Lake Saint Louis, Mo., May 1, 2020 – National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) strives to provide maximum value to its current Members, while continuing strategic growth of its Membership. That growth was exhibited by the NISC Board of Directors' approval of several new Members during its April meeting. The approvals, coupled with the consolidation of two Member organizations, brings NISC's Membership total to 844. The following utility and telecommunication companies were welcomed to the NISC family. Utilities Bridger Valley Electric Association, Mountain View, Wyo.Cowlitz County, Public Utility District No. 1, Longview, Wash.Dixie Electric Membership Corporation, Baton Rouge, La.Surprise Valley Electrification Corp., Alturas, Calif. Telecoms Citizens Telephone Company, Hammond, N.Y.Consolidated Business Services, Mt. Angel, Ore. "Membership growth enhances NISC's economies of scale, while allowing for an annual investment of more than $50 million in research and development and steady Membership rates," said Susan Imm, NISC vice president of Sales and Marketing. "Now more than ever, we understand and appreciate the critical role our Members play in their communities," Imm said. "We're grateful for the trust these new Members have placed in us to leverage technology, improve efficiencies and help them provide reliable service to those who depend on them." About NISCNational Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) is an information technology organization that develops, implements and supports software and hardware solutions for our Members. We deliver advanced solutions, services and support to 844 independent telephone companies, electric cooperatives and other public power entities. NISC is an industry leader providing information technology solutions including billing, accounting, operations, automated mailroom services, third-party integration as well as many other solutions. With facilities in Mandan, N.D., Lake Saint Louis, Mo., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Shawano, Wis., Austin, Texas, and Blacksburg, Va., NISC and its subsidiaries [...]
At NISC, we see our Members as not only our Member-Owners but also part of our IT cooperative community. In regard to cybersecurity, an educated community is a safer community. We want to help you all achieve a secure workplace – whether in your physical building or in your employees’ homes. Here are the top five threats we are seeing during this pandemic and pointers on how to reduce the threat. Social Distancing, Not Social Engineering In today’s cyberworld, everything is fair game, even your employees. Cybercriminals will go to extreme lengths to trick your employees into opening a hole in your network for them. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunities for social engineering trickery have increased. With unemployment and stimulus payments being deposited, thieves leverage these hot topics to lure in those unsuspecting victims. Everything from emails with malicious malware embedded to exploit your critical business data, to spam mimicking a legitimate financial institution to trick recipients into giving up their login credentials, the cybercrime tactics evolve where they see a weakness. During times of uncertainty, it’s human nature that the numerous distractions cause our guards to go down. Train your employees to identify signs of a potential phishing campaign and remind them the risk is even greater right now. Is the spelling correct? Does the sender match the email address? Am I expecting this email? Does the email want me to click on or download something? Who should I contact if I see something malicious? When in doubt, follow up before opening up. Remote Collaboration Concerns It is hard to replace face to face communication. Fortunately, technology is helping bridge this disconnect. From emails to instant messaging to video conferences, it is [...]
Welcome to episode 3 of our Navigating COVID-19 Podcast series! In this episode, we hear from Steve Sjoberg, Manager of Communications and Public Relations for Cass County Electric Cooperative in Fargo, North Dakota. Steve discusses Cass County’s recent donation of more than 1,000 face masks to health care providers and first responders in their community, as well as how they are working with other local community leaders to navigate COVID-19. Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to episode 2 of our Navigating COVID-19 Podcast series! In this episode, we hear from Bill Gerski, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Lori Lowe, Manager of Customer Service and Billing Support, and Pete Yastishock, Safety Director, from Tri-Co Connections in Wellsboro, Pa., as they discuss Tri-Co's efforts to continue deploying broadband services in a time when users need it most. They also share some of the cool things they’re doing to help employees in the midst of this pandemic and the measures they are taking to protect both employees and customers. Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at email@example.com.
The Coronavirus pandemic has presented many challenges for our organizations, but it has also showcased our Members’ deep sense of community and innovation. We’ve been so inspired by the good work our Members have been doing to take care of their members/customers and communities, and we wanted to highlight some of those stories to shine a light on their efforts and spark ideas for others. We’re excited to bring those stories to you in our new Navigating COVID-19 Podcast. Our first interview was with Jennifer Prather of Totelcom Communications in De Leon, Texas. Hear how Totelcom has been giving back to their community during COVID-19, and Jennifer’s advice to other organizations looking to get involved. Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening!
Delivering exceptional communications and energy services has always been essential, but now those services are more important than ever. COVID-19 has completely changed the way businesses are operating and seeing the incredible ways our Members have navigated recent challenges to support their communities has made us so proud to serve these industries. NISC Member San Isabel Electric Association (SIEA), based in Pueblo West, Colo., is just one of those organizations working diligently to serve members with minimal interruptions in light of COVID-19. San Isabel General Manager, Reg Rudolph, shared his thoughts on how the co-op is adapting in the transition to remote work. “We had to quickly procure the necessary hardware for our employee base to work from home,” Reg said. “It’s been challenging because our virtual private network (VPN) has been struggling due to the number of users logging on and some of our employees are limited by their bandwidth and WiFi speeds at home. Providing some training for our employees on work from home procedures has been crucial to this transition.” San Isabel has also closed their office to in-person payments and is taking extra precautions with their employees in the field. “Field work has definitely been limited as we have to keep a safe distance from our members and one another,” Reg said. “Some of our larger jobs requiring multiple SIEA employees have been halted for the time being.” Among the solutions helping Reg and San Isabel continue to serve members is Messenger, which they have been using to quickly notify members of changing practices such as suspending disconnects for non-payment, waiving fees and notifying members that their offices are closed to walk-in traffic. San Isabel has also been utilizing SmartHub to [...]
