patients.

While an ample availability of venture capital remains a concern, there are a lot of positives to celebrate.

Three industry developments made their way into a 2008 report Battelle prepared for BIO.

One was the acquisition of Southern Arizona’s Ventana Medical Systems Inc. for more than $3 billion by Roche, the Swiss health care company. Another is the decision by Covance Inc., a respected drug development servicescompany, to build a major research facility in Chandler. And a third is medical-products manufacturer W.L. Gore & Associates Inc.’s decision to expand itsFlagstaff operation and make a move into the Greater Phoenix area.

“It’s really an exciting time to be around and look at the life-sciences industry,” says BIO5’s Ossanna.

For more information about Arizona’s bioscience presence, visit the following links:

azcommerce.com
flinn.org
tgen.org

biodesign.asu.edu
bio5.arizona.edu
arizonabiobasics.com
gpec.org
azbio.org

Arizona Business Magazine November 2008

ethics scale

Making Ethics An Essential Part Of Doing Business

The challenge of building an ethical climate in businesses is not new. However, in the last decade, the importance of such a climate, and the heavy costs of ethical transgressions, have been prominent in the daily headlines. They reveal the impact of decades of ethical mismanagement that goes beyond explicitly breaking laws. Rather, the issue is the systematic failures of businesses in developing, executing and maintaining an infrastructure that fosters ethical decision-making.

By ethical decision-making, we mean the ability of employees to recognize and detect decision situations that risk damaging operations or investments, negatively impacting shareholders and other stakeholders, or harming the business’ reputation.

Business ethics are complex; we cannot trivialize the work of developing a culture of integrity. Nevertheless, here is a list of key guidelines that managers in companies of any size can use to build an ethical system of “doing what is right.”

The prerequisites
Start at the top — You are the ethical leaders of the business. Chief executive officers must formally commit to incorporating ethical behaviors as a guiding principle within their business’ mission statement and goals. Ethical core values should be consistently communicated, embraced and reinforced to stakeholders.

Know key laws and regulatory issues — Employees must know relevant laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Occupational Health and Safety, intellectual property, etc., that impact their responsibility areas. Many employees should know labor laws to avoid discriminatory behaviors. And, they should know that violating laws or trying to “get around them” will not be tolerated.

Standardize policies and procedures — This is where ethical lapses frequently occur, especially in small businesses. There is a tendency to ignore or resist putting in place formal codes of behavior because they can make the members of an entrepreneurial enterprise feel constrained, or worst of all, bureaucratic. But without written common rules and procedures for such areas as itemizing expenses, accepting gifts, incentive programs, days off, or handling customer communications, businesses lend themselves to problems of cheating, fairness and misrepresentations. This is not to suggest developing detailed manuals, but rather identifying key areas of inconsistencies that can cause financial, reputation or stakeholder harm, and then developing proactive communication to avoid potential ethical misconduct.

Implement a formal system to handle potential ethical problems — Employees should know where they can go within the company if they have or notice an ethical dilemma, particularly if they believe they cannot go directly to their manager. If a business has a human resources department, that is a logical place to go if employees are concerned about the risks of “whistle blowing.” Some businesses have designated an ethics officer, a hot line, or a suggestion box to foster an environment of integrity. Whatever approach is taken, employees must be assured that they will not suffer negative consequences for consulting with appropriate parties to discuss their concerns.

Conduct behavioral interviewing with potential employees — How do you hire employees who are ethical? Unfortunately, there are no valid and reliable “ethical behavioral” tests. Some businesses have job prospects take written exams that include questions addressing fictional ethical dilemmas; others ask those questions in interviews. These approaches may provide insights into a potential hire’s ethical reasoning and decision-making. While no one can guarantee a recruit’s future ethical behavior, the processes described above will help integrate him or her into the ethical climate of the business.

Building a foundation
Incorporate ethical behavior into performance expectations — This is a very new area. To ensure that the values of the organization are aligned with an employee’s conduct, ethics could be included as part of the performance appraisal process. Employees then become accountable not just for achieving business results, but also for how they went about accomplishing them.

