Don Nokes and Daniel Charland are co-founders of NetCenergy LLC, a computer and information technology services company in Cranston.
Now celebrating 20 years in business, Nokes and Charland reflected on the changing technology landscape of the past two decades, and the cybersecurity challenges they say will direct the sphere’s future.
PBN: What prompted you to start NetCenergy 20 years ago?
NOKES AND CHARLAND: We started NetCenergy to fill what was then a serious gap in southern New England’s business community. We saw business owners were tired of overpaying for products and services they really didn’t need. We set out to build a different kind of IT company, one that would truly align its interests with its clients’ needs and business goals by providing a level of client service, support, knowledge sharing and genuine concern that would set a new industry standard.
PBN: Since that time, what have been the most significant changes you’ve experienced in IT and technology? How has the company adapted to meet these changes?
NOKES AND CHARLAND: We evolved from a break-fix provider handling client crises to working proactively with our clients via a managed service program called eNCompass; it’s one streamlined solution to keep clients protected with 24/7/365 support that adapts to clients’ changing needs.
Of course, the IT world is mercurial and security is a top concern. Most recently, we have provided some clients with our vulnerability assessment and penetration testing solution, which simulates the experience of a real-world hacker invading their network. It’s a proactive approach to safely expose security gaps; it provides a remediation plan to correct deficiencies.
PBN: How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact NetCenergy’s services and clients’ needs, and what changes seem as though they will remain in place long-term?
NOKES AND CHARLAND: We knew that working from home would be seamless for our staff, but not necessarily for our clients. We limited our in-office staff to one person per day. Our video tools and remote access helped us feel like we were together.
For our clients, the … [managed service program] contract did not, technically, cover launching a full-scale remote workforce in fire drill mode, but we decided not to charge for this additional work. We felt we were all in this together, so we needed to step up and help our clients leverage IT to solve their pandemic-created business challenges. The result: Our already solid client relationships became even stronger.
PBN: In what other ways has NetCenergy evolved since its launch?
NOKES AND CHARLAND: One key part of our evolution included a deep dive into client satisfaction. Like other business owners, we had grown and refined our offerings in a way that benefitted most, but not all, of our clients. We recognized that no matter the congenial working relationship with some long-term clients, their needs and our business sweet spot no longer aligned.
We knew that business experts often recommend “firing” the bottom 10%-15% of your customers every two years to ensure success. We undertook a careful review and open dialogue to determine if NetCenergy was still the ideal partner for selected clients and, as needed, helped offboard them. From there, we channeled all our resources to focus on the utmost in satisfaction for our client base.
PBN: What do you envision for NetCenergy in the next five to 10 years?
NOKES AND CHARLAND: With the onslaught of breaches and hacks of every kind, it will continue to be vital to protect the workplaces of our clients so they can, in turn, survive and thrive. We remain in the forefront of the latest and greatest offerings – including artificial intelligence – and, ultimately, working hand in hand with our clients to implement reasonable processes and procedures to keep them safe and productive.
Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Voghel@PBN.com.
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