Summit Technology Group uses pandemic to educate clients about cloud-based technology

Thomas A. Barstow, Contributing Writer//June 4, 2020

Summit Technology Group uses pandemic to educate clients about cloud-based technology

Thomas A. Barstow, Contributing Writer//June 4, 2020

Summit Technology Group started 2020 on the verge of opening a state-of-the art training center that signified the future for the Central Pennsylvania company. In February, the expansion was complete, with the company poised to grow by building upon its business models that included new contracts with lenders through its partner, the American Bankers Association, and to help clients move toward cloud computing.

Then, in March, like companies everywhere, STG found itself staring into an unknown future as COVD-19 spread worldwide and Gov. Tom Wolf ordered many businesses to close or work from home. Company leaders responded immediately, innovating in ways to help existing clients but also to lead others toward stabilizing and growing their businesses through cloud computing.

The STG workers already were used to working collaboratively and using technology, so the work-from-home orders allowed the team to move forward because of its cloud-first approach, company officials said.

“Our primary focus from the beginning of this pandemic was being an engineering resource for organizations needing to adopt virtual and cloud technologies to enable safe and secure remote work capabilities,” said Ben Wallace, a partner in the company with offices in Cumberland and Lancaster counties. “… Our mission during the pandemic was to keep our clients and partners moving forward.”

Those discussions led STG, which was founded 14 years ago, to identify three key areas to innovate: education, execution and support.

“Summit firmly believes that modernizing your back office with cloud technology will enable banks to be more adaptable to get through not just this crisis but enable operations for the future of the bank,” Wallace said.

For example, the existing partnership with the American Bankers Association led STG to provide complimentary cloud desktop computers, engineering resources and consulting support to ABA member banks for six months without charge. That gesture removed the barriers that organizations might face during normal times, said Brad Olena, STG director of marketing and business development.

The complimentary services allowed STG to help potential customers at a difficult time and to give them a clear idea of how cloud computing can be their future, including offering the online security that must be in place at home offices, company officials said.

“The idea behind this was that as a bank engages and collaborates alongside Summit’s engineering team — trust is built and hopefully the bank sees the value Summit’s partnership provides … to smaller community banks,” Olena said.

STG also developed a loan portal called Lenders Cooperative which helped banks accept the new volume of loans through the Small Business Administration and the Paycheck Protection Program. The portal included an automated document signing engine for e-signing loans. A lot of banks don’t have lending officers wired into e-signing or didn’t have the new PPP loan documents. The STG platform could build such documents and others so that banks could rapidly build closing packages, Olena said.

Lenders Cooperative enables CEO’s and CFO’s to collaborate directly with their peers, while providing a secure cloud online portal. Financial institutions with less than $25 billion in assets can connect directly with each other for discussions and possible partnerships, Olena said.

Banks form the core of the STG business model, but it also works with other industries, such as partnership with the American Institute of Architects Pennsylvania (AIA PA). That industry was hit hard with operational restrictions, which prompted STG to provide education on cloud desktops. The Roadmap to the Cloud was created in response to the pandemic, Olena said.

“Due to the crisis, business owners across the country had to shift quickly to enable work from home options to their employees,” Olena noted. “In the AEC industry, this can be more difficult as their need to utilize design-heavy programs requires a powerful computer with large file sizes. This can cause many problems and performance issues when trying to remote into the office from home.”

The cloud desktops gave architects the power to run the most demanding design programs and the flexibility to operate from any device, anywhere, and do so in a secure environment, Olena also said.

Now that businesses are starting to re-open, STG will begin using its new training center but with the lessons and social distancing requirements from COVID-19 taken into consideration.

“Summit will continue to utilize the space to innovate and educate but shift and adapt as the business world does to ensure a safe environment,” Olena said. “Honestly, we don’t know what it will look like three months from now, but we can use the center to create content and bring in smaller groups in the immediate future.”

Olena pointed out that the center was designed to be flexible to meet future changes even before the crisis.

“Our modern office in many ways mirrors the technology we deploy,” he said.

The open floor plan is powered with internet access, and clients can use mobile workstations in a safe environment. It also has individual offices that can be used, if required.

“The need is the same as before, but the business world is adopting cloud technologies faster every year,” Olena said. “This was one of the main reasons why we built the center, as the facility enabled Summit to provide that support and training needed.”

Wallace and Olena declined to discuss STG’s sales projections for before, during or after the crisis. But the company has noted previously that the partnership with the ABA that started in 2019, as well as other investors, should put the company in a position of continual growth. The crisis didn’t lead to layoffs of STG’s 30 workers, Olena also said.

“All of our employees were able to work remotely on day one of the crisis, and Summit has been blessed with the opportunity to grow during the crisis,” Olena said.  “We are looking to do a staggered approach of bringing employees back to the office with modifying our floor layout to ensure a safe distance between desks.”