Onwards and Upwards

Richard Pennington

Established in 2005 and with offices in Manchester, The Midlands and London, reseller 4net Technologies today has some 90 employees. Comms Business Magazine talks to their CEO Richard Pennington about the challenges his company and the channel face.

In June 2015 4net Technologies uniquely walked away from the Comms Business Awards holding three trophies for the mid-sized Reseller of the Year, Enterprise Convergence Solution and Overall Reseller of the Year categories – quite a haul.

What are the challenges and pain points that the company faces today?

CEO Richard Pennington says he has four clear goals. They are; profit, growth, customer satisfaction and market relevancy.

These are challenges as the pace of change is accelerating and in turn placing pressure on meeting customer and public demand. As consumer powers have grown and grown user experiences of your products and services become so important.

In traditional markets such as contact centres managers don’t normally like change. However, with Digital Transformation (DX) pressures many are constantly scanning for new technologies and solutions they could potentially deploy to provide them with competitive advantage.

Over the last two to three years our major focus has been to embrace the move to a cloud based deployment model – we have got there but getting the right people on board is a challenge, as is developing our own people to meet the new technical challenges.

We now do a lot of work in public house hospitality sector where we have an average of 1000s of users and here the skills sets required to manage this business, software development, integration and networking skills, is a challenge and one I take on personally.

We are growing at a rate of 50-80% and most of our staff are customer facing. Unfortunately, I find that apprentices lack the life skills required for our business but we are looking at introducing a graduate scheme. Our customers face almost identical problems with their own IT team recruitment

What is the outlook for future and where are the opportunities?

Have we seen a Brexit affect or impact? No… but just after the referendum there were a few challenges from an exchange rate perspective but that’s all sorted now. It would also be fair to say that a few of our global customers got a bit nervous however a big part of our business is central government and public sector based so there is a lot of positivity there. So, no Brexit challenges at present.

We plan to double our revenue to £40m over the next two to three years. Presently we are rolling out our multi-million Npower contract and have taken on private equity to further expand our cloud managed service business. We aim to provide MS as part of a DX solution throughout the public sector.

We have our own hosted communications platform based upon Avaya technology and are presently targeting the housing and ‘blue lights’ sectors whilst at the same time retaining a focus on the commercial sector.

All this activity is at an Enterprise level. The PE backing strategy is medium to long term and not a pursuit of buy and build.

How is customer satisfaction affecting your strategy?
I mentioned earlier that the market is changing; it is far more customer service excellence (CX) focussed and the required skill sets are changing. We had a maintenance business which we have developed in to a managed services business built upon the high level of customer support we provided.

Introducing proactive monitoring increased the quality of our service management which we have then opened out to hosting communication services either on premises or in data centres.

This all falls in to our DX story.

We can keep the lights on for our users and help them along their DX journey.

Collaboration Power

4net secured their multi-million pound contract with npower’s parent company innogy to provide Avaya’s Aura Contact Centre technology, delivered as a BT Wholesale hosted communications solution. The service will be fully managed by 4net.

This managed cloud solution will introduce multi-channel customer contact as part of a single integrated solution, developing the customer experience through a new range of automated features and will see 4net manage the end-to-end infrastructure, including delivering onsite and remote services to proactively manage the new platform.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine