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Cloud Powers Partner's Resilience in Puerto Rico Recovery

Five days after Hurricane Maria ripped across Puerto Rico in September and annihilated the island's infrastructure, Rock Solid Technologies opened their doors providing a business sanctuary for their clients. An early cloud adopter, Rock Solid's foresight enabled their clients, including municipalities and distributors, to get up and running quickly—solely focused on rebuilding the island. As recovery transitions to rebuilding, both the island and Rock Solid are proving their resilience and strength.

"We are developing a new normal. Things are not back to normal or back to the way they were. I don't think they're going to be," said Ángel L. Pérez, vice president at Rock Solid Technologies. "That's good. I'm not saying it in a bad way. The new normal is somewhat different. People are more aware of their surroundings and how to better plan and prepare. That's good. We're going to be more resilient going forward."

Immediately after the storm, hundreds of clients conducted their business in the Rock Solid generator-powered offices. As a Microsoft Dynamics partner, Rock Solid supports operations from payroll to shipping for the clients. Employees used the offices as home away from home, bringing children to work since schools were closed.

While some parts of Puerto Rico are still without power, Pérez says that over 90% of their employees have power. The ones who don't have power generators or have found other ways to cope. Any client locations without power have been moved to alternate sites. Cell phone coverage is restored for most of the island.

"I don't want to say it's not a crisis anymore. It's just kind of how you manage with the new reality," said Pérez. "Some customers still have issues but very few. As long as they have access to the internet they can work. It's not an issue anymore. They're not coming to the office to run their operations anymore."

Rock Solid's dedication to the cloud prevented what could have been massive interruptions in operations for their clients. It paid off for them as well, ensuring their own survival as a business. "If we didn't have the recurring revenue of the cloud, we would have been in a lot of trouble," said Pérez. "What do you do with no billing for three months or four in some cases? You're dead. We have over a hundred people on our staff. It would've been deadly."

In addition to the recurring revenue that supported their Puerto Rico-based staff, Rock Solid had made a commitment, well before the storm, to diversify geographically. During the aftermath, new sales on the island were non-existent. With sales people in Panama, the Dominican Republic and the United States, the company was able to keep new projects coming in.

Not all partners in Puerto Rico have fared so well. "Some of them changed strategies and focus. Some decided to focus on the U.S. and sell in the U.S., some others focus more on what they do best," said Pérez. "In our case, we are doing a lot of business outside of Puerto Rico and trying to increase that to diversify our revenue sources. That's been working really well."

Recently, new business has started to ramp up in Puerto Rico. The public sector, one of Rock Solid's specializations, is adopting the cloud more readily. With federal funds coming in to help the rebuilding, technology purchases are on the upswing. Another focus industry for the company, distribution, appears to be joining the cloud migration. Those companies who installed systems in Y2K are finally ready to replace aging ERP with technology that will keep pace in the digital economy. 

"Business-wise we're doing better than ever. We should have our best year ever in 2018. This is our 21st year running the company and that's how it's looking," said Pérez. "First month January was great, February is looking the same. We're getting it done."

Business is so good that Rock Solid is facing the same problem vexing the entire partner channel. Hiring enough people, with the right skills to meet demand. Schools and universities were forced to close down after the storm, delaying a wave of graduates. Students who were due to graduate in December are just now finishing up—which means Rock Solid is spending lots of time recruiting.

As part of that recruiting effort, Rock Solid continues to execute on their diversification strategy. "We are hiring a sales person for the U.S. We are hiring an additional sales person for Puerto Rico, which we see this year as the biggest opportunity ever. We are betting on that," said Pérez. "We're strengthening our efforts in Panama and in the Dominican Republic. We expect significant growth in all the markets we serve."

For those partners who are looking for ways to help the recovery in Puerto Rico, Pérez suggests exploring business opportunities instead of charity. "Look for opportunities to partner with us or with other local partners and have them do services for you, kind of be your extension," said Pérez. "When you do it that way, you spread the money into many, many families instead of just charity. I think that's a sustainable way contribute to the recovery. It's a more rewarding way to help."

Hurricane Maria may have flattened much of Puerto Rico's infrastructure, but the people or businesses of the island are bouncing back. Rock Solid was able to be a first responder for technology, equipping municipalities and businesses with the tools to recover and rebuild. The cloud provided the digital sanctuary they knew was the key to continuity for an island in the path of destructive storms.

How is the cloud changing business for your clients? Send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on March 01, 2018