Being a small to medium-sized business (SMB) can be full of opportunities—after all, small businesses have been the primary source of job creation in the United States for decades.1 However, SMBs can also face the same challenges that enterprises do, including the need to digitally transform and adjust to the increasingly common shift to remote work. But they have limited resources and tighter budgets with which to overcome those challenges.
SMBs place a high priority on technology, with roughly two-thirds (64 percent) indicating that technology is a primary factor in pursuing their business objectives.2 In the past two years, 36 percent have said that their tech purchases are focused on core infrastructure: laptops, desktops, phones, servers, and networking equipment.2
Prowess Corp. is a small business that fits this mold. Founded in 2003, Prowess grew from a two-person team to 130 employees who live and work across the world. Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Prowess has always operated on an agile, remote work model. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020 and closed many office-based businesses overnight, Prowess was ready to serve and expand its customer base.
That business growth led to hiring more employees—Prowess added 20 percent more employees to its payroll from 2019 to 2021. With no plans to change its remote-first operating model, the Prowess IT team are looking at the Intel vPro® platform as a way to ease administrative burdens and lay the right technological foundation for continued growth.
Providing Support to a Minimal IT Team
IT support at Prowess consists of two dedicated full-time employees: Georgi Meyer, director of IT, and another support tech. IT support receives anywhere from 3 to 10 service request tickets per day.
Upon hire, each employee receives a business laptop and peripherals to work remotely, usually from a home office. This requires that employees be self-starters: they must be able to set up equipment on their own and reach out to Prowess’s IT organization when problems arise.
“We see issues ranging from helping a new employee set up their device to their home Wi-Fi, to sending out a replacement laptop due to accidental water spills, or fixing lost keyboard keys,” Meyer says. “These are the unique problems we run into when workers are in a home environment with kids and pets around.”
And because workers’ devices are outside the corporate firewall, security concerns are always top of mind for Prowess IT. “We run security training for our employees and use industry best practices to help protect our company and clients’ data,” Meyer says. “But there’s always the risk that your entire system could be made vulnerable by one remote device.”
A Hardware-Based Solution for Ongoing Success
With continued growth expected in both Prowess divisions over the next year, Meyer and her team say it’s critical to start planning ahead. They are looking to build on their growing PC fleet of laptops that are powered by the Intel® Core™ vPro® processor-based platform. A few of the immediate benefits of Intel vPro technology include out-of-the-box performance optimizations, stability, and security features. These benefits give Prowess IT greater confidence that its workforce can be productive and protected no matter where they are located.
When people are working from home, they might insert a USB thumb drive that contains undetected malicious code into a work device. Doing so could place corporate data at risk or get onto the company network and wreak havoc across the enterprise if the device itself isn’t protected. But by making use of Intel vPro technology, the IT organization gets access to hardware security features such as Intel® Hardware Shield, which can provide an extra layer of protection.
“Peace of mind is knowing that your hardware is being checked at each level, and that it’s built in with Intel Hardware Shield.”—Georgi Meyer, Prowess Consulting, Director of IT
As Prowess adds more Intel Core vPro processor-based devices, the IT team will be able to access more Intel vPro platform technologies for modern manageability. Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) is particularly well suited for SMBs with restricted resources because it centralizes device control while also providing hardware-based remote management capabilities for IT.
In addition, the Intel vPro platform is built to exceed Desktop and mobile Architecture for System Hardware (DASH) standards for remote management. This includes the ability to connect to remote devices over a Wi-Fi connection—other hardware-based solutions allow remote management capabilities only over a wired Ethernet connection.
Launch Future Business Growth on the Intel vPro Platform
While the only certainty is more uncertainty for all businesses, companies of every size can position themselves to succeed with Intel vPro platform-based devices. Even with small IT teams, they can manage hundreds of client devices across a large geographical location, and they can improve security features with a comprehensive hardware approach. What this means for small companies like Prowess is that they can remain agile and keep employees connected and productive, even as they grow.
“It can be overwhelming at times for small IT teams to find the right solutions,” Meyer says. “At Prowess, we have taken a careful approach to what we implement and are optimistic that Intel vPro technology will help us support remote workers successfully.”
Prowess: A tech consulting firm with room to grow
Number of employees: 130
Gross revenue: $65M per year
Location: Headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, but employees are located throughout the United States and abroad
Two main divisions:
- Prowess Consulting: Specializes in technical marketing, engineering, and lab and data center management
- SmartDeploy: Designs and sells a software product called SmartDeploy, which provides intelligent imaging for deploying Windows and applications to any device