Provide employees with mentors — One way to help employees in ethical decision-making is to provide them with colleagues who can offer advice and support. This can be done by establishing a formal system of mentors, or by actively encouraging employees to seek out others within the organization.

Hold periodic employee training sessions — Learning about ethics within a business context is an ongoing process. Holding periodic employee meetings where they can learn from one another about ethical dilemmas they faced and how they were resolved, situations where they should not push boundaries, and how to talk about ethical issues with others, can be invaluable in developing a collective ethical identity.

Identify and develop ethical leaders — As your business identifies employees who “do the right things,” the company should highlight their performance, reward them and promote them as role models to others.

Commitment to an ethical climate
Respond quickly to reports of unethical behavior — Investigate, and if confirmed, work to resolve them. You will want to do this, not only to reinforce a climate of ethics, but to prevent any possible escalation of an unaddressed ethical problem.

Establish and follow through with consequences for both positive ethical behaviors and misconduct — Reward employees who demonstrate sound ethical behavior, and be clear on the consequences if employees violate a law or policy, are deceptive in their dealings with others, do creative but dangerous manipulation of data or information, etc. Rewards and punishments can be tangible or intangible, but they must be consistent and appropriate to the potential or actual harm that results from the situation at hand.

Monitor ethical activity — If possible, do ethical audits. Like any business-result area, measurement is fundamental. One can accomplish this through looking at the number of ethical instances reported, doing a survey, compliance reports, etc.

Keep up to date on laws and compliance issues — Ensure that managers are current on any revisions.

CEOs have to be the ethical leaders. They need to stand for and drive the values they want their business to be known for as it succeeds in its performance. To do this, they must be clear on what their values are, communicate them regularly, establish checks and balances to ensure value commitment, and reinforce a culture of integrity. This is not an easy process, but it is a necessary condition toward building an ethical climate. And this is the ultimate leadership challenge.

Dale Kalika is a lecturer and Barbara Keats is an associate professor in the department of management in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. They are conducting research on Generation Y, their entrance into the work force, and ethical decision-making.

The multilevel Estate House offers elegant and cozy dining.

Estate House Provides An Evening Fit For The Upper Crust

With the sounds of trickling water and candlelight dancing across the tables, the Estate House in Scottsdale is as inviting as your own home. The multilevel restaurant includes a lounge, as well as indoor and outdoor dining, facing the beautiful Waterfront area of the Arizona Canal. Plants climb up the elegant columns, unique chandeliers exude soft lighting and whimsical wall embellishments make up the Euro-Sonoran décor. All these elements create a lovely backdrop for a relaxing meal.>

The contemporary French cuisine was complemented by soft jazz music, floating delicately throughout the restaurant, adding to the intimate ambience. Our evening began with a delicious amuse bouche, a chilled parsnip soup served in a shot glass and topped with a crunchy panchetta. The bread basket proved too good to pass up and selections such as blue cheese rolls and baguettes were warmly placed on our plates. It was hard to say no the second time the basket came around, but alas, some room had to be left for dinner. A delicious wine and cocktail list enticed the taste buds even further, including a crisp pear martini made from freshly pureed pears. Yet, with such a plentiful menu in front of us, simple water allowed us to savor the rich taste of the food itself.

With several ambrosial appetizers to choose from, our party decided on three starters with varied ingredients to please the palate. The wild mushroom robiola strudel was the hands-down favorite of the table, but the others were praised as well. Interesting elements in the dishes, such as a habanero tangerine mousse served with the chilled pomegranate duck breast, were found in each course. The tangy mousse was an unexpected flavor when biting into the duck, but proved to be a tasty addition.

Small surprise details were found throughout the meal, keeping your taste buds on their toes. Even if you don’t enjoy eating greens, the salads were very well-prepared and tasteful, with choices for the pickiest of eaters. The grilled marinated feta salad was a delicate mix of romaine hearts, lemon oregano marmalade and a touch of olive oil. The baby herb salad was also a favorite with a muscat vinaigrette dressing, and roasted walnuts and grapes that together make eating your veggies a fun and flavorful experience.

