I recently participated in an interview program that gave me an opportunity to talk about Red Level – who we are, what we do, and why. It occurred to me that this was something that we didn’t see often enough in business – straightforward answers to straightforward questions. When done right, an interview can give a clearer picture of what a person or business is all about. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to answer a few of those same questions here.
A lot of IT companies that were around when Red Level started out have disappeared. Red Level has lasted for more than a decade now, and continues to grow. Why is that?
I can think of three main reasons. Adaptability is vitally important; even technology companies can get stuck in routines. We are continuously learning, continuously changing, so that doesn’t happen with us. We’re strategic, and we put as much emphasis on foresight where our own business is concerned as we do for our clients. And we are consultative rather than prescriptive in working with our clients – we work to determine what they really need, and provide it. That leads to long lasting, trust-based relationships.
Red Level started out with a focus on networking, but that’s changed. Can you tell us what your current focus is?
Networking is still vital in a connected world, but business technology involves so much more. We have evolved into technology strategy consultants – we find that companies need someone capable of sorting out the technology landscape and putting together solutions that really work for them.
Michigan seems to be trying to position itself as a destination for technology-focused businesses. What role do you see Red Level playing in that in the future?
Michigan is in a unique position: We’re drawing technology companies here, but we also have entire industries that are trying to reposition themselves for a tech-focused future. It’s our job to empower businesses at all different levels of advancement and provide knowledge, tools, and strategies that meet them where they are and help them advance to the next level.
What are the most significant technology challenges you see Michigan businesses facing at the moment? What challenges and opportunities do you think they’ll be facing in the near future?
The last economic downturn made a lot of companies put modernization plans on hold, and now they’re scrambling to make up for lost time. Getting to technology parity with our regions, and having efficiency and security advantages that provides, can be challenge. The opportunity lies in creating business strategies that work with the new connected ecosystem – technology, consumers and the marketplace are all growing more sophisticated, and companies that adapt well will flourish.
Both cloud services and security get a lot of discussion currently – and a lot of people worry about security particularly in relation to the cloud. How does Red Level address those kind of concerns?
Lack of understanding is dangerous. Properly implemented, cloud solutions are the best security answer – the “walled garden” approach is actually a lot more vulnerable, because companies often can’t provide the same level of detailed attention and regular updates required to truly keep the environment secure.
Do you think there is an increasing divide between technologically advanced companies and those that are less tech-savy?
It’s more and more obvious that technology, properly implemented, becomes a significant business advantage. It’s not always possible for companies to have the “latest and greatest, ” but it is very harmful to fall too far behind the curve. Companies that don’t adapt lose out on efficiency and security, and we’ve seen plenty of examples where that has really hurt them.
Red Level’s been around for more than ten years. Where do you see the company being in another ten year’s time?
I see us continuing to do what we do, which means doing things differently than we used to do them, every day. Adapting is the only way that we can deliver truly effective, game-changing solutions to our clients. We can be strategic in our approach to growth while remaining open to new trends and information. It is safe to say that we will be a business that our clients can count on to understand those trends and that data, and out it to work for their benefit.