With Andy Horn, CEO, IntraLAN
IntraLAN, established in 1995, helps businesses embrace the digital age. More than just an IT managed services provider, its portfolio of unified communications, cybersecurity and compliance services, cloud solutions and network infrastructure is underpinned by partnerships with world-class suppliers like Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Vodafone, Colt, BT and Fortinet. Here, CEO Andy Horn gives his view from the channel.
Technology Reseller (TR): How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?
Andy Horn (AH): Business is great, thank you. Last year, we helped our customers navigate the sudden challenges thrown up by the pandemic. This was a mix of proactive account management and reactive decision-making. It was an interesting time, to say the least.
Since then, businesses have moved to a more strategic mindset. They are building IT estates that enable flexible working, shoring up their digital security and ensuring teams have the tools they need to build strong relationships, irrespective of where people are working.
I’m feeling very confident about the future. I’m a huge advocate of hybrid working and IntraLAN is positioned perfectly to help companies build engaging inclusive workplaces that are powered by the best technology out there and ensuring compliance with company policies and procedures.
TR: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?
AH: We are seeing strong demand for our cybersecurity services. Also, our offerings enabling safe, secure hybrid working. Companies of every size are redesigning how their workplaces will work post-Covid, which is prompting sizeable investment in managed services. Microsoft Teams is an absolute powerhouse too.
Essentially, Covid has caused every business to become an SME in how they operate. Enterprise IT teams are now thinking with far more agility than they used to and deploying services rapidly.
TR: What recent wins are you most proud of?
AH: We were first to market with our WorkIN service. Early into the pandemic, we identified the urgent need for an easy-to-deploy connectivity and IT service for home workers and distributed workforces.
Network contention within the home on home broadband was clearly affecting productivity, and in the rush to keep business flowing massive gaps in IT security measures and policies had emerged. Our service solves both these challenges.
Soon after WorkIN’s launch, large industry players started to launch similar services. This reinforced our view that we had built a winning service that had a fantastic market fit.
I have been very proud of our service desk throughout the pandemic, when our customer satisfaction ratings went up – a remarkable achievement considering we suddenly had thousands of businesses contacting us for help with working from home. These higher ratings are testament to the teams we have at IntraLAN.
TR: Where is business proving most difficult?
AH: The market is far more competitive than it once was and how you sell IT services has changed. The tactics of yesteryear no longer apply, which I would argue is a good thing. Businesses want genuine value – a careful balance of control, cost, easy management and flexibility. It’s all about service.
We are fortunate to work with brilliant customers who trust our experienced team, so a lot of our business comes from honest conversations on what a business wants to achieve and then we design an IT estate that helps the company grow. Our sales team typically thrives on in-person relationships, so when the pandemic emerged, they had to adapt quickly to a new way of working with customers.
Keeping our team motivated throughout the worst of Covid was difficult too. People say change is the only constant in life, but there’s change, and then there’s change!
Another interesting challenge, especially as we get back to face to face meetings, is that productivity won’t be as high in the future. After all, it’s impossible to meet the same volume of people in-person as you do on Teams or Zoom. Everything will take more time.
TR: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?
AH: We are further investing in our cybersecurity and our compliance services. For example, we have partnered with Darktrace and recently became the first UK partner for Zero Networks.
You only need to look at the media headlines to see why we are doing this. Ransomware has become the scourge of our time and corporate data is under attack from every angle.
Investing in an in-house cybersecurity team isn’t a possibility for most businesses – it takes too much time, money and management. Entrusting this to a managed service provider underpinned by best-inclass solutions and people appeals to IT departments, especially those within enterprises, which is why we continue to develop our capabilities in this area.
TR: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?
AH: Partner management. The channel is awash with technology providers and resellers, but very few are prepared to build long-lasting relationships that benefit both sides. We prefer to work with fewer partners, but the best partners – those looking to grow together through a truly collaborative approach.
Attracting new talent into the industry is a challenge that will never go away. The entire channel must work together to make the channel a compelling industry to work in. It’s very competitive out there.