By Jane Dornemann

hot air balloon with the title cloud cover vol. 4

Image by Evan Aeschlimann

Wheelin’ and dealin’

  • AWS got a free pass to pahk its cah in hahvad yahd: In an alliance with Harvard, AWS is working to advance quantum networking research with a bunch of awesome nerds. The goal is to inform development of the quantum internet, which I hope involves the ability to grab real doughnuts through my computer screen, and other crucial-to-humanity innovations.
  • If you haven’t heard about this, I’d like to rent some space in that rock you’re living under, but: Adobe acquired design platform Figma for $20B. Adobe will likely bundle Figma with its Adobe Creative Suite, which includes its Creative Cloud that runs on Microsoft Azure.
  • Management consulting firm McKinsey has joined forces with Microsoft to create an integrated solution that will help companies move toward more sustainable operations.
    • Funny timing because Microsoft has announced it will help oilfield company Schlumberger make “data-driven decisions.” Chevron is also in on this partnership.
  • Our Future Health, a UK-based health research program, is going to use Azure for its initiatives around personalized disease detection and treatment.
  • Palo Alto Networks’ VM-Series Virtual Next-Gen Firewall is now available on Azure Marketplace for the infamous private 5G* network with multi-access edge compute.
  • In a historic move, Oracle has made its MySQL Heatwave database available on AWS, which sounds more like a hair crimping tool from the 80s than anything else.
  • AWS named OutSystems its software partner of the year, a “testament to the high-performance power of low-code.”

*4G, ok? It’s 4G right now. Not the creative “4G/5G” they pull in this article. You can’t be married if you’re still engaged.

Gossip (for nerds)

  • Former Microsoft Azure IoT partner Bert Van Hoof (love the name) is now president AND CEO (greedy, Bert, greedy!) of Willow, a digital twinning proptech firm. Microsoft Teams VP Bhrighu Sareen has moved to software startup Highspot.
    • Some of the Microsoft execs who are sticking around will be richly rewarded with high-stakes projects they better not blow. How do we know this? My fave gossip source: leaked documents.
  • Microsoft announced that it will not label fake news on social media as false to avoid any claims of censorship. So, you know, if you want to believe that Joe Biden is the 46th president and he’s 79 years old and 4+6+7+9=26 and 2+6=8 and it’s 2022 so 2+0+2+2 is 6 and…well well well look at that, another 6. You know what 3 sixes are? That’s right. SATAN.
  • There’s more research out of Microsoft Viva that dishes all the dirt on the workplace, such as: 85% of employers don’t believe you’re being more productive in your hybrid work setup, you lazy liars. How can companies fix it? By buying Viva with its new enhanced capabilities.
  • A communications watchdog in the UK has opened an investigation into the market domination of AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. The three own 72% of European cloud spend.
  • Security, reliability, and performance improvement company Cloudflare has AWS in its sights. Cloudflare is pulling from the AWS playbook, wooing startups by connecting them with VC firms looking to invest in Cloudflare users. Weird flex, but OK. “We’re not ‘stealing’…we’re earning it,” said the Cloudflare CEO, which is the same argument I’ve heard millionaires make about tax evasion through Panamanian bank accounts.
    • Cloud storage company Wasabi Technologies is also set to compete with AWS (psshh sure) after a $250M investment.
  • The secrets to AWS’ growth strategy? APAC/Japan expansion and telco partnerships—as reflected in its investment in India and recent partnership with Sateliot, a satellite telecoms operator, to build a cloud-native 5G service.

New stuff

  • Microsoft released a bunch of new security features for Windows 11, emphasizing Zero Trust. Their differentiator? A focus on hardware-based protection.
    • They also released some other features for Windows 11, which is growing in popularity now that support for Windows 10—which accounts for 72% of its Windows users—ends in 2025.
  • In a bid to compete with AWS’ custom Graviton systems, Microsoft has unveiled its family of Azure VMs running on Ampere Arm-based processors. Like every family, these VMs pick fights with each other when bored and “borrow” clothes without asking.
  • AWS Glue is great if you don’t sniff it, especially now that it supports a bunch of stuff that will take me 100 years to understand.
  • New Relic has some new blood after poaching some AWS and Salesforce execs.
    • To get even, AWS and Salesforce are not inviting New Relic to their strategic expansion party, which will be Buzz Lightyear-themed. An integration between Amazon SageMaker and the Salesforce platform will allow mutual customers to easily build AI models.
    • To make nice, New Relic announced support for Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Flow Logs.
  • AWS has established a startup accelerator for sustainable cities. Smart infrastructure entrepreneurs will be “rewarded” with $10k in cloud credits, some Snickers bars, and other things that don’t actually pay the rent.
  • AWS has also created the brand new AWS Smart City competency, largely intended to help the public sector. AWS Partners can get this competency in part by sharing customer case studies.
  • AWS can’t get enough smart stuff—it has also launched AWS IoT FleetWise for general availability. Like an overly possessive boyfriend, the service collects vehicle data from built-in sensors.
  • AWS customers can now deploy Amazon EKS clusters on AWS Outposts, making AWS even more Kubernetes-friendly.

