National Information Solutions Cooperative Recognizes Employee Service Ranging from Five to Forty Years Throughout the month of January, National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) held a banquet near each of their four campus locations to recognize employees who reached an annual milestone with the organization. These milestones celebrated at the banquets range from five to forty years of service. “It’s not often that a company, especially a technology organization, experiences the dedication and support of so many individuals for such a long period of time, like we have at NISC,” said Kari Reichert, Vice President of People Services. “It’s important to all of us to recognize and show gratitude for all their hard work through the years.” Here are a few highlights about the NISC experience, courtesy of the employees who achieved a milestone anniversary this year: “Sixteen years in this industry and I cannot imagine being any happier in my career or personal life. It has only been five years since I made the move to join NISC and I truly can say I have found my home,” said Tracy Hudson, Product Line Manager. “Working for a cooperative has made a world of difference in my views of customer service, gratitude and humility. The culture at NISC offers me a great sense of pride, gratification in knowing that I am surrounded daily by people who care and are truly doing the right thing—always. I have achieved more personal goals and professional growth than I ever imagined possible. I look forward to the future.” “NISC is the fourth company I have worked for as a professional software engineer and hopefully the last. I am simply amazed and drawn to NISC because of its values, its customers [...]
Web and Mobile Apps & Usage Graphing Tools Bring Greater Efficiencies to Telecoms National Information Solutions Cooperative® (NISC), a leading provider of information technology products and services, has announced the release of SmartHub® Order Management and Broadband Measured Service. These solutions continue to build upon the robust iVUE® Enterprise System, NISC’s broad, scalable suite of accounting, customer care and billing, and engineering and operations solutions. NISC’s SmartHub® Order Management solution uses the telecom’s existing website to market services based on service location and fully customizable business rules that accommodate hundreds of bundling configurations. The shopping cart functionality allows telecom customers the ability see their price change in real time as they add and upgrade services, thus reducing the confusion account adjustments can cause. SmartHub Order Management allows the telecom’s website to do the work and redirects your customer service representatives’ time to more critical tasks. "With the new features in SmartHub Order Management, customers will have the information they need so they can make their choices about what particular types of plans they want or any other changes they want to make to their accounts," said Brad Quick, Information Systems Manager for Mid-Rivers Telephone Cooperative in Circle, Mont. "They will be able to do that essentially on a 24/7 basis. For us that is important. It just is not enough to have our business office open 8 to 5 Monday through Friday. We need that 24/7 access." “Today’s telecom customers want convenient account access, detailed information about their usage and control of their services all day, every day…and telecoms want to increase revenues and upsell whenever possible,” said Mark Momerak, NISC Executive Product Line Manager. “If customers want to upgrade their broadband package before an [...]
At NISC, your security and the security of your customers’ confidential information, including credit card data, is extremely important to us. For that reason, we do our best to provide payment solutions and services that are not only Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant from NISC’s standpoint, but that will assist you in meeting your PCI compliance requirements. A lot of people, though, think that PCI compliance may not pertain to them. Common misconceptions are that if an organization is not storing credit card data, or do not generally process a large amount of credit card data, they don’t have to worry about compliance. This is not true. Operating solutions outside of PCI compliance standards can result in fines from regulatory agencies, legal fees and fees from other financial institutions, extra compliance work and a loss of trust from your membership. According to First Data, the average cost of a security breach is $5.5 million. 78 percent of customers said they would not shop at a store if they knew it had suffered a card-data compromise. While NISC does our best to provide PCI-compliant solutions, compliance doesn’t stop there. PCI compliance requires that a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) be completed by all merchants that process credit card payments. The SAQ requires answering questions to procedures and processes that pertain to your organization specifically. NISC is working with First Data to provide a solution to help our Members understand and meet PCI compliance requirements. The First Data Rapid Comply Solution provides an easy to use online guide featuring a step-by-step, self-guided approach to help you complete the SAQ, pre-filling many of the answers, and provides integrated network scanning if required. In an increasingly digital world, being able to [...]
