From 1-man shop to global company; what a ride!
In the last six months, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about how 2020 & the year of COVID triggered MANY transformations in the enterprise. Working with clients in Canada, New York, and Dubai – from growth-stage companies, to multi-nationals, to large government organizations – we have uncovered a recipe for transforming enterprises.
In sharing so many transformation stories, there’s 1 story we’ve neglected to share: our own! It’s the story about how DeepDive Technology Group began from modest beginnings to become a recognized tech leader.
3 YEAR JOURNEY
We started transforming in 2017, far before the COVID crisis. Why share our story now?, As a company, we’re doing plenty of new & valuable things. We’re building capabilities with new customers, and in new markets. And what’s surprising to us is that many of our existing customers don’t know much about our latest progress! We realize there’s a lot of misunderstandings around who we are, what we offer, and what we’re capable of. Perhaps our own marketing message didn’t provide enough intel. Perhaps we transformed so quickly that it’s a natural challenge to keep up. In any event, the intention of this post is to tell a story, to connect the dots, and to close the gap.
HOW have we transformed? WHY did we transform? What were some of our successes & failures during our 3 years transforming? And why does this message of transformation matter to our clients, partners & friends?
THE 1-MAN SHOP
To many, we’re best-remembered as a 1-man shop company. That’s fair; first-impressions last a long time. Misha Hanin founded an enterprise technology consultancy in Central Canada less than a decade ago, based on decades of experience. Misha is one of 500 trained Microsoft Certified Masters globally (MCM), a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), and with a real reputation for dreaming & delivering amongst his peers. Perhaps we’re biased, but Misha is one of the greatest enterprise-enablement minds on the planet! Our founder was passionate about building the business. He was motivated to leave a lasting impact. Most important, he was driven to find and solve massive business and technology challenges. Misha convinced some of his most trusted colleagues to help him deliver his very first projects under the new iRangers brand. Fast-forwarding to today – 75 core team members later – we STILL feel that the opportunity-lure to “solve something big” is our greatest recruitment tool!
Our team of technology evangelists has now grown internationally in terms of offices, clients, experience, credentials, & capability. Today, DeepDive Technology Group is sought out by our clients literally to “solve the unsolvable.” This mantra is one of our competitive advantages…and we have fun stories which prove it! Regardless of how much we’ve grown since the days of the “1-man shop,” we’re very much a product of that origin-story.
iRangers was officially born in the Spring of 2013. Misha’s former employer became our first customer. Misha was able to land a monstrous strategic partnership with a 9-figure firm from Day #1. And business began! From Day #1, we sought out opportunities to solve business & technical challenges that others could not. Many of these challenges were around infrastructure migration, integration of legacy systems with innovative new products, and everything “data.” Fast-forward to today, and these particular challenges have evolved into our group’s 3 core competencies!
iRangers found traction immediately, where we built a solid, reputable, primarily-Canadian company focused on enterprise IT infrastructure; we commonly refer to iRangers’ work using words like “IT backbone” and “foundation.” We built a delivery powerhouse known not only for our consulting skills, but for actual delivery. We were asked to join the Microsoft Consulting Services bench (among many others), we had more Microsoft MVP’s on-staff than any other company of our size, we focused a lot on training to continuously level-up, and we began building our intellectual capital in the form of products & tools developed during the course of our projects.
FORGETTING TO DREAM
Although we had grown something sustainable, our real transformation began in 2017. As Misha shared in recent memoirs, “we got so busy, we forgot to dream!” Misha recalls the feeling of being caught-up in the heavy workload of client activity. A week-long mentor meeting in Amsterdam in 2017 changed everything for us. This business “retreat” served as an immediate wake-up call to Misha and the growing iRangers team to begin dreaming and growing again!
Immediate shifts to our business included opening a U.S. Office in downtown New York, and a strategic decision to focus the company’s value proposition less on “technology” and more on “business,” in terms of how technology can be applied to help the enterprise achieve it’s most lofty business goals. We also believe that our present-day mantra of “BEING” and “BECOMING” DIGITAL came from 2017 also.