Ma’am, I’m going to have to call security

  • Researchers found a vulnerability that would allow malicious actors who have Microsoft file system access to steal credentials from Teams users. This impacts all Government Community Cloud Desktop Teams customers, including defense contractors and infrastructure operators.
  • The storytelling team doesn’t have to worry about a hacker “mimicking users while online” because as soon as they see that our chat is full of debates about commas and citations, they will peace out faster than you can say, “Dirimens copulatio” (look it up!).
  • Even with all this, analysts over at Seeking Alpha say Teams is overtaking Zoom in the corporate world.
  • Another security firm found ways to exploit flaws in Azure Active Directory. The good news is that one of the crypters is named DarkTortilla, which sounds like a super cool nightclub residing in a strip mall that I’d go to. Because I go to those.

World domination

  • People who are glad they weren’t on Microsoft’s M&A legal team this past year? Me. Microsoft Teams is merging with Deutsche Telekom’s mobile network, dubbed “Mobile für Microsoft Teams” and you HAVE to say it in an angry scary German accent or else it means something else.
  • More München! German open-source software company SUSE has entered into a multi-year collaboration with AWS to offer migrations acceleration programs for customers moving from SAP to AWS.
  • Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” stores are set to expand their merchandise, and new ones recently opened in Dallas-Fort Worth and DC airports. After 2A worked on the latest promo video for Just Walk Out at Lumen Field, Amazon has decided to make our very own Guy Schoonmaker their mascot. Because who doesn’t want a super nice dude greeting you on your milk-and-bread run?
  • AWS had so much fun at DarkTortilla with us that it has decided to expand its presence in Mexico starting in 2023. Aside from opening a few offices in various Mexican cities, it will construct a new Local Zone in Querétaro, considered the country’s “third most beautiful city.”

By Nora Bright

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Image by Suzanne Calkins

Hiring for short-term roles can be tricky. Especially now that the labor market is cooling off, candidates are warier about taking on short contracts knowing they’ll be back on the (possibly less favorable) job market soon.

Luckily, we’ve learned a thing or two over the years from sourcing talented embedded consultants for our clients’ short-term roles, ranging from parental leave coverage to quick-turn projects. Whether you’re working with an agency or not, these tips can help you land a stellar hire that can make a major impact on a reduced timeline.

  1. Write a clear and realistic scope of work

When a role’s timeline is limited, the position’s responsibilities and goals must be tightly defined. A clear scope will not only set engagements up for success, but also help attract a strong candidate pool. Candidates (especially the most experienced ones) will sniff out an ill-defined or unrealistic scope from miles away—and might withdraw from the interview process or not apply in the first place. Sharing a clear scope of work in the job description and during interviews will assure candidates that they can be successful in the role and deliver the results you expect.

  1. Know what skills and experience are essential—and how that aligns with your budget and resources

We find that candidates interested in short-term roles often fall into two camps. Either they’re experts with a long track record of completing the role’s responsibilities, or they’re early in their careers and eager to ramp up their skills quickly in a fast-paced environment. The experts tend to hit the ground running but come at a high price point (understandably so). Meanwhile, the newer folks generally need more support and sometimes need a reduced project scope. However, their overall rate is less.

Ask yourself what skills and experience are truly necessary for the role and whether you have the budget and support to set them up for success.

  1. Decide on an interview process and proceed quickly

Before getting started, decide how many interview rounds there will be and who will join from your team. Sharing these steps upfront with candidates will show that your team is organized and ready to bring them on.

Keeping the interview process rolling along will reduce the risk that you lose your dream candidate to another opportunity. With candidates often interviewing for multiple roles, moving quickly will give you an advantage.

If you’ve got a short-term role to fill, we’ve got your back. Reach out to learn more!

By Jane Dornemann

Image of a hot air balloon with the words cloud cover vol. 2

Image by Evan Aeschlimann

As a marketing agency focused on cloud technology, 2A stays on top of industry developments.

