30 Mar Behind The Scenes of Business Technology Starts With Taking Care of People
Edafio Technology Partners was recognized by Insights Success as one The 30 Most Admired Companies to Watch 2021. To acknowledge this achievement, Insights interviewed Edafio President/CEO, Kenny Kinley, to expand on Edafio’s IT insight and expertise to adapt through change while sustaining a positive business culture.
Give us a brief overview of Edafio and its journey since its inception
When local information technology companies couldn’t meet the needs of the Little Rock-based accounting firm JPMS and many of its clients, the firm’s partners decided to respond to the demand, and Edafio Technology Partners was born in 1999. Today, Edafio is Arkansas’s largest full-service technology provider and ranked one of the top managed service providers (MSP) in the nation, with multiple recognitions for Business of the Year, Best Places to Work, and Most Admired IT Company in Arkansas, to name a few. Currently, 107 associates, certified engineers and specialists and expect to be over 120 associates in 2021. Over 90% are dedicated to making an organization’s network safe by providing a range of managed Cybersecurity, network management and consulting services. Edafio is also a UCS/SOC 2 Type 2 Certified, ensuring the highest level of trust and peace of mind for their clients.
Putting commitment to our clients FIRST in our core values is also the first step in “uniting business solutions with more accessible, faster and cost-effective technology services.” It starts with something as rudimentary as listening — getting to know our clients as people and striving to understand the client’s business.Kenny Kinley, Edafio President and CEO
As a business leader, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the Information Technology & Services Industry and Digital Economy in general?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on every industry and sector, with perhaps no industry experiencing more of the negative AND more of the positive than the Information Technology and Services Industry. At the macro level, the broad-based economic downturn hurts every business. Reduced revenue inevitably translates into less investment in people — the commercial environment is enduring layoffs, fewer new hires and less training of existing staff that will continue to stress the talent pipeline long after the pandemic is over. There is less appetite for risk in all its forms, which businesses need to survive and grow. Just taking into account something as seemingly peripheral as the large technology conferences that the industry is famous for — but that also have serviced a critical function in new product launches, sharing knowledge and networking — these cancellations have reportedly cost companies a significant reduction in revenues. Beyond all these overtly tangible adverse effects, there are also subtle psychological stresses of the pandemic and protracted lockdowns that each of us and our families experiences in our own personal ways.
Given that the problems of people are the problems of business, the quality of a business culture has become challenging to sustain. On the other hand, many of the issues associated with the pandemic have become opportunities for information technology and related service providers. The digital economy will be among the first to return. Some estimates have the US IT industry more than doubling over the next five years … from $130 billion to nearly $300 billion by 2025. We see positive forces have already taken hold — the most obvious being that in a world with less physical human contact, supporting virtual communication and contact-free client interactions can only be achieved through digital technologies. These needs are much more significant than merely supporting remote workers through platforms like Teams and Zoom. While businesses that invested in technology before the pandemic have a leg up, every company is more motivated than ever to respond to the challenge with a commitment to digital transformation. This impetus benefits technology service providers like Edafio, and partnering with us positions our clients to grow once the pandemic is over. With many clients in the healthcare industry, we are at the forefront of supporting the indispensable life-saving role hospitals play during the pandemic and beyond in supporting services that will be with us for a long time to come that can only be achieved through technology such as telemedicine.
What is your opinion on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation has become necessary for businesses to survive in this new world; it is particularly mission-critical in those businesses whose customers have become accustomed to purchasing products and services, communicating, and interacting through digital or social media platforms. This applies to virtually every company because they all conduct business entirely differently from the case a couple of decades ago. In direct-to-consumer companies, the impact is evident, with e-commerce platforms and online payment being the essential digital transformation components. However, every company has experienced radical changes in the way purchases, users and influencers communicate. Speed, quality in responsiveness, and heightened customer service standards have all been facilitated by social media and digital communication tools. Cybersecurity must be ensured at each stage of the communication and value chain while opportunities are leveraged to gather the data that improves tailored services and better-targeted marketing. No company can afford to lag behind its competitors when the standards have become so elevated, and the number of potential competitors expanded almost exponentially.
This is where a resource like Edafio Technology Partners can provide the appropriate counsel and the proper tools that strengthen the core value of a business.
Just as every person is unique, every business is unique, and we could never accomplish the goals implicit in this question with a cookie-cutter approach.Kenny Kinley, Edafio President and CEO
How does your company stand out from the competition?
First, as business partners, we are often onsite at our client’s place of business by virtue of our location and orientation. We always strive to help our clients run a protected and successful business, tailoring our services to our clients’ individual needs. We are not interested in being that “call-us-when-something-breaks” kind of provider… that is not our model. Instead, we have a seat at the table. We want to be there, serving as a virtual CIO and thinking and acting as if it were our business and that we are responsible for its daily operation. Secondly, we provide mid-level to enterprise companies access to world-class expertise with the most talented team of specialists in the industry. Our goal is to be the most accessible and responsive technology specialists in the region.
