Speaker 1: Welcome to the JMARK Business Innovation Technology experience.
Todd: Okay. Welcome everybody who is watching us live on Facebook, or who might be tuning in later on the podcast. We have a pretty interesting topic today. Over the last couple of months, there’s been a lot of changes in the workforce and in customer behavior. And one of the things that was most surprising to us was a metric that came out last week. And the metric was that 96% of those who are working remotely want to remain working remotely after COVID ends, at least some of the time.
And that’s pretty interesting because there was previously a metric, another study, that said that 86% wanted to work remotely. And then, previous to that, there was a study that said that 80% wanted to work remotely after COVID ended. So, now we see these studies significantly increasing. And people are seeing what it’s like to work from home. They’re starting to understand that they can be more productive, starting to understand how to collaborate more.
But from a business standpoint, there’s potentially a lot of challenges that could occur with having all of your employees work remote or having some of your employees work remote. These challenges could come in the form of security concerns, collaboration concerns, how to operate, meetings, how to just do different things, policies, procedures, processes. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
And we brought David Sticht. Did I say that correctly? From JMARK. And he has some great insight into security and some other aspects of working remotely, as he is also a remote employee. I guess we all are right now. But we’re coming to you from four different states. So, we know a little bit about this topic. So, to start off, David, why don’t we just start there?
What are some of the concerns that business owners need to be thinking about in terms of security, and then privacy and data loss and data concerns when your employees are now distributed? What changes need to happen to the data? And how does it remain secure?
David Sticht: Sure. So, I’d love to talk about that. But I’d also like to touch on something that you mentioned there a moment ago, which was a bit of a revelation for me because I began working remotely full time some months back. And prior to that, I would only, very occasionally, work remotely. And so, you touched on the idea that plenty of people are realizing that they may be even more efficient. And I think there’s always that potential that people are just simply going to say, “Oh, well, I’m more efficient. I get more work done.”
Well, why wouldn’t they say that if they want to work remotely, right? But I can certainly say for myself that this is absolutely what I have seen in my own experience. Never mind the water cooler chitchat and the pop-ins and those kinds of things. You’re a little bit more comfortable. And I think it’s a slippery slope to say. But sometimes it’s also a little bit easier maybe to work a little bit longer day. You don’t have that commute to worry about.
And so, you might be a little bit less reluctant to do what’s necessary to get the job done in any given moment, so-
Dax: Yeah. I think it’s one of those things. Todd can probably speak to this too but at some point, I mean, I’ve been working remote for a long time in my entire time with JMARK. But back years and years ago, when I first started working remote, I think it’s the same process that everybody goes through, where if you only work remote a few days, you can’t get into a pattern. You can’t get into a rhythm. And then, once you were working remote all the time, you start getting the rhythms, and not just for people, but for businesses.
So, back in March, when everybody went remote, everybody was scrambling. But businesses, over the past few months, have started implementing some of the things we’re going to talk about, and started figuring out some of these processes and some of these ways to make the tools, to make remote work feasible. And I think those are the businesses that are having success. And those are where we’re starting to see those people who will say, “Oh, we are more productive.”
And the businesses that say, “Oh, we can keep our culture together.” And we can have a lot of success working people remote because they’ve taken the time to figure out a lot of the things that we’re going to talk about that contribute to that.
Todd: Yeah. I agree. I mean, I think there’s a balance in everything. What’s important, though, is, I think, business leaders need to explore the options. I talked to one of our clients a few weeks ago. And he said, “I am blown away at the productivity of my team. When this all ends, I think we’ll probably reduce our office size and go almost 100% remote, and maybe have one person in the office on a rotation, or something like that.”
But that’s a case where he was extremely open and looking at the facts. But a lot of businesses, business leaders thrive on that, that personal connection that happens in an office. And neither are wrong. But there’s going to be a balance, because to have a great culture, you want people to be happy. You want people to be productive. You want people to feel like they’re achieving things. For some people, it’s better at the office. For some people, it’s better remote.
I remember we were talking with Jeremy Hill at JMARK. And in the first few weeks of working remote, he hated it. And the productivity was down. And it just wasn’t a good situation. And now he absolutely loves it. He’s more productive. He commented that, previously, he used to, when he needed something, just go and interrupt somebody and knock on their door, and then go to them, go to their desk, and say, “Hey, you need this.”