Every few weeks we scour the internet for the latest on AWS and Microsoft—and now we’re bringing that news to you. But in typical 2A style, we’re we’ve made it an entertaining read.


Wheelin’ and dealin

  • AWS has been going after healthcare and life sciences (HCLS) hard (2A has helped them write toward their dreams). It’s working—a KLAS survey shows that while Microsoft is still the industry’s preferred platform, AWS is nipping at its calloused heels.
    • Since we’re on the topic of hijacking your DNA to make human copies of you in a matrix-like plastic uterus that harvests organs for the rich, AWS wants you to know that 23andMe is doing ANYTHING BUT WHAT I JUST MENTIONED using AWS high-performance computing.
    • And for hospitals that want to deploy Epic EHR on AWS, Sapphire Health and Cloudticity are here to guide the way.
  • I’m rubber and you’re glue and everything I say bounces off me and sticks to you…unless you’re Bridgestone, a global leader in tires and rubber building, which has partnered with AWS to move to the cloud, launch new customer solutions, and become more sustainable (rubber factories do scream sustainability).
  • Malls are dead, which in America means one less place to find yourself in a shooting. But for AWS, it means so much more. Amazon will shift tech teams for its physical consumer stores (like Just Walk Out…or Run Out if there’s a shooting) to its cloud division. The goal is to use their experience with shootings retail to expand the company’s retail technology play.
  • Microsoft has selected Siemens to design a prototype of some semiconductor stuff, part of a Department of Defense initiative. It’s top secret except for this widely distributed press release about it.

World domination

  • A second AWS region in the Middle East is munjaz! It’s located in the UAE, so it’s made of pure gold and is encrusted in diamonds.
    • Then there are the new Edge locations in two Vietnamese cities, good luck to the employees who have to cross the street to get there, iykyk
    • Finally, should one set up a data center in the next war zone? We’ll see.
  • Read this in Taika Waititi’s voice: Auckland Transportation is moving to Microsoft Azure.

Gossip (for nerds)

  • Someone’s being a sore loser about a geospatial intelligence contract, MICROSOFT. The CIA had awarded AWS a $1 billion task order (not gonna pretend to know what that is) to do some super spy shiz. Microsoft is making several complaints, including that the agency didn’t properly justify a competition exception. Sometimes our own medicine be tasting bitter.
  • VMware employees describe “aggressive” recruiter outreach from AWS following Broadcom’s announcement that it will acquire VMware. (Imagines email titled, You WILL work for us!)
  • In the digital equivalent of paying farmers to burn crops, Microsoft told Brazilian regulators that Sony is paying developers not to add content to the Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft’s counter-strategy? Giving Xbox customers free dogs*. Because that will absolutely end well. Gamers don’t even remember to feed themselves! Or bathe.
  • Leaked document time! I love leaked documents unless they are sitting on a hideous carpet at Mar-a-Lago. In short: Microsoft is sick of all the success that AWS has had with giant government contracts, and it’s recruiting Google and Oracle to stop it. The plan? Pushing a “multi-cloud or bust” narrative.
  • It’s been a decade since Microsoft embarked on its CloudOptimal program, which aims to move Office 365 and Microsoft 365 services to Azure. Still not done. This is like when I tell my husband I’ll be ready in 5 minutes. Sure, 5 minutes. 5 minutes on Venus, maybe.