The roots of ‘DeepDive Technologies’ traces back to June 2017. Our second business pillar was built for the purpose of driving new & innovative technology strategy for large enterprises, how to adopt innovative technologies, and how to understand the ROI of leveraging these new technologies. From blockchain, to IoT, to AI, ML, and robotics, we took our experience working with disruptive technologies, and created a new dedicated home for it. Why a separate brand? We always felt we were spreading our focus thinly. We also noticed the language and understanding our customers had and used, and wanted to avoid any negative sentiment or confusion regarding what each brand represented. iRangers would continue being iRangers. And DeepDive Technologies would bring the disruptive, new tech. For example, 3 years ago, many enterprises viewed “blockchain” as the same thing as “cryptocurrency,” leaving us with many misperceptions to manage. Fast forward 2 years later, and reports suggest that 40% of enterprises executed some form of POC project leveraging blockchain! The mindset, stigmas and adoption trends of the latest technologies are in constant flux, and we wanted a separate, dedicated company to appropriately address it.
DeepDive Technologies opened new doors for our group, with business activities notably in New York & Dubai, strategic partnerships globally, and a breakthrough partnership with the office of the Royal Family of Dubai known as SEED Group. Through DeepDive Technologies, we’re currently working to help Dubai become the smartest city and the first blockchain-city, as some of their most emphatic ambitions. For a country that’s only 50 years old, what the United Arab Emirates has accomplished as a country is note-worthy, and our group of companies is privileged to be a part of it. Again, our greatest desire as a group has always been to solve BIG problems and accomplish BIG things; DeepDive Technologies is finding plenty of chances for it! And perhaps what’s most interesting: iRangers is often a part of these projects!
DEVELOPING OUR CAPABILITIES
One thing we feel we’ve done successfully from Day #1 is developing our capabilities; in other words, we’ve increased our value to business. If this success-statement is met with any failure, it’s that we’ve done a bad job promoting our capabilities as the valuable products & tools which they are! Over the past 25 years, our core tribe members have continuously developed our intellectual capital through every challenging project we find. Today, this value really adds up for our customers. From greater business flexibility, to reduced business risk, to tangible business savings, and real business modernization…our products & tools bring unique value in enabling enterprises to be successful.
We once found a project that was so challenging, the world’s biggest technology giants literally said “no” and walked away. Perhaps we’re crazy (we know we’re crazy) but we reacted oppositely. We saw challenging projects as an excuse to innovate! We completed this particular project ahead of schedule, and with zero downtime. We solved a 2 year-long painful, migration headache for our delighted customer in merely 4 months. And the outcome of the project was both a very happy customer and a new technology tool that would help us do enterprise migration projects faster & cheaper in the future. We’re excited for what the future holds for our migration product, and for many other products and platforms which we possess.
Despite our budding business, no chair stands on 2 legs……and so ‘Gunbrig Security’ was born! Gunbrig became our group’s 3rd pillar. Just like iRangers was doing innovative-tech before DeepDive Technologies was born, iRangers was doing cyber-security before Gunbrig was born. We thought security deserved a focus. Some of the greatest security minds in the world wore the iRangers company hat at the time. Our biggest ‘AHA-moment’ was: Every digital transformation effort is built from a) a solid IT foundation (iRangers), b) applying innovative & disruptive technology (DeepDive Technologies)……AND c) delivering end-to-end solutions dosed in a strong security flavour (Gunbrig)! “Being digital” requires all 3 pillars! So the 3rd and separate legal entity known as Gunbrig Security was formed. Dima Zodek, Founder and CEO of Gunbrig, has voiced on many occasions how “2021 will be the greatest year for cyber security yet.”
Creating the 3 pillars of DeepDive Technology Group, one thing we’ve done our best with is learning to speak the language of business. By no means are we perfect at this, but we’re improving! Working across 3 innovation pillars, serving on startup advisory board, as government thought-leaders, and as public presenters, we’ve noticed how horribly-wrong the communication is between technology people and business people, and it’s negative impact on new technology adoption. Technology vendors who have valuable products to sell are being ignored by the enterprise c-suite, who simply don’t understand what they’re trying to sell them, and what’s the business value of them. While technology companies do compete, we really exist more to collaborate. Together, how do we increase the rate of new technology adoption? How do we prove the business value of new & disruptive tech? If enterprise innovation becomes faster and more common, we all win! We believe that real new tech adoption begins by first bridging the communication gap between business & technology worlds. It begins with improving the message. We know how easy it is to get excited about “new technology;” however, learning to prioritize the business value, and seeing technology as merely the tool to do business better is an ongoing effort.
