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Technology companies anticipating growth, new offerings in 2008

Technology companies in Mississippi anticipate 2008 being a big year as advancements and opportunities continue to come along in this fast-paced sector.

AGJ Systems & Networks, a Gulf Coast company that has grown from a three-person startup in 2002 to a 14-employee operation that was projected to earn $1.25 million in 2007, will be moving into its own facility this year from a Biloxi business incubator space.

“We’ve grown a little bit every year and now are changing our focus to quality instead of quantity,” said Ryan Giles, one of the founders and chief financial officer. “We’re getting ready to pour concrete for our building on Dedeaux Road in Gulfport and hope to be in by late summer.”

Giles and the other founders, Brian Alford and Bud Jones, plan to offer more services to customers and potential customers this year too. “We will be giving seminars on safe web practices,” Giles said. “We tried two seminars in 2007 to see if people are interested and will have more this year.”

The partners are also thinking of starting a free Web site for Coast residents to answer specific questions related to technology and the area’s weather and economy.

One change they see on the horizon is the move toward Microsoft’s Vista as the system’s issues are resolved and the learning curve reduced.

“We’re also seeing a lot of customers, especially accounting and medical customers, move to off-site records backup, some of which may be out of the state,” Giles said. “We’ve all learned the importance of having files backed up out of the area.”

Joel Bomgar, founder and CEO of the Bomgar Group, says his company is pretty pumped up about 2008. “We expect it to be a year full of energy. We just came off an incredible 2007, and our market is starting to display symptoms of entering the ‘tornado’ when demand in the market explodes,” he said.

He believes the ever-changing world of technology brings opportunity. “Good examples of this are the deployment of Windows Vista and Windows Mobile SmartPhones,” he said. “Both were technology challenges, but also technology opportunities as supporting these operating systems gave us an edge our competition did not have. Technology change is always disruptive; the key is to be the vendor that emerges on top after the disruption.”

Bomgar, who began his Ridgeland-based software company in 2003, says increasing mobility and connectivity in 2008 are accelerating the adoption of remote technical support technology as the need accelerates to support any computer, anywhere in the world, running any operating system, behind any firewall.

“The understanding that effective technical support means supporting anyone, anywhere without the frustration of a typical phone call creates huge opportunity for us,” he added.

Business Communications Inc. (BCI), another Ridgeland-based technology company, will be settling into their new Gulfport location this year. The company, which also has offices in several Southern cities, now occupies a 5,000-square-foot building in Gulfport with 30 employees.

“This new building provides us with three times the space and a property that is fully ours,” said Tom Hinds, BCI vice president. “We believe in the Mississippi Gulf Coast and this community, and we’re invested in it.”

He predicts a fast paced year for BCI as a provider of business communications, technology services and structured cabling. “We will continue to assist public and private sector businesses in fully utilizing best practices and the most current technological innovations,” Hinds said.

This could be a big year for upstart company, Waites Wireless Sensors. A Hattiesburg entrepreneur, Andrew Waites, and the Jones County Junior College Advanced Technology Center have joined forces to produce a product with the potential to save lives. Waites hopes to further develop the technology for a remote sensor that can detect and transmit information about dangerous conditions on bridges.

“Jones County Junior College has the physical infrastructure to work with folks like us with start-up ventures,” Waites said. “We don’t have the capital to have a big facility, but will be occupying two offices there this year.”

The story of the wireless sensor began two years ago for Waites and his partner, Rob Ratterman of Cincinnati, Ohio, whey they developed technology to determine the usefulness of equipment to keep industries from making unnecessary replacements. The sensor detects impending equipment failure, saving down time and equipment costs. Now the partners hope to adapt the sensor to detect abnormalities in bridges.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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