New stuff

  • WE ALL LOVE CHIME SO MUCH, especially those of us who need to restart our computers after using it so we’re not inexplicably muted on Teams all day. Now we can love Chime even more because AWS is live streaming capabilities. Which means nobody has to miss that Loverboy concert at the Jiffy Lube if they don’t want to.
  • Snowflake, don’t melt with all that hot revenue—80% of your users want to run you on AWS (then Microsoft and then…look at that, Google comes third. Maybe Google ranks first at coming third?).
  • More targeted ads, same false sense of privacy? That’s what’s coming with Bastion, a new AWS service that lets companies pool data to better target existing and potential customers.
  • Amazon is previewing AWS Wickr, a managed service that helps businesses and governments meet security requirements using data encryption. So, they get privacy but we get pooled data. Seems fair.
  • In capitalism’s never-ending strategy to manufacture scarcity, corporations can now have their own 5G networks SO GET YOUR OWN. AWS has launched a new service to help companies deploy these private 5G networks, but here is my favorite part: it’s actually only 4G LTE. It’s all in the marketing baby, just put a little asterisk next to 5G* and make the notation impossible to find and voila, you got yourself a private 5G network.
  • 2A’s animation was shown at AWS Storage Day event, where the cloud provider announced added features for Amazon Elastic Block Storage to boost data resiliency.
  • HoloLens wasn’t the massive hit Microsoft expected it to be on the consumer market, so execs were like, who spends a ton of money on crap? Oh, right, the military! Let’s tweak these for carnage, they said. So now $21.9 billion of your tax dollars are going to “high-tech combat goggles.” Phew, good thing none of that money is going to clean drinking water!
  • VMware is strengthening its collaboration with Microsoft by issuing several new updates to its Azure VMware Solution. Let’s hope the VMware staff working on this aren’t ether-ragged and bagged by AWS human resources.
  • Datadog now offers its monitoring and security platform for Microsoft SQL and Azure.
  • It’s a week for Teams news. Barclays has taken a shine to Microsoft’s messaging about how great Teams is and has deployed it as the bank’s preferred collaboration platform worldwide.
    • Also, Azure Communication Services now integrates with/supports Microsoft Teams.
  • Azure Managed Grafana is now generally available. It helps cloud users detect tech issues in their infrastructure.

Ma’am, I’m going to have to call security

  • The ease with which one can build and host a webpage on AWS has backfired, making it a popular avenue for phishing attacks, according to a report from Avanan. How they do it is quite interesting, particularly if you are preparing to be tapped by Anonymous, like myself and our editorial lead, Forsyth.
  • Those evil phisherman better watch out, though, ‘cause AWS and Splunk and some other important peeps are developing the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework. Among other things, it’s meant to support organizations in de-complicating data management, a crucial aspect of security.
  • Microsoft rolled out Azure MFA Server Migration Utility, a tool specifically for migration security…but once you’re there, MFA may not be able to save you from Russia.
  • In addition to Russia, there’s also good ‘ole American complacency. Why have one vulnerability when you can have 121? And why patch them when you can….not patch them?  In a recent Patch Tuesday, Microsoft addressed a zero-day vulnerability dubbed “DogWalk,” a.k.a. the thing gamers won’t do with their free dogs. It was discovered like a million Tuesdays ago in 2020 but was “meh’d” and then the U.S. government had to issue a mandatory update.
  • And then Microsoft employees were like, we can play hardball Uncle Sam….catch this.

*parody news site

By Nora Bright

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Image by Emily Zheng

Tech workers have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to their next gig—and for experienced contractors considering their next position, they’re discerning not just about the role, but about the consulting agency they’ll be employed by. Agencies can be a lot more than just a way for contractors to get paid—they can also provide benefits like health insurance and 401k plans, and crucial support like professional development opportunities and coaching.

If you’re looking for great talent to join your team on a contract basis, make sure you’re working with an agency that has what it takes to attract an experienced and diverse talent pool. Ask these four questions to determine if an agency can deliver the best talent out there.

1. What benefits and PTO do you offer your employees?

In our recent survey of Microsoft contractors, 94% of respondents said an agency’s PTO policy is important in deciding whether to accept a position, and 80% said the same about medical, dental, and vision insurance. Other benefits to ask about include 401k plans and whether the firm provides the software needed for their engagements (or if contractors are expected to buy it themselves).

2. How do you support your employees during an engagement?

Does the agency meet with employees regularly, or “set it and forget it”? Agencies can offer crucial support to their employees—coaching them on navigating their roles and hitting the ground running in a new position.

3. What professional development opportunities do you offer?

According to our survey, contractors feel their biggest challenge at work is a lack of career growth. Some firms offer a professional development budget or internal workshops and events that can keep talent engaged and retained on your team.

4. What is your DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) strategy?

Agencies with an effective diversity recruiting strategy have a more extensive and diverse talent pool to choose from when sourcing candidates for your role. Working with an agency that takes diversity recruiting seriously will up the likelihood that your contractor will make an impact and provide a fresh perspective on your team. An agency’s DEIB strategy could include inclusive language in job descriptions, posting on job boards with diverse talent, and culture initiatives.

Ready to bring on your next great hire? Learn more about our Embedded Consultants.

By Erin McCaul

decorative image of a vhs tape in a box with a label that says 2A loves the 80s

Image by Thad Allen

Once upon a Tuesday, my husband and I found ourselves with a wi-fi outage, an unexpected daycare closure, and calendars full of Teams calls. Wanting to maintain the façade of professionalism, we fired up our hotspots and dug my old VCR / VHS collection out of the basement for our kids.

