Microsoft Mindset, Cloud-First Strategy Are New Signature's Hallmarks

Chris Hertz, New Signature
Chris Hertz, New Signature

New Signature may have far fewer employees than larger competitors in the Microsoft services world, but it can reach just as far, and in some cases, farther.

With just shy of 100 employees, Microsoft's newly minted 2014 U.S. Partner of the Year holds more than 400 certifications across almost the entire Microsoft stack (except for enterprise resource planning). Or, to put it a little differently, the company has 80 engineers zeroed in almost exclusively on the Microsoft technology and ecosystem: at least the same number as many rivals with far larger workforces, spread across multiple partnerships.

That focus alongside its cloud-first solution modality helped fuel annual revenue of $15 million last year, with well north of 90 percent from services. "We can hit outside our weight class," joked Christopher Hertz, co-founder and CEO of New Signature, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in 11 states.

Since it was founded in 2003 by Hertz and childhood friend David Geevaratne, who is its president, New Signature has logged an average annual growth rate of 50 percent. In the past five years alone, it received more than 120 different awards for its technical skills and community service; it was named earlier this year as one of an elite cadre of Microsoft national systems integrators. New Signature has worked with "hundreds" of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) on projects involving Office 365, Azure, Power BI, Dynamics CRM Online, Windows Intune and Yammer.

"The next decade will be an exciting time to be a Microsoft customer, especially those companies committed to driving innovation and transformation. I can firmly state that New Signature is committed to driving innovation and transformation, and we are looking forward to helping our customers use Microsoft cloud services and devices to win the future," said Geevaratne in a press release about the Microsoft partner award.

"Microsoft is not driving this change, the consumer is driving this change," Hertz added when he spoke to during the week of the annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

Even before the software giant's cloud conversion, New Signature advocated the efficiencies and automated management benefits made possible by public or private cloud infrastructure and hosted applications. It decided early to stay out of product sales: although it occasionally handles them as a convenience to customers, Hertz said. This helped the company avoid some of the accounting and sales compensation headaches that can come with managing a cloud practice alongside a group selling on-premises solutions. "For a smaller company to pivot is daunting," he said.

New Signature's services fall into five primary areas of expertise (in no particular order): data center infrastructure services, regardless of where they are deployed; development around the Microsoft cloud application suite; Web strategy and development; managed services and support; and knowledge transfer through its Microsoft Learning practice.

Lead from the customer's point of view

One strategy that sets New Signature apart from the competition is evident in how its cofounders – both of whom are engineers -- spend most of their time: not in the office but out in the field with customers.

I discovered during our conversation that Hertz was a finalist this year's for Microsoft's Presales Technical Specialist, which gives you an idea of how seriously he takes this commitment and how much he delegates to the executive management team. "It gives me visibility into how the business is running and, on the flip side, what our customers need," Hertz said.