Many in business have been there. It’s the middle of the day, toward the end of the week, and you’re hard at work in your office on a gruelling project involving multiple computer systems, programs, and documents. Suddenly, something goes terribly wrong—the server decides it will no longer connect, or several screens start flashing the same error. You’re left with no choice but to ring up your IT-services provider for help, but when no one takes the call immediately, you’re forced to leave a message, hang up, and wait.
The crisis isn’t always so dire, of course. Sometimes you’re just looking for assistance streamlining your IT infrastructure, or maybe you need a team that can upgrade your business for cloud storage. Regardless of why you need a tech consultant, though, the point is that you want assurance that someone’s going to be there when you reach out for help.
Calgary-based SysGen Solutions Group makes sure to always have someone ready to pick up the phone. For the company and its president and CEO, Lyle Richardet, IT consulting is about responding and delivering personalized service rather than help-desk-based solutions.
“What we bring to the table is our core: IT management,” Richardet says. “A lot of what we do involves looking at things from our clients’ perspectives. From there, we can dovetail technological, innovative solutions to fit those objectives. This is a piece that was missing [in the industry].”
with Lyle Richardet
What does innovation mean to your company?
I see it as having multiple components. One component is in terms of how we manage the business and our people, investing in those resources and having those resources invest in us. Innovation is looking at the current offering in terms of technologies and looking towards the future and keeping an open mind about entertaining those developments—and repurposing them into our clients to increase their efficiencies and stability.
How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis?
We keep our eyes and ears open for the next great idea from our staff in terms of always working towards doing things better, more efficiently—delivering unique and specifically stable solutions for our clients.
Where do you hope this innovation will lead you in the next five years?
We believe we are a pace-setter. The innovation that we practice and work with will keep us on that leading edge in terms of what we do, how we do it—our growth.
What defines an innovative company in the 21st century?
There are multiple answers and multiple components to that. The companies that first look into their people for innovation are the ones that are likely seeing the most success. That, in and of itself, is innovative.
How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank?
No idea is too big, and no idea is too small. Table them all. Everything is quantifiable, in my opinion, and it’s a matter of how you scale from there.
SysGen specializes in network support and creative problem-solving, and it’s built on Richardet’s mission to deliver reliable and responsive service while staying ahead of the curve technologically. The company combines big-business confidence with the humbleness of a small- to midsize support network to offer the best of both worlds.
Richardet began cultivating the philosophy behind his approach at Xerox Canada. He worked there for 10 years, but he aspired to be in business for himself in a smaller arena. Later, he achieved some success managing a service department at a small business, and he was eventually recruited by Tokyo-based Ricoh, an imaging and electronics company, to manage a 250-person division.
It was at Ricoh that Richardet “started to cut my teeth on management concepts and service strategies,” he says. He went on to earn a directorial position there, and eventually he left the printing industry altogether to enter the computer industry.
“The attraction was that the IT industry was very immature [compared] to the office-products industry I came from,” Richardet says. “I saw a lot of opportunity to build a strategic model.”
By the mid-1990s, he was ready to go out on his own. “I decided to finally crack the mould and break out and get back to the business side of things,” Richardet says, attributing the growth of his firm since then to a refined version of the business model he created at Ricoh. “I rolled the model out over time, and it has brought us a lot of success.”
His company has gone from 11 employees in 2008 to 47 currently by focusing on communication with clients, and it has taken this idea to a granular level.
Today, its personalized-service approach is one of its leading differentiators. “A lot of organizations are trying to minimize expense through help desks and triage work,” Richardet says. “I didn’t like that concept, and I don’t think clients like it.”
SysGen’s process specifically involves extending dedicated employees over multiple accounts and ensuring that they’re committed to clients on an ongoing basis. The company retains employees who are not only good at their jobs but also passionate, and it assembled a managed advisory council to develop internal and external training videos to ensure its principles are being met.
More recently, SysGen adopted Datto, an appliance-based backup solution that allows the company’s clients to upload their data to a cloud service. Now, in the event of a natural disaster or other unforeseen network-threatening event, the clients’ work is protected.
Through these innovations, SysGen is looking ahead. Its growth is organic, and it hopes to continue breaking a trail by further improving its personalized model.
“I’ll lead anyone through the trees to get them to the other side,” Richardet says. “I will show them the way and leave it to them to take it further.”