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While he may not be quite as successful as Gates (is anyone?), Farmer has enjoyed much more success than most people who start their own tech company. He the founder and president of CITOC, a Houston-based IT services firm that specializes in providing premium cloud services and Microsoft 365 consulting.
CITOC recently celebrated its 20th anniversary (1995 – 2015), and in that span CITOC (an acronym for Change Is the Only Constant) has received a slew of awards, most notably winning Houston’s Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013 and 2014. In addition, CITOC was listed in the 2011 rendition of Inc.com’s annual Top 5000 list (ranked #3997 for its 2010 revenue of $4.6 million), and they have also been recognized as one of the Top 50 fastest growing tech companies in the Houston metro area seven years running by the Houston Business Journal.
We previously talked to Farmer about a client prospect of his that had a rotating cycle of CIOs being hired and then soon leaving, and this was costing them a lot of money. We wanted to catch up with Farmer on how he helped this client.
“We and they have realized a lot of improvements to the company, their business, by going forward with the model that we proposed,” said Farmer. “The multiple CIOs that they had in the past, the reason that they had been replacing these people over and over again… is for strategic reasons: how to better use technology, how to improve customer service, how to increase sales, how to improve market visibility, and communication, onboarding employees, doing some automation, et cetera, et cetera.”
“And when [the CIOs are] brought in to do that, the first thing they notice is that there is server sprawl in the data center, there are virus outbreaks, the network is congested, backups are not working, there are multiple domains that are not talking to each other, user set up is difficult, user connectivity from the outside is typically not working…”
“So, instead of working on all those strategic initiatives that they were hired for, they found that once they arrived they had to do a lot of tactical things… before they could fix that environment, it was going to take a copious amount of time. As soon as they get insight that they’re not going to be able to get to their strategic initiatives probably ever, at least not in the short term, they’ve found a job elsewhere, which makes sense. So the CEO, not realizing these tactical issues, goes and hires another CIO, who comes in, sees the same thing, is there for a short amount of time, and leaves.”
So, how did CITOC help their client break this vicious CIO cycle?
“We got to talking to them about the project we had in place to bring their environment current, consolidate their domains, cluster the server so they’re stable, fix the internet access, and so on. And he’s telling me that he found another CIO that he thought was going to be perfect, and I had to be real honest with him and explain to him that that’s not going to work… You could see his eyes light up, a real ah-ha moment, and he says ‘That means I should not hire this next CIO, because they’ll run into the same issues’, and I said, ‘Exactly.’”
And the cycle was broken. Farmer had the client hooked, giving him a chance to show him how things are done the right way.
“So, we’re working on a project to move them to a private cloud,” Farmer continued. “This actually turned out to be more cost-effective than them buying a bunch of hardware. We’re working with them on a virtual CIO level, which is more cost-effective, in their case by half. Our support for their environment cost half of the help desk person that they have right now, so they’re getting expert-level CIO services at a lower cost, a higher value, of what they’ve been paying in the past.”
But wait- Aren’t there other companies that could do what CITOC is doing? Why should a company use CITOC instead of one of their larger competitors, like Amazon?
“Since 2001, we have never gone down,” answered Farmer. “We still have the same 99.9% SLA and so on, but we have never gone down, we have never been hacked, we have never lost any data. We have a smaller footprint, so the big hackers out there who want to make a name for themselves are going after the Wal Marts, and the Twitter accounts, and the Gmail accounts, and so on. We’re less on everybody’s radar, and for that reason, among many others, we’ve never gone down and never lost any data.”
“Another cool thing about using our product is that you get to meet me! Not that I’m a [chuckles] star or anything like that, but you have a throat to choke, you have a phone number to call. If you’re hosting with Amazon, what phone number do you have? If you have a customer satisfaction issue, who are you going to call? Who’s your rep? If you wanted to start analyzing how you could start improving your technology, who over there is going to do that for you?”
“There are a plethora of reasons why you want to use CITOC. We’re here, we’re local, we’re the Microsoft partner of the year since 2012. We’re celebrating our twentieth year anniversary, so we’re happy to say we’ve been around for quite a while, and we have a heck of a good track record behind us. So, for those reasons, customers are really leaning on us to help them with their business.”
“I’ve given you a good little story here, a case study, of one company that has about sixty, sixty-five employees, and they’re looking to grow fast. And they couldn’t do it without doing the initiatives that I just explained to you.”
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