By Paolo Del Nibletto

Phil Palmieri, the President of MicroAge Canada, has been involved in the IT industry since 1984. If you think back to 1984, the IT industry saw for the first-time flash memory, a chip that could store 1MB and, of course, the introduction of the Apple Macintosh computer. So, you can say Palmieri has seen a lot during his career in IT. But nothing can compare to what the IT marketplace is going through right now with COVID-19.

According to Palmieri, this is the most challenging time the industry has ever faced. MicroAge Canada, with some forethought in its business continuity planning program, is weathering the COVID-19 disruption well. The vast majority of his staff is working remotely except for a small crew in its Laval, Que., headquarters, which includes Palmieri.

“There are a couple of ways to look at this situation: you can hide under your desk and wait for it to pass or be proactive and look for opportunities and ways to help customers remotely,” he said.

MicroAge Canada chose to do the later and took an active approach in communicating with all their clients to see how they could keep them operational. While MicroAge Canada vigilantly worked to keep its clients going, the company was inundated with inquiries from customers and prospects on issues of security and remote access.

“Call volumes increased five times over normal, and some people were even panicking,” he said.

Palmieri’s team dealt with requests such as how to work remotely, how to work from home securely, how to get the most out of Office 365, how to use Teams for better collaboration and video calls, mobile device management, and back up and data recovery.

If there is any benefit that will come out of this historical time, it’s the value of managed services and IT solution providers. “Our value, as managed services providers, just went up as people start to realize how important we are to the business. Before, you would get the thought that IT was just another department. Not anymore. IT is what makes business roll, and I’m proud of the systems, solutions and processes we deliver. IT is no longer a requirement but a necessity. Without it, a business doesn’t work well,” Palmieri said.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Palmieri and his team have received numerous messages and calls of thanks and appreciation from customers

Palmieri’s challenges go well beyond just dealing with customers. MicroAge Canada is a network of more than 35 independently owned and operated solution providers across Canada. So, Palmieri just doesn’t have to worry about the Laval operation but all of the other locations as well.

During this time, Palmieri has brought in weekly touchpoints with each location and their field teams. “The network is fine, and I’m very proud of all these people. They have been around a long time, and this group has invested in their businesses, and they know how to sustain themselves during tough times.”

Palmieri believes there is a good lesson to learn from all this. He hopes that after society gets a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic and everything gets back to a newer normal, everyone will see the value in IT providers and not take them for granted. “This community is not a nice to have; it’s an essential service and a must for business.”

You can learn more about MicroAge Canada on their website MicroAge.ca