Lessons Learned From Owia Technology Supporting Non Profits In Washington, DC

With a focus on serving nonprofits and small businesses in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, Owia Technology's CEO shares his insights on the IT challenges these types of organizations face.

Stuart Crawford, Consultant

June 29, 2015

5 Min Read
Lessons Learned From Owia Technology Supporting Non Profits In Washington, DC

Ulistic's monthly Q&A with topline managed service providers (MSP) shines a spotlight on Owia Technology and its founder and CEO, Darryl Anderson.

Located in the Golden Triangle area of Washington, D.C., Owia Technology fashions itself as a one-stop resource for small businesses and nonprofit organizations in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Please provide a brief history of Owia Technology and why your business is focused on small businesses and nonprofits in particular.

DA: Owia Technology has been around since 2011. Prior to that, a number of my team were working in the D.C. area centered on nonprofit IT and working with small businesses. I originally started working with nonprofit organizations in 1998 at another firm. During that time, I got to learn about how they function, and the technologies that were available to them.

I subsequently attended and participated in national conferences focused on the technology-related challenges nonprofits face in order to better understand those unique challenges. As my knowledge of how nonprofits operate grew, I formed my own company to support them primarily, but also small businesses, schools, and healthcare practices.

What are the origins of your company's name?

I suppose it's an unusual name for an MSP. 'Owia' is in fact a proper name for a remote area of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a small island nation in the Caribbean where my father is from. One of his favorite parts of that country is a place called Owia Bay. So as I was mulling over a name for my company to distinguish it in the marketplace without sounding too technical or too stiff, I settled on Owia Technology. I think it shows a bit of character, and it pays homage to my ancestral home, and my father's birthplace.

You touched on the unique challenges nonprofits face. Can you elaborate on those challenges and how technology can help overcome them?

DA: One of the main things is nonprofits typically don't have someone on staff who is examining its technologies, or looking for means and methods for technology to help further its mission. They're busy with fundraising and other developments so technology takes a back seat quite often.

How Owia Technology helps those organizations is to look strategically at their technology landscape, determine how it can benefit them whether for fundraising or reducing overall operating costs, or simply establishing a reliable system. A lot of times, nonprofits will be using outdated systems and software, or the person in charge of IT might be juggling many responsibilities and IT is not their primary function.

We help them take a closer look at things, and in certain cases, enhance their systems in an efficient way. That could be introducing them to cloud-related technologies, which is very popular these days. It could be improving the organization's disaster recovery and business continuity plans and procedures. A lot of nonprofits and small businesses don't realize what destructive impacts data loss can have on an organization. Having proper backup procedures in place that regularly backups their information in a smart, efficient, and affordable way makes a huge difference.

On the subject of a technology roadmap, what do you see in the near future as being potentially impactful for nonprofits?

DA: We're finding a majority of our clients are either making or are interested in making the move to mobile-related technologies and cloud computing. For example, there are still a lot of small businesses and nonprofits that are reliant on Windows Business Server 2003. With Microsoft cancelling support for that product, they need to make a decision on whether or not to go out and invest in a new server and licenses, or move to a subscription-based model in an arena where all of their information can be stored in a datacenter with rigid security protection that they wouldn't have.

We're finding the workforce is changing, it's younger, and they want cross-platform availability. They come to work and want to use tablets, mobile phones, Mac- and Windows-based notebooks. An organization needs to be flexible enough to allow for people to use whatever devices they wish while allowing them to access data in a safe and reliable way.

Also, a number of major computer vendors have been providing cloud-computing services at deeply discounted rates for nonprofits, so they need to take advantage of those programs.

Let's talk about security. How does Owia help make nonprofits secure and compliant with regulations such as HIPAA?

DA: First thing's first when it comes to regulatory compliance: you need to fully understand the regulations your nonprofit or small business is required to abide by. On occasion, we've partnered with other organizations to help bring a full security solution to a client that includes encrypting data on devices and over-the-air. That way, if a mobile device is lost or is stolen, confidential or mission-critical data cannot be accessed.

Deploying other technologies like two-factor authentication to log-on to a network requires more than just a password but a unique key to gain access to resources.

There are a number of technologies that allow for more secure networks as well as storing data in a secure facility. Protecting data by using biometric access protocols can also make a tremendous difference.

Lastly, data loss can happen in a number of ways but most often it's because someone accidentally clicked on a link they shouldn't have, and they download malware that will hijack your information. Having appropriate safeguards in place can help deter that. We make sure there's a holistic approach to security and data storage.

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About the Author(s)

Stuart Crawford

Consultant, Ulistic

Stuart Crawford is Creative Director and MSP Marketing Coach with Williamsville, NY and Burlington, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.

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