As I explained the concept of rewinding to my wee Netflix horde, I thought about how the 80s are still hot. Top Gun: Maverick was a box office hit. Willow is getting sequel series. And thanks to Stranger Things, Kate Bush was back on the Billboard charts.

Here at 2A we love a good 80s throwback. For many of our clients, this theme hits home for their target audience and sometimes a DeLorean or a mohawk are just what it takes to break through the marketing clutter.

Here are four times we’ve reached back to the 80s to help our clients’ messages land:

So if you’re looking for a team that can spice up your datasheet with the brilliant purple from The Crystal of Truth in The Dark Crystal, or subtly reference Ludo from The Labyrinth in your next animation, drop us a line. We’re happy to let you borrow something from our VHS collection!

By Jane Dornemann

image of a hot air balloon with the words cloud cover vol. 1

Image by Evan Aeschlimann

As a marketing agency focused on cloud technology, 2A stays on top of industry developments.

Every few weeks we scour the internet for the latest on AWS and Microsoft—and now we’re bringing that news to you. But in typical 2A style, we’re we’ve made it an entertaining read.

AWS

  • Maybe flying Delta won’t feel like the eighth circle of hell now that the carrier has chosen AWS as its cloud provider. Yes—believe it—a company that spends most of its time in the clouds has not yet moved to the cloud.
  • AWS Cloud WAN is now generally available. It’s a managed service that simplifies global network operations by unifying environments and connecting on-premises data centers, colocation facilities, branch offices, and AWS cloud regions. Finally! The only reason I’m still on this spinning rock is because I refused to die until this happened.
  • As Uber Eats knows, it’s not modern if it requires effort, which is why AWS unveiled three new analytics offerings for serverless that removes a lot of configuration and management work. AWS took a note from Delta’s playbook with the “without worrying about capacity planning” part.
    • About that lack of effort: 68% of organizations plan to rely more on AWS managed services in the next year. Skills shortage is one reason. Or maybe Kim Kardashian is right, maybe “nobody wants to work these days” was the wisest thing ever to leave her chemically enhanced lips as she cattle prodded the children making SKIMS in a Bangladeshi sweatshop. But it’s unlikely.
  • In a revamp of its Security Competency program, AWS worked with security experts to create 8 categories that correspond with customers’ most in-need security capabilities.
  • Procore, which sounds more like an ab workout machine than a construction software company, is using AWS IoT TwinMaker to help customers create digital twins for buildings, factories, industrial equipment, and production lines. Waiting on my digital twin of Miles Teller from Top Gun.
  • Siemens has joined the AWS Partner Network with its MDR industrial cybersecurity solution now on Marketplace. 2A saw this one coming from miles away when we did a case study on Siemens’ role in propelling (get it?) Amazon Prime Air’s drone design.
  • Microsoft isn’t the only cloud provider moving into the world of video games—Riot Games has chosen AWS AI, ML, and deep learning to power its esports content delivery for games like League of Legends, which is played exclusively by people with severe rage management issues (source: gamer husband).
    • Perhaps taking another cue from Microsoft, a TechRepublic writer thinks AWS is shifting some weight to open-source projects. And wouldntchaknowit, they just released Cloudscape Design System as open source on GitHub.
  • Want more drama than my 9-year-old’s Pokemon card trading exploits at summer camp? Look no further than this Linkedin post, where an AWS SVP calls out Microsoft’s alleged superficial licensing practice changes to appease the European Commission. TechRadar even reported on it.
  • You know when you intro one of your besties to your other bestie and they become…besties? We feel that now that Fortinet has launched its cloud-native protection service on AWS. Fortinet will also be the launch partner for Amazon Guard Duty Malware Protection. Just don’t have a sleepover without us, OK?
  • After sending its Snowcone into space last month, AWS just can’t get enough of that star stuff—it will help Japanese space tech developer Warpspace to develop a satellite communication relay network service. (Memories of Rick Moranis ordering Ludicrous speed, for those of us over 40.)
  • President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenksyy says Slava AWS and Microsoft, handing over a peace prize to the cloud providers for their efforts in remaining on “the light side of digital.” Find out what they did here. Google got the prize in May.
  • Once again, 2A is the sole reason why Amazon’s earnings call was so hot for cloud—AWS revenue rose 33%, beyond analyst expectations.
  • Cybersecurity firm Trend Micro wants you to know that it achieved AWS Healthcare Competency status. Sorry, I left my thanks for participating prize for you at home, Trend Micro.
  • AWS continues to set its sights on startups and is investing in programs to help them scale—like SaaS Central, an “intensive five-week program.” First stop: India.
  • Boring hyper-technical stuff you may not care about unless you dream in Ruby on Rails:
    • The people want more serverless, and we shall give it to them! AWS has enhanced its Step Function with Function Workflow Collections, which allows users to create easier workflows.
    • I SAID MORE SERVERLESS: AWS has made Lambda Powertools TypeScript generally available. It helps developers follow best practices because nobody wants to work these days.
    • AWS has fixed Amazon Redshift classic resize so that clusters stay online. So, if you ever want to resize your clusters when restoring from a snapshot, well, now you can.

