What the Tech? Our Case for Building an Internal Tech Powerhouse

By Claire Barham Nov 26, 2019

N2 is a tech company.

Okay, we’re no Apple, and it’s more accurate to say we’re a media and tech company, but we can certainly make the “tech” argument. This is due to our thriving Technology department – now 20+ team members strong – and the proprietary systems they create. This team not only allows us to sound like we’re totally with the times, but it plays such a huge role in our growth and competitive advantage.

While IT pros are stereotypically most comfortable remaining behind the scenes, we’re shining a light on our tech folks at least this once (sorry, team!). It’s our way of saying thanks for their hard work. It’s also our way of helping others understand why a print media company would invest in its own crew of highly skilled specialists.


TECHNOLOGY AT N2

About four years ago, the N2 Technology department decided to expand in order to build an internal data center – one example of the massive projects they’ve excitedly undertaken. But why would we do this? We looked to our Network Systems Manager, Shane Deters, for insight.

“We operate from a ‘build it,’ not ‘buy it’ mentality. This results in highly customized systems for the unique nature of our enterprise, and saves us money in the process. Without the internal tech team, N2 would still be outsourcing the management of our information, all of our servers, and all of our VMs (Virtual Machines) to another data center or co-location. And we’d still be paying an inordinate amount of money for it,” Shane explained. “Bringing it all in-house meant hiring additional team members, but the ROI is huge. N2 saw that return within a matter of months.”

In a nutshell, this is what our Technology department is all about: finding impactful solutions to problems. Another technological roadblock N2 has faced is trying to balance the ginormous amount of assets (articles, photos, advertisements, etc.) we receive each and every month for our nearly 1,000 publications. Our specialists not only innovated a path forward by creating a new program, but launched N2 into the tech industry in the process.

“With the advent of Pub Manager, it helped qualify the Technology team in a strategic growth-partnership capacity; it has strengthened the relationship and the workflow between the Field and the Home Office. We have seen massive efficiency gains as a result of this application, as well as enhanced communication strategy,” Shane said.

Beyond developing a functional product, there’s something else we share in common with many tech companies. We’re known for our culture. Unfortunately, many technology-driven organizations are talked about because of issues with their cultural work environments (take Amazon and Uber, for example). N2, on the other hand, works hard to foster a healthy culture – and this most certainly extends to our Technology department.


N2 TECH LIFE

Those who are familiar with our award-winning culture and also familiar with the common traits of self-proclaimed “computer geeks” may be wondering how the two coexist. After all, you could claim tech workers’ goal is to keep the lights on and not give anyone a reason to come knocking on their door. But at N2, we come a-knocking.

Shane noted, “Just because of our cultural nature, the size of our company, and what we’re trying to achieve with recruiting, we stress that interpersonal skills are a big deal when we look for new tech hires.”

Like many N2 team members, Shane came to us from a huge corporation. This, too, highlights another aspect of our culture that’s a big change for many “techies,” but one that has really allowed our team to be as productive as it is today: We don’t operate like a big corporation. Instead, we act like a startup, and this will remain the case no matter how large our tech team grows or how many programs we develop.

“In my previous work environment, you have so many competitors and other people vying for your position, as well as corporate bureaucracy and red tape,” Shane said. “It was so enlightening coming here because you maintain a certain level of autonomy and there’s trust in your leaders, supervisors, and the crew around you.”

Shane went on, “There’s no counting hours. As long as we get our responsibilities done, we can have the flexibility other N2 team members enjoy. And when we do have to work odd hours to make changes while less people are using our systems, N2 goes out of its way to show appreciation.”


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