After all these courses, we realized that we hadn’t even had entrées yet! Luckily, our appetites were re-invigorated when we set our eyes on the delectable plates. The consensus among the table was that the shiraz molasses braised short rib was the most appetizing, yet the chef spared no expense when it came to the other dishes. The filet mignon was tender and juicy. Full of strong flavors of sun dried tomato and roasted garlic, the handmade tagliatelle was a great pasta dish. Butternut squash puree and garlic braccoli rabe complemented the entrees nicely, and rounded out the French feast. Conversation was hard to keep up with because the myriad of delectable foods kept our mouths full.

Just when we thought we couldn’t eat any more, dessert menus were placed on the table. While freshening up with warm hand towels, we decided to sample several desserts. All the delicacies were regarded as perfect endings to the satisfying meal and declared “rich” and “delicious” between bites. One standout from the sweet treats was the gianduja raspberry torte, an exquisite mélange of chocolate and raspberry. A warm, hazelnut chocolate cake was served with a chilled shot of raspberry sorbet that was infused with a hint of mocha. Divine.

The wonderful presentation of the dishes and friendly service matched the understated elegance of the restaurant. Whatever the occasion may be, from a romantic rendezvous to a corporate event, Estate House is the perfect place to go.

Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO of US Airways

CEO Series: Doug Parker

Doug Parker
Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: US Airways

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My first job was as a bagger at a Kroger store in Michigan. I started part-time the day I turned 16, but then went full-time in the summer the day after school got out. I did basic bagger duties — bagging groceries, collecting carts from the parking lot, etc. While most people preferred to stay inside and bag, I was always quick to volunteer to get carts, as I preferred the more physical work. It was a good experience, primarily because it taught me a work ethic at an early age. It helped me see what life was like in the real world and gave me a true appreciation of the value of putting in an honest day’s work. I also learned that if you put the cookies on the bottom of the bag, customers get upset.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job in the industry was a financial analyst at American Airlines in 1986. I took this entry-level position straight out of business school in 1986. It was a great first job because American hired a lot of MBAs into finance, so it was both easy to get acclimated with other new hires and also a great place to learn the industry from a lot of talented professionals who had been in the business for a while. I also liked beginning in finance, because it allowed me to learn a little bit about the entire company and how it all fit together versus learning a lot about one certain area. That broad scope was helpful in allowing me to understand how the airline business worked in a relatively short period of time.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
Three dollars an hour at Kroger and $34,000 at AA.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
I have had a number of great bosses over my career and I learned a lot from each of them. If I had to choose a single mentor in our industry though, I’d pick a person I never worked for, Herb Kelleher of Southwest (Airlines). I, like many people, have admired how Herb has built Southwest to be a successful airline with a true team spirit and camaraderie that other airlines haven’t ever been able to accomplish. I like how he has done so by communicating with his employees and making sure not to take himself too seriously. Over the past seven or eight years, I’ve gotten to know Herb well through industry associations, and whenever we’re together, I work very hard to observe what he does and how he thinks about situations – it’s served me well and I’m thankful that he’s given me that opportunity

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
I would tell them that this is a great industry because virtually every management discipline is important and valued. Marketing is important because it’s a customer service business; operations is obviously important because there is arguably no more complex a series of operating issues than at an airline; finance is important because the business is so capital intensive; maintenance is essentially a very complex manufacturing organization, etc., etc. As a result, I think we have areas for everyone to make a real difference, which is not true of most industries. So I always recommend that unless people really know what they want to do, they should start in an area where they can learn a little about the entire company and then over time gravitate to the area they find the most interesting. I also advise them that this business is not for the faint of heart; it’s very dynamic and a bit like a roller coaster ride — but if you like action, change and a lot of moving parts (like most of us here do), you’ll love it.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I’m not sure since I’ve never worked outside of this industry, but my guess is I’d be doing something similar in a different industry. While I love airlines, I’m not the CEO because I know so much about this business — there are many people in our company who know much more about airlines and airplanes than I do. Most of what I do is find the best people I possibly can and make sure they are engaged and motivated and working together as a team to accomplish our collective objectives. It’s that team-building piece that I enjoy, and I imagine if I weren’t here, I’d be somewhere else where those skills were important.

