Once a division of Alcatel, managed services integrator, Integ has become a significant part of the local industry in its own right, providing a multitude of voice and communications services to businesses, as well as networking, infrastructure and applications. Coming off the back of a double digit increase in profits, Integ's chief executive officer, Ian Poole, talks to Computerworld Australia about the challenge of change in the industry and the importance of the customer.
Can you provide a brief history of your career in IT?
I’ve been in the IT industry for 35 years altogether. I started off as a graduate trainee - called IT in those days - and did an engineering degree with AWA in their engineer and products business. I got involved in a lot of high tech stuff in those days.
From there I went over and worked in North America for about 18 months in an engineering/marketing capacity. I then came back to Australia and worked in consultancy for 12 months. From there I went into a company called Honeywell in a sales capacity and then joined Alcatel for 10 years. I had the opportunity to do a management buy-out from Alcatel in 2001 which I did and formed Integ.
What got you into IT in the first place?
From a very early age, my dad had a business in electrical retailing so I was involved in those early days fixing TVs and radios. He also had a sales area so I was out there selling and fixing. I was always technically minded - I love selling and I also love fixing things.
At the early age you couldn’t do a degree in professional selling so I did a degree in engineering to get myself going.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
Probably, from my perspective the biggest challenge in IT is the constant change from a technology perspective. You’ve got to actually mix the blend of consistent change to how you can manage the change in your own business so you can keep it focussed on one area - you can’t just do a little bit of everything.
So it’s a matter of mixing the changing dynamics, the market, the customer demand with your offering and getting the team behind it. Being able to continuously change that because every year there’s new technologies, new offerings coming.
So it’s dealing with change.
Have you seen the communications and networking industry change while with Integ?
When we started we were very much a voice organisation. We had some really great skill sets around Alcatel technology but once you’re an integrator you have to make that step away from being a vendor to be able to offer complete offers for clients, you have to be able to have a completely offer with the right skill sets, the right partners and you have to branch out from being a straight voice and communications provider, to be able to be a network provider and an applications provider so we had to do that at the same time of not losing what we’ve already got.
In the last 12 months we’ve found that infrastructure has really come on whereas two years before that you had things like unified communications absolutely up there, so we were doing a lot of that. In the last 12 months we grew 20 per cent over all, which is pretty astronomical for us and a lot of that was around networks; building really robust MPLS networks that clients needed because they haven’t invested in quite a while because they had less capital spend and of course the Global Financial Crisis. They realise now to run the applications driving their business they need to upgrade their network.
Is the increased interest in infrastructure because of the refresh life cycle?
Different people do it at different times. In most cases an organisation might put in an infrastructure for three to five years.
I guess if you build a two-lane highway and try to increase it to four lanes, sometimes it’s easier to build a four-lane highway from scratch. Some will implement a network now that will service them for so long and enhance it over time, others will build it for a short amount of time and decide to do a refresh.