At Edafio, we segment our offerings into five different pillars.
The first is around Information Technology consulting. We can come alongside organizations’ IT departments and assist them with projects and anything they need from staff augmentation or additional expertise. That’s one piece of our business.
The second piece is the Information Technology Management services. This means we perform total managed IT services. We’ve been doing those two parts, Jordan, for over 20 years, which is the core of our business.
The other three pillars are relatively new things we’ve added over the last five years.
The first is around the cloud. We all know that the cloud is a necessary topic for many companies right now. We’ve got a cloud computing practice that can help you determine what type of cloud system you need.
The fourth is Cybersecurity, and just like the cloud, Cybersecurity is a big topic for all businesses of all sizes. We’ve got a dedicated cyber team that performs risk assessments, all types of cyber remediation work, and training.
Then the fifth pillar is healthcare consulting. We added that practice or pillar about five years ago because about two-thirds of our business is healthcare. We found that clinics needed help with compliance programs and training, chart reviews and EMR support, and more. And as such, we formed a healthcare consulting group, so all five of those pillars work together. We feel like it gives us a unique offering because we can do many different things exceptionally well. We strive to be that one-stop-shop for clinics and hospitals.
Culture is driven by core values, and ours are our commitment to our client’s success, unquestionable integrity, and a genuine one-team approach in how we work both internally and with our clients.Kenny Kinley, President and CEO
How do you unite Business Solutions with Edafio’s easier, faster, and more cost-effective technological services?
This question goes to the heart of why Edafio Technology Partners exists and what differentiates us from our competitors. Putting commitment to our clients FIRST in our core values is also the first step in “uniting business solutions with more accessible, faster and cost-effective technology services.” It starts with something as rudimentary as listening — getting to know our clients as people and striving to understand the client’s business. Just as every person is unique, every business is unique, and we could never accomplish the goals implicit in this question with a cookie-cutter approach. There are too many service providers that simply want to push and sell their products — but how can there be a business solution without first and fully grasping the business problem?
In practical terms, we conduct assessments and interviews to develop a baseline or benchmark representing the state of the current environment. Then we work with our client to layout a desired future state … so that we always have something to measure our progress against.
The final output of this critical upfront work is often an IT roadmap, a longer-term plan that considers the business priorities, budget, and tolerance for risk. Our consulting services are essential because they play a vital and comprehensive or wholistic role by covering all the management, implementation, deployment, and maintenance issues of an IT infrastructure. Even this roadmap is a collaborative approach, an expression and outgrowth of a relationship, which facilitates a dialogue, then a strategy, and then applying the many tools, platforms and processes that fulfill that strategy and overcome the particular obstacles to growth that specific client may be experiencing. Sometimes it means we place one of our professionals with the client as a virtual CIO; often, clients choose to outsource all their technology services and help desk support to Edafio; but in other situations, there may be a single, precisely targeted solution. We never prejudge based on our needs but rather always try to put the client front and center. We can think of no other way to fulfill our mission of providing business-driven technology solutions that enable our clients to protect and run their business.
e can think of no other way to fulfill our mission of providing business-driven technology solutions that enable our clients to protect and run their business. We aspire to be the most accessible and responsive technology specialists in the region.Kenny Kinley, Edafio President and CEO
As an established CEO, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into Information Technology & Services Industry?
We can only advise other entrepreneurs looking to start businesses as technology service providers based on what has worked. And these principles are contained succinctly on the three reasons we offer clients to partner with Edafio:
1. Talented professionals that make your IT work
2. Culture is driven by core values, and ours are our commitment to our client’s success, unquestionable integrity, and a genuine one-team approach in how we work both internally and with our clients.
3. We are committed to the communities in which we live and work. We are not only focused on just solving and preventing problems.
How do you envision on sustaining your company’s competency in a cutthroat and volatile world of business?
You see, most of our counterparts offer one or two core capabilities while providing a full range of integrated services. There aren’t other technology firms that provide Edafio’s world-class capabilities in our clients’ backyards with the bench strength to employ an onsite client model — and a real commitment to their security, sustainability, scalability, and the success that we provide. Our team lives and works where our clients live and work. We leverage our positive and empathetic culture in everything we do by powering IT through people, and we call it “The Edafio Difference,” It goes beyond words because our success is deeply rooted in the belief and embodiment of our core values. It is a culture embraced by all of our associates — to enable our client’s success through intelligent technology. In the end, the goal has to be bigger than making money. For us, it has been to become a valued partner to businesses. Nothing can be achieved without passion, and Edafio is passionate about making information technology work for a company.