“This will be a time of great change, along with some pain, BUT, if history repeats itself, it will also be a time of great opportunity for those creative enough to find solutions.”
– Terry Whipple –
Executive Director, Juneau County Economic Development Corporation
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about great change across our country and world. But the disruption to the everyday has brought with it an onslaught of creativity that is inspiring new ways to adapt, learn, and even thrive.
In metropolitan areas, adaption includes decisions by large-scale companies like Twitter and Square to keep their workforce permanently working remotely. For restaurants, curb-side and delivery service will very likely become the norm if the industry sees a trend toward reducing the dine-in footprint. Changes like this in larger markets beg the question of how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the rural workforce for the long run. We asked Terry Whipple, the Executive Director of Juneau County’s Economic Development Corporation to weigh in.
Lynxx Networks: How is / has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we do business in rural America?
Terry Whipple: COVID-19 has changed the way all of our businesses operate, yet some are much more impacted than others. The businesses that have been deemed essential have been evolving their practices over the past 2 months and unless things change, they seem to have a good handle on their operations. As non-essential service businesses open, they will be joining this new world and applying social distancing/ PPE along with greater use of telecommunication platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype and GoToMeeting. It is the non-essential businesses in the leisure/hospitality/tourism industries that we are concerned the most about. They are already under stress because of the loss of revenue over the past 2 to 3 months. They will be opening to new regulations that dramatically change their capacity and business models. Even though the vast majority of these businesses have worked hard to stay in touch with current and potential customers, no one is sure how human behavior will play out when things do open. This will be a time of great change in this industry, and, if history repeats itself, a time of great opportunity for those creative enough to find the solutions.
(There) has been a vast movement to innovate newer, unique communication platforms. Imagine not having an office that you’re driving to; enjoying a concert, or doing a presentation all around the world without ever flying… do we really even need stadiums? Think virtual.
-Terry Whipple –
Juneau County Economic Development Corporation
Lynxx Networks: Do you think that coming out of the Safer at Home orders will encourage more businesses to ramp up their online offerings and tele-work capabilities?
Terry Whipple: We have seen a tremendous surge in the use of telecommunication platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype, and GoToMeeting, as-well-as Social Media platforms to do business and to stay in touch. New innovation such as these allow large conferences, business meetings and education to take in a whole new form. This trend was slowly moving that way before COVID-19, but since the lockdown, it has accelerated to warp speed. Along with this acceptance has been a vast movement to innovate newer, unique communication platforms. Imagine not having an office that you’re driving to; enjoying a concert or doing a presentation all around the world, without ever flying… do we really even need stadiums? Think virtual.
Lynxx Networks: Do you think there will be more options for curb-side pick up going forward – from both stores / restaurants?
Terry Whipple: With the future of social distancing and a concern for those most vulnerable, I believe most businesses will continue to offer curbside pick-up, delivery, or find new ways to operate in the post-lockdown environment. Autonomous delivery innovations may explode in the next few years.
Do you think we’ll see more virtual lessons / tutorials (ie karate or dance lessons, tutoring, etc.)… and do you think new online platforms for engaging people will emerge if business changes to accommodate customers… and will it need to?
Terry Whipple: We definitely see a trend towards engagement via innovative communication/networking platforms. We are currently working with a computer programmer at UW Madison to re-create on-line, the magic that the Inventor & Entrepreneur Club used to only have at physical meetings. It is still up in the air as to whether it works or not, but this is the innovative effort that is going on right now. You will see all kinds of creative innovations to accommodate the customer/client relations.
In the face of so many unknowns we have one certainty: a reliance on Internet, and quality Internet at that. Internet will be the foundation of tele-work, tele-medicine, tele-education, online ordering, and the list goes on and on. Whatever changes are implemented as a result of the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic, rest assured Lynxx Networks will be here to power homes and businesses with our fiber-optic network.
For Such A Time As This
We have always tried to build our network for what we thought was the heaviest circumstances, not knowing what or when that would be – until now. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet has become mission-critical for business and residential use, and we’re proud to have a network that has not only performed, but has out-performed the demand.
Over the last two months, the quality and dependability of our network have shone through. For our residential customers, this means that students have been able to connect with teachers and learn at home; college students have had a dependable network for lectures, labs, and discussion classes that moved online; dining room tables have become remote offices for teleworkers in the wake of social distancing, and friends and family have been able to connect seamlessly over virtual hangout platforms.
For our business customers, the quality and dependability of our network have allowed operations to not only continue, but also accommodate new endeavors, as the shift from in-person to online was made. This meant that our fully synchronous network, which was built to provide the same upload and download speeds, allowed employees at Lynxx powered businesses from Mauston to the La Crosse area the ability to access in-office workspaces from home, simplifying the transition to telework with VPN and remote connections. At Mile Bluff Medical Center, a new telehealth platform was launched, giving patients and providers the option for virtual appointments, and our network handled it all with ease.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of digital readiness. With the backing of our network, our customers have the support they need to stay current and remain competitive. The demand for online access and resources will only increase in a post-pandemic world, and we already plan to be there. We’ve over-engineered, provisioned, and designed our fiber-optic network to get out ahead of the curve, and we’ll always be ahead of the bandwidth needs of our customers. To put it simply: our customers will never be able to out-use our service.
The COVID-19 crisis has caused many businesses to stop and consider the reliability of their bandwidth provider. If you’re a Lynxx Networks Internet customer, rest assured that we will always have enough bandwidth and connectivity to meet everyone’s needs. If you know someone who is not on our network yet, challenge them to give Lynxx Networks a try. We have a referral program for residential customers, and with the provisions we’ve made from the start, there’s always room for one more on our network.
