New Year, new web site, new digs, new people, new services…

January 5th, 2017

simplex-it-2016-holiday-brunchHappy…what, 2017?  Sheesh.  Talk about a year.  Let’s see.  We had an election that was…well, different.  In that election, we had an epic failure of big data (which in some ways is the most interesting, and most ignored, outcome).  Cleveland had by most accounts a good year, considering the Cavs (expected), Indians (not expected), and ummm…those football guys.  Not to mention a very successful Republican Conference showcasing Cleveland.

Not bad.

We’ve got a new home.  After 8 years at our former world-wide International HQ in Hudson, we made the move to our Dungeon Digs in Stow.  With about 3 times the space, it gives us room to grow and folks have their own offices.

We’re expanding those offices, adding another 4 offices to our space to make sure we can handle additional folks in the future.  Patti has already moved into the “East Wing,” we’re not sure whether to take that personally or not.

We’ve added a new face, Sarah Brown, to work with us part time.  Sarah will be helping migrate our SharePoint customer information into our IT Glue format.  Once completed we’ll be able to offer our customers full access to their own documentation (radical concept, I know<g>).

Boy, did our Sales and Marketing processes grow up this past year (painfully so, in many ways).  First we’ve got a new web site (www.Simplex-IT.com).  It just went live Wednesday (part of the reason this newsletter went out late).  Simpler, easier to navigate and update.  It’s more focused on our core services and functions.  Thanks to Patti Smerk for getting that done.

And our marketing has become much more measured and focused.  We’re still doing webinars and YouTube videos.  We’re still blogging and tweeting.  We’re looking to continue (for now) our quarterly briefing sessions.  But you’ll see additional offerings through the year.

We did our first “booth” at a conference, and it was a hit!  Between Robot Pens and chances to play Space Invaders, folks loved our content.  And they stuck around to talk to us about IT services as well (surprise, surprise!).

kayla-and-ducksAnd we’ve identified about 500 companies in the area, and are focusing monthly marketing messages towards them (hopefully not too painful or annoying).  They take the form of mailings, emails, phone calls.  It’s an interesting journey, put together and run mostly by Kayla Chambers and Patti.  If you’re on that list…the ducks are coming.

And Kayla is spearheading some efforts to do some marketing through LinkedIn.  I’m curious to see where that takes us.

We’re up to about 85 customers that have some level of monthly agreement with us (from a small Office 365 service to complete IT support).  This year I’d like to break 100.

Our YouTube channel (http://youtube.com/user/SimplexITBob) is thriving.  We’re up to 140,000 views and over 160 videos.

We completely overhauled our internal processes, led by our continued implementation of ConnectWise.  We’ve implemented role-based procedures, assignments and triage methods for tickets and alerts.  We’ve created rewards for technicians based on demonstrable results, as well as incentives for self-improvement and departmental improvement.  And it’s showing.  Our # of open tickets has decreased each month for the past several months.  Office Manager Michelle Burgmann has been making sure we’re moving in that direction.

We’ve added functionality:

Ø  Our partnership with Auvik means we have a greater ability to monitor the performance of actual infrastructure (switches, routers/firewalls).

Ø  Our work with Sophos UTM devices (replacing older firewall/routers) means that security is more integrated to the traditional AV.  Thanks to Tech Director Kevin Dutkiewicz for that.  Look for that to increase as we start rolling out Intercept (think Malware Bytes on steroids) and enduser Security training.

Ø  2nd quarter we’ll be adding instant messaging to our Gold and Platinum customers.  That means if they have an issue they’ll have a client on their desktop/laptop that gives them instant connection to support (and vice versa).

Ø  2016 we were going to be pushing the DBA (SQL management) and PM (Project Management) marketing, but honestly were too busy.  Look for the DBA program (led by Doug Tombow) to get started 1st half of 2017, followed by the PM side of things.

image04We were recognized by CWRU Weatherhead as a “2016 Upstart.”  This is awarded to area companies with less than 15 employees and less than $5M in sales.  Although pleased with the award, I feel a tad on the old side to be called “upstart.”  But what the heck.

We got most of the gang together for our annual brunch (including their families which I think is as important in many ways).

Thanks to Jeff Buskirk for focusing a lot the past 6 months on managing AV and security issues.  Similar kudos to Alaa Hamdan for managing backup monitoring.  For the next 6 months, they’ll switch duties as part of our cross-training initiatives.

Thanks to our part-time techs Freddie Bracken and Connor Coppedge (yeah, he’s my nephew.  Feel absolutely free to hold that against him, I know I certainly do<g>).  They work part time here while still going to school.

Of course I’d be remiss without thanking my lovely wife Julie.  As I’ve said many, many times, she’s my voice of sanity.  She’s actually become more involved with some of the higher end aspects of the company (I have quarterly management review meetings in Nashville with other peer MSPs and she both attends and participates).  We’d never be where we’re at without her.

And Julie and I are now up to 3 annual awards to the community (either us or Simplex-IT):

1>     The latest Geek Raffle raised $500 for Hattie Larlham (thanks to Malted Meeples for hosting once again).

2>     Our second annual Hiram College MAD (Make A Difference) award of $1,000 to a group of students looking to develop an app for use on smartphones that people with mental illnesses can easily use to locate employers who are willing to hire them.

3>     We co-created a new annual award named the Craze eCash award (named after Andy Craze) with Jane Winik (Andy’s partner).  EYEJ: Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice and Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates both received $500.

Julie and I are going to look to add each year a new award of this type.

2017 should be a heck of a ride.