Sponsor Member GNT Solutions Eases the Technology Shift

Most people will agree that technology has and continues to revolutionize the business world, making companies of all sizes and in all industries and sectors more efficient.  But family businesses often comprise multiple generations with differing perspectives and concerns which can put technology at the bottom of a long list of financial priorities.

For GNT Solutions’ Eric Johnson, easing the fears of older business leaders while balancing the goals of incoming generations is a common feat for the IT company.  “While generational differences can be stereotypical, they can also be true to life with some of our clients,” commented Johnson.  He finds that the older generation is sometimes more trusting when it comes to electronic communication.  In fact, a 75-year-old GNT client received an email purportedly coming from an international vendor instructing him to make future payments to a ‘new’ bank account.  Without verifying the request, he sent $50,000 to the fraudulent account with no hope of ever recovering the money. There are no technical systems that can prevent 100% of these types of requests from reaching their intended recipient; the only hope is to have employees trained for how to respond.

Conversely, Johnson’s younger clients tend to be more impulsive and quicker to act.  Upon receipt of an email requesting a response to a survey, a 25-year-old clicks the attachment that turns out to be ransomware that encrypts every single file that employee has access to on the company’s server.  What are her options?  Either pay the ransom and trust the hacker to return access to the files or rely on a sound IT unit to restore the backup.

The reality is that any company with employees and computers is at risk of a breach.  Which is why it is important to understand generational biases to make appropriate decisions and set proper security measures in place.

“We have seen situations where more senior members of an organization are resistant to technological change and comfortable with doing things the way they have always done them.  At the end of their careers, they are less interested in making a major financial investment and opt to maintain the status quo.  We find the younger generations to be very much pro technology.  Sometimes to a fault,” continued Johnson.

When senior leaders tend to underinvest in technology and up-and-comers are willing to overinvest to be on the bleeding edge, Johnson finds that, like most things, the answer is somewhere in the middle.  As a managed IT service provider for small and midsize businesses, Johnson and the team at GNT Solutions are experts at finding appropriate solutions for their clients.

If leadership is collectively on board with making some technological advances in infrastructure, Johnson advises a ‘blue sky’ meeting between the IT and operations teams to determine a starting point.  Rather than from a perspective of cost, start with assessing needs by asking questions such as:

  • How can technology make my business better and more efficient?
  • Day to day, what are our ‘pain points’?
  • How much data do we need to protect?  And for how long?
  • If something happens, how long can we afford to be without our systems? And how much data can we afford to lose? (e.g., one hour, one day, one week?)

If information security is the priority, trained and alert employees are a valuable information security ‘layer’ protecting your company.  “You can establish as many electronic policies as you like, but they’re absolutely no good if not trained and tested on,” advised Johnson.  Start with educating employees on the latest scams and tactics, then testing them with emails that contain suspicious or tempting content

When considering your business’ next technological step, be sure to understand the risks:

  • Financial – Monetary transfers including wires and ACH all have inherent risk and can lead to financial loss.
  • Operational – If your files become completely inaccessible because of ransomware, your business can potentially grind to a halt.
  • Reputational – Hackers are experts at accessing email systems and distributing communications purportedly from someone in a leadership role, leaving the business vulnerable and appearing unprofessional and irresponsible to employees and customers.

Philanthropy and the Family Business: More Than Just The Optics

DCA Partners logo
Capital Cup, sponsored by DCA Partners, is just around the corner and got us to thinking about our core values of collaboration and prosperity. We agree that giving back and doing good in our region is essential for the health of the community as a whole, and for the business to stay connected to those it serves. In our talk with DCA Partners about their upcoming event, we discussed the benefits being philanthropic offers a business. Curt Rocca, Managing Partner, shares below why DCA chooses to give back in the way that they do.

Philanthropy to me, by its very nature, means not looking for anything in return.  So, if the philanthropic endeavors that we are involved with have some underlying benefit to our business, that’s great, but I can tell you that we do not think of it that way, and we don’t make decisions about which organizations to support based upon their ability to provide benefits to DCA.

This community has been very good to us. We recognize that others have not necessarily been as fortunate as we have, typically through no fault of their own, so giving back seems natural, and candidly —  it just feels good!  That said, the Capital Cup has been good for all of the participants’ businesses. I believe we all now have a broader, deeper and more meaningful relationship with over 20 local like minded business leaders, and that’s got to be a good thing for everyone involved. More importantly for me, I feel like I have established several new friendships that I likely would never have had absent the Capital Cup.

Collaboration, networking, and shared interests is obviously a big part of my work at DCA, as is the work of other business leaders in the FBC. Because of this I attend many events to connect with various groups of people. The Idea for the Capital Cup came one day when I was asked to play in a golf tournament to support a wonderful cause, but I had neither the time to play in yet-another golf tournament, nor the excess financial resources to support it in a meaningful way. It had always struck me as odd and unfortunate how inefficient the non-profit fundraising world seemed to be, with hundreds of them dedicating the time and resources to plan, organize and execute a golf tournament that typically yielded $20,000 to $30,000 (or less) for the supported organization.

Those people have important work to do in their organizations, and that just simply seemed like an ineffective use of their time. I wondered then if we could pull off one big golf tournament where we could play and have an opportunity to support a cause we each were most passionate about. And, in doing so play a role in supporting these 20-25 different organizations without the charities’ personnel having to be wildly distracted from their more-important functions.

It really was a very selfish concept when you cut right to it—  it allowed me to save a bunch of time, golf and spend time with a great group of local business leaders, and feel good about helping to support dozens more organizations than I would otherwise have had an opportunity to support.

The Ryder Cup format was the perfect platform to build this concept around, and thus the Capital Cup was born. It is truly an example of effective collaboration. It never would have been possible without the great early adopters like Kerry Gordon and Steve Fleming, who quick to jump in and offered me the confidence to move forward with the concept.

The first year out I nervously set a target of $150,000, and we somehow raised nearly $350,000. Last year I was concerned that we were never going to be able to surpass that first year’s success, and we blew past it raising over $750,000. This year we’re feeling more aggressive and shooting for a cool $1million. I’m excited to see what we can do together and all that we can accomplish to support our regional community.

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