Q: Following up on our interview from the last newsletter, you mentioned being excited about the potential of Microsoft 365 remote workspace. 2020 saw many companies being forced to make real-time operational changes and to conduct more business remotely. How has NTP itself used one of the Microsoft 365 capabilities in order to adapt to our rapidly changing work landscape?
One of the biggest features we are using is Microsoft Teams video. It’s how we communicate while working remotely and it’s how we are currently conducting this interview. Also, the chat feature on Microsoft Teams has reduced email for me by 90%. Having the instant chat ability allows real-time access. If a technician needs my advice, they can send a message and see that I’m in a meeting but once I’m out of the meeting, I can ‘ping’ them back and we can collaborate.
We have also moved all of our on-premise services that deal with data to Microsoft Sharepoint and Microsoft OneDrive. This has allowed us to become virtual in how we access data; We are no longer tied to VPNs remoting into a server. We are saving documents in Sharepoint and working on these documents at the same time. It’s document collaboration that is protected with passwords and Microsoft MFA.
Q: Before all the changes that happened in 2020, were there any significant or sudden adaptations in the past for NTP that you had to make in order to continue?
When I first started NTP, we worked out of my home. At the time, we had seven people in a 20’ x 25’ room and an additional 12 employees throughout the house. Working in the same space allowed for close-knit, instantaneous communication. When we moved into our office building three years ago, we wanted everyone to have their own office but we still wanted the ability to quickly communicate so we used Skype. Then 2020 drove us towards allowing people to permanently work from home with the use of webcams and headsets to communicate with each other.
Q: Speaking of business history, who or what would you say has been your greatest inspiration and what continues to motivate you today?
There are a lot of people who influence me. My wife is my natural inspiration but for my business inspiration, I’m part of a peer group called, Evolve; It’s a group of IT business owners who are like-minded and running similar-sized businesses. We use the time in this group to focus on the things that they don’t teach you when you’re a tech, such as the big challenges you face owning a company and having employees, customers, the market and growth. I strive to do better each quarter so that when I present to them, I’m presenting the NTP I want to be.
Bill Oms is an inspiration for me. He is an IT business owner that is currently losing his sight and is legally blind due to a degenerative disease. He has used this as an inspiration to grow his company. His legacy is to have a self-sustaining company. Having that kind of inspiration really pushes me to think about things in a different light and consider what would happen if something happened to me.
One of our long-time clients, Ole South Properties, has been an inspiration for a long time. They are a company of like-minded people. They are extremely professional and are able to accomplish more with fewer people. Operationally they become more proficient each year with 2020 being their best year to date. So I think about how we can do more with less through automation and operational efficiencies.