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View from the channel With Martin Roberts, Managing Director of Neuways

Managed service provider Neuways delivers bespoke IT services, IT consultancy and support, with a strong emphasis on security, to more than 300 businesses worldwide. Operating from a new £1.2 million site in Chellaston, Derby, it has more than 15 years’ experience in developing long-lasting client relationships based on integrity, honesty and a commitment to the highest levels of service and expertise. By taking on responsibility for the management and development of a company’s IT infrastructure and cybersecurity, it allows customers to devote their time and resources to growing their business. In addition to a full range of IT security and support services, Neuways provides IT awareness training and assistance with Cyber Essentials accreditation. Following the company’s success at DattoCon San Diego, where it was named the Datto EMEA Partner of the Year 2019, Technology Reseller asked Managing Director Martin Roberts for 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?

Martin Roberts (MR): Business is great – Neuways has gone from strength to strength over the past 12 months. We’ve undergone a comprehensive rebrand and increased our head count. We have an absolute focus on the needs of our customers in regard to their IT, and this is reflected in our increased business activity.

I’m optimistic about the future. Despite the business uncertainty caused by Brexit, we’re in a fortunate position where we’ve been largely unaffected. Whatever happens going forward, customers will always need their IT to be supported.

TR: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?

MR: Managed IT Services, for the most part. It’s a difficult climate for businesses that want to employ their own in-house IT experts; they can’t offer the breadth of skills, knowledge and exposure to emerging technologies that we can, so it’s natural that they’re turning to experienced MSPs for strategy and support.

Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery (BCDR) is also in high demand. Business continuity is a big part of who we are. We’ve seen the damage caused to businesses that lack business continuity measures, and a lot of our customers now see the value in BCDR too.

TR: Where is business proving most difficult?

MR: We’re also affected by the IT skills shortage in the UK. Neuways has an excellent technical team with a diverse skillset and the turnover is very low here, but it can be challenging to get new, experienced talent through the door.

TR: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?

MR: I believe it’s very important to innovate as an MSP. NeuVue360, our brand-new customer service software suite, which we developed entirely in-house, is part of our commitment to innovation.

We know that we have a talented team here, so I asked our technical system experts to be inventive and look for new ways to leverage our IT to help us achieve our wider business goals.

Since using NeuVue360, we’ve seen a 49% decrease in ticket resolution times despite doing far more business than 12 months ago!

TR: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?

MR: Probably software-as-a-service. It’s a great opportunity, but customers (perfectly reasonably) demand much more from services than they do from one-time purchases. Channel businesses that fail to adapt are going to find it difficult to provide the level of service that their customers require.

An issue we commonly face is the perception that ‘in the cloud’ is both easier and cheaper, which is not always – in fact, rarely – true. It does offer flexibility and scalability without huge CAPEX, but it still needs managing by experts.

TR: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome key business challenges? And, if so, what?

MR: Vendors can always do more; it’s a collaborative process between their businesses and Neuways. Fortunately, we have some very supportive partners in Datto, WatchGuard, Cyber Smart and Microsoft, amongst others, who have been able to help us run webinars, provide training and support us at major IT expos.

Of course, we have to make the commitment as well, so we recognise it’s a two-way street.

TR: Are customers becoming more demanding, and, if so, in what ways?

MR: As I mentioned before, customers are becoming more demanding, but that’s to be expected and is understandable – if they’re paying for the best in IT expertise, they want to receive the best service.

When a customer outsources their IT to an MSP like us, they’re placing a huge degree of trust in our business to look after it effectively. This is where communication is key. It’s our responsibility to not only deliver the best service possible, but to outline what is reasonably to be expected of that service.

Our aim is to be a business partner rather than just an IT support provider, and that means we need to understand our customers’ strategy and not just their IT needs.

TR: If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be and why?

MR: Over the past few years we have had to focus absolutely on business continuity, with a particular slant on cyber security. We’ve put it at the centre of our strategy because, without a secure foundation, businesses are at risk of going out of business after a cyber-attack or disaster. When I started in IT, it was all about maximising the value of investments to ensure that processes were efficient and that a business got more out of the software they already owned.

Now, with secure foundations in place, we’re again helping our customers get more from their systems and investments. With our team of business-experienced consultants, we’re starting, once again, to do the things I enjoy the most.

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