In October, electric linemen from across the country gathered in Bonner Springs, Kan., for the 2013 International Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo. This expo is a unique event featuring several events – such as the pole climb, a hurt man rescue and several mystery events – in which electric linemen compete to test their skills. When the results were posted, they displayed several NISC Members with great finishes in the 2013 event. Leading the senior division in first place is Black River Electric Cooperative. In the Journeyman REA, EMC and Co-op division, Farmer’s Electric Cooperative, Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative and Snapping Shoals EMC were among the top 10. In the apprentice REA, EMC and Co-op division, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Co-op, Consumer’s Power, Southside Electric, Cumberland EMC, Morgan County REA and Lyon-Coffee Electric were all among the top-10 finishers. Congratulations to these and all of our Member organizations that competed in this year’s International Linemen’s Rodeo & Expo!
Last week we wrapped up the record-setting 2013 Member Information Conference (MIC). Almost 2,500 Members, Customers, guests, partners and NISC staff gathered in downtown St. Louis to discover the possibilities that only leading-edge technology can bring. More than 150 sessions were offered and instructed by both NISC subject matter experts as well as the users themselves --- our valued Members. NISC Members, from the office to the field, shared their experiences and knowledge about NISC solutions.MIC kicked off with a networking social on the Skyline Terrace of the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch—the MIC host hotel. Hundreds of attendees gathered and “talked shop” as they took in the riverfront and St. Louis Arch views. The first official day of the MIC started with the Opening General Session focused on collaboration, technology, gratitude and innovation. NISC President and CEO Vern Dosch discussed where NISC is today and what the future may hold. Insight into what it means to be a successfuOGS.pngl organization of the 21st Century was presented by CEO of Northwestern REC, Michael Tirkpak. Dan Wilbanks, Vice President /COO, Laura Matthews, Usability Team Lead, and Brad Molander, Technology Evangelist, each represented a key strategy of NISC’s Research, Development and Quality Division (RDQ). Their presentations provided informative yet futuristic perspectives of what lies ahead. Topics covered by the RDQ team ranged from NISC embracing usability as a way to improve the users’ experience to learning about how new technologies like Google Glass may impact our industries. Dosch then ended the session by thanking every member of the audience for being a part of NISC and sharing how thankful we are to have them as partners. For the first time, the Industry General Sessions followed [...]
National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), a leading provider of information technology products and services to utilities and telecommunications organizations, has added Trena Quinn as Regional Business Manager focused on the south central region of the United States. “We are thrilled to welcome Trena Quinn to our Regional Business Manager team,” said Susan Imm, Utility Manager, Business Development and Sales at NISC. “Trena brings a wealth of experience to her new role which will prove very valuable for our members. Her enthusiasm for NISC is contagious.” Quinn comes to NISC after spending 14 years at Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative in Gilmer, Texas, where she served as both a supervisor of consumer accounts and most recently office manager. She served as project lead for Upshur through a conversion to iVUE that is scheduled to be live in September. “I’m excited,” Quinn said. “I liked the values that NISC stands for. Most co-ops have a strong foundation, and I really like the cooperative principles of the business.” Having spent the past 26 years living on the Upshur lines, Quinn is very familiar with the cooperative business model. After graduation from the University of Texas at Tyler, where she earned a degree in accounting, she became a Certified Public Accountant spending time working for her father as a CPA. In 1999, she discovered a position with Upshur and stayed with the organization until joining NISC. “I followed in my dad’s footsteps by going into accounting and becoming a CPA,” Quinn said. “He was a CPA and he had a public accounting tax firm. I worked for him for a while and decided that I enjoyed the business side of accounting more so than the tax side. I knew cooperatives [...]