DeepDive Technology Group is who we are today. Three core competencies. Three business pillars. Three separate group members providing a holistic approach to enterprise digital transformation. We are more than the sum of our parts. It’s a synergy. As a group, we enable enterprise companies to BE DIGITAL. “Being digital” to us means improving what & how an enterprise performs, generating big efficiency, new value & new opportunities. This requires thinking about IT foundation, new & innovative technology, and cyber security…at the same time! We tell our clients to expect tangible benefits to end-users, and tangible new ways of operating their business. Being truly digital means introducing real, measurable, value-added change…and it’s certainly not a 1-time event. “Digital” is a never-ending cycle of studying, building, validating, and operating. As DeepDive Technology Group, we’re capable of offering “The Full-Pack for Digital Advantage” which we feel is quite unique.
OUR BUSINESS NOW
One challenge we’re facing is precisely how to sell it. Our differentiator as DeepDive Technology Group is in our holistic, synergistic approach combining all three pillars in many projects we do. It’s not 3 different companies we’re pitching; it’s 1 synergistic pitch with a combined, packaged offering. It’s 3 unique companies that were built to work particularly well together. We feel that every business deserves to work with leaders who are NOT limited to the confines of 1 business pillar…but leaders who are able to entirely and holistically offer all 3 pillars! We believe we’ve found the best way to run an enterprise through the digital-enablement process from A-Z – while remaining focused enough on each core component to effectively deliver. As we’ve already said…”being digital” requires all 3 pillars…and that’s precisely why our group of companies exists! While our branding needs work, the one brand you should remember is: DeepDive Technology Group!
We’re not the same company today as we were 3 years ago. We don’t offer the same products, services, and core offerings that we offered 3 years ago either. Like the rest of the world has transformed, so have we. Progress certainly hasn’t been linear; COVID presented both challenges & opportunities which we continue navigating through…both for our clients and for ourselves! COVID has pushed us to really consider what matters most, what companies need most, and what we should focus on delivering most.
One realization we had smack in the middle of COVID-19 was how our company accidentally began shifting many of our offerings to a SaaS-based pricing model. We were never born as a SaaS-company; it just happened! Software-as-a-Service is how many of our global enterprise clients WANT to work. Most enterprises today don’t have the time, budget, or resources to build products from scratch, especially once considering the maintenance, security, and continuous improvements great products need too! “Highly customizable products,” which are comparably easy to test, cheap to test, and easy to scale, compared to traditional innovation methods, is “the new normal” in terms of enterprise innovation trends.
TRANSFORMING…TO HELP OTHERS TRANSFORM
One of the best reasons for any company to transform is because their customers are transforming! We understand that future enterprises must be more agile, adaptive & resilient. Simple POC’s cannot take six months and $500,000 U.S.. Production rollouts cannot take another two years and $2,000,000 USD. This realization has inspired our main product offering today – ASTERI (ass-tear-ee). How do we bundle our core capabilities into a product that helps enterprises to innovate faster, cheaper and easier? How do we help companies incorporate new & innovative technology sooner, with less business risk? If a company knows they want IoT technology…how can we help them to experiment with it next-week as opposed to next-year?
Our vision is to make enterprise innovation lightening-quick. We believe that “speed” is what the future enterprise is going to need to survive…and we’ll be there to enable it! The future will be won by companies who run experiments quickly.
Speed-of-action, and speed-of-change will be the biggest buzz-words for 2021.
It’s incredibly important for every company to review their transformations and journey; right from their origin-story until today…including how the year 2020 played an impact through COVID. While never losing sight on where we’re going, we must realize how far we’ve come! We want our customers to understand how far WE’VE come. We want our existing customers and partners to understand OUR transformation story as much as WE want to ENTIRELY understand theirs.
DeepDive Technology Group has new things to offer. We’ve done some growing up too. We’re excited to reconnect with our existing clients whom we’ve helped so many times before. And we’re thrilled to find some new companies to help spread our ‘BE DIGITAL’ manta with too.
The more “pain” there is in the market, the more DIGITAL can play a key role to solve it!
DeepDive Technology Group – Core Management Team