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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.

Customers are taking off pandemic ‘sticking plasters’ to make long-term changes, says AdEPT CEO Phil Race

AdEPT was founded 17 years ago as a telecommunications company. About eight years ago, the founder realised that the marketplace was shifting, with many telecoms and networking services provided through IT. Businesses wanted their phones, hardware, network, cloud infrastructure and other IT services all delivered by one organisation, and so AdEPT went on an acquisition spree to expand its capability, slowly turning it into a managed services provider.

Now, the business focuses on three different areas: IT, network and infrastructure, and communications.  The company turns over £60m, has 300 employees and counts over 15,000 individuals and organisations as its clients. About 80 per cent of the company’s revenue is in managed services.

CEO Phil Race was brought into the organisation two years ago to take the business on to the next stage of this journey, which is to integrate and consolidate the company, removing a lot of its sub-brands.

“We’re now a unified business with unified systems, and we’ve got a clear message to the market and a strong momentum now as a business,” says Race.

The market is big enough for a lot of MSPs

Despite so many businesses becoming a managed services provider (MSP), Race believes that with several million SMEs in the UK the marketplace is big enough for everyone to make their mark. And it’s these smaller companies that often face the biggest challenges as they don’t have the skills in-house to deal with the technical issues.

At the same time, there is a difference in how MSPs themselves can deal with their customers’ issues.

“Some of our customers have suffered from cyber crime so we’ve been able to help rebuild their IT estate. Some of our clients have had to repurpose their organisations so they can work in a secure way remotely. Some of our clients have had IT failures so they’ve had to resort to disaster recover capabilities and then rebuild their primary estate.

“All those examples are technology from all different areas and you need a depth of skill and capabilities that smaller companies can’t deliver, but equally you need to be a responsive attentive local partner which some of the bigger companies can’t provide, so being an organisation of our scale has been hugely beneficial,” says Race.

Sticking plasters and quick fixes need an overhaul

“What we’ve had in the last few months is a lot of sticking plaster tactical solutions or quick fixes to solve problems. However, what we’ve found is organisations are now acknowledging that we’ve put in these quick fixes but that’s not how it should be for the long-term, so they’re asking what they need for the long-term,” says Race.

As a result, AdEPT is now working on a number of projects for customers that are looking for long-term solutions to their issues. This includes contact centre solutions hosted on the cloud, providing more resilient office estates, refreshing IT infrastructure and switching customers from fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP).

Like many other businesses, the company saw big projects halted during the lockdown in March, but a sharp rise in companies needing assistance to enable their employees to work remotely.

Race believes that a second lockdown would see a similar impact on big projects, and that MSPs may experience waves