BUILDING A SAFER CITY WITH SAFER BUSINESSES
SOS Technology Group
SOS Technology Group is at the forefront of several rapidly changing and increasingly crucial industries, including healthcare and cybersecurity. The company’s high-tech solutions also allow it to help businesses enhance building security. What’s more, president Harel Turkel spends much of his time improving conditions beyond the business community, supporting charities including The Associated and Baltimore Child Abuse Center.
Q: IT is a very crowded market. How does SOS Technology Group set itself apart from competitors?
A: Our mission and vision has changed a few times since we started 11 years ago. Many IT companies focus on help-desk and support contracts, whereas we have taken the approach to become clients’ virtual CIO. We are their technology partner and many times take a seat at their board of directors’ meetings in place of a CIO. We also are diversified with our surveillance system offerings as well as different communications technologies.
Q: One of the markets SOS works in is healthcare — a market that’s always prone to changes, especially since the Affordable Care Act. How do you ensure your products are always up to the latest standards?
A: Our firm has been working in the healthcare space for about eight years now, and a lot has changed in that time. I make sure that our team gets HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] training on a quarterly basis, as well as attending various medical conferences to stay ahead of the curve in healthcare IT.
Q: This year’s events in Baltimore have raised some issues regarding building security. What solutions is SOS offering its customers to enhance security?
A: SOS doesn’t position itself as an alarm company or security company but rather as an industry expert in high-definition surveillance with proactive and real-time monitoring. Many of the security cameras you see in urban areas are older IP cameras without facial recognition or license-plate tracking technologies. Our team assesses every building/location for weak spots and potential target areas, then crafts a custom solution for the client’s needs.
Q: Cybersecurity and identity theft are becoming bigger issues for businesses all the time. What are the biggest security gaps you’re seeing especially with small businesses, and how are you helping fill those gaps?
A: There is a mentality among small-business owners that they are “too small” to be affected by cyber attacks, or they think, “Who would want our data?” In the past year alone, there have been over 5,000 cases in the U.S. of files being held ransom in exchange for an online payment. Most of these cases were in companies with 100 or fewer employees. We help educate clients about proper firewall equipment and internal office policies to help reduce their visibility to these outside threats.
Q: SOS completed a strategic acquisition about 18 months ago. How did you meld the other company’s culture with your own and ensure SOS kept its momentum going?
A: Acquiring Computerized Management Systems (CMS) 18 months ago was truly a milestone for SOS. I spent a lot of time researching the firm and meeting the clients before an agreement was reached. I also had my employees meet their employees on various occasions and have joint meetings regarding our culture of customer service above all. We not only retained all of CMS’s clients through the acquisition but also grew 40 percent from the previous calendar year.
Q: You’re involved in several charities in the city. What kind of work do you do there, and what does the involvement mean to you as a leader?
A: Since I started the business in 2004, I always made sure to give back to the community in some way. In particular, I joined The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, to help the less fortunate in our community with financial assistance, food cards and everything in between. I also support the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, which is doing very necessary work in the community. I believe that all business leaders should give of their time and resources to help their local community, since we gain so much from it.
Q: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
A: One piece of advice that I believe has helped me over the years is finding a mentor and/or a business peer group. The lessons you can learn from seasoned business owners are invaluable, and when you start something on your own, it’s nice to have this brain trust that can help you navigate the tricky waters.