And he realized that people were doing that to him all the time. And he didn’t understand how big of an impact that was having on his productivity. And now he can focus and get things done. But it’s one thing to go, “Okay. Yeah. We can do a hybrid type of environment, or we can do remote,” or whatever it is. But a lot of people don’t quite understand all the ramifications of it because there are… we’re talking about app sprawl, data sprawl.
We’re talking about computers being connected to potentially unsecure networks, data going into different states. There are different privacy regulations in different states. What does that mean? If employees travel to states that have certain privacy regulations or countries, how does that affect? There’s just a lot to think about.
David Sticht: And so, Todd, you’re stepping into the discussion of security, which was your initial question there. But I think that, to a large degree, some of these concerns were really already concerns when we started giving people laptops to take home with them. And so, if you’re concerned about what data exists in a location where it can be exploited, or maybe compromised in some other way, that’s really already been a concern.
And so, here, what we’re really concerned with is, how secure is the communication when you are working remotely? And as long as you have a well-designed remote access configuration, that really shouldn’t be a concern. There are, let’s maybe say, different levels of paranoia that you can employ. Maybe some companies, it’s far more concerning to them if any tiny little bit of data is potentially compromised.
And so, there are lots of different ways to employ whatever level of security you’re really comfortable with. And of course, there’s always that trade-off, right? The more secure you make something, the less efficient it’s going to be for your employees, the more problems there are likely to be. And so, there is that balance that any given organization needs to determine for themselves.
Kristina Schaef…: I think determine not for themselves. What do they need to look at?
David Sticht: So, any organization is going to have an idea about how important… let’s say, maybe proprietary intellectual data. If we’re talking about a company who produces maybe images that are used for advertising or something like that, while that is absolutely proprietary data, maybe it’s not a huge concern for them, that any tiny little thing that their employees are working on might be seen outside of their organization.
And so, that might not be as concerning as, say, a company who has engineers, who are designing things that even just a small bit of code being made available to somebody else could be terribly concerning to them. There are so many different things than any given organization might need to consider as far as that’s concerned. And so, it’s hard, really, to say. But it’s certainly a conversation that they can have with their managed service provider ideally, people who really know what things to be looking for quite often.
My current role in onboarding, we will take on a brand-new network to us. And that’s one of the many things that we do, is we look at, what is their business? And we have those conversations with them about, “Okay. Well, here’s where you are today. Is that something you’re comfortable with? Or would you like us to look at maybe making things a little bit more secure for you in one way or another?”
Certainly, anyone who deals with credit cards, you have PCI compliance and various other compliance organizations that they may be already working with or should be working with. So, there’s a lot of variables there.
Todd: I think you’ve touched on something we talked about quite a bit in the past, and that is the idea of a partnership. We’re entering a world of unknowns and on many different fronts. And business leaders are experts in their business and serving their customers. And that’s why it’s so important to have an IT vendor partner, have partners in other areas of your organization that can help you. Can you move through these areas?
Getting out of maybe the technical aspects of security, the other thing that comes to mind is, what I would call, the policy or the HR side. There’s so much that has to be considered with what are the rules for laptops or other types of equipment. When are they allowed to travel with the employee? What is the training to the employees, the security training? What is the security policies of the organization that are going to affect how data is consumed and how data is used?
And then, also, the one thing that’s hard to do alone, that’s why you need partners, is also just the aspect of changes in architecture. You may have a local application, a local database that now you need to consider going to a SaaS-based platform, or to some other type of platform that is online, that allows you to access this data from multiple locations without having to do complicated things. And so, there’s a lot to consider.
I mean, not to try to scare anybody, but we’re talking about, potentially, policy changes, operational changes, process changes, training. We’re talking about architecture. There’s a lot happening in a decision like this.
Dax: So, with all of these things you’re talking about, if I’m a business leader and my employees would say, “We love this. We love working from home. We want to keep this up,” are these considerations, the things you’re talking about? And, David, you can jump in on this too. Not just on the security end, but also on all of this, the functional side of things. Are these things changes that can be made as you go?
Or is this something where you’re like, “Oh, okay. That’s a great idea. Let’s get everybody through the phone. But we need to stop and figure all this stuff out first, and then send everybody to work from home”?
