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View from the Channel With Peter Sweetbaum, CEO of IT Lab Group

Technology services and solutions provider IT Lab has just acquired its third business in a little over two years. Following its acquisition of Perspective Risk in May 2017 and Content and Code in September 2018, last month’s acquisition of Milton Keynes-based MSP Mirus IT has increased IT Lab Group revenues to more than £75m and its managed services customer base to more than 890 companies. One of the most accredited and awarded Microsoft partners in the UK, IT Lab delivers 24/7 IT managed services, cloud solutions, cyber security and technical advisory, transition and transformational services across the Microsoft 3 Clouds. In addition to solutions based on Azure, Dynamics, SharePoint, Office 365, Teams and Power apps, IT Lab provides award-winning Security Operations Centre and Penetration Testing services. IT Lab Group employs almost 700 people in offices in London, Manchester, Cape Town and, now, Milton Keynes. Technology Reseller asked IT Lab CEO Peter Sweetbaum for his ‘View from the Channel’.

Technology Reseller (TR): How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? How confident are you about the future?

Peter Sweetbaum (PS): It’s fair to say the world itself is probably more jittery thanks to the political climate. But for us, it’s clear that our clients can see the productivity gains through using great technology.

TR: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?

PS: Ultimately, clients want to work more efficiently, be more productive and reduce costs. To achieve this, we are seeing significant demand for Microsoft’s Modern Workplace solutions, and clients want us to enable and increase their collaboration through Teams.

TR: Where is business proving most difficult?

PS: In terms of product, helping our clients manage and take advantage of the speed of release and availability of functionality and services across the Microsoft 3 Clouds. There is so much opportunity to use this to drive positive change, but clients need guidance on which solutions to focus on first.

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

PS: We’re always looking to build skills internally, but we’ve also acquired specialist skills to maintain the breadth and depth of progressive services our clients need. The acquisitions of Perspective Risk, the cyber security business we acquired in 2017, and Content and Code, the Microsoft specialist in 2018, demonstrate our approach to ensuring we can deliver on that breadth and depth.

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

PS: As highlighted above, the ability of the channel to pivot in terms of skills, as well as being able to adjust to differing economic models and margin structures that cloud generally is driving.

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

PS: When working with global vendors like Microsoft, skills development is an internal responsibility. One area that could help is consistency of internal organisation and the relevant teams, as well as their accreditation models.

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

PS: Yes, in that they are generally much more aware of and better at appreciating the benefit of some of the functionality being released and looking to their service providers to be ready much more quickly to support this increased functionality. The good thing is we have achieved a scale that enables us to be much more agile and to invest in this.

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

PS: Not a huge amount. I love what I do. I would probably like to reduce the travel time from place to place and to increase usage of Teams in the wider world to make my life easier!

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2020