MSP 501 Digital Innovator Integritek Invests in UCaaS ‘to Keep Telephony from Becoming a Commodity’MSP 501 Digital Innovator Integritek Invests in UCaaS ‘to Keep Telephony from Becoming a Commodity’
Find out what the Austin, Texas-based company is doing to differentiate itself.
December 1, 2020
Not all managed service providers own the technology they offer. Not so at Integritek, winner of the MSP 501 Digital Innovator of the Year award. The Austin, Texas-based company is blazing trails with an internally developed, open-source UCaaS platform for SMBs and even fellow MSPs.
“We’re like a Zoom competitor,” says CEO Brett Paulson.
The difference with IntegriTalk, Integritek’s voice, video and messaging service? It’s personal.
“Our clients are so important to us but 50 users are not very important to RingCentral or Zoom,” Paulson says. “We own their network and firewalls. We can own the quality of service of your phone. Zoom and RingCentral don’t own the network. … For us, it’s bringing the phone company, local, back.”
Integritek (No. 279 on the 2020 MSP 501) launched IntegriTalk in August 2019. Prior to that, the MSP supported a Vonage-like platform (it still does for the clients with contracts left to play out). But it wanted to add video and messaging to the mix. So, Integritek found open-source software that fit its requirements and built a unique user experience on top of it. Consider this: Almost any UCaaS platform integrates with Microsoft Teams. Yet who gives a dial tone out of Teams? IntegriTalk does.
Integritek’s Brett Paulson
“Most MSPs sell Microsoft stacks,” says Paulson. “But how many are letting you call out of Teams with a direct phone number?”
Look for more SMS and MMS integrations from Integritek for IntegriTalk, all with a business number. That way, IntegriTalk users can interact with clients, or potential customers, over Teams, Slack and other chat channels. After all, more people making purchasing decisions want alternatives to picking up the phone when it comes to vetting products and services.
“SMS is becoming a very powerful tool, especially for SMBs,” Paulson says.
On top of that, the number works from anywhere, and that goes for employees located somewhere other than the corporate office.
The Key to Success? Co-opetition
All that flexibility and usability appeals to potential users – and to other MSPs. Which stands out as another area where Integritek is innovating.
“We’re also looking to sell this UCaaS platform to other MSPs,” Paulson says. “We want the other MSPs to have access to this type of telephony, too. So we’re developing programs accordingly.”
Powered by IntegriTalk remains in the prototype stages with some other MSPs Integritek doesn’t own.
“We want to support the MSP community and make all SMBs more successful and more efficient,” says Paulson. “We want to make money, too, but we aren’t in every single city.”
Opening IntegriTalk to peers only strengthens the whole MSP sector, Paulson says.
“Zoom just has an MSP package. It doesn’t give you this happy feel that we care about you. We care about all clients because it is our brand. …We care about MSPs and small businesses. That to me is super innovative.”
Talking Security and the Coming Year
But as most everyone in the channel knows by now, UCaaS can’t just facilitate communication. It’s got to have strong security. MSPs, for one, will demand it. Without rigorous safeguards, “Zoombombing” hits meeting rooms – and the headlines. Zoom has suffered both brand and stock repercussions as hackers have uncovered illicit entry into conferences and peppered users with graphic, often horrifying, content. MSPs cannot afford the risk of similar breaches happening on their brands. Therefore, for Integritek, cybersecurity is paramount – not just for IntegriTalk, but all around. That’s why its focus will turn heavily to cybersecurity in 2021.
“We’re doing everything we can to protect our clients,” Paulson says. “We’re really ensuring we are shoring up infrastructure for our clients so they can feel safe.”
COVID-19 amped up that emphasis for Integritek as organizations around the country …
… moved a number of staff to work from home. That trend will continue even after the pandemic dies off. Integritek’s approach to cybersecurity will accommodate that paradigm shift.
“I’m never going to have 100% of my workforce back in the office,” Paulson says. “Before we had a shutdown we were moving people out of the office in early March. … We just did a survey and 80% of our employees want to work from home at least two days a week. That’s how clients and employers are too.”
In fact, Integritek has seen “about 100% growth” during the pandemic as companies seek a flexible, secure way for employees to communicate.
“I think next year we’ll continue that growth path,” Paulson says.
Most of the increase comes from current clients abandoning that on-premises Vonage-like platform.
“We have gotten a lot of clients moving over because of COVID-19.”
No one knows what 2021 will bring. Integritek plans to keep shoring up all facets of supporting remote work. Whether COVID-19 keeps people at home or whether some other disruptor comes along, Integritek plans to be ready. That will mean paying attention to hardware, not just digital innovation.
“We are moving toward infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure,” Paulson says.
Tackling the Insider Threats Threat
However, that is not to say Integritek won’t still tackle that digital side. In fact, the MSP is hard at work on targeting overprivileged users. That, Paulson says, is the origin of most insider attacks. And to see how things go, Integritek is starting with its own organization. Thing is, Paulson can’t say how its insider threat prevention works just yet.
“I can’t talk exactly about what we’re doing there because there’s some secret sauce,” he says. But, he adds, “my current thought is that I’m not doing the industry any good by having secret sauce.”
Because of that, Integritek may add its insider threat platform to its roster of services. Paulson says, though, his main motivation is not about making money on the tool.
“We’re trying to help SMBs become better, more efficient,” he says. “As SMBs grow, the MSP space just grows organically.”
However Integritek proceeds, focusing on insider threats is a smart move. In fact, these breaches pose one of the biggest risks to organizations worldwide, even more than phishing or ransomware. For its part, Forrester Research predicts insider threats will grow from 25% this year to 33% in 2021. Integritek is hard at work on safeguards, and it is targeting overprivileged users. That, Paulson says, is the origin of most insider attacks.
“Overprivileged users are the biggest threat, and they can be malicious or not,” Paulson says.
For example, the Equifax and Capital One hacks happened because of insiders, he notes. Integritek aims to prevent anything like that from happening.
‘We Will Keep Making Investments’
That directive, and much of Integritek’s success throughout 2020, stems in large part from Paulson. He joined the MSP in January after 12 years in Silicon Valley.
“I’m super excited,” he says of Integritek’s focus. “This stuff is in my wheelhouse.”
Over the course of the year, it’s become apparent that UCaaS will fuel Integritek’s growth and reputation. With that in mind, Paulson shows no signs of letting up.
“We’ve made seven-digit investments to keep telephony from becoming a commodity,” he says. “We will keep making investments. We want to delight clients with UCaaS.”
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