Microsoft

  • Canada welcomes its first cloud-only bank, Equitable Bank, thanks to a “strategic acceleration” using Microsoft Azure. Sounds like something I’d say to get out of a speeding ticket.
  • Microsoft will expand its relationship with space companies via its Azure Space Partner Community. There’s also this puff piece on Azure Space. How many martinis did Microsoft PR buy this reporter over lunch? Probably several. And that’s OK because martinis make us more pleasant people sometimes.
  • Keeping its eyes on the skies, Microsoft has launched Project AirSim, a new platform running on Azure that builds, trains, and tests autonomous aircraft using simulation.
  • “BUT WAIT!” someone at Microsoft said—we can’t conquer sky and space until we conquer the Earth, and we can do that with a Cloud for Sovereignty because governance is all the rage these days.
  • Less dazzling news from Inspire 2022: the preview of the upcoming update to Azure Stack HCI 22H2I as well as Azure Remote Support and Marketplace.
  • While the Microsoft/Activision deal is likely to go through in the U.S. (and Microsoft’s lawyers try and fail to wash those sweat stains out of their clothes), it still has to fight the final boss: The United Kingdom.
  • If AWS can’t give me a digital twin of Miles Teller, I bet Microsoft can—but only after it joins its digital twin platform with Cosmo Tech’s to help cloud customers monitor their emissions in real time, which is the plan.
  • For a few precious hours, Teams users around the world didn’t have to worry about that green dot turning to yellow just because they looked away for two whole seconds. It was because of a software update. Someone buy that developer some martinis!
  • Microsoft reported double-digit quarterly revenue growth, and Azure revenues are up 40% from last year. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’ve been doing more work for them and then its stock goes up. I know this because I had to take macroeconomics twice in high school—once during junior year, and again in summer school after I failed the final. So, trust me, I KNOW.
  • Network infrastructure provider Commscope has deployed a solution with Azure to help factories adopt agile practices. Pretty sure Kim Kardashian knows a factory that might want it.
  • Microsoft Azure has joined Intel’s Foundry Services Cloud Alliance as an inaugural member. Good timing with the House having recently passed a billed to rev up U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.
  • AWS went heavy on the gas with contact center tools, and Microsoft got on that like white on rice with its new Digital Contact Center Platform.
  • Anyone who has binge-watched a show on Netflix will understand that sometimes we need somebody to save us from ourselves—and that somebody is Microsoft. The cloud provider will power Netflix’s first ad-supported subscription offering. I am not going to begin my fifth consecutive hour of Ozarks if I have to watch another Tide commercial, so this is a good thing.
  • But not everybody agrees. This dude says Microsoft isn’t saving me from insufficient sleep but rather saving Netflix from certain doom—and that Microsoft may have plans for an eventual buyout.
  • Microsoft is joining the Zero Trust love pile, with Windows 11 forcing its trust issues on user hardware.
  • Oracle and Microsoft announced the general availability of Oracle Database Service for Microsoft Azure.
  • The public preview of the updated Management Center is out.
  • What do SMBs really want? Microsoft will tell you. It’s also expanded its partnership with Sage, which sells operational software to SMBs, and will integrate products.
  • Microsoft fixed 32 vulnerabilities in the Azure Site Recovery Suite, 30 of which allowed privilege escalation.
  • Telstra, one of Australia’s leading telecom and tech companies, has entered a five-year deal with Microsoft, one of the largest telecom partnerships to date for the cloud provider. This is great for anyone who had plans to ring a Kangaroo in the outback.
    • Microsoft must love it down unda’ following another Aussie deal. Leading Australian agribusiness Elders has selected Microsoft Dynamics 365 to…grow corn…and stuff. I dunno, TLDR.

