As we go into CapTech's 20th year in business, what has changed and what has remained the same over the past two decades?
Our cultural values have been a consistent thread within our business over the years. Our very first engagements demonstrated our focus on these values. We've consistently focused on delivering results for our clients, helping our clients be successful and being a servant leader. We've sought to be flexible as we partner with clients to meet needs, understanding that scope and goals can shift and change over time. Our consultants embrace intellectual curiosity, and a hallmark of our organization has been leaping enthusiastically into new challenges and emerging technologies. We work with humility and check our egos at the door. Through the past 20 years our culture and values have remained strong and consistent.
Another consistent thread has been a collaborative leadership style. Since our inception, our leadership style has been based on leading by consensus. Although we have had a changing of the guard, our current management team has worked to maintain this collaborative leadership structure.
CapTech has also experienced great change over the last 20 years. We were co-founded by Sandy Williamson (chairman) and Slaughter Fitz-Hugh (chief financial officer) with a handful of other people. We now have close to 700 employees. Our services and technical expertise have evolved over time as well. Our intellectual curiosity has served us and our clients advantageously in that way. As technologies have evolved or emerged, we have had the skill sets, energy, enthusiasm and curiosity to embrace the trends, understand how they can benefit our clients and hone our skills in the technologies we have chosen to invest in.
Another change is our growing capabilities in Customer Experience (CX) practice. Until five or six years ago, we really didn't have a strong ability to showcase our technology work through compelling user experiences and computer interfaces. Our investment in building the CX team complements the rest of our organization by making us more attractive to business buyers, marketers and others whose responsibility it is to provide a compelling experience to their customers. We are proud that in just a short period of time, our CX and design work has won numerous awards.
Geographic diversity represents a sea change for us. CapTech was founded as a Richmond, VA -based consulting firm, with a model of local consultants serving local clients. Through that model, we were successful in growing to 150 to 180 people in Richmond. We had a very considered conversation and built consensus about going beyond Richmond and seeing how far our desire, talent and ability could take us. We opened our first office outside Richmond in 2007 in Washington, D.C. We now have 11 locations across the United States. It has been very exciting to be able to attract new talent across new markets, bring in new ideas and build a more diverse consultant base.
The greatest difference is that, as an organization, we have emerged from our 'childhood' and are now growing out of our 'awkward teen years'. When we were founded, we were largely seeking work in the e-commerce space, although we were flexible in our problem-solving skills and able to do a lot of things. Those early efforts tended to involve smaller engagements. Today, we have a firm grasp of the types of engagements where we excel for our clients and we are seeing confidence in our abilities snowball into a reputation within the industry. Being able to compete and submit proposals for large, complex multi-year transformational projects is a phenomenal evolution in the CapTech story.
What are the biggest challenges you see our clients facing today?
The greatest challenge we are seeing is hyper competition in digital innovation. Nontraditional players entering new markets that may not be bound by the same regulatory frameworks or other constraints traditional companies face are coming in with novel solutions that challenge established business models. When traditional business models are competing with nontraditional models, the digital solutions required can be complex, expensive, and it can be hard to generate net present value business cases. Additionally, the necessary infrastructure changes still may not address all the competitive threats, particularly given budget constraints.
So in this new world, we see clients facing a sea of digital threats and opportunities. The challenge is, how do clients distill the things that are most important to them and that will help them succeed? In some industries, these are existential threats. Retailers, for example, are under heavy pressure from the Amazons of the world. And candidly, some may not have the vision or the capital to build enough defenses to survive over the next 5-10 years, because of non-traditional entrants. This is coupled with a scarcity of talent to help define and articulate the vision and bring it to life.
We are also seeing a common challenge across industries, which is cybersecurity, and how to secure assets and prevent malicious actors from compromising confidential information, customer information and other assets. This is something that everyone needs to be aware of, and companies should be ensuring that their workforce is educated on protecting the organization against these real threats. In just the last year I personally had four confirmed spearfishing cyber attack attempts aimed at my CapTech credentials. This has become a critical issue for most businesses today.
What are you looking forward to as we enter 2017?
I am excited to watch the professional growth of our consultants as we continue to focus on building individual skills and capabilities across emerging technologies, and in building client relationships. As we continue to expand into new markets across the country, I am looking forward to meeting the new talent we bring in at all levels of the organization that can help us continue to deliver compelling services with the same high level of quality and value our reputation has been built upon.
We have recently opened offices in Atlanta and Columbus, and we are opening a new client delivery center in Denver which will allow us to better service clients on the West Coast and in the Midwest. It's an important milestone for CapTech to have offices in different time zones.
What I'm most excited about is our ongoing evolution and that of the services we provide, especially in cloud capabilities and SaaS and PaaS. That is where business is headed. We are thrilled to see the results of our investments in big data and data science and to witness our clients using data in sophisticated ways that would not have been possible 20 years ago.
Lastly, I'm excited that CapTech can now tell a story through a high-impact, visually stunning approach, given the investments in our marketing organization and Customer Experience practice. And with the internal implementations of Salesforce and Workday largely complete, I'm looking forward to reaping the benefits those tools can deliver over time.
What are you most thankful for?
First and foremost, I'm thankful for the consultants who have bought into the vision of CapTech and show up to offer their talents and commitment every single day. Their skills and ability are what allow CapTech to continue to be successful.
I'm thankful for clients that have put their trust in CapTech and understand the value we can offer their organization. I'm thankful to see the long-term clients that have gone through experimentation with offshore, working with contractors and other Big Four consultancies, who have come back and said that not only is CapTech a valued partner, but have also validated in the marketplace that CapTech is their go-to firm of choice.
I'm also thankful for our Markel partnership. It has given CapTech an opportunity to answer a question all organizations have that are started by private owners: What is going to happen to the organization? Markel promised us that we would remain CapTech. I'm grateful that through all our interactions, Markel has allowed us to grow and thrive, pursuing the same model that has defined our success for the past 20 years.