While many businesses saw dwindling demand in 2020, information technology companies and software developers experienced just the opposite. They were flooded with work.
Peter Oykhman, president of CorePartners in Frederick, said his company has been so busy they had to postpone two projects for clients, something they almost never do.
“We’re involved in learning management, and we’re also involved in logistics. And both of these areas actually became very active during the pandemic,” Oykhman said. “So in that sense, we’re pretty lucky.”
The company specializes in learning management systems (LMS), which are implemented by several different types of companies for remote learning opportunities.
“The technology was here for a long time, but with the pandemic, you remove this in-person option,” Oykhman said. “Now everybody is switching to this remote education and remote training. That’s a necessity.”
Nonprofits, for example, were adapting to use LMS to set up accreditation and certification systems for their members. Other companies might use LMS to re-certify professionals like electricians and nurses.
Xecunet, another Frederick-based IT company, which has been around for 22 years, saw its busiest year ever in 2020, said CEO Dallas Kincaid. The company hired three more employees.
“Just like a lot of other businesses, we’d been trying to figure out how we were going to move forward when the pandemic started,” Kincaid said. “But at the same time, businesses were depending on us to help them determine how they were going to move forward.”
Xecunet helped its clients transition to working from home by giving them the proper tools for their specific needs. Kincaid said there was a large panic at the beginning of the pandemic, since many companies weren’t sure how to set themselves up for remote work. Xecunet received requests from both their existing clients and new clients.
“For small and medium businesses, I think that a lot of times IT is not something that’s really on the front and center of what they’re doing,” he said. “And then suddenly IT became very, very important when they were trying to get people to work from home and be able to do it securely.”
Frederick-based IT company Sados has also helped its clients implement work-from-home strategies with software and IT solutions. One of the company’s features allows physical landline phone numbers to be routed through the internet so the number can be used from a computer or cell phone. This allowed many companies to not send anybody into their office at all.
“The crazy thing is that it’s the same price as a normal telephone line,” Sados President Jonathan Granados said. “So for a lot of companies, it was like a no-brainer.”
Now that companies have been working from home for more than 10 months, many are considering going entirely remote, Kincaid said. One of Xecunet’s clients moved out of their office and is saving more than $30,000 on rent each month, Kincaid said.
However, Xecunet and CorePartners both plan to go back into the office once it’s possible.
But Sados has taken the opposite approach. Granados moved the seven-employee company out of the building last month. With the money saved from rent, Granados hired another technician.
“So instead of putting [money] into material things, I’m putting it into people,” he said. “And that’s what I’d much rather do.”
He actually believes his employees are more efficient at home since they don’t have to worry about commutes or set office hours. They also seem to be able to focus better at home, where they’re comfortable, he said. The company can help troubleshoot problems with clients virtually. The only reason to go to a client’s site is to install hardware, Granados said.
While Oykhman agreed that working with clients remotely is feasible, he always thinks it’s better to meet in person. He doubts that real face-to-face interaction, like college classes, will ever go away, even with the huge increase in remote learning.
“There’s certain things you can absolutely not do remotely,” he said. “If you’re a doctor, how exactly are you supposed to learn a human’s body remotely?”
Kincaid has no intentions of getting rid of Xecunet’s building, which also has a manufacturing component and houses servers, but he thinks having the option to work from home is beneficial.
Oykhman also plans on keeping CorePartners’ office on West 3rd Street open at capacity. He feels that working from home is just not sustainable for everybody, especially those with small children.
If anything, though, he said working from home has made his team and his customers much more understanding and flexible.
“It’s a different world altogether, and we’re just trying to adjust and adapt,” Oykhman said. “In human history, frankly speaking, that’s probably what we do best, just adjust and adapt.”