Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson once described himself as a “dreamer.”
“I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds,” Tyson said.
Kevin Williams is a dreamer as well. And as he reached for the stars, he too grabbed a handful of clouds, as in cloud technology. In 2005, Williams formed Willco Technologies, an information technology consulting firm that utilizes that technology and specializes in creating simple solutions to complex issues. Williams is the Kansas City-based company’s CEO/president.
WillCo develops custom programs and software that enhance the communication, interaction, and integration among various stakeholders and their information systems. The company leverages technology to increase efficiency, improve communication, and simplify business processes. It also analyzes, builds, supports, and maintains software systems for web and mobile platforms.
WillCo’s core competencies include:
- Cyber / Information Assurance (IA) Services
- Software Development
- Systems Integrations
- Information Technology Consulting
- Program Management
“We primarily do systems integrations and custom programming work,” Williams said. “We do program management work for federal and state agencies, so we are really a governmental contracting company. We have since become subject matter experts in the matter of information assurance, which has morphed into the term cyber-assurance cyber security.”
Shortly after the company opened, Williams developed a relationship with the U.S. Army, which was looking to implement a service-wide program that involved tracking and certification of Army personnel who were assigned to computer networks. The program was result of the Federal Information Security Management Act, a federal law that requires federal agencies to develop, document, and implement an agency-wide program to provide information security for the information and information systems that support the operations and assets of the agency.
Following an initial purchase of 1,000 licenses by the Army and a nine-month pilot program that Williams described as a “break-fix” period, Army officials in 2007 purchased an additional 20,000 licenses and required all managers and technicians who operated its computing systems to register in and follow guidelines that were set in the system.
“We operated that way for about a year and in 2008 the Army decided that the system was working so well and they liked it well enough that they actually bought 1 million licenses from us and made it mandatory that everyone in the Army use this system for us to be able to track all of their training and certifications,” Williams said.
Williams said that faith and confidence in the product gave Willco the wherewithal to “really grow the company” as the Army would eventually purchase an additional 2 million licenses and the program was expanded Department of Defense-wide.
Willco’s work is not limited to just the military. In 2009 the company was awarded an administrative services contract by the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) for the department’s Missouri Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) which is designed to rehabilitate and redevelop distressed neighborhoods.
William said the program has been “very successful,” and was highlighted as a best practice by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
That work also garnered Willco Technologies the 2010 Governor’s Minority-Owned Business award winner, presented at the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development in Kansas City, an award that recognized and acknowledged the company’s success in attracting business, creating jobs, and improving the overall quality of life of Missourians.
“That is probably the accolade that I point to most and say I am most proud of because it was homegrown,” William said.
When it comes to the future of the company, Williams’ thinking is in the clouds as well.
“In terms of what we do, we have become very effective systems integraters,” Williams said. “There is such a huge need in this age that we live in where data is being collected in stand-alone data bases. Nowadays companies, government entities are collecting data in data bases. But often time leadership can get much more valuable information and be able to have those systems talk to one another. We have developed processes by which we can have stand alone systems talk to one another using cloud computing and other emerging technologies that give leadership views of data that they have never had before. That’s what we’re most proud of. That’s what’s given us the ability to grow an account like the army from a few thousand users to a million users –because of our ability to have systems talk to each other. That’s the thing I am most proud of and where we see a tremendous amount of growth in the future.”