Looking Back, Looking Forward - Digi CEO Insights Moving Into 2021

Ron Konezny Ron Konezny, President and CEO, Digi International
December 29, 2020
Digi International began 2020 with a promising start. We had just joined forces with the Opengear team, having closed the acquisition in mid-December 2019. We were forecasting record revenue, profits, and we were introducing a barrage of new products. The high did not last long. Our offices in China and Hong Kong provided us with an unfortunate warning. The COVID-19 virus was both contagious and deadly. Although those regions have seen virus breakouts in the recent past and took quick action, Western countries were unprepared and quick to dismiss its ability to deter its populations and economies. Boy, do I wish they were right.

COVID-19 Demanded Grit and Resilience

Remote work environmentStarting in March 2020, and with sporadic surges ever since, the pandemic changed everything. We quickly went to a distributed workforce, shut down all but essential travel, learned protocols to reduce the risk of spread, and withdrew our previously heady forecasts. We had to do our part to flatten the curve and protect our health care workers and manage its capacity. The determination, resilience and grit of the Digi team would surely be tested. Hospitality, travel, mass transit, group venues, and food service industries were hammered with various forms of shut downs and restrictions. We had to be in constant communication with our team, our supply chain, our distributors, and our customers.

But there was good news, too. After the initial adrenaline surge that comes with survival mode, a wonderful set of things unfolded.
Many of our customers deemed us an essential service. Digi’s value proposition of enabling remote, automated, intelligent work became most valuable. Connecting infusion pumps to the Internet, remotely connecting IT professionals to their data center and edge equipment, enabling secure work-from-home methods, providing rapid digital health screening, and keeping food and medicine safe helped fuel our engines. Digi had an important role to play, and it was our time.

How Digi Met Customer Needs While Staying Safe

Covid-safe business environmentInstead of complaining and crawling in a hole, I saw countless examples of the Digi team's courage and commitment.

We expanded our IT capacity and leveraged our tools to their fullest extent with chat, video, and email communications. Our marketing team took their talents to the virtual world with trade shows, webinars, and digital demand generation.

Supply chain safetyAdditionally, we divided our supply chain group into two teams with alternating work schedules. We kept our promises when our customers needed us most. Our sales team reinvested and evolved their selling skills, offsetting in-person and lab time. Our HR team helped us hire people we never met in person, while keeping our benefits strong and relevant.
While we certainly took some hits, such as suspending 401K contributions (which will be reinstated at the turn of the year), we kept each other safe. Unfortunately, there were too many that were hospitalized, and too many that lost their lives. At Digi, we had our share of positive cases, but we had no spreader events, and everyone has recovered. When we needed each other most, we were there.

Looking Forward!

Now, with the roll out of vaccines underway, we have reason to be optimistic. The incredible human spirit and ingenuity has led to approved treatments in record time that are estimated to be 95% effective. As I write this, over 2 million Americans have been vaccinated, and EU vaccinations are underway. With more diligence, we could reach the light at the end of the tunnel, with hundreds of millions vaccinated by the summer of 2021. We must continue to be vigilant in our safety and preparedness policies in these important next few months.
While the year 2020 has a lot of things to forget, Digi International gave me more things to remember. Oh, and about that forecast from the beginning of the year?  Yep, we hit record revenues and profits, thanks to an unforgettable effort by our amazing Digi team!

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