The other night I woke up in a state of hysteria. You see, I'm a vivid dreamer. When I wake up from a dream it can take me several minutes to gather my senses enough to realize I was dreaming. That transitionary state can be hell. This was one of those times.

Have you ever been asked, "What keeps you up at night?" It's a common question that gets asked in market research. When I'm putting together a marketing campaign, I want to make sure I'm speaking your language. I want to know that I'm addressing a real problem, and offering a real solution. This is why we post our Average Response Time right on the front page of our website. It's also why some of our prospects received a stopwatch in the mail a few weeks ago with a note that said, in effect, "Click start, call our helpdesk, and click stop when you are talking with a qualified technician". Because this is your language. With very few exceptions, when we pick up a new client one of their primary complaints is that their current IT provider doesn't respond quickly enough. It can take hours, sometimes days. I've heard horror stories of waiting a week or more to get a response to a technical crisis. You simply can't run an efficient business that way. You need the right solution, and you need it right now!

Am I wrong?

But oddly enough, that isn't our primary deliverable. Don't get me wrong, we're damn good at responding quickly. That number on the website is real data, it's not a marketing number. We have bad days, we experience perfect storms, and sometimes our response time creeps up into the double digits. But we watch it like a hawk, and our target is 9 minutes or less. If you take me up on the stopwatch test you'll realize that it only takes a few seconds to reach one of our techs. But the average number we report on includes requests that come in through email, our web portal, etc. The phone is always answered live.

These quick response times are a product of internal processes. Now we're getting closer to our primary service deliverable. We are fanatics about process. We follow checklists and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for almost everything, and we're constantly reviewing them to look for possible improvements. When I look you in the eye and tell you that we will solve your technology problems before you even know you have them, I can prove it by slapping down a document detailing our procedure to do just that. Here again, this isn't marketing hype or a sneaky sales tactic. It's simply how we do business.

Still, not our primary deliverable. These standardized processes are something I'm quite proud of, and you'll love us for it as a client, and you might even think this is where we shine as a company. Semantics… Because we do shine here.

And clearly I'm...OK...bragging about it. But what is our TRUE deliverable?

We exist as an organization for the sole purpose of keeping you in business. Keeping your doors open. Our fanaticism around process and response times conveniently keeps your business running smoothly, keeps you efficient, keeps you profitable, and keeps you and your staff happy. This is the deliverable you'll notice. But here's what I never hear when I'm doing market research:

"I'm worried that we will get hit by a cyber-attack that will completely wipe out our organization, forcing us to close our doors forever. I'm worried I could lose this business I've built from the ground up. I'm worried I'll be looking for a job next week." I don't hear that. At best I'll hear: We need to be HIPAA compliant, NIST compliant, PCI compliant, etc. Or, "we're concerned about security". But I don't think many CEOs, practice managers, managing partners (insert your title here) truly understand the gravity of the real risk we face every day of our lives. We (and our organizations) are all one mistake away from complete collapse.

THIS is why I woke up in a state of hysteria the other night.

In my very vivid dream my company was hit with a ransomware attack that left us completely crippled. Every computer, every server was locked. In my dream there was no path to recovery. In my dream, the backups were corrupted right along with the servers and workstations. When I woke up, the last line from my dream that was on repeat in my head was me yelling, "DO WE HAVE BACKUPS?!? DO WE HAVE BACKUPS?!?" I was asking it, but I knew the answer. And it wasn't pretty. In my transitionary state between sleep and reality, the gig was up. I was looking for a job.

Thank God that was a dream. The true nightmarish element is that every part of that dream is perfectly plausible. Cyber-attacks are rampant. They are a daily occurrence. They are only getting worse. What makes this nightmare even worse is that it is NOT a primary concern for many of our prospects. Look at our website. We talk about response times, compliance, our processes, and we mention security. But there is zero mention of going out of business. Because market research doesn't support that verbiage. But I am here to tell you that our #1 deliverable is keeping you in business.

Our deliverable is preventing my nightmare from becoming your reality.

If someone asks me, "What keeps you up at night, Justin?" My answer 100% of the time will be: cyber-attacks. Because this is the world I live in. I see it on almost a daily basis. I truly lose sleep over this. I love that our response times are quick, I love our processes and procedures. But we deliver a good night's sleep.

We exist as an organization to keep you in business.