Five Questions With: Antonio Lopes, Dan Mercer and Michael Mota
“Since our line of work is advertising and marketing, we pride ourselves in innovation. With that being said, we also pride ourselves on striking a balance between novelty and practicality.” From left to right: Seven Swords Media CEO Antonio Lopes, Vice President of Business Development Michael Mota (center) and Vice President of Operations Dan Mercer.
Antonio Lopes is the CEO of Seven Swords Media, a brand marketing, graphic design and strategic media planning company based in Providence. Dan Mercer and Michael Mota are the company’s vice president of operations and vice president of business development.
Last week, Seven Swords announced that it had been chosen, along with Massachusetts IT service provider Reliable IT, to pilot a new small- and medium-business IT solutions kit from Google and HP called “IT in a Box.”
Lopes, Mercer and Mota spoke with Providence Business News about their company’s plans to integrate IT in a Box and its potential for small businesses.
PBN: What exactly is “IT in a Box”?
LOPES, MERCER and MOTA: HP SMB IT in a Box is a new package of HP hardware and Google applications that is not yet available to the masses. The new product is considered to be a “one-stop shop” solution specifically targeted at the small- and medium-business (SMB) market – a category that Seven Swords Media falls under. The new packaged offering combines HP’s personal computers, printers, management console, administration and customer support with Google Apps for Business, a suite of cloud-based team-productivity and collaborative tools that includes Gmail, Google Calendar, instant messaging and Google Drive.
PBN: Why were Seven Swords Media and Reliable IT chosen to pilot the Google/HP technology?
LOPES, MERCER and MOTA: Seven Swords Media was selected to test-drive HP SMB IT in a Box by our information technology partner, Reliable IT, a leading provider based in Massachusetts with offices in Rhode Island and California. Since July, the first phase of HP SMB IT in a Box has been offered through a select group of HP reseller partners, a list that includes Reliable IT.
Reliable IT indicated that they wanted to identify an emerging and innovative business that would be open to technological change, qualifiers that we are pleased to have met. We are also excited to have been vetted by HP.
HP SMB IT in a Box was designed to enhance the collaboration, connectivity and communication of small and medium businesses. Fittingly, the success of our business relies on these three “Cs” — both internally among Seven Swords Media employees and externally with clients. Furthermore, as an SMB, we continually strive to identify ways to improve productivity and cut operational costs whenever possible.
PBN: How will Seven Swords and Reliable IT be partnering to test IT in a Box?
LOPES, MERCER and MOTA: In the process of integrating HP SMB IT into a Box in all areas of our operations, Reliable IT has assumed the role of educator, facilitator and coach.
Reliable IT has fully engaged and educated our employees on why the change was taking place, helping our staff understand the benefits of the new technology as well as how it fits into the bigger picture from a business perspective. This was especially important to acquiring buy-in from our team, which consists of some individuals who have grown accustomed to other traditional systems.
As facilitator, Reliable IT managed the rollout process of HP SMB IT in Box and ensured that all of our employees were set up.
Reliable IT also coached our employees through a training program that was based on competency levels and offered in groups. They have also closely monitored the implementation process and have closely tracked our progress.
In regards to the actual test-drive of the HP SMB IT in a Box, we have been incorporating it into every aspect of our business: among our management, administrative and creative personnel.
PBN: How is IT in a Box different from other cloud services available for businesses?
LOPES, MERCER and MOTA: Unsurprisingly as its name suggests, HP SMB IT in a Box, is geared specifically towards the SMB market. For starters, HP SMB IT in a Box is more cost-effective than other cloud-based services that we have used. It has also reduced our operational costs and infrastructure requirements. A simplified IT environment has enabled us to focus more time and attention on our clients, as opposed to having to deal with persistent IT issues.
Also, we have found that HP SMB IT in a Box is easier to understand and use compared to other cloud-based services. The interface is simple, clear and refined. Our employees’ familiarity with Google applications and software tools has significantly helped with the transition.
Compared to desktop applications, Google Apps offers advantages that include collaborative access to documents, calendar dates and tasks. This has greatly eased the collaborative process for Seven Swords Media and our clients.
PBN: What benefits could IT in a Box bring to Seven Swords’ clients or other local small businesses?
LOPES, MERCER and MOTA: Since our line of work is advertising and marketing, we pride ourselves in innovation. With that being said, we also pride ourselves on striking a balance between novelty and practicality. Before integrating HP SMB IT in a Box, we wanted to make sure that it made sense for us. In other words, we were not interested in adopting this new technology for the sake of doing something new. From the pilot phase, we became aware of the impact that HP SMB IT in a Box can have on a business.
HP SMB IT in a Box can significantly enhance collaboration. In our experience with the new technology, teamwork on projects both internally and externally has been simplified, renewing that sense of community within our company that has been instrumental to our success. The easy process of transferring information has helped us transform ideas into solutions and stay better organized when it comes to project management.
HP SMB IT in a Box fosters enhanced communication, which is critical to successful operations, regardless of business size. The process of sharing documents with clients is now simplified—information is stored and automatically saved in the cloud. The processes of accessing that information and providing feedback are easier and as a result, clients stay informed about the status of deliverables and are better engaged, leading to greater overall organizational productivity, efficiency and better relationships.
The aforementioned ultimately, of course, will help produce business growth.