IF COVID19 and 2020 taught businesses anything, it was that they had to stay flexible and agile as the world changed overnight.
Businesses now have to learn how to mix their workforce with home-based employees and employees based in a centralised office in order to maintain productivity and to keep people employed.
Technology allows businesses, especially small to medium enterprises (SMEs), to do just that with several apps to ensure employees remain productive and continue to contribute to their companies, albeit remotely. Just as 800-TECH did, when it went fully virtual last year, after operating remotely so much that its brick-and-mortar office in El Socorro was rarely used.
But several businesses have not taken up the challenge to streamline their digital presence and operations, for the most part, many don’t care for the technical “mumbo jumbo.”
This is why 800-TECH CEO Scofield Thomas is pleading with SMEs to go digital or get left behind.
“What I think they need to do is understand that we are no longer just operating in TT, because of the pandemic we are competing globally. And we need to set ourselves up for that especially with the forex shortages. We have to operate on a global scale," Thomas said.
Thomas said his company 800-TECH has a suite of technical support programmes that can make any business – including SMEs – more agile and able to compete on a global scale.
Their solutions include human resource, inventory and recruitment management systems which streamlines and automates processes so business owners could focus more on producing their best product.
One is called 360 RMS. This programme allows businesses to collect applications and automatically schedule interviews. The programme would also compile the data and store it in case the applicant does get the job and transfer it to a human resource management system which it could also set up.
Another service can process data for procurement of equipment and goods and store that data for businesses, and even put reminders in place for restocking.
Their programmes are one part tailor-made digital solutions for companies and one part innovation from a Turkish tech partner.
“We call it E-Flow,” Thomas said. “It is partly from a Turkish company called Netoloji. We partnered with them because we realised that their software has a faster rate of development to get people digitised. So what we did is we fused the E-Flow system with our 360 suite that we custom built to make a solution for you.”
Their services are not limited to programming. Thomas said 800-TECH also offers a service which they call “IT resourcing” where the company would loan their customers an IT professional to either replace one of their own who is off duty or introduce that IT professional as a supplement to their customers IT teams.
“He could be there as a helping hand. If it is just the additional hand to rectify something at that point in time, that is what they do. If someone in IT is going on vacation or one is ill, we would come in and replace your IT staff for that period. We would run the department, we would assume your email if you want us to, we would act as if we were your employee at that time.”
800-TECH also develops a network that would allow for employees to work remotely, and still have all the access to their work resources that they would have if they were in the office. He added that they ensure that the connection through the company’s VPN (virtual private network) and they educate employees, and teach them to secure their channels through the VPN to do their work.
“If you come into a coffee shop which is a free Wifi network, it is not safe. So you dial up via your VPN first and connect back to the office. Then you tunnel yourself into the office’s secure channel then you can process your data as if you are literally at the office.”
Thomas added that it also ensures the security of the companies’ data by making sure that they work in the company’s environment.
“We don’t collect data. We install the environment on your premises to ensure that level of security. So the security in your network is what we utilise.”
If a company needs its security validated, 800-TECH could also get consultants on board to evaluate and identify the gaps in its security. It could also collaborate with other tech security companies to patch the gaps that are identified.
While these innovations are guaranteed to streamline processes in many businesses and make them all the more able to compete locally and internationally, most businesses owners, especially the older ones, don’t care about these innovations.
“What we realised is, after we showed them the paperwork they just didn’t care. They felt our services would have no impact. We realised that just having the conversation would not have the effect we wanted because it was hard for them to visualise. So what we decided to do is do a proof of concept.”
800-TECH would identify a particular problem or gap in companies’ network and create a shell of a solution, to show CEOs how their programmes work.
He said the proof of concept allowed CEOs to see, feel and experience the solutions and how it enhanced their business.
“Some customers would have to go a little further and give them a 30-day trial so they could see it work. Those we develop a lot further and we give it to them for a period.
These services could not have come at a better time as covid19 has forced people to resort to relying on technology to not only maintain their productivity but to recover and progress as a business.
“A lot of businesses still process orders by fax,” he said. “I don’t know why, but they still do it. A lot of businesses operate without a CRM (customer relationship management) system.
“We don’t have those simple things in play so it would be difficult to compete on a global scale where you have to take an order on line and you have nothing to process that order. You have to keep running and taking that paper from one desk to the next. It doesn’t work like that anymore.”
As a secondary school student Thomas wasn’t particularly interested in technology but he developed an interest in it as he furthered his studies in business and IT. His interest was truly piqued as an employee at RBC, where he worked in the tech department and saw business clients come in and speak about their challenges.
“I am an IT enthusiast now but it is always mixed with business. I have a keen interest in business and helping companies to see technology as a tool to help them become more efficient.”
His first company – Southern Technologies – was geared to break/fix services and assist homeowners with their internet issues.
But times were changing and he realised that businesses would need a service that would be able to be proactive and predict problems with networks and resolve those issues quickly. That was how 800-TECH was born.
“Some of the things that we encouraged was remote work, putting together configurations that would allow you to access tech offices remotely, having files centralised in one location that you can access it locally or remotely. We were always pushing that because our company is like that.”
Then covid19 came along and everything that they were preaching became gospel. Customers who listened to them found themselves ahead of the curve while others fell behind. Thomas said customers soon began approaching him to make their company more agile, like his.
“We wanted to be able to perform our services wherever. If we travel I could perform work anywhere you wouldn't know where I am. You could just call me with a problem. I would just pop in somewhere where there is a Wifi connection and connect and resolve the issue. So we saw the value of that and the flexibility it gave us and we wanted to impart that to business owners and show them how agile their business could be.”
800-TECH can be found on its website www.800-tech.com, Facebook, Linkedin and other social media platforms.