News : Portsmouth Technology Expert Strives to Upgrade IT Professionalism

Sep 27, 2013

Originally published in the Portsmouth Patch, Exeter Patch, Salem Patch, Hampton-North Hampton Patch, and the Hamilton-Wenham Patch on September 24, 2013.

By Heikki Perry

PORTSMOUTH — A book written by the world’s leading technology consultants features a local expert who offers practical advice on how small- to mid-size businesses can confidently satisfy their critical IT needs.

Published by Celebrity Press, “The Tech (Multiplier),” features 15 top technology consultants, each having written one chapter, who explain to business people various aspects of the world of computers, a world where an old cliché — “only change is constant” — truly does apply. The book’s subtitle is “Leveraging Technology to Increase Profits and Reduce Waste While Safeguarding Data.” The book features a case study in each chapter.

Especially interesting is Chapter 2, titled “Are Your IT Needs Being Adequately Served?” written by Portsmouth technology expert MJ Shoer, owner of Jenaly Technology Group, Inc. Founded in 1997, Jenaly supplies IT support to small- and mid-size businesses.

Shoer has written a previous book, “Hassle-Free Computer Support”; he has testified about computer security before the U.S. Congress; and he has provided critical information to the Massachusetts state government. Shoer has been named one of the 250 most influential executives in the IT industry. And he is at the forefront of establishing professional standards for IT providers, attempting to fix a Wild West-type situation in which IT service consumers sometimes don’t always get what they need.

“One of the things about our business, there is currently no barrier to entry,” Shoer says in a recent telephone conversation. “Anybody who wants to be an IT provider can hang out a shingle and say, ‘I’m an IT provider.’ There is nothing for consumers to know if an IT provider has the proper credentials to do the work.”

Shoer calls the situation “hugely important,” and contrasts it with standards in other professions, including banking, with its state and federal regulations; accounting, with its CPA exam; and the law, with its bar exam. “This is a growing professional services industry, and it touches on every critical aspect of running a business,” he says about the IT industry. “And those who work in the field should have a professional credential.”

Shoer speaks from experience. Before he started Jenaly, he hired IT firms to service his employer’s company. He discovered then that the IT industry was trying to invent itself along a model similar to other industries, in which a given manufacturer certified a dealer to sell and service its hardware or software.

“While a dealer might be authorized to sell their customer a given line of hardware or software, that did not necessarily mean that this same dealer had the skills and experience to help implement these offerings in a way that was truly best for the end-consumer,” he says.
Shoer likens the situation to an auto mechanic trained to work on a Subaru or Ford engine. “But do you have an umbrella understanding to work on any engine or on any car?” he asks rhetorically.

In his case study, Shoer describes hiring a consultant to implement a new financial system for three distinct companies that shared common ownership, one of which had a radically different business model from the other two. The company Shoer worked for settled on one specific software technology. Then, after an “exhaustive” interview process, it hired a vendor to implement the project.

“Not very long into the implementation, it became clear that the firm we selected was very knowledgeable about the software they had sold us,” he writes on page 25 of “The Tech (Multiplier). “They were excellent at representing the technology and what it could do. However, they were not as strong as we had thought in understanding our unique business needs and how to apply their knowledge to our needs to reach the goals we had set out. It was not long after this discovery that we realized we had hired the wrong firm for this project.”
Shoer’s employer released the first company. “At the end of the day, it turns out that all they did was sell us the software,” he says. Shoer’s company ended up hiring a new firm “that was far more qualified to deliver on our requirements. ... They took the time to learn our businesses before they ever did a single bit of work on the project.”

Experiences like this prompted Shoer to become involved with the Computing Technology Industry Association – or CompTIA for short— the non-profit trade association for the global IT industry, “which has been developing and delivering vendor neutral technical certifications to help professionals advance their careers in IT,” writes Shoer, adding, “Being vendor neutral, these certifications speak to a person’s fundamental knowledge and expertise in certain technical disciplines, different from just knowing a given manufacturer’s technology.”

Many Fortune 1000 companies and the Department of Defense will not hire IT professionals who do not have a CompTIA technical certification. The certifications validate that IT professionals perform to certain standards, a guarantee Shoer likens to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Shoer is now chairman of the CompTIA Board of Directors, serving his second term on the board. He participated in the formation and testing of the CompTIA Security Trustmark, which certifies security best practices, and CompTIA Managed Services Trustmark, which qualifies and differentiates organizations providing on-premise and Cloud IT services via a managed services business model.
Shoer wants to educate IT practitioners and consumers, recently buying a copy of “The Tech (Multiplier) for each of his Jenaly clients. One of the book’s strengths, he says, is the multiplicity of voices of IT professionals that expose the reader to perspectives other than his own. “To me it’s a textbook of sorts,” he says.

Other chapters include “Align Your Network With Your Goals,” by Jennifer Bleam; “Customer Service Makes All The Difference,” by Bill Ooms; “Using Technology to Manufacture Time and Print Money,” by Jeff Brodie; “Pros and Cons of Moving to the Cloud,” by Chris Wiser; “It’s Cloudy Enough Without All The Fog …,” by Frank Ballatore; “How Good is Your IT Support?” by Dan Donathan; “Technology & Disaster Recovery Preparedness,” by John Motazedi; “Outsourcing: The Key to Small Business Survival in a Darwinian World,” by Linda Lynch; “How to Make Sure Your Computer Consultant is an Asset to Your Company and Not a Liability!” by Dan Izydorek; “The SMB Checklist,” by Diana Spurgus; “Using Integrated Technology to Enhance Your Business,” by Fred Reck; “Recovery, There’s an App for That!,” by Peter Verlezza; and “Cloud Nine: Elevating Your Business to the Cloud Frontier,” by Jeanmarie Richardson.

Shoer maintains a blog about IT for small- and mid-size businesses at http://mjsblog.jenaly.com. He is frequently interviewed by local and national publications. And he maintains an active Twitter feed under the hash tag @mshoer.

“IT is so fluid that there is no question that an IT partner is the right avenue to pursue, in order to ensure that you have access to the range of expertise that you need,” Shoer says in The Tech (Multiplier),” adding on page 30: “I have always believed that IT is a profit center, not a cost center. Properly implemented, IT should be a great enabler of profit maximization within your business.”

Besides excellence as an IT provider, Jenaly has also been recognized for its environmental practices as a business partner of the Green Alliance, a union of local sustainable businesses promoting environmentally sound business practices, and a green co-op offering discounted green products and services to its members.

For more information about Jenaly Technology Group, visit www.jenaly.com.

And for more information about the Green Alliance, visit www.greenalliance.biz.