David Sticht: That’s a really good question, Dax. There definitely is a side to it that says one size definitely doesn’t fit all as far as an answer for that is concerned. Plenty of organizations who are already taking their infrastructure and their environment very seriously, quite often, the technology that’s being employed there is already at a level where it is at least relatively simple to go ahead and make those changes.
This, again, is something that we quite often wind up broaching with our clients, is… these are your needs today. But can you foresee the possibility where you might grow exponentially, or like we’re talking about right now, where maybe you’re going to send a bunch of people to work remotely. And there’s different answers for different aspects of it. One thing that, really, I was thinking about earlier, as Todd was mentioning, how these things have changed even very recently.
But going back much further, the technology has really come together in a fairly small timeframe. Within the last even year, I would say, the firewalls, which is primarily what we’re looking at when we’re considering remote access workers, and how they’re going to access your network resources. The resources available to your firewalls, which allow you to be able to continue to inspect any traffic that’s coming in or going out, allows you to facilitate many, many remote connections at the same time.
And the speed requirements that are necessary there so that people aren’t experiencing a very poor remote experience, where they’re saying, “Jeez, if I went into the office, this would be so much faster than what I’m doing here,” as well as the internet circuits. And this is a really big one because, I would say, it’s within maybe the last six months to a year that truly high-speed circuits are, let’s just call it, relatively affordable for an organization.
Back in the days where you were bonding T1s to try to squeeze just a little bit of extra bandwidth, and now we regularly see clients with at least 100 meg circuit. And that really just would have been absolutely impossible for most organizations to consider not very long ago. So, these things are really coming together to make it a lot easier for clients to simply say, “Yeah. Let’s pull the trigger.”
And in our experience here, our technicians, I don’t deal as much with our existing clients because we bring them in, set them up, and hand them off to the teams who support them. But I still communicate with our network engineers. And what I heard from them was just a resoundingly positive experience with a vast majority of our clients who suddenly needed to make these changes and move to this kind of environment.
Sometimes maybe they needed to purchase a few things to set up. We had some schools where they decided, “Jeez, we really want to be able to allow the students or their parents to just roll up in the parking lot, and be able to connect to our network to receive data,” or whatever. I don’t know the details. But they were able to maybe buy a couple of access points that are specially designed for outdoor traffic, when meanwhile, they’ve got hundreds of access points inside their buildings, for their hallways, which are barely getting used at this point.
But the infrastructure was there. So, it’s very easy to simply, Lego style, add things in.
Kristina Schaef…: Oh, not to change it up too much, but Todd said something that made me think. He mentioned something to think about as a business owner when your employees are going remote, is them traveling to different states and bringing their technology and working. So, if, as a business owner, you decide to let your employees work remotely as much as they want, that frees them up to be able to not only travel, but move states.
So, are there any technical things that a business owner, in that case, would need to think about, worry about, plan for?
Todd: Well, real quickly, before we go into the technical aspects of that, a lot of employees make that assumption. They make that assumption that, “Oh, I’m remote. I can work from anywhere. I can move. I can go close to my family.” But there are costs to an organization. And those costs involve setting up tax, setting up business licenses in various states. And so, that’s part of the policy that has to be talked about.
It’s one thing to go visit and be there temporarily. It’s another thing to move to another state. And then, your organization has to decide whether they are willing to set up business in that state. But good question. What do you say, David, about the security aspects?
David Sticht: Yeah. So, on the surface, it’s essentially no different. If you’re already facilitating an environment where employees can remotely access from wherever that your home office is, it’s essentially no different to allow them to work from maybe another state. Now, it does get a little different when they start moving into other countries and going overseas. There is some latency that comes in when you travel. Data travels that far, and we’ve seen some of those issues here.
We’ve had some employees working from other countries for at least brief periods of time. But it’s funny that the conversation is taking place today. Some of you might be able to look behind me and realize this is not my normal environment. I happen to be traveling for some medical needs within my family. And it was very easy for me to take my lightweight monitors with me, and set up shop the way basically I do at home.
And so, as long as there’s high-speed internet available, basically, is what the answer is there. And again, to go back to that topic just briefly, at JMARK, when we experienced this, and we had to send darn near every single employee home, out of all of the people who work in our home office building, there was precisely one person I know of whose internet just wouldn’t really facilitate him working from home, and still had to come into the office.
