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View from the channel – With Malek Rahimi, Managing Director of BDR Group

BDR Group, founded in 1991 by CEO Bahman Rahimi and headquartered
in Stratford-Upon-Avon, is an award- winning IT and Telecoms provider and wholesaler, supplying connectivity, unified communications, broadband, business mobiles, IT managed services and infrastructure to public and private sector organisations (and channel partners) throughout the UK and Europe. 

It also manages national technical and building solutions, as well as large technology rollouts for major retail brands around the world. Over the last 12 months, new Managing Director Malek Rahimi has been conducting an ambitious acquisition strategy to strengthen the company’s managed services portfolio with a greater focus on IT, infrastructure and virtualisation. Following the acquisitions of ACR (Greater Manchester), Boffins (Buckinghamshire) and Integratech (Worcester) earlier in the year, BDR recently added IBM specialist Maple Computing to its portfolio. Maples’ expertise in future-proof infrastructure, including IBM storage, security, AI and cloud compute services, gives BDR a stronger enterprise focus and new cross-sell opportunities that are expected to drive growth of 20% across the 200-person group in 2022.  In the meantime, BDR’s buy-and-build programme shows no sign of slowing down after the company secured eight-figure funding from Santander UK to support further acquisitions and growth over the next two years. In the past four years, BDR Group has quadrupled its revenue to £28m and is on target to exceed revenue of £40m in 2022. Here, Malek Rahimi 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?
Malek Rahimi (MR):
To be honest, it’s never been better! While the last year has been manic, all that activity has given the BDR team plenty of opportunities to excel. Winning the Reseller of the Year award at the Comms Business Awards event earlier this year was great recognition of the quality of our team and our services. 

The mergers we made at the start of 2021 are already showing signs of a strong performance, and we’re now looking to the future with the acquisition of Maple Computing. So, it’s really exciting to be part of the BDR family at the moment! 

TR: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?
Managed Services is a key focus for us right now. As businesses emerge from months of near hibernation, the additional cloud services that they embraced throughout lockdown need bringing together and managing in a secure fashion. 

Remote working still remains a major challenge for customers, and the opportunity here extends much further than home worker connections and firewalls. Especially with reduced headcounts on-site, sole worker security solutions, as well as hosted CCTV systems, hands-off door entry and temperature sensors, are becoming incredibly sought after. 

TR: What recent wins are you most proud of?
From an internal point of view, seeing the pride and joy everyone experienced in winning Reseller of the Year was certainly a proud moment. We work tirelessly for our clients and that award is a testament to the team’s hard work. 

From a customer perspective, the effort the team has made since March 2019 to help our NHS clients has been exemplary, going above and beyond to deploy pop- up covid wards and to keep their vital services running. 

Now, we’re looking at Natural Language Processing and massive automation projects to support them even more in their digital transformation goals. 

TR: Where is business proving most difficult?
Finding resource and Solution Architects of the right calibre and mindset. We have never struggled to recruit in the ICT market as much as we have this year. We have more projects looming, no sign of pipelines slowing down and our capability to win and convert opportunities is as strong as ever, so having teams that can meet expectations is key. The delay in onboarding staff, with so many opportunities in the market, is proving very difficult. 

TR: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?
While we already covered the three main big data/cloud computing vendors (AWS, Azure, IBM), we saw incredible value in acquiring IBM specialists Maple Computing and expect our existing clients to take advantage of a wide range of data science services that we can now offer, especially in finance and logistics. 

After the acquisitions we’ve made in the last 12 months, we’re spending time aligning sales teams to educate and upskill them with in-depth product information and training from the wider BDR team, including our new family members. 

Considering the pace at which SMEs have adopted cloud services, we’re also working hard to educate them about the benefits of working with a Managed Service Provider, explaining how a reliable technology partner can help them get back to BAU. 

TR: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?
First and foremost, the channel needs to support the implementation of successful hybrid working strategies. While our market has traditionally been voice and internet, it’s converging with cybersecurity and network management, so it makes sense for a reseller to have all of those value-add services within their wheelhouse, otherwise they risk losing customers to their competitors. 

The channel is perfectly placed to help organisations utilise their data to benefit their business – after all, we are supposed to be the technology experts. However, given the complexity, we’d recommend smaller resellers work with experienced data science partners, rather than relying on guesswork for the best chance to succeed. 

TR: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome these challenges? And if so, what?
As wholesalers ourselves, we know how important it is to support our reseller partners, but if we don’t know what they need there’s not much we can do. Honest, transparent and prompt communication is key for the correct support and advice.

BDR Partners allows small resellers to take advantage of the wide range of products and expertise within the wider BDR Group, and we’re always open to hearing new suggestions for how we can help drive their sales. 

The trick is having an agile and committed partner backing you. If you feel you can ask questions in relation to all the challenges you face, you are working with the right partner. 

TR: Are customers becoming more demanding, and if so, in what ways?
SMEs want a plug and play, hands-off experience but may be put off by the larger investment required for a Managed Service solution. We see this as an educational challenge, informing prospects of the benefits of managing their services and how that value completely dwarves the added cost. 

For Enterprises with so many siloed systems, establishing a simple, single source of trust is key, as is developing an easy experience for complex solutions. We don’t see this as impossible, but instead consider it a challenge that we relish and take great pride in overcoming. 

TR: If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be and why?
Having more time to spend with staff, to get their feedback on how the business is running and how we can improve.  We’re truly a family at BDR, and we want to make sure everyone, especially new staff from acquisitions, feels welcome, supported and part of that family. 

BDR Group office
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