Started by Douglas Gray in 1989, Graycon is an Information Technology (I.T.) consulting firm that specializes in the design, implementation, security and support of all I.T. infrastructure, cloud and networking systems.
Starting humbly in his basement, Gray has built a company worth noticing. In 2015, that attention created opportunity, when Graycon was acquired by Ricoh Canada Inc.
The new Ricoh relationship hasn’t changed what Graycon is all about; with Gray remaining at the helm of the company, the “do good things and good things happen” culture lives on at Graycon as part of the Ricoh family of companies.
The I.T. industry continues to be more and more competitive, while the technology changes faster and faster. We spoke with Douglas Gray, President and Founder of Graycon; Richard Perri, CFO and SVP of Services, Ricoh Canada; Chris Black, VP of Sales, Graycon; and Kyle Kilback, VP of Technology, Graycon, about the difference that Graycon brings to its clients, and as a division of Ricoh Canada.
“Our approach starts with the business and the business goals, and we work from there. It’s never about the technology. It’s about how to use the right technology to accomplish business goals in a pragmatic, cost-effective and safe manner,” says Gray. His sober focus on the client’s business goals and providing “I.T. as a Service” mantra are both rather a fresh take on the industry and indicative of how businesses really want to buy I.T.
The 3 Cs that Changed the Industry
When it comes to the I.T. landscape, Gray speaks of three Cs: cloud, commoditization, and consumerization, and how these three completely changed what the business of I.T. is all about.
“Cloud” is about shifting away from building and managing I.T. infrastructure within the organization to a more flexible, scalable pay-as-you-go model, turning investment into an expense for business, and understanding of the business that they don’t need to be an I.T. expert, and can rent these skills due to…
“Commoditization”. I.T. is shifting from critical & costly to commodity & cheaper for most organizations; like electricity, it is absolutely needed to enable and power business, but investing in custom, complex or costly I.T. (or electricity) affords no competitive advantages and introduces business risk. Standardized, “lego-block” I.T. as a Service, fully aligned to business goals, is the modern way to reduce I.T. costs and power the business.
The last “C”, is consumerization. In the past decade, understanding of I.T. purchasing has shifted, people are buying I.T. services in the cloud all by themselves. The industry is about the user, and the users drive the industry. “It’s I.T.’s job to enable and protect the user – period,” says Gray. “We have to protect the user, the business, and the information.
So the three C’s – cloud, commoditization, and consumerization – flipped the I.T. world on its head.”
I.T. Security Challenges
The safety concerns continue to grow in the marketplace, and both Graycon and Ricoh understand clearly the importance of providing efficient and scalable security to clients. “We are investing heavily in our security practice,” says Kilback. “The companies themselves often don’t have a clear idea how much security they need.
Using a house as an analogy, you may have locked your front door, but you may have left the back door wide open and not even know. Same goes for I.T. security. It’s still just a house, so you don’t need a Fort Knox security, but you do need to be aware of that back door and ensure it’s locked. It’s about scalability.”
There is another problem within the security landscape—companies building custom I.T. security systems. According to Gray, this has become a very expensive and very dangerous proposition for individual companies, because of its overall vulnerability. I.T. commoditization allows the industry to leverage all the relevant wisdom, skills and abilities at once, and apply them to as many businesses as needed. “That’s the best part about commoditization of I.T. and I.T. security—it becomes Lego-block easy, and rock-solid. This way you can drive down the cost, and increase security simultaneously,” adds Gray.
The Ricoh Connection
Historically, Ricoh’s focus has been on document management; the overall shift toward digital workflow and process optimization made the company realize the need for a presence in the I.T. services. That’s how the acquisition of Graycon came about in the summer of 2015.
“What came clear to us was that we needed the ability to support our customers and securing this information, so we needed to expand our portfolio,” says Perri. “We searched the Canadian market, and Graycon was simply a great fit. Not just from the capability perspective, but also from the culture and values perspective. With just over a year in the relationship, we are thrilled how we are working together and helping our customers meet their needs.”
“There is nothing like being an entrepreneur of 25 years, who joined a global brand, and one year in is more happy and excited about the potential then he’s even been,” says Gray. “Coming together with Ricoh as the I.T. industry is going through this profound change just amplified our ability to grow across Canada, and allowed us to bring our ‘I.T. as a Service’ solution to the entire Canadian landscape.”
Graycon is ready, and with 1,000 clients and counting, so is the industry. I.T. as a Service is here, and the Canadian business is likely to appreciate what the Graycon expertise, and the Ricoh business breadth can bring to the table together.
This article orginially appeared in Canadian Business Journal. To view the article in print layout, click here.