By Mike Lahoda

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Image by Thad Allen

Summer has finally arrived here in the Pacific Northwest. We’re swapping raincoats for sunscreen, marveling at the bright skies, and for some, diving into the dating pool. That’s right—time to refresh the Hinge profile pics, add a quirky blurb to the Bumble bio, and find that summer love.

Here are 5 tips for online dating success. Kidding! This is not that kind of marketing blog.

But there are parallels between dating and working with an agency. We find that the most successful marketing assets are the result of a great client-and-agency partnership. So how can you build a lasting, healthy relationship with an agency?

  1. Be upfront about what you’re looking for. Just looking for a casual infographic? Or are you seeking a committed partner to help strategize the best lead-gen methods? We appreciate and respect your preferences, just let us know so we’re on the same page.
  2. Introduce us to the family. No need to wait until things get serious to meet the parents and siblings. There are often numerous stakeholders involved in any asset development, and we’re happy to coordinate with the whole team. Let us know who’s involved at the start, so we can account for feedback and reviews to deliver on time.
  3. Communicate your feelings. We have many talents at 2A, but we’re still working on mind-reading. Share how things are going early and often. Straightforward feedback cultivates collaboration, builds trust, and leads to a fulfilling partnership.
  4. Don’t ghost. No one enjoys getting stood up, canceled on at the last minute, or a lack of responsiveness. We understand that schedules are packed and conflicts arise. That’s ok, we just appreciate some advance notice.
  5. Express gratitude and love. Did that eBook make your prospects swoon? We’d love to hear about it! And if you have friends in the market for marketing assets, we hope you’ll recommend 2A. There’s a whole team of consultants, program managers, designers, and storytellers ready to get to know you.

Think we’re a match? Reach out and let’s set a date to connect.

By Forsyth Alexander

decorative image of Jane and a newsroom

Image by Thad Allen

While other children in her Brooklyn neighborhood were on the playground or hanging with friends, Jane Dornemann was busy publishing a newspaper full of stories about what was happening around her. How this journalist grew in Brooklyn and then branched out until she joined the storytelling team at 2A is a fascinating tale of determination, family ties, world travel, climate change, content marketing, and death doulas.

Dogged by climate change

After graduating from Fordham University with a journalism and communications degree, Jane spent a year as a print media buyer in New York before traveling to Florence, Bangkok, and Honolulu to teach English. Her family has strong roots in Hawaii—can you say “kama’aina?”*—and she found a home there for a couple of years. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Hawaii while writing and editing for newspapers and other publications.

*Child of the land

Once she earned her master’s, she returned to New York, where she turned her thoughts to meshing her skills with the needs of her family, particularly her son’s health. This entailed working in PR and communications. Eventually, it also meant leaving New York for cities chosen for their weather. But then, as she puts it, they were “chased out by climate change” as smoky conditions became less favorable for her son.

Her adventures in climate change are how she ended up in her current home in Durham, NC, where she works surrounded by posters picked up on the streets during her travels. In Durham, she began applying her writing skills to content marketing and freelancing, which also included ghostwriting.

“I’ve worked in three different areas I see as kind of a triangle”

Jane sees journalism, PR, and content marketing as a triangle, because the three connect. “Look at content marketing. A big part of it is the audience. It’s like pitching a story in PR or creating a messaging framework in communications.” She says they all require asking yourself who the reader will be and what is needed in terms of voice.

She finds a lot of satisfaction in content marketing, which is what 2A clients are looking for when they engage with us. From blogs to eBooks to animations and more—she is adept at using content for awareness and education.

A nugget of goodness in every content bite

Even though she rarely writes investigative exposés anymore and she’s no longer responsible for launching major press campaigns, Jane still uses those skills. Often clients come to us with a need to extoll the benefits of their products and services, and they are looking for a fresh new way to talk about them. If Jane is their storyteller, they will get the freshest of the fresh with added sparkle because nobody knows how to get to the golden nugget of a story and then write great headlines better than a journalist with PR experience.

For example, while writing a blog about the benefits of AI, Jane dug through the client’s interview and found out that the client had developed a first-of-its-kind AI platform. And for a recent case study, she did the math to home in on key numbers that would impress readers and then wrote unforgettable headlines to move the story.

Also, while working on a talk track for a Microsoft conference, she discovered some nuggets about the process itself that she shared in a recent 2A spotlight blog. “Building a talk track isn’t as simple as churning out a few bullet points—it’s more like constructing a house. The presenter and the writer begin with a few ideas, and through an iterative and highly collaborative process, those ideas become a final presentation,” she wrote.

