Larger than small businesses but not quite an enterprise, mid-size businesses, which make up a large percentage of Canadian companies, pose a unique set of challenges for partners.
Cisco Partners are creative, highly specialized and knowledgeable. They can create a solution that will perfectly suit any environment, no matter how challenging. They also provide a personal touch because they not only know Cisco solutions, they understand their customer’s businesses.
Take the example of Toronto-based IT PRO CANADA, a Cisco Premier Partner that specializes in delivering Cisco technology to mid-size businesses.
In Canada, mid-size businesses often have communications and networking infrastructure that utilize a variety of components from consumer-based equipment to obsolete technology. Why? Because mid-size businesses can face extremely limited IT budgets and usually have small teams of one or two responsible for managing the infrastructure — and sometimes there’s no dedicated IT person at all. Given these circumstances it can be difficult for any mid-size business to know what kind of technology it needs to improve. That’s where Cisco Partners like IT PRO CANADA come in.
To find out more about the ways partners are helping mid-size businesses in Canada, I spoke with David Lee, co-founder and CEO of IT PRO CANADA.
Rebecca Leach: Hi David, thanks for joining me today. What can you tell us about IT PRO CANADA and what makes you unique?
David Lee: As a company, IT PRO CANADA has been around for just over two years now. We started in 2011-2012 when we saw a void in the mid-market solution provider space. Our team had backgrounds in everything from Unified Communications (UC), firewalls, wireless, borderless networking, voice and contact centre. We’re strong on the technology side and we’re building our business to include a managed solutions desk.
We’re a Cisco-only shop, so all the core infrastructure we build on is Cisco technology. It’s what we know and it’s the technology we trust. We work very closely with the Cisco accounts team when we’re building solutions. As a company, we don’t have any non-technical sales people — we’re comfortable building that personal relationship with our customers from the first meeting.
Rebecca Leach: Recently, you helped a customer complete a complex UC refresh for Caldic Canada. Can you give us some details?
David Lee: Sure. The customer’s solution had a number of unique aspects that made it challenging. From a network perspective, they were upgrading from an older legacy-style system to a brand new solution. Similarly, their phone system was past end-of-life and needed to be replaced. They had grown to the point that their phone system literally couldn’t handle any additional endpoints. The entire system had become unmanageable for their team. Our goal was to build them a scalable solution.
Rebecca Leach: Did Caldic fit the typical mould for mid-market customers?
David Lee: Caldic Canada has three locations in Canada and one in the United States, and around 120 – 150 users. It’s the perfect size for a partner like us because their IT manager was able to make quick decisions. In fact, while the company was expecting refreshed networking and UC, there were also some unintended benefits.
For example, they were not expecting their offices to be able to communicate with each other so easily. Today, after the Cisco solution was installed, communicating between branches is as simple as dialing a four-digit extension. It improved their ability to collaborate.
The second unintended benefit was the use of Jabber. There was no existing instant messaging system when we started working with them, but after deploying it to the five-user IT team, an employee on the road asked to use it to communicate with the office. The experience was so well received Caldic Canada ended up extending their Jabber deployment to all users.
Rebecca Leach: So the solution was scalable, even though it was initially only deployed to their IT department.
David Lee: Yes. For me that’s what’s so unique about this engagement. Initially the customer figured instant messaging would be too complex for its users but adoption really happened organically and quickly reached a point where it had to be delivered to the entire use-base.
This implementation coincided with office renovations, where many employees were displaced, and asked to work from home. Jabber was the ideal solution for these users, because it allowed them to stay in touch with the office through IM and video calls, as well as making outbound calls through their softphone. Jabber helped employees feel like a team throughout the renovations.
In our next blog we’ll look at how IT PRO CANADA another mid-size customer with a challenging wireless deployment. If you’re a mid-size business and want to learn how technology can help your company, visit http://www.cisco.com/web/CA/midsize/index.html.
About David Lee
David Lee is the co-founder and CEO of IT PRO CANADA. He is an experienced consultant, holding multiple Cisco certifications including the CCIE Voice. David is also a licensed Professional Engineer with a Masters in Engineering. IT PRO CANADA is a Cisco Premiere Partner, focusing on the small and mid-market. IT PRO CANADA leverages the rich experience of its consultants to develop comprehensive technological solutions that fit customers’ business needs. You can visit IT PRO CANADA online at http://www.itprocanada.ca/.