Firm finds successful niche serving governments
September 15, 2009
Around 2000, Emerald Data Solutions founder Ari Ioannides stumbled upon an underserved, niche market for which he specially designed a program called BoardDocs.
Nearly a decade later, he says that program has allowed his company to grow and expand (one publication added it to a list of the 50 fastest growing IT companies in America) while others contract and lay off staff in the midst of the recession.
This Thursday and Friday, clients from around the country will meet at Stein Eriksen Lodge to learn how BoardDocs can help them save time and money.
Ioannides founded the company in 1988 in Atlanta, Ga. Its client list included some of the largest and best-known companies in that area. One client, a school district for which the company was redoing network technology, complained to Ioannides about its process for holding board meetings.
He conceived of eGovernance, a means by which governing boards could digitally plan for meetings, conduct meetings, and make their decisions public. He created the program BoardDocs to run these services. After a few years, he received so many requests from other entities for this program that about five years ago Ioannides made the decision to sell off all other accounts and focus exclusively on BoardDocs.
As part of that decision, Emerald Data Solutions closed its large office building and sent everyone home to work from their abodes. He currently has staff in Florida, Washington, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas.
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After traveling around working with various clients, Ioannides found Park City. He works from here and says several of his people are planning to eventually make the move as well.
"They’ve caught the bug," he said. "Same old story."
Other companies offer services to help organize meetings, sometimes calling their products "paperless packets."
"We call it eGovernance because we go beyond that," he said.
Decisions made by bodies can be made accessible to the public automatically, he explained. BoardDocs can manage policies and procedures and make weekly updates. Currently the Park City School District uses it. Their website runs on it and it provides the search capabilities for the site. Any governing board can use it, even if they’re not government. The Egyptian Theater’s board is going to start using it, he said.
Administration requires the compilation of documents. BoardDocs does the "nitty gritty," he said. It makes it easy to present information to the board, makes it searchable, and makes it easy to communicate it to constituents.
"Imagine if all county commission packets were done online and you can go to a website to search on that history, it’s a game changer," he said.
Ioannides predicts he saves each client about $15,000 a year.
Currently 310 school boards nationwide use it, including the new Canyons district in the Salt Lake Valley, Evanston’s Uinta district, the Nebo, Jordan district and more.
The workshop on Thursday and Friday is the company’s seventh and second in Park City.
Training on BoardDocs is provided in person, on site. The purpose of the workshops is to let clients to meet and discuss efficient governing with each other. Emerald Data Solutions gets to listen in, and listen to their comments about how to improve the product. This year, the company will introduce an all-new version of its flagship product with the changes and improvements its clients have been asking for.
Attendees come from bodies as small as a school district with only 50 students, to the district for Nevada’s Clark County serving one of America’s largest metropolitan areas.
Anyone interested in speaking with clients about their experience or visiting the workshop to learn about the product is welcome to stop by, he said.
Emerald Data Solutions
For more information, visit http://www.boarddocs.com or call (800) 407-0141.