So, even when I lived out in the country, there came the point where they ran fiber through my front yard. And the DSL connection that I had was not really fantastic, but it was sufficient for something like this, so…
Dax: Yeah. I think it’s one of those things where there are always going to be kinks, not of what the plan. I think there was a day last week, at one time, where, throughout the day, four of us on our team, at different points, had our internet go out. And those are going to be the things. But I think there are other things that happen in an office environment that you overlook, because you’re used to those being the problems, fire drills or different types of things that happen in an office, that also might be kinks that you have to work out in the system to stay productive.
And that’s always going to be the case. And I think that you take some of those things into account. I also wanted to bring up the idea, Kristina, when you mentioned moving to different states or even moving farther away. Sometimes might be within the same space, but you might move from being 15 minutes away from the office to a different city a couple hours away or something.
Not just with the security concerns, but I think businesses also get concerned about being able to deliver help desk services when it comes to technology and that kind of thing, and how that is even… able to facilitate that or facilitate to help people. And you and Todd, and David, again, can speak to this a lot more clearly than I can. I can just speak from my own personal experience.
A couple of years ago, my laptop crashed. And I’m in Utah. JMARK is in Missouri. And I was suddenly without a laptop. I’m literally not able to do anything. And within a day, they already had somebody out here. We have a partnership with HP. They had somebody from HP at my apartment door with a new hard drive, ready to swap it out. We swapped it out. And in the meantime, JMARK had already shipped out a different laptop for me to use.
And then, we had this whole system where he swapped the laptop out. I got the new laptop to work on for the time being, send my other laptop back to JMARK. And JMARK already had this system in place. So, it was new to me. But nobody in the JMARK office is working on the repair bench or anything like that. It wasn’t even an issue for them, because they already have the process worked out to deliver any type of repair services that need to be done at a distance.
Todd: As we’ve been discussing this, I’ve been thinking about the idea of change. And we’re talking about this as it’s this big change. But the more I think about it, as human beings, in some more than others, we often push against change. Overall, the human race is pretty adaptive. And not to get into philosophy, but that’s why we’re at the top of the food chain, I suppose.
But the idea in saying that is, going back and talking to some of the clients that we’ve talked to over the last couple months, and when all this happened, yes, like David said, there were a few that had some issues. But overall, the people we talked to were like, “We’ve been preparing for this for a while. We replaced workstations with laptops. We’ve had various people work remotely at times. We were able to work out kinks.
We have software installed that allows us to collaborate and communicate and manage projects.” And I think that that’s important to remember, because I think a lot of people are looking at the future with a lot of fear and a lot of trepidation. Going, “How are we going to adapt? And how are we going to innovate? And how are we going to change?” And then, now they worry about, “Okay. Well, now, all my employees want to work remotely. And everybody else is letting their employees work remotely.”
And we’ve seen multiple large organizations that have announced either long-term remote plans or indefinite remote plans, which is also interesting. But the point is that, while it’s a change, and while it’s different, we don’t have to… I don’t think we have to stress over it so much. Yes, there’s going to be some hard work. Yes, there’s going to be some changes. But if nothing else, I mean, one of the things I’ve learned more than anything at JMARK is that people are adaptive.
And people want to do what’s best for the organization. And that’s the attitude of how we go into that.
David Sticht: So, Todd, there’s another excellent point that you’re touching on there. Maybe the concern that some people might have about making these changes… and are they really changes? Or are we maybe just more expanding things that we’re already doing? Even for some of the smaller organizations who really haven’t thought about a need to work this way, have remote workers and do these things, the reality is technology comes top down.
And you have your larger organizations who have been having remote workers for years and years now. And the process has been a little difficult in years past. But it keeps getting better and better as more of those organizations do that. And the reality is it continues to push down as it gets easier, as it gets more cost effective.
These benefits that we see in the appliances and the configurations possible for the larger organizations, it gets pushed down into the smaller appliances and the smaller configurations so that even a flower shop can take advantage. Mind you, you’re probably not going to sell a lot of flowers remotely, unless you’re online or something. But even your smaller organizations can take advantage of this stuff.
And quite often, unless their technology is very, very old, yeah, it’s already baked in. A lot of your smaller firewalls and stuff, it’s really already there.
