Entrepreneurial bug contagious for MBA’s IT support
Being surrounded by scores of entrepreneurial minds, Austin Sanderson ’10 caught the bug while providing IT support for the MBA program.
The Clemson University economics graduate and CCIT support employee has followed some of his MBAe student customers on the innovation path. Sanderson’s bug isn’t computer-virus related, but it is of the technology genus.
Like the technology world his internet start-up serves, Sanderson’s AskIT is evolving as it develops a following among information technology professionals. The company is looking for IT pros who are seeking jobs, an online community and answers to questions on a myriad of IT and business issues.
AskIT is the brainchild of Sanderson. His start-up began as a concept company in late 2015, and it continues to evolve as he identifies voids and opportunities in the IT industry.
“My experiences providing IT support for the Clemson MBA programs really sparked the need for something like AskIT,” Sanderson said. “I was able to get some incubator space at ONE, with the help of the Spiro Institute and MBA programs, which have been very supportive along the way.”
Currently, AskIT offers a Q&A framework that classifies technical and business strategy issues within the IT industry. “Our users can choose from a variety of technology topics, and IT providers in our network provide answers,” he said. “Right now, we’re adding to our stable of expertise by drawing in professionals with a mixed bag of skills, including areas like information security, cloud services and virtualization. We want to add value across the board.”
In that light, any hiring company can post IT positions for free on the website. Longer-term, the start-up plans to package IT analytics in a cross-section of technology industry sectors. But first, the fledgling company is tasked with building a community of users.
Sanderson said AskIT is currently retooling for “Collision,” America’s fastest growing tech conference. The May event in New Orleans will draw upwards of 20,000 attendees.
“By exhibiting there, we can make a lot of face-to-face connections, which we need to build deeper relationships, so that we can later increase web site engagement,” he said.
In 2016, AskIT had about 75,000 page views with 4,000 unique visitors per month. The AskIT web community is also trying to build a following beyond the information technology sector. In doing so, Sanderson is addressing a communications gap between business decision makers and IT professionals.
For this reason, Sanderson likens AskIT’s Q&A platform to a technology mediator. He said there are thousands of other technology forums on the web, but few categorize the industry in the way AskIT does. “It is by design that we provide clarity. So, our core purpose is to facilitate engagement between technical and business parties.”
Sanderson is passionate about the disconnect between these parties, especially when it comes to translating business needs into a concise IT strategy. He said it is “becoming increasingly important for businesses to engage with IT in its decision-making processes,” and believes the AskIT platform will make that possible.
Additionally, AskIT hopes to strengthen its engagement and, in the process, its bottom line by providing big data on some of the industry’s most relevant issues. Sanderson expects his economics and data analytics background will be key to building that aspect of the business.
“We want to help businesses with strategic IT decisions surrounding industry trends, what the competition is doing, and various pain points in sectors of business. As we build our knowledge base, we can package our data for sale and redistribution. That’s more long-term, but it’s one of the many areas we think AskIT can increase value for IT professionals and businesses alike.”
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