Risking growth

Risking growth

Nick Claxson, M.D.

“The convergence market had been very good to us over a sustained period of time, so in 2005 we took the option of investing large sums in our datacentre business in order to spread from our SME base into larger accounts. Now, because our engineers are out building comms rooms and datacentres every week, we get a 360- degree view of all the tactical voice, data and security opportunities within each of those clients as well as the overall ICT strategy.”

Acquiring datacentre expertise has been an expensive business according to

Claxson, not least when last year Comtec elected to construct its own state-of-the-art demo datacentre facility from scratch, as a showcase for prospective customers. “Part of the suite includes a hydrogen fuel cell, an extremely ‘tomorrow’s world’ piece of technology which we’ll all be seeing a lot more of in the future. We flew in engineers from APC in the US to ensure our team were fully trained, and constructed purposebuilt secure units for storing the gases!”

Claxson notes the ongoing industry fascination with ‘green IT’ as a major contributor to Comtec’s recent success. “Frankly, the timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous. Our approach was always to make customers’ technology foundations as efficient as possible, so that they could see the lower total cost of ownership benefits. The green bandwagon swept us up in its path and we haven’t looked back since.”

 

Comtec has also been investing significantly in its partnerships with Avaya (picking up the comms vendor’s UK BusinessPartner Growth Award for the SME sector late last year) and Cisco in particular. “Avaya has a very strong IPT offering for the SME market and we are keen to grow this business aggressively by reaching their Platinum accreditation as soon as possible. On the Cisco side, we have a great relationship that fits in very well with our datacentre proposition and the 24×7 NOC we’ve established. We’ve worked closely with them to develop managed services such as ‘Solid Ground’, which we were the first to launch.”

Claxson’s strategy moving forward centres on offering a broad range of

The Linksys range f IP phone

differentiated managed services. “We want to increase our ‘stickiness’ with customers, and to do that we have to ensure the decision making process for managed IT and communications services is as straightforward as possible. High levels of reliability and functionality for these services are a bare minimum; customers expect to see the benefits hit their bottom line.”

“To add value to IP-PBX sales, we scrutinised the market for SIPbased connectivity options, looking far and wide for a partner with the focus we required as well as the technical capabilities. That brought us to meet VoIP.co.uk, who immediately took the sting out of the technological complexities and offered a compelling price model that we ended up testing out on ourselves. I don’t believe that connectivity products should be approached lightly, and if you sell them to customers you really need a good partner to back you up.”

Having expanded from its Reigate base to a further three nationwide offices, Comtec haven’t been shy in making a series of large investments with a view to reaping large returns. But with a potential credit crunch and even recession on the way, doesn’t Claxson feel obliged to calm the spending and rein in the risk? “The economic climate is never 100% certain and when we have acquired other companies and opened new premises, there’s always been a risk threshold that we won’t cross. I believe there is plenty of growth left in the comms market, but that potential will only ever be realised by those who are prepared to go after it.”