Todd: David, the thing you touched upon there too that we have to realize, and this is what we’ve been trying to communicate for a while now, is that customer behavior is changing. And that’s why there is this need to innovate and adapt, because, I mean, it’s very easy to order flowers online. I can do it with my phone. I have an app on my phone. I can just open the app. And bam, bam, bam, I can deliver it anywhere in the country.
We’ve seen the massive intake in how consumers are consuming information or consuming services, whether that’s having your groceries delivered, whether that’s having pickup at a store. We’re seeing changes in restaurants. There is talk of, “Will sit-down restaurants survive after this? Or will they have to transition to more cooks and less servers for drive-through and things like that?”
But going a little bit off of what you said, I think that’s really important, because while I did mention earlier that we shouldn’t fear the change, there is the impetus that things are changing. There’s no doubt about that. And so, that’s what makes it even that much more important.
Dax: I think it’s one of the things that… I mean, we keep talking about change. And a few minutes ago, you were talking about people changing, and how adaptable people are. And then, something you touched on, David, was the technology side of it. And I think that’s the key to remember, that the technology is also always changing.
And these things are going to continue to become easier, because any problems we’re experiencing with communication and collaboration, and these things where there’s some hiccups in the systems, somebody is working on ironing that out right now. Either the companies that are already into this, or somebody who’s seeing an opportunity, and has a solution that they’re getting ready to bring out to people.
And that, I think, is really important too, is technology is that this thing. And you touched on this at the very beginning of the conversation, David, where it happens faster and faster. And having worked remotely, going back almost 20 years, the first time I ever worked remote at one point and seeing the difference now, between now and then, the technology is always changing. And these things are going to be there.
They’re going to be more and more solutions for every-size business that are affordable, easy to implement, and effective to help your business.
David Sticht: Yeah. I absolutely agree with that. And it occurs to me, I know that I’m potentially just running down a rabbit trail here. We’re definitely talking a lot about, technology-wise, what does it take and whatnot? But it occurs to me that it’s also a very important thing to discuss. When a company is facing the challenges that we’re talking about with remote workers, the technology part, yeah, it’s definitely there.
You may have to spend some money, either in hardware or services, configuration changes, various other things like that. But it’s an interesting thing to consider too, because we talked about how well this has worked for so many organizations, ours included. And I think a lot of the reason why it has worked so well is because we had established teams. We had people who are already used to working with one another.
It’s really not a big shift to change that dynamic in this way. The real challenge is going to be, how do you continue to grow as an organization, add new people, create new teams, when those people haven’t already had the experience of working directly with one another? And I think that’s really going to be an interesting thing to keep an eye on. I happen to have a friend of mine who runs a much smaller technology-based business.
And he was saying to us the other day, as we’re all getting together, that he hired his first new employee the other day, entirely remotely. He hired him by having a video chat. And so, I’m going to be very curious to see how that works for him, because obviously, some more like JMARK, we had one person who’s been hired remotely. That’s one thing. But he’s got, I don’t know, maybe five, six people in his organization. So, adding one person is a lot bigger ripple in that pond.
Todd: I think you guys are bringing on some interesting topics. I want to touch upon what you both talked about in terms of growth. There’s this diagram that we talk about a lot with our prospects and clients, this pyramid. And we talk about not really the maturity level, but it’s maturity of organizations that are using technology. And you start out at this bottom phase of triage. Everything is reactive, and you’re just trying to get things done.
But then, as you move up to the final stages, the final stages is technology is helping growth. It’s helping productization. And that’s where, I think, that is a mindset change. We have to realize, because whether we’re hiring people, whether we’re providing services to people in any industry, whether we’re developing products, whether we’re trying to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior, technology is the driving force.
It’s the thing that enables it all to actually work and work smoother. Sure you can pick up a phone and call somebody. But it’s not the same as getting on a video call. Sure you can send a message to a team member to do something. But it’s better to have a system that describes what they need to do, and how they need to do it, when they need to do it by. And there’s just so many different things that are in play in this, that technology is the answer. On almost every single part of the business, technology is the answer.