By: Phil Fine, Product Line Manager, National Information Solutions Cooperative For many fixed wireless broadband service providers, each day can be a challenge to provide the most reliable and efficient service while balancing the expectations of the customer. While wireless carriers focus largely on delivering the broadband services to the home across their wireless access network, they often overlook the equally challenging and oftentimes more complex delivery of those services inside the home wireless network, which can be detrimental to the customer experience. Deploying a solution that supports remote home network management has become critical with the explosion of Wi-Fi connected devices. The most successful service providers will deliver unmatched customer service enabled by a robust remote customer care solution. The best solution gives providers visibility into the customer home network, allowing a review of the state and performance of devices connected via Wi-Fi to the carrier’s broadband network. Ideally, service providers will have the ability to monitor networks and proactively address issues before the customer even realizes there is one. While there are a number of solutions for managing the home networks, many are not designed to be open to manage standards-based equipment nor integrated to the carrier back office for maximum operational efficiency. Ideally, providers not only should have the ability to select equipment that meets the needs of their customer base, but also acquire that equipment in a cost-effective manner. By deploying a standards-based solution, carriers have the power to use the most cost-effective equipment in their customers’ homes. But that is only one side of the balancing act. Customers have expectations of their own: 100% reliability with all of their devices connecting seamlessly 24/7, regardless of quantity or location. And when [...]
As the COVID-19 coronavirus has upended life, we’ve had to become adaptive to a new, physically distant way of life. Many NISC Members are taking on new tasks and doing business differently than ever before. We know it’s been hectic transitioning to this new situation that is anything but the norm, and we are committed to helping you during this time. As you work to serve your customers and members, we continue to seek out new ways to help you. We’re excited to announce a new resource for you on the NISC Community, the COVID-19 Solutions Resource HQ, dedicated to providing helpful solution and training information, news and best practices as you continue to navigate COVID-19. The page also features a special Member Think Tank section for you to engage with your peers, start discussions and share ideas of how you're supporting your communities during this time. This will be a living space, and we will continue to update it with new content as we evaluate ways we can provide further value to you. Thank you for continuing to keep your communities connected. We want to underscore our commitment to serving you during this time and encourage you to contact us if you have any questions. We are stronger together.
We hope you, our Members, always know that NISC is here to support you. Now, with recent events surrounding COVID-19, that promise is no different. We’ve seen many of you this week working to help your members and customers utilize technology in new ways. Now more than ever we are feeling grateful for technology that connects us and allows us to accomplish our daily tasks quickly and efficiently. SmartHub has been one of those helpful tools for years now, but with many utility and telecom sites temporarily closing, more and more of your members and customers will be turning to solutions like these to ensure they can continue completing tasks like paying their bills. We have a variety of resources available to help you educate your end users on SmartHub. Just visit www.smarthubkit.com (Community login required) to find helpful social media graphics and text, videos and more. This week, we also created a new video for our Members to use to continue spreading the word about SmartHub and how it can help in times like this. Feel free to download, share out on your social media accounts and send to your customers. At NISC, our main focus continues to be supporting you during this time. If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact us. We’re in this together.
“One Jackson EMC.” It’s a saying the employees of Jackson Electric Membership Corporation have, and means that everyone at Jackson EMC—the Board, executives, staff—is in it together, jointly celebrating the highs and supporting each other during the lows. Equally unified is the cooperative’s entire business technology system, now under one umbrella: NISC’s enterprise software solution. Since implementation of NISC’s enterprise software in 2019, Jackson EMC is enjoying paperless workflows, a more mobile workforce and higher levels of member engagement. Of particular note, however, is how the cooperative arrived at the decision to partner with NISC, and how Jackson EMC prepared for the huge undertaking that is wholesale software conversion and implementation. BEST OF BREED VS. ENTERPRISE APPROACH Jackson EMC, headquartered in Jefferson, Ga., is one of the largest electric cooperatives in the United States. The cooperative is operated by approximately 450 employees in four district offices, and serves more than 231,100 meters spanning 10 counties. Jackson EMC is a geographically diverse cooperative—which compounded the challenge of keeping each of the co-op’s best of breed software pieces updated and integrated. After an employee survey laid bare the facts, the co-op took action. “We had exhausted our ability to keep up with technology in-house with our own resources, and we needed a partner to help us with that,” said Chip Jakins, Jackson EMC president and CEO. “We knew members would benefit if we were more integrated, and we had the support from the Board and the leadership team, so it wasn’t difficult to get the commitment to move forward. It was the obvious choice to move the cooperative forward.” In 2016, an employee team born from Jackson EMC’s Strategic Planning Process was asked to choose one of [...]