Health Care and Government and Technology and Small Business

PROFILE: Silverback Consulting Group: Consultant helps clients navigate tech jungle Silverback looks to diversify health care, bank business

December 3, 2007

Silverback Consulting Group Consultant helps clients navigate tech jungle Silverback looks to diversify health care, bank business

In the jungle that is today's business world, businesses can't survive without information systems. And if they need help finding their way through all the technological underbrush, a local consulting firm wants to be the 500-pound gorilla that clears a path for them.

Silverback Consulting Group was founded in 1997 to help businesses upgrade their internal computer and phone systems. Its consultants plan necessary improvements, oversee installation and provide training for the client's information technology staff.

Co-founder Tracy Beaumont came up with the idea while working on her master's thesis at Anderson University and implemented the business plan at the urging of her professor.

Her partner in the enterprise is her husband, Tom, who graduated with a computer science degree from IUPUI in 1993. Though he started doing IT work for the U.S. Postal Service in Indianapolis, he was interested in going out on his own.

The market the couple was eyeing was wide open. In recent decades, information technology has become a key to business success, but many companies still try to handle it on their own and find themselves in over their heads.

"We get about 70 percent of our clients because of internal IT failures," said Tom Beaumont.

Silverback's strategy is to come in and fix the problem. The company restructures clients' IT systems, develops training programs, and sometimes helps in hiring the necessary people to run it. Silverback sticks to a consulting role in this process, though; it doesn't try to take over a client's IT functions.

"We want to fix the process and train the staff," Tom said. "We don't want to take over. We're department builders."

Much of Silverback's client base is made up of financial and health care corporations throughout Indiana. The company originally focused on doing business with state and local government agencies, but competition for those clients was fierce.

The company's expertise has won it many fans. For example, Main Source Financial in Crawfordsville hired Silverback to revamp its IT systems a few years ago. The consultants finished their work at the end of 2006.

"I wish we had them back," said Vicki Jones, Main Source's assistant project manager. Silverback's consultants were on site every day and answered all questions clearly, she said.

Bedford Federal Savings in Bedford also was happy with Silverback's work developing an emergency communications plan to use in the event of a disaster. Bank President Jack Kenworthy said having such a plan was vital because customers need to be able to access their money as quickly as possible.

Tom Beaumont said the biggest challenge facing Silverback is that 60 percent of its client base is financial institutions. It's a profitable strategy, but it's also extremely volatile.

"The smaller companies are being gobbled up by the Chases of the world," he said.

As a result, Silverback is trying to attract clients outside the financial and medical fields. Tom said that expertise should make it appealing to a widening circle of small businesses.

Tracy Beaumont added that Silverback is looking to expand geographically in the next few years. She would like to open several satellite offices in the area, perhaps in Louisville and Cincinnati.
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