Dax: Yeah. It’s really true. And another part of this actually, we got a question from Facebook. And it goes right along with, I think, technology being the answer, and back to what you were talking about, David, with hiring new people and having strong teams and what a difference that makes. The question is, do you think it strengthens a company’s culture when people want to work remotely? And I’d also like to get Kristina’s take on this, because Kristina is the one of the four of us that, up until COVID-19 happens, was working in the JMARK home office.
And so, right in the heart of being part of where the majority of the people in the company were. And so, I’d like to get your take. I mean, everybody’s, but starting with Kristina maybe, on how JMARK’s company culture has changed or strengthened, or whatever sense you have of it, since going remote versus being in the office.
Kristina Schaef…: Yeah. I mean, I would say we’ve always had a great culture. So, at the very least, it stayed the same. But I think, in a lot of ways, it has strengthened. And we’ve done a lot of things to make sure that it stayed strong. I don’t know if it makes a difference that we are a technology company. So, we’re very used to using technology to communicate. But for whatever reason, at least in our experience, it’s been really great.
David Sticht: Yeah. So, it occurs to me as, Dax and Kristina, we’re discussing there, even at JMARK, we faced our own challenges some time ago. And I’ll get the way that I do about this. Dax, you mentioned the number 20 years, and that rings through for me a very long time ago. A very long time ago, for some of us, there was the point where people had to start to figure out how to not take the words in instant messaging too literally.
And so, we started using the little silly smiley face emoticons and all of these things to try to help people to understand that, while I’m using these words, in this order, I’m not trying to be a hard nose about it. I’m not trying to be difficult in some way. And so, we had to do that a very long time ago. And we figured out how to adjust with that. But at JMARK, we had, a while back, a single branch office.
And there were definitely challenges that we faced with, going back to the idea of JMARK culture, how do we handle the communications and the events and the things where you have a vast majority of employees in one physical location, and then you have an office over here with four or five people, or a couple of remote workers? And the reality was that it was not working well initially. But much to Todd’s point, as human beings do, we adapted.
We figured out we had the communications in the backflow there where we… having the handout that you were looking at up there, down here would have been really useful. We could have seen what you were referencing, and things like that. And so, those improvements were made. And definitely, I’m sure that at this point being everyone working remotely, we have made a very drastic shift.
Because as we all know on the call, at JMARK, we regularly have meetings that involve either a majority, or all of the employees, quite often at least, the service department, where we get together. And Tom stands up and tells us things that are great and things that aren’t great and State of the Union for everybody. And it’s definitely been a big shift to handle the fact that there are so many remote people.
And so, again, I think we’re learning how to have that remote work or environment work well again.
Todd: I thought a lot about this over the last couple of months. And we talked a lot about it. But I’ve come to realize that the question is not the right question. We keep hearing this question of, “Can culture thrive in a remote environment? Or will culture be impacted in a remote environment?” And I come to realize, that’s not what people should be asking. The question they should be asking is, how can I strengthen my culture?
How can I improve the culture or maintain the culture that we have in a hybrid or remote environment? And because what I’ve been hearing is that I’ve been hearing these two sides where I’ve heard employees or individuals who are generally the ones who would love to work in the office, and get energy from being around people, which is there’s nothing wrong with that at all. They’re bringing up this point of, “But how do we remain? How do we keep our culture strong?”
And then, you have this other side of a large portion of people that are remote, and that are going, “Culture’s great. It’s getting better. I mean, we’re getting to know more people,” and all this. And so, a part of it is a little bit of the stories that you make up in your mind. We make up these stories that, “Oh, we do this, and this is going to happen. And we do this, and this is going to happen.” Well, 9 times out of 10, the worrying only just stresses us out, and doesn’t actually come into play.
And so, I think it’s more important to work on the strategy of, how do we maintain the culture? How do we improve the culture, and strengthen it? And I think, again, that’s where technology comes into play. It’s in face-to-face meetings like this. It’s in communication tools and collaboration tools, and systems and processes and policies that enforce or reinforce the culture of the organization.
And it’s being done through the great people that are in the organization. I mean, generally, a company that has a great culture has great people in the organization. They are going to be great in the office. They are still going to be great whether at home. There’s different challenges. And again, they want to do what is best for the organization, want to help things, want to communicate, want to collaborate.
