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Sooraj Shah

Contributing Editor

Sooraj Shah is Contributing Editor of New Statesman Tech with a focus on C-level IT leader interviews. He is also a freelance technology journalist.

“You don’t want to hold clients to contracts during a pandemic,” says Allied CEO Richard Skellett

Allied was set up in 1992, when it found a niche in working with multinational companies’ small and medium offices around the world. While the likes of Tata, IBM, Wipro and HPE all focused on the big offices at these companies, Allied would provide the managed services and IT support for the smaller offices – incorporating services such as security, cloud, desktop and servers. Today, the company employs staff across more than 40 countries.

According to the CEO Richard Skellett, currently, the company is seeing two types of clients; clients that are driven by technology and those that are looking more at the business output.

“Those driven by the technology are looking at the solutions and asking how they can get integration across the technologies they have, and working on their digital architecture, while there is a smaller group who are the leaders, and they are looking at the business output that they want,” he says.

“The very smart organisations understand that they need to be thinking about their business model and financial models as variable; we want to be able to take fixed costs out of the business,” he says.

As a result of the pandemic, many of Allied’s customers that had been contemplating a move to cloud services are accelerating this shift, according to Skellett, particularly as it forms an integral part of disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

Customers are therefore relying on Allied to provide them with insight into which types of cloud services they could use.

“As we’re vendor agnostic, we’re involved in helping make key decisions for customers in deciding factors like which workloads should be in the cloud, and whether or not they should use multiple cloud providers, and which providers best fit into their business,” Skellett says.

Switching between ‘seat’ and ‘feet’

Pre-pandemic, Allied had been focusing on converting customers from ‘seat’ – people working at fixed positions on their desks – to ‘feet’ – where the workforce is mobile. But since the pandemic, they’ve had to switch this around, with further emphasis on a shared workforce model.

“We have been keeping our customers close to us and talking with them regularly about their business and what their immediate future looks like,” says Skellett,

“For example, our customers do not have as much of an IT end user computing (EUC) demand now and we have helped them reduce this irrespective of contract. Instead, we are looking at helping them remotely instead and we will do a phase-by-phase increase post lockdown to gauge onsite demand,” he adds.

Skellett explains that if the customer is only going to use 25 per cent of a solution, then the financing needs to be reconsidered with the supplier.

“We’ve been very proactive in that area, we don’t want people asking us – we want to volunteer it. This creates more of a partnership, you don’t want to hold people to contracts during a pandemic,” he says.

By taking this approach, even though Allied may lose out on revenue, Skellett hopes that customers will see it as a business it can work with in the long-term. This will make up for the shortfall in the short-term.

Flexi-timings for employees

Internally, Allied has had to make some significant adjustments as a result of the pandemic. This has included, like most other organisations, the ability to work remotely.

“Everyone is affected differently, and their living conditions are also varied. Our teams have frank conversations around how and when work will be accomplished. With schools being closed and some elderly relatives at home too, many employees have additional responsibilities – keeping this in mind we’re working with flexi-timings set on a daily basis,” Skellett says.

From a technology perspective, the company is making use of collaboration tools like video conferencing, share cloud worksheets and cloud telephony to ensure work continues.