Coming up with an idea for a business is pretty easy, but executing on that initial idea and making it into a viable company is very challenging. The story of WIT is no different.
WIT (Web Information Technologies) was established in 1996 and co-founded by Shadan Malik and myself. The business really started in 1999 after I was laid off from my job and decided to focus on WIT rather than looking for employment elsewhere. I thought, “How can I go wrong in this dot-com boom? If this does not work out, I can always go out and find a job.” As luck would have it, I did not have to look for another job. All things happen for a reason!
WIT started off designing and building lots of websites, even making Crain’s list of the top 20 Web Development companies in Metro Detroit. We earned the business of a few big customers, and thanks to word of mouth, even more as time went on. This kept us busy for a long time. But eventually, the dot-com boom turned into the dot-com bust, and we had to pivot.
As luck would have it, my business partner’s expertise and my background neatly fit into this emerging field of Business Intelligence. With a friend’s (Mike Mahoney) help and some luck, we transitioned the company to this new field and became partners with a software vendor called Business Objects (now part of SAP). We trained all our employees in this new technology and became the premier Business Objects partner in the region. It was around this time that WIT hired our first Practice Director to manage and oversee our newly developing BI consulting practice. Scott Smith is celebrating his 17th year with WIT and continues to build and adapt our consulting practice to support our customers.
After SAP acquired Business Objects in 2007, we saw the writing on the wall and quickly realized that SAP would prefer SAP partners, and Business Objects partners are going to be left behind. Yet again, with a friend’s help and some luck, we pivoted to a new software vendor. One of our close contacts at Business Objects had moved to a company called Qlik and gave me a call. The rest is history.
WIT became a Qlik partner in 2009 and we once again re-trained ourselves in this technology. We became “The Implementer” of this technology in Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario.
All along the way, WIT teammates showed tremendous resilience and camaraderie to keep up with the latest and greatest to provide excellent service to our esteemed customers. The real assets of our company are our employees and our collective experience, a term coined by my partner-in-crime, Scott Smith. Our team affectionately jokes that WIT now stands for “Whatever It Takes”, but it is a slogan that has stuck over the years and truly represents the flexibility, adaptability, and dedication of our team.
The WIT team has also been hosting a community event every March since 2013. Now call the Great Lakes Data & Analytics Summit, we will be hosting the 10th annual Summit on March 10, 2022. This event is our labor of love and brings the analytics community of practitioners, experts, and vendors together in our region. This one-day event has connected many vendors to customers, students, and job seekers to employers and more importantly, provided networking and learning opportunities to practitioners. I am especially very proud of this contribution to our analytics community.
So much has changed in this field of Business Intelligence, including what to call it – Big Data, or Data & Analytics, or any buzz words around visualization, intelligence, automation, or AI. Call it what you like - the key is that with the incredible volume and velocity of data and the fact that companies will be left behind if they don’t leverage their data to make informed decisions, WIT will continue to thrive and serve our customers in this field.
I thank God for giving me the opportunity to work with colleagues and partners, and together with them serve our customers and community. We are still writing the WIT story, and for now, I don’t have an ending in mind. Onto the next 25 years!
- Quaid Saifee, President of WIT