RKON Technologies Tackles Unconventional Vertical: Mergers And Acquisitions

RKON Technologies has an unconventional approach to its business. It focuses on the merger-and-acquisition market while some solution providers go the more traditional route with verticals such as healthcare or education.

When a company is acquired, divests, carved out or in some other way needs to separate or jump into new systems, they have to move fast, often within 90 days. That's where Chicago-based RKON Technologies comes in, CEO Jeff Mullarkey said.

"We're just uniquely suited for that based on our ability to understand consulting and the managed services. It really is that combination," Mullarkey said.

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RKON Technologies, founded in 1998, launched with the idea of narrowing the focus to a specialty service provider around leading edge technologies. Today, that means a company focused on consulting, managed services, cloud services and hosting. The company operates in many different verticals with clients primarily in the mid-market with 1,000 to 5,000 users apiece.

The company's vertical approach was "started by dumb luck," Mullarkey said.

"I've got to be honest, it wasn't on purpose," he said.

It all started when RKON was hired by a 3,000-person global company that had been bought by a private equity firm and was being divested. RKON was brought in to manage the migration from the parent company and ended up taking over management of the systems, following that migration.

"That got a lot of attention," Mullarkey said. "There are things in that project that we did that are hard. We just started paying attention to that market and trying to be there."

Initially, RKON started finding these clients through word of mouth, but as it began to actively pursue the market it started to seek out intermediaries of the merger-and-acquisition process to make the connection, such as investment groups. Since then, RKON has moved "upstream," Mullarkey said, reaching out to private equity companies and more who would be involved in the process itself.

With companies going through M&A, there are a lot of factors that need to be migrated.

By being extremely methodical in their approach, Mullarkey said RKON is able to assess the current state of technology and build a vision for where the client would like to go after the transaction is complete. From there, RKON helps the company migrate off of their systems and toward their end vision. The challenge there, Mullarkey said, is that oftentimes the timeframe requirements mean that the migration starts happening while companies are still figuring out what they would like their end point to be.

One way that RKON is able to move quickly in these situations is a product they've developed called rPoP, something Mullarkey referred to as "cloud in a box." Instead of having to navigate the often difficult migration process to the cloud, which is made especially difficult under the time crunches of M&A, rPoP brings the cloud to the customer site.

More specifically, rPoP provides a self-contained, fully managed, cloud computing platform on the customer's premise that can be left on site after the migration or act as a step to a final cloud deployment destination. Especially for M&A environments, RKON can use this technology to migrate them quickly off of old systems to wherever the client wants to be in the long term.

While the merger or acquisition is oftentimes a one-time deal, Mullarkey said clients stay on to be managed for the long term.

In fact, he said he couldn't think of a single company that left after being migrated during a merger or acquisition. Part of RKON's key to keeping clients long term is that the company employees are "fanatics about world-class service," Mullarkey said. For him, Mullarkey said good customer service is an "attitude and a negotiating position with your client."

"We end up becoming their IT long term," Mullarkey said.