Two years before MySpace and three years before Facebook, Derek Davis quit his job in the corporate world with a vision to address the IT needs of small- and medium-sized businesses.
While there were a number of pitfalls in cyberspace in 2001, Davis said the landscape has changed significantly over the past 20 years. His business has grown from a home-based, one-man operation, to a company staffed with 13 people operating out of an office.
His vision was to help businesses without access to a dedicated IT person navigate their technological needs.
“The world hasn’t gotten any easier from a technological standpoint,” he said.
A lot of clients, he said, may not know what technology a business needs to run. That’s where Intelli-NET, 703 Laurens Road, Greenville, comes in.
What Intelli-NET offers:
- Help desk support
- Cybersecurity solutions and support
- Antivirus solutions and support
- Network design and administration
Davis said one of the problems is people overestimate their own technical prowess, which can lead to problems.
Instead, his company offers what he calls a “virtual CIO” (chief information officer), who is, in actuality, an entire team with hundreds of years of combined experience. He sees a major part of his role as educating people on the landmines dotting cyberspace these days — remembering passwords, avoiding hackers and recognizing fraudulent email.
Davis recalled when a client’s computers locked down and his printers started printing ransom demands. Fortunately, the client’s information was backed up and Intelli-NET was able to get him going again, but it was a lesson that cost the client three to four days of business from inoperable computers.
Another major change has been efficiency. He said the tools of the business have improved immensely over the past 20 years. In the early days, answering a call meant Davis had to drive all over town and physically be onsite to fix a computer. But with the rise of remote access, problems that once took an hour to address now take 15 minutes. In fact, Davis estimates 75-80% of the work can be done remotely.
He noted that a hard drive that’s going bad can be diagnosed remotely and replaced before the business even knows what happened. He and his colleagues get to see the newest innovations and tools ahead of the general public.
Davis also notes the advent of cloud computing as the most significant advance in recent years. Things like iCloud, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive have moved storage from users’ computers to the cloud. One of the services his company offers is navigating the transition to the cloud, as it’s a more complex job than people realize.
“Your data is scattered all over the place,” he said. Davis also said subscription models that cover everything from computers to software to IT will soon be ubiquitous — whether consumers like it or not.
Robert Vaughn has worked with the company the longest — since 2005. He had worked with Davis at a previous job, and he attributes the length of his tenure to his friendship with Davis.
“I’m proud that we’re approaching the 20th anniversary,” he said. “We’re hoping for many more years.”
COO Cameron Rainey started out seven years ago as a technician, but his position eventually turned into a sales role that gave Rainey even more opportunity to broaden his horizons.
“Intelli-NET’s been really good to me,” he said.
While Davis has intentionally avoided making his company too large, he said he has a loyal base of clients that have stuck with him for years. His customer base is a hodgepodge of small to large companies — anyone he sees as a good fit.
“I didn’t think it would last 20 years,” he said.
Through the years
- 2001 — Derek Davis starts working from home after leaving the corporate world.
- 2003 — Intelli-NET moves into its first office
- 2010 — Intelli-NET grows from three to eight employees and moves to a larger office
- 2017 — Intelli-NET moves to its current location and now has 13 staff members