Mobility is part of a larger trend in technology called "unified communications."

Make Sure Your Mobile Work Force’s Technology Is Secure

Business mobility seems to be the wave of the future and that future is now. Besides just being “cool,” business-managed mobility systems may be the answer to quite a few of your business challenges.

Mobility is part of a larger trend in technology called “unified communications,” which is bringing voice, video and data communications together in new ways to improve productivity, efficiency, and customer interaction, driving satisfaction. The new trend of mobility allows employees to connect to the office from just about anywhere in the world. More than just e-mail, employees can now securely access company files, open documents, complete forms and submit new items for record.

But to allow all of those things to happen, business grade mobility systems today must be secure and reliable. Advances in security encryption technologies and device durability are allowing mobility enabled devices to sky-rocket employee productivity and customer satisfaction, positively impacting the bottom line.

The key to implementing mobility is understanding who will be using it and how they will be using it. Executive and managerial-level staff have been using e-mail enabled PDAs for a while now, but the new age of mobility is much more than e-mail on a cell phone. The new age of mobility brings in a whole new group of users whose daily job relies more on process than communication. These users are diverse with very specific application requirements driven by their job duties; they may be able to use hand-held devices or may require full-size computing devices. It is important to note that mobility is not exclusive to users working outside of the office, but includes any non-desk bound user that requires continuous connectivity while working free of wired connections.

Software applications such as Microsoft Dynamics, which includes Microsoft CRM and Sharepoint, offer companies the flexibility to develop systems that match the individual employee’s requirements, even as they vary between types of mobile workers. Mobile sales staff can enter opportunity information on site through Web-enabled customer relationship management (CRM) applications, while mobile technicians can complete service tickets online with custom forms accessible through company intranet portals. In either case, duplication of data entry is eliminated, reducing the chance of error, increasing the speed of information transmission and providing a faster solution to the customer. Of course, CRM and service tickets are only two examples of productivity enhancers available with mobility applications.

Security should be a primary consideration by a business before deploying a mobility solution. When transmitted data is no longer limited to the cables connecting one device to another, additional measures should be employed. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allow any device connected to the Internet to create a secure connection with the business network. VPN technology requires multiple, continuous authentications between the device and the base network. However, the authentication process is mostly behind the scenes and unknown to the user.

There are two primary kinds of VPN connections — IP Sec and SSL. IP Security (IP Sec) VPN connections require pre-installed client software on the accessing device. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPN connections use the accessing device’s native SSL encryption and do not require pre-installed software. This allows any Web-enabled device in the world access to controlled parts of your company’s network after providing qualified credentials. Of course, the quality of the remote connection will be reliant upon both the wireless connection and the company’s base network. Both offer specific access controls and should be discussed with an IT professional before making a selection.

Despite the effort required to determine a proper mobility solution for your organization, the rewards are numerous. With continuous connectivity, employees have access to your company databases of information so they can find answers to difficult questions without leaving the customer. Online forms reduce the amount of time required to complete a single task because information is only entered once. Also, being connected to your company’s network in real time can keep the field worker instantly apprised of up-sell opportunities and promotions. Employees have greater flexibility to get the job done, whether in the office or not, possibly answering the question of what to do with rising gas prices. And customers receive the service they expect in the time they want, leading to continued business and revenues, even in a tightening economy.

Business mobility options are diverse and vast, but can take your business to new heights in customer satisfaction, employee productivity and overall efficiency. Before deploying a mobility solution, talk with a mobility solutions expert who can provide guidance on the best solution for your business needs today and into the future.

Sommer Decker is a marketing specialist for Network Infrastructure Corporation, www.nicweb.com