Comms Business Magazine talks to David Hughes, CEO of Manchester based Incom Business Systems following his double win at the 2016 Comms Business Awards, to find out more about the organisation and their outlook for the future.
Just as with London buses, with industry awards you can often wait years to win one and then two come along together.
That was the case for Incom CEO David Hughes who has been a finalist ten years in a row without a single win and then at the Comms Business Awards this June he picked up two awards on the same night!
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): What have been the significant events in your company over the last 12 months?
Well, winning Reseller of the Year for one! What gave me so much pleasure however was that our case study to support the entry featured a customer we have had for 20 years. Customer service is at the top of our company agenda so that win was testament not only to the quality of our great team but also to that management ethos.
June 2015 saw us complete our third acquisition when we purchased Complete Network Solutions (CNS), a fabulous firm that had been started by three ex-Mitel employees. They were understandably very Mitel focussed and had built up a sales and service business of £3.5m that completely complemented our own ShoreTel focussed operation. This was our first awards entry for CNS and they won the Convergence Solution Award.
CNS has opened many different doors for us as jointly we are now touching our customers in different places. We would like to hope that shortly we will progress from a Silver to being a Gold partner for Mitel.
A key difference between our two companies was that we at Incom had moved to more of a recurring revenue model tem years ago with a significant move in to data and networks connectivity and SIP trunks.
We decided to increase our marketing activities, hence the award entries and it is paying off already. We made a sale yesterday as a direct result of winning a Comms Business Award that was worth up to £85k over the next three years all because they were researching potential local suppliers, saw that we had been listed as a finalist and decided to give us a call.
We note your suppliers as being BTW, Mitel, ShoreTel, Openreach, Vodafone and Cisco., HP, Gamma and Virtual1. We would therefore like to hear your views on Unified Communications and how you are responding to customer demand.
Our involvement with ShoreTel began when we lost a few deals to the product. Subsequently, and by co-incidence, we purchased a reseller who had all the ShoreTel accreditations.
We engage forensically with all of our customer to ensure we know everything there is to know about their operations before we make any recommendations. Some users fit ShoreTel and some fit Mitel, either with on or off premise deployments.
Incom has outstanding relationships with both Gamma and Virtual1. Gamma Horizon is an excellent product and Tom O’Hagan leads Virtual1 brilliantly
We have many large infrastructure customers hence our relationships with Cisco and HP. Manchester Royal Infirmary for example where we rolled out 8,500 IP endpoints, a win that is leading us towards potential similar deals with TDM to IP migrations at other hospitals.
Our customers like one bill and one point of contact. They love having just one throat to choke if they have an issue and want to have someone that cares about their problem. That is the kind of service we have been providing for the last 20 years – it’s not rocket science and the Vodafone MVNO we have in place enables us to add the mobile play in to that mix.
With regards to connectivity we would like to know how you decide which services to offer your clients in terms of bandwidth and resilience.
Our forensic engagement with users enables us to be in a prime position to get the right connectivity service for users. We deploy expensive equipment on user networks to determine their needs and produce detailed network traffic analysis reports. We can identify their pain points and make sure we get the connectivity solutions right.
What communications trends are you observing in the market?
The market is transitioning from on premise to cloud and because our business was set up for recurring revenue ten years ago this is an easy transition for us.
Smart device take up is growing as manufacturers such as Mitel and ShoreTel have developed client apps for these devices. Likewise, collaboration and desktop sharing is growing,
Business loves stability and confidence and the EU referendum and the reaction of the markets is unsettling. We hope this is not a long-term issue. Whilst we have a significant proportion of recurring revenue but we do not want to see users delaying purchase decisions.