Going for the gusto

Jane’s ability to pull out new and different perspectives from life’s experiences is not confined to delighting 2A clients. Since 2018, she has been a death doula, someone who helps people at the end of their lives—and their families—with the transition. She says that she has learned a lot from her patients. “You should go for the gusto,” she says, “If you are thinking about doing something out of your comfort zone, do it, so you don’t have regrets later.”

By Jane Dornemann

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Image by Rachel Adams

Talk track
/tôk trak/
noun: A script that accompanies a presentation deck or video.

Why create a talk track if you really know your stuff? In the case of this year’s big Microsoft Build event, you create a talk track because presenters have a lot of information to cover and they’re on the clock. When they’re on stage presenting to hundreds of thousands of people, having a track talk helps them focus on their presence instead of trying to recall a list of details in a limited amount of time.

Building a talk track isn’t as simple as churning out a few bullet points—it’s more like constructing a house. The presenter and the writer begin with a few ideas, and through an iterative and highly collaborative process, those ideas become a final presentation.

2A has written executive talk tracks over the last few years, which means we know a thing or two about going from the blueprint to the front door. There are four main parts of the Building process (get it 😉).

#1 Lay the foundation. First, you’ll need to determine which comes first: the talk track or the visual presentation. Either you’re building a talk track to align with a finished presentation, or you’re designing the presentation around a talk track. This is a personal preference and one that may be influenced by available resources. And because the talk track and presentation must be timed to match each other, it’s important they aren’t built independently.

#2 Put in windows so the audience can really see the person. When presenters read a talk track that doesn’t sound like them, that disconnect is going to come across to the audience. Writers should have several calls with speakers to get a strong sense of their voice and personality. What tones do they naturally use? Are they fast talkers (this will affect timing, too!)? The more a writer can adopt the speaker’s style, the more naturally the presenter will deliver the track. You’ll also want to consider the subject knowledge of the presenter versus the knowledge of the audience—sometimes you’ll need to help the speaker translate what they know to a more general audience.

#3 Make renovations. A first draft will never be the end, so be flexible. Expect revisions depending on content—you may need to re-order information, add details, or cut down on certain sections. Through iterations, you need to ensure you’re staying within the time limit, that the track still aligns with the presentation, and that there’s room for introductions and conclusions.

#4 Decorate. Add small details for big effects. Don’t underestimate transitions—not just openings, closings, and moving the audience into the next part of the presentation, but also little transitions between ideas within the same subject. Additions like “well,” “so,” and “now let’s talk about” make for a much more natural delivery.

Do you need an expertly written talk track? Whether it’s for a sales pitch or a big company event, 2A can help!

By Alyson Stoner-Rhoades

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Image by Suzanne Calkins

An article came out in the Seattle Times last year stating that Seattle is fifth in the running for fastest diversifying big city in the United States. That same article proceeded to remind us that we are also the sixth whitest city in the country. While many of us may lose sight of our self-work and reeducation in the progressive bubbles we occupy, data points like this show that it’s still imperative to keep pushing and growing.

With that in mind, 2A’s two working groups—the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) group and the 2A Giving group—decided to join forces and focus our energy on organizations that elevate Seattle’s Black communities. We wanted to support organizations with a financial contribution and also get the team together for an event. We found the perfect fit at Langston Seattle.

We invited all our employees to the live-streamed and in-person performance of “Winter in America: An Homage to Gil Scott-Heron.” Artists did fantastic renditions of Gil Scott-Heron’s work along with a few original pieces that had people dancing in their seats. The show was powerful and heavy with Black excellence. The in-person energy was palpable on the live stream. In addition to Langston Seattle, we also donated to two other incredible organizations: Creative Justice and Black & Tan Hall.

Our night at Langston was a lovely evening and the perfect way to wrap up a successful collaboration between our working groups. Back in the beginning of the pandemic, we were eager to find ways to grow personally and professionally, work on inclusivity, and give back to the community during such a trying time. That’s when we formed our two working groups to support this vision—each with their own budgets, goals, and regular monthly meetings. After some time settling into a cadence and knocking out some initial projects the working groups had the genius idea to combine resources and embark on a collaboration journey.

We are proud of our working groups and grateful for consistent reminders to keep educating ourselves, keep supporting our coworkers and communities, and keep working toward creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

If you don’t know who Gil Scott-Heron is, no judgment. May we suggest you start your education journey by listening to “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” one of Scott-Heron’s most famous works, here. Then—taking a cue from our working groups—head over to Google and keep learning.