James Wagner, President of The ITeam, was featured in an interview in CEOCFO Magazine. Mr. Wagner discussed how The ITeam provides a Virtual IT Department, Secure Server, Email Security, Disaster Recovery, Hosted Services and Managed IT Services to Calgary and Alberta businesses to help them achieve economic solutions that meet their security and infrastructure needs.
IT Support providing a Virtual IT Department, Secure Server, Email Security, Disaster Recovery, Hosted Services and Managed IT Services
Interview conducted by Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – August 29, 2016
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CEOCFO: Mr. Wagner, according to your site, TheITeam provides the best IT support for your business. How so?
Mr. Wagner: Through various systems and processes, we provide proactive solutions to ensure that we are working with our customers to keep their systems current, up to date and protected. We work with their Senior Business people to understand their business strategy and are able to extrapolate how that fits into the world of IT, so we can make sure our recommended IT strategy meets their business needs.
CEOCFO: Are companies or people in general gravitating toward managed services and towards being proactive or is it still an education for people to understand it makes sense?
Mr. Wagner: We are further down that curve than we were a few years ago. As we meet more prospective clients, more and more of them are familiar with the managed service style services offering. Although there are still a number of small and medium businesses out there that are subscribing to a reactive time of materials support model, it is certainly much more commonplace than it was even just two or three years ago.
CEOCFO: How important is your 20-year history in Calgary? Do people care or is it more about what can you do for me today?
Mr. Wagner: It is both. The 20 years’ history goes a long way to show the quality of people that we have brought to the table because we have extremely good tenure here. Our retention rates are much higher than what we see with our competitors. That lends itself well to telling our story of our stability and ability to stick around. The other side of that is that organizations like us need to continually reinvent ourselves and make those changes to stay current because as we all know, technology changes so quickly that if you are not using the current tools and you are not on top of the latest trends, you will quickly fall behind and will not be around for very long.
CEOCFO: How do you know when something is ready to be embraced in terms of technology?
Mr. Wagner: We have learned in the past that in the industry in general, it is difficult for an organization like us to be successful, dealing with bleeding edge solutions. There needs to be some critical mass behind a new technology before we will entertain introducing it into our client base. More importantly, there needs to be found on business reasons. Once we can see that new technology is going to bring value to a business as a result of efficiencies, effectiveness or cost savings and there is a high level of confidence that there is enough critical mass behind it then we will typically embrace the new technology.
CEOCFO: What types of businesses typically turn to you?
Mr. Wagner: Although we have some specialties in a few different verticals here in Calgary, given the nature of oil and gas in Alberta, we also do a fair bit of support of healthcare, dental clinics and transportation, logistical companies. The commonality across all of our customers is their size. In general, network infrastructure technology is pretty similar across small and medium businesses and if they are looking for a strategic partner to align themselves with, it is generally a good fit.
CEOCFO: Do most companies take advantage of the full range services? Even if they are under a managed service program, do they let you look at things proactively and ask if they should get something new?
Mr. Wagner: If we are not leading that conversation, then we are not doing our job. We view our role as a managed services provider as being not just a technology advisor but the strategic partner. It is up to us, and of course, the customer needs to allow us to, but we need to be having the high-level conversations with them to understand what it is they need so that we can propose the right solution. If the client is going out and buying the latest, greatest without our participation, then in general, that perspective is not a good fit for managed services.
CEOCFO: Do you do much on-premise these days?
Mr. Wagner: We are still doing a fair bit of business on premise. As hardware comes due to be upgraded, then we will have the conversation with the client about moving to the cloud if it makes sense for their business. If the hardware is still performing and supportable, often on-premise can continue to be a more cost-effective solution until it needs to be replaced, at which time in many cases, the cloud becomes more viable.
CEOCFO: How are you helping companies with security?
Mr. Wagner: The biggest issue we have found, with all the various technologies and threats out there, is that there are so many different technologies that one can adapt to help protect their environment and protect their business assets. The biggest item that we have come across is user education. With the number of malware and ransom-ware attacks that are happening, the tier one security companies are not able to stay ahead of the curve and no one has a solution that is 100% effective in filtering out threats. At the end of the day, threats are going to get through. It is a matter of minimizing those threats through the use of technology and services and then it is up to user education to ensure that users can identify suspect emails as an example and make sure they do not click on the link that they’re being encouraged to click.
CEOCFO: What are you surprised that cannot be done today with technology and what are you surprised that we are able to do today?
Mr. Wagner: I can tell you what I am surprised that we can do. One of the major changes that I have seen in the last ten years with server virtualization technology has come the capability to easily and cost-effectively replicate servers on premise and off-premise. That has huge benefits when it comes to building your business continuity and disaster recovery plan. Ten years ago when tape was still commonplace, it was extremely expensive to do server clustering and have automated failover. In the event of a disaster, the timelines to acquire new server hardware, rebuild the environment and restore from tape backup could take days if not weeks. The companies that were able to afford the higher end failover solutions were mostly limited to enterprise-class companies. Nowadays, even a small business can afford not just failover but also the ability to completely replicate their entire server environment off-site in the event of a disaster.
CEOCFO: How do you stand out from your competition?
Mr. Wagner: If you look at our website and compare it to all of our competitors, they are all extremely similar; we offer the same services and solutions. The one things that I believe we do best is being the most accountable. By that I mean we do what we say we are going to do. We have a Ten Commandments that are our core values and one of the Ten Commandments is “Thy word is thy bond, whether spoken or written” – do what you say you are going to do. Many of our competitors will tell their customers what they want to hear but we actually deliver upon what we say we are going to do.
CEOCFO: Why pay attention to TheITeam?
Mr. Wagner: Calgary and Alberta have been an area that experienced a number of disasters in recent years. We were there for all of our customers in a time of need. We were accountable and did whatever it took to get them up and going. At the end of the day, we were there for them no matter what.