PROGRAM WILL GIVE AREA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE AN IT BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
This summer, 3RT Networks will launch a pilot run of its new Information Technology Experience Program.
The program is designed to give area high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to experience an IT business environment. The first student will start this July, spending two hours a day at 3RT Networks for a two-week period. The program will offer the opportunity to work alongside staff, with the potential to experience the full range of what 3RT Networks does, including involvement in technical assessments, partnership building, and the technical aspects of cybersecurity.
Vicki Lyons, the 3RT Information Technology Experience Program Coordinator, said while the program is in its beginning stages, the long-term vision is to give area students a good idea of what an IT environment entails.
“This will give students an ability to take an interest and apply it to multiple things in their lives,” Lyons said, adding that most students think of IT as one facet of things, but this program will expose them to new opportunities and new paths that they didn’t know existed.
Students taking part in 3RT’s Information Technology Experience Program will participate in a daily reflection process, which will help to ensure that they are getting the most out of the experience, and in turn, will help 3RT assess and develop the program as needed going forward.
Once fully launched, the program will involve a pre-interview, selection process, and post-interview to make sure the experience is a good fit for the student and 3RT Networks.
“We will develop the process a bit more as we work with other schools,” Lyons said.
In addition to expanding the horizons of area students interested in a career in the IT field, Lyons said the Information Technology Experience Program will ultimately allow 3RT Networks to be more of a partner with different activities in area schools. As a retired director of technology for the La Crosse school district, she said having a company with the desire to help high school students explore the IT world is an asset to the community.
“This program reflects a commitment on 3RT’s part in terms of building partnerships and serving the community and youth; I think it reflects highly on who they are and what they do,” Lyons said, adding, “I think over time it will be something that more and more people want to be a part of.”
3RT Networks is located in West Salem, WI. The company provides information technology planning, design, implementation, and support services for businesses.
Every June the staff at Lynxx Networks takes the time to say thank you to our customers. This year, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, we are not able to hold our traditional appreciation event in Camp Douglas, welcoming customers for a meal, give-aways and in-person thank you’s from our staff. While we are sad we won’t be able to see and thank you face-to-face this year, our hope is to resume our in-person customer appreciation event in 2021.
Today, we are proud to serve business customers along the I-90 corridor, from Mauston to the La Crosse area, with our fiber-optic Internet. We’re also proud to be able to offer a variety of business solutions through 3RT Networks, including information technology design, implementation and support services.
If you haven’t done so already, like / follow Lynxx Networks and 3RT Networks on Facebook and Instagram.
WAY TO STEP UP!
We want to recognize the following Tomah area Lynxx business customers that stepped up to serve their community over the last few months.
Fastenal – helped to obtain materials for the Mobile Tomah Community Table, including vests, cones and masks for volunteers.
Holthaus Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. – State Farm – started the Good Neighbor’s Give Challenge to help support local restaurants. Donations were used to purchase restaurant gift cards, which were given to essential employees – hosptial staff, police, fire, etc. To date, the challenge has brought in around $7,000.
Queen of the Apostles Church – donated a large quantity of sanitary wipes and cleaning supplies to the Tomah Ambulance Service.
Culvers, Tomah – donated 250 meals for the April 20 Mobile Community Table.
Bank First – purchased $100,000 in gift cards from over 140 restaurants to donate to local families, non-profits and busineses.
St. Mary’s Epicscopal – provided the volunteers to serve meals at the April 27 Mobile Community Table.
This unprecedented time has been difficult for everyone as we try maintaining some level of normality during uncertainty. Many families and businesses have experienced some form of disruption that will have a lasting impact in the coming months. It is often during these situations we see the display of human adversity, and that allows us to be stronger on the other side.
3RT Networks witnessed this firsthand with our own customers, as employees, staff, and students were required to stay at home, seemingly overnight. The level of success was truly amazing with little to no time to adequately prepare for such an undertaking. In addition to individual perseverance, it was technology that enabled organizations to not only adapt, but to thrive. Many of these organizations would not have believed this to be possible until now. Perhaps this is the silver lining as we discover what can be achieved when technology is harnessed.
As we work through the pandemic and the inherent challenges, 3RT Networks and our partners are determined to provide continued guidance and support for existing and new clients. The time to prepare for the implementation of evolving technologies and solutions is now. This will ensure a safe and secure organizational environment and, at the same time, differentiate from competition. Cyber security and remote workforce productivity are two critical areas that will lead to prosperity in the new normal. At right is a list of solutions 3RT Networks bundles together to deliver positive results:
“… It was technology that enabled organizations to not only adapt (during Safer at Home), but to thrive. Many of these organizations would not have believed this to be possible until now.”
- Cloud security
- Cisco & Meraki next generation firewall
- Cisco Anyconnect secure remote access VPN
- Cisco Duo multifactor authentication
- Cisco Umbrella web security
- Cisco email security
- Knowbe4 security awareness training & anti-phishing
- Cisco AMP endpoint security
- Cisco Meraki security cameras
Remote Workforce Productivity
- Cisco Webex web conferencing & virtual meetings
- Cisco unified collaboration and messaging
- Microsoft Office 365
- Microsoft Teams file collaboration
If you would like to have a conversation with our professional staff to understand what is possible, please call or e-mail. We will be happy to schedule
a virtual meeting to investigate your needs and requirements.