And that’s where we got to change this conversation, I think, that’s happening into not how do we maintain culture, or not isn’t it going to be impacted, but how do we improve it, and how do we make things better. Because people aren’t saying, the new normal, for the heck of it. It’s not a scare tactic. It’s something that’s happening. And so, this new normal of how do you maintain a culture in a remote environment is important.
And there are a ton of examples out there. I mean, there’s global companies that are remote. And there’s great examples of people that have awesome culture, and remote and hybrid environments. And so, we look at the examples that are around us. And we make strategies and tactics that improve our organization.
Kristina Schaef…: True. I want to jump from culture back to talking more about the technology, because a question came to mind. The answer very well could be no, but I’m curious. Say, you’re a business owner. And your employees want to remain working remote, but you only have in-house IT Would that create any extra challenges as opposed to if you have a managed service provider?
David Sticht: Well, it certainly can. There’s no question. Any organization is going to be different in that regard, depending on what their in-house IT is like, how robust is it. I’d like to, at least, go on record and say, just because I work at JMARK, and just because this is what we do, I am not, drink the Kool-Aid, “this is the only way to do it” guy. I have definitely looked at different organizations at times and said, “Maybe in-house IT could make more sense for these people, or maybe not.”
And that’s definitely something any organization needs to consider for themselves, but one thing that I definitely have seen a lot, because a lot of the time that we go into an existing environment and we begin to support a client, you have basically two possibilities. Either they had in-house IT, or they were already managed services. And a lot of the time, they already had in-house IT And then, you have two other possibilities.
Either they’re going to retain a certain level of in-house IT and allow us to augment their experience, or they’re going to go exclusively with us. And we see a lot of environments where either they really aren’t given enough resources. The in-house IT people don’t have what they need to really be able to take the environment to the next level, and do all of these things that are important, or at least that they might think are important.
And sometimes they don’t have enough manpower as well. And then, the other side to it is sometimes you have those environments where there’s not really a whole lot of accountability. I’ve seen environments where I see this wonderfully complex network from my perspective. And I think, Wow, you really had a lot of spare time, because it’s completely unnecessary for your environment. And so, there really are a lot of different answers there.
But the one thing that, I think, is generally going to be true all of the time, unless you get to those very large organizations who have a really, really robust in-house IT, is there’s really no way for one, two, three, or four in-house IT people to really be able to focus as much as they need to on their given craft. They’re going to be “jack of all trades.” I had this experience myself coming into JMARK. I was already doing manage services to a certain degree.
But the reality was, I was having to support workstations and servers and networks and everything, printers, copiers, whatever. If it plugged into the wall, we supported it. And since I’ve been able to focus on networking, which is what I’ve been doing for, I don’t know, a very long time now, you start to find some of these things that are just not apparent, and are not really things that you’re going to run into in the wild.
And the other side of it being when you reach a size that we have, where you have several network engineers, well, now you’ve got maybe competition, or maybe just that friendly side of being able to say, “Oh, hey. I see that configuration there. I’ve got something over here that I do, that I really like. And it’s a little different than yours. Maybe it’s even better in certain circumstances.” And so, you have a lot of that ability to improve your game in a way that really just isn’t as possible, or at least as likely maybe for an in-house IT
Todd: That’s great stuff. It’s a fantastic question, Kristina. I hadn’t even thought about it from that angle. When I think about it, though, it goes back to what we were talking about a little bit earlier, about business leaders doing what’s best, doing what they do best, not worried about technology. I mean, we work with a… we’re a very different MSP than a lot of MSPs, because we work with a lot of companies that have IT staff.
And we fill in the gaps that they can’t fill. But that’s interesting, though, in a remote environment, a hybrid environment. A lot of times, the internal IT staff is dealing with workstations. They’re walking around the office and dealing with printer issues, and little things happening on the workstation, or laptops. And in a remote environment, that potentially goes away. And when we bring this back to the idea of what do you do best, that’s where JMARK shines.
We develop and roll out millions of scripts, automated scripts, monitoring alerts. We have the ability to connect remotely. We have various monitoring systems that check security, check logs, check all these different things. We have perfected the craft of remote management, monitoring, and support. That’s what we’re good at. We’re in an organization that has internal IT staff. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to go away.
But it may mean that they could actually become more valuable to your organization. A lot of internal IT staff transition over to an application specialist. They’re system admin for a system, software, application. And as you’re moving to this environment of remote and hybrid, you’re going to have more of these systems that pop up, where they have to be managed properly, SaaS-based systems, cloud-based systems.
