Which small businesses were impacted less by the COVID work from home shift in March 2020? And what made them more resilient? Aeko Technologies CEO Brian Rodgers discussed this and other IT insights on The 360 View Podcast. Get highlights from the podcast or watch it for yourself.
The Calm Before the COVID Work Shift
Brian was skiing in New Mexico in early March when “the toilet paper shortage of 2020 began.” COVID-19 was on his radar, but not top of mind. He didn’t really start paying attention until the drive home Saturday, when news of office closing orders reached him.
Luckily, the sudden move to remote work was right in Brian’s wheelhouse. As CEO of Aeko Technologies, Brian helps businesses create and implement business continuity plans so they can weather any disaster or disruption. And this was going to be a big one.
Aeko’s own business continuity plan was solid. So, when he arrived home from vacation, he simply had to notify his team what was coming their way and told them all to work from home.
The First Few Weeks of Work From Home (aka “Madness”)
In those first few weeks afterwards it was madness. Aeko has an “all you can eat” pricing model. So clients pay Aeko a monthly rate and get unlimited helpdesk support. With so many customers needing to shift to working from home all of a sudden, that was a lot of support requests (tickets).
“Our workload went up 300 percent in the weeks following the announcements of the shut down,” Brian said. “But, because we’ve really worked on our business continuity plans and disaster recovery and set all that stuff up, we were able to absorb that 300 percent workload.”
Aeko, like most managed service providers (MSPs) uses a ticketing system to track requests. One of the ways they measure how much work is getting done is by the “static ticket load.” These are tickets that are standing still because the technicians can’t get in touch with a client or are waiting on something from a vendor. The static ticket load rolls over from one day to the next.
“While we had a 300 percent increase in our workload, our static ticket load only increased by about 50 percent, which really highlights the tangible benefits of working on your business continuity,” Brian explained. “It’s one of those things that you know in theory that you need, but to see it put into action and to have executed it and know it worked exactly the way we wanted it to is beautiful.”
A Recipe for Resilience
The transition was easy enough for the Aeko business, but not all of their clients were in the same shape.
“Many of our clients will take all of our advice and implement anything we recommend, Brian said. “For those clients, in many cases it was just a flip of a switch … We just need to add this, create these users … but really was a very seamless transition.”
Other clients had taken an incredibly frugal approach to their IT needs, not seeing the value of business continuity. Or, not looking beyond an immediate need or fix. These clients made up the bulk of Aeko’s 300 percent increase in support requests because they needed it all and they needed it fast.
The COVID-19 experience for these businesses has really raised their awareness of the need, and value, of business continuity and disaster recovery planning.
“One of the things that has been consistent in our messaging from the time that I left my corporate position is that a disaster is not just a tornado that hits a building in downtown Fort Worth or a fire or flood,” Brian said. “There are different ways a disaster can be classified and that’s maybe losing a server or being denied access into your building. It’s been helpful to have people understand that.”
Fulfilling His Mission
Brian spent 20 years on the corporate side of information technology, including as an IT director in an S&P 500 company. When he started Aeko Technologies, his goal was to bring enterprise support back to small businesses and make sure they realize it’s more accessible than they think.
It’s those processes that small companies need to grow, including enterprise-level techniques for cybersecurity, IT infrastructure and compliance.
“Small business owners are increasingly being hit with these kinds of things, with new compliance issues, that they’ve never had to deal with in the past,” Brian said. “All I ever wanted to do is use IT to help people, to be a blessing to people, to help them.”
The COVID-19 transition to work from home is just one way he and Aeko Technologies are doing just that.
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