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You could say that Tom Clancy's career path has taken a lot of turns. You could say the same about his company, Valiant Technology, the New York-based MSP
he founded with two partners in 2002, during the depths of an economic downturn.
Clancy talked about how Valiant has changed in response to customer needs over the years — as well as how he has changed — during a recent installment of
the Autotask IT Leadership Series Podcast.
New Products Follow New Needs
Most recently, change is leading to new revenue streams related to potential for Valiant's clients to benefit from analyzing process-generated data, a.k.a.
"We started Valiant Cloud because we recognized that the cloud is fundamentally changing how businesses chart their moves, and our creative-sector clients
in advertising, apparel, audio/visual, architecture and art galleries are starting to catch on," Clancy said.
"Cloud enables Big Data, Big Data enables business intelligence, and technology has evolved to make data-driven decision-making possible for all
companies. We will be working with clients on CRM development, business intelligence reports — things that they can use to get something meaningful out of
all of the data they have in their systems."
The Expanding Value of Business Intelligence
Clancy said as longtime Autotask users, he and his partners know that once people understand how valuable business intelligence can be, they’ll want to do
more with it. Indeed, he said, it's a new way of business planning that's here to stay.
"A lot of our advertising clients already have been doing this tangentially. As IT guys, we can get that facts-and-figures engine really plugged in for
them and back up what they’re saying."
The trajectories of cloud services and Big Data have climbed as client interest in hardware purchases has dropped. Clancy said hardware funded half of
Valiant's revenue in 2002, but today it contributes about 25%.
This is a common change in the IT services industry.
"The era of the basic IT generalist that is considered a wizard for being able to plug in a wireless access point is coming to an end," Clancy said. "We’re
actually going to have to start doing hard work again, and we think graphing, mapping and psychometrics will be part of it."
The Early Days: Art and Science
Clancy's path to President and Co-founder of Valiant has also been propelled by change. When he was younger, he studied art, was a drummer in multiple
proto-technology oriented bands, and ultimately studied history at Queens College. His original plan to find work as an animator after art school was
thwarted by the change from manual animation to digital. That’s when Clancy decided to pursue a liberal arts degree, but it was as a drummer that he became
a "technology services provider."
"I was the guy that would jump out from behind the drum set and plug something in at the guitar player master," he said. "I would always have a 9-volt
battery in my pocket that I would be able to swap into a pedal, and I was the one that had to manage the laptop or trigger the sequence or whatever it was.
So I just got more technical and took this troubleshooting thing for a ride and stuck with it."
Embracing the Change
Of course, there have been too many other changes for Valiant to recount in one blog, but over the years the company has benefitted from reacting
positively in the most negative of circumstances. During the 2008-2010 Great Recession, for example, Valiant changed its business model to focus on helping
clients maintain older equipment longer instead of purchasing new. Not only did the strategy keep revenues flowing through the recession, but it also
positioned the company to offset the larger, technology-driven decline in hardware investment that continues.
So what's the lesson? Clancy says it's to embrace change.
"Things are always changing, so really you should always be changing," he said. "If your hardware sales are down, where else can you grab revenue from? You
could find new sales through hardware-as-a-service. You could get more cloud spend. You could do more consulting. Just do something because those hardware
sales aren't coming back. The era of being a computer guy that sets up email on a smartphone is kind of over."
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