How The Palmer Agency was able to pivot overnight to a work-from-home company and keep the business thriving during the pandemic
While most teens in the ‘70s spent their breaks hanging out with friends or working summer jobs at the mall or fast-food restaurants, Myra Palmer took a different approach. She would don the typical office work attire (that’s suits, high heels and pantyhose for those too young to remember) and accompany her father in his downtown Atlanta office. At 14, she got a head start on learning the ins and outs of the insurance business that her late father founded in 1961. The Palmer Agency, now in its second generation of leadership with Myra serving as president, is a family-owned, independent life insurance company located in Decatur, Ga.
There’s no doubt that technology has come a long way and has transformed the insurance industry since Myra started tagging along with her father at the office. Filing cabinets and carbon paper have given way to digital transformation. Vast amounts of data are collected and digitally stored, which creates greater risks for insurance agencies. Like healthcare organizations and legal firms, insurance companies are highly regulated and therefore must take extra precautions in protecting their clients’ information.
Increased Risk Makes Cloud Computing an Obvious Solution
That added risk, along with the cost of maintaining on-premises servers, is what prompted Myra in 2015 to begin exploring cloud-computing options. The company’s network had been set up with basic security and maintenance measures. Unreliable network management is a standing invitation for cybercriminals to infiltrate systems and wreak havoc. Myra knew this and took the steps necessary to find a reliable IT firm that could beef up Palmer’s security and ensure stability of their network.
“I realized we needed to expand our technology footprint,” said Myra. “I didn’t have a disaster relief plan and I didn’t feel comfortable housing the servers in my office. What if our building burned down? Also, with the HIPAA regulations becoming more restrictive, I just felt like the servers didn’t need to be here in our office. I have a responsibility to our clients.”
After vetting several managed services providers, Myra decided MIS Solutions would be the best partner to help her agency tighten up their network’s security and stability. MIS’s private Greenlight Cloud offers a slew of benefits including real-time security and event monitoring, automated maintenance and patch management, network protection, daily backups, network antivirus and intrusion detection, and remote support. “The added security that the cloud offers was very appealing,” she said.
Making the move to cloud computing proved to be a prudent decision for Myra. Even before the COVID pandemic, The Palmer Agency staff members enjoyed the benefits of anywhere, anytime access to their systems and files. So when the staff vacated their office space and headed home because of the shelter-in-place restrictions, they were already ahead of the curve. Other than the need for some additional laptops and printers, the staff was able to pivot quickly to working at home. “Laptops were couriered over within 48 hours and we had an engineer on the phone with our team getting everything set up,” said Myra. “If there was a problem with a connection, MIS was there. I don’t know what we would have done without that. It would have been hard. In other words, partnering with MIS allowed us to pivot overnight in becoming a virtual firm – and stay in business.”
24/7 Remote Support Means Issues Get Solved
Access to responsive remote support 24/7 was an important determinant in hiring MIS Solutions and is the main reason Myra has been happy and satisfied with MIS Solutions over the years. Having both locally-based technicians and highly experienced English-speaking engineers in South Africa was the assurance she needed that any issues that might pop up would be handled quickly and efficiently. “The technicians at MIS are accessible and reliable,” she said. “I often work on weekends and knowing there’s somebody there to help me means a lot.”
The MIS approach to network management is three-pronged, taking into account the necessary ingredients of a successful working relationship – people, process and technology. Many IT companies only focus on the technology part and fail to explain or understand the importance of having proper processes and well-trained end users to achieve desired business outcomes. Not all issues are technical so a holistic view helps foster a “team” mindset between vendor and client.
Myra truly considers her company’s relationship with MIS a partnership where collaboration between all parties adds true value and produces the best results. “We know we have responsibilities to the partnership, as well,” she said. “There have been times when I’ve reached out to our account manager and asked, ‘What can we do? What do you need from us to be a better partner and a good partner so we can execute on some of the solutions that we need to implement?’ It’s obvious that the team at MIS values the relationships they have with their clients.”