And that’s an avenue where potentially internal IT staff could have a lot more value than just going around fixing printer issues and stuff. So, it’s a really good thing to consider. And there could be a cost-savings measure in there for sure. Or it could be a profit or revenue-generating measure in there, in terms of redirecting someone to a seat that is better for them, better for the organization.
David Sticht: Todd, I’m really glad that you brought that up because it wasn’t even anything I had thought of yet to mention, which is another aspect of this. I’m trying to think about the best way to go about the story and overall idea. But we, at one time, did work with a particular firewall appliance, that I will leave nameless for this conversation, that basically did what we needed to do. And there were definitely advantages to it.
And a lot of our clients were utilizing this particular firewall. And I can remember various different times, even recently, regardless of the fact that we don’t really recommend this firewall anymore. They’re still out there. And some of our clients come in, and they have it. And I’ll be working with maybe other vendors or various other people where maybe you’re going to create a tunnel between two environments, which is another topic altogether.
And so, you might be working with this other IT person. And there’s, “Oh, it’s this particular kind of appliance. I’m so glad to see more people using that.” And I try to stay as diplomatic as possible. Well, here’s the thing. We thought that they were pretty great too until a number of our clients, who have a very specific kind of environment, we wound up realizing that there are certain issues with it that they don’t seem to be overcoming.
And so, that all boils down to say, the fact that we see as many devices as we do, and we deal with as many different networks as we do, and as many different types of organizations with different configuration needs, we were able to identify that, okay, well, this specific appliance maybe is more or less okay enough for a lot of environments. But boy, it really falls on its face in these environments.
And if it’s doing that there, maybe some of these other issues that we had with the appliance, that we were willing to overlook before are now just a little bit too concerning for us. And ultimately, we decided, yeah, we’re not going to recommend that appliance anymore. And so, that’s another thing where maybe lots of in-house IT people would say, “Boy, we just love this appliance.” And to a certain degree, not to sound hateful at all, but it really comes from a place of ignorance.
And so, we’re able to see those things and say, “Yeah. On the surface, this might seem okay.” But here’s the thing. Downtime might be a little bit more important to you than it is to other people. And we’d really like to see this other appliance over here, that we have a lot of history with. And we know what to expect from it. And it has all of these benefits. The support is great if you ever need it, and all of these sorts of things.
Todd: It’s a great point, David. We sent an email out yesterday that, actually, this was the theme of the email. The message is this idea of, we’re all going through craziness in the world right now. There’s a lot of things happening, politics and pandemic, and everything else in the world. And going back to the idea of a partnership, when you’re going through a difficult situation, you want somebody by your side that has been through hard times, that knows how to get through them, that has the resources, the knowledge, the expertise, to hold your hand, and guide you going through this.
And that’s the beauty of JMARK. And going back to what you said is that we have so much experience in this craft of taking care of technology and making it be successful, and a driver for revenue and profits for organizations. And I was rolling through a Facebook group last night. And I’m sure you’ve probably seen some of this stuff, David, where it was an IT business owners group. And this person called out and is like, “Hey, I took on a new client.
And they don’t have a GUI and Windows 10. And I’m not really sure what to do. Is there a way to do this?” And I’m thinking going, “Who the heck did the due diligence on this IT vendor?” I mean, they’re going out in the world trying to get help to fix you. As we wrap up here, I wanted to turn it into a cheerleading session for JMARK. But we are going through a situation that you have to pick your partners.
You have to pick the companies that are going to really help you and really have experience. And I think the overall theme that we’ve been talking about in many different aspects is, do what you do best, whether it’s the IT person in a company, whether it’s managed service provider, whether it’s the business owner. And by focusing on what you do best and focusing on adapting the organization, using technology, we can all get through this without too many scars.
With that, unless anybody has any other thoughts, we’ll say adieu. Thanks, everybody.
Speaker 1: Thank you for attending this podcast. We hope it has been informative and helped convey that, at JMARK, we are people first and technology second. To learn more and discover additional content relevant to your business, please visit us online at jmark.com, or at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You may also call us at 844-44-JMARK. Thank you for your time. And we look forward to seeing you again.