Tornado activity throughout the Midwest has been particularly destructive this spring. Nowhere has it been more intense than in the state of Oklahoma. Four major tornadoes caused billions of dollars of damage, killed almost 50 people and disrupted the lives of thousands. The storms left devastation in both urban and rural areas. To extend a helping hand to those affected in co-op service areas, Blackwell, Oklahoma-based Kay Electric Cooperative has come up with a unique way to raise funds for tornado victims living in electric co-op service areas. Working with NISC, Kay Electric is marketing "Oklahoma Proud" t-shirts, with all the funds going into the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperative's (OAEC) Touchstone Energy Cooperative Oklahoma Relief Fund. The Fund is a 501c3 organization, with all donations tax-deductible. According to Joe Harris, CEO of Kay Electric, the fundraising effort underscores the Sixth Cooperative Principal: Cooperation among Cooperatives. “The tornadoes that ripped across our state have caused loss and heartache in co-op territory,” he said. “We know the unpredictable path of tornados can hit anywhere, at any time. While we're thankful to be spared damage and disruption, many of our Oklahoma neighbors were not so lucky.” Harris and the co-op's Member Relations/Public Relations Representative, Austin Partida, contacted NISC which, through its iGEAR division, printed in excess of 1,000 "Oklahoma Proud" t-shirts for the effort based on Partida's graphic design. “We saw the need and we developed the fundraising plan. We needed the t-shirts and we contacted NISC,” said Partida. “NISC immediately saw the need and the opportunity to support our effort through iGEAR. They ordered the shirts and printed the design at their facilities.” The Kay Electric team is marketing the "Oklahoma Proud" t-shirts through the organization’s [...]
On June 26, NISC hosted our first NISC Board Meeting in Cedar Rapids. It was the first visit to the new office for many of the Board members as well as their first opportunity to meet our team. We had an opportunity to share information about the past year and all of the exciting projects happening with our organization. With the constant change the industry is facing, there were also critical decisions needed to be made for the next fiscal year. NISC’s management just completed an intense planning effort that is an important part of how NISC is managed. The executive team outlined the planned strategies for continued growth and improvement for the next year. The session concluded with the approval of the fiscal year budget. We appreciate the Board’s continued confidence in the NISC management team and are looking forward to another successful year.
Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value," said Albert Einstein. To add value to what you do may be the key to success and maybe even happiness. Each person’s value is different; paths may cross for a few brief instances, or when fortunate, it can be for decades. A career in technology, spanning over four decades is not only considered a success in today’s world, but also a tremendous value. To have that value at NISC is an honor and we are blessed enough to have that experience with Larry Estal. With Larry it’s easy to see how hard work, dedication and values contribute to a long, exciting career. This month, Larry celebrates his 44th year with NISC. Dating back to the late 1960s Larry has transcended the many ‘traditional’ milestones in the Information Technology arena. His career began before cell phones existed, before computers were on every desk and started eight days after Apollo 11 landed on the moon. To say the least, July 1969 was a good year for technology—the United States landed on the moon and NISC gained a great advocate and leader. Larry’s dedication can easily be seen from all those who have worked with him—from learning new technologies as they evolve and staying agile through the years. A life-long learner, Larry strives to bring value to each relationship he forms with Members/Customers as well as fellow NISC employees. His dedication is obvious; not only in years, but also in his willingness to help, be accessible to others’ and to do what is right—always. That’s why in June, NISC’s executive team and Larry’s team came together to thank and honor his hard work through the years. [...]
Technology is changing the way we do things. We do just about everything online, from reading books to catching up with family and friends. Many people are turning to the internet to do one thing: pay their bills. With so many options available through the internet, paying bills has never been easier for the customer, especially when they can aggregate bill payments directly through their bank or other free bill pay services. From 2000-2010, the number of households utilizing online banking increased six-fold, with 80 percent of households with internet access utilizing some form of online banking. In that time, paper checks declined from 61% of all payments to only represented only 26 percent by 2010. While the ability to pay online is great for consumers, the process at the provider’s end may not change at all. When a customer chooses to pay through their bank or a service like Fiserv’s CheckFree, providers will still receive a paper check…and all the payment processing that goes along with it. “Customers probably don’t realize that if they’re paying their bill through their online banking bill pay service, that the bank is actually producing a paper check,” said Randy Schroder, Senior Product Line Manager at NISC. “These paper checks that are printed by the banks or other online bill pay services generally don’t have enough information to post to the account, so there’s more manual effort to looking up that check.” Just as technology is making it easier for customers to pay, providers can utilize an Online Bill Payment Interface solution (or OBI) to help make this payment process more efficient. With OBI, payments are made electronically directly to the provider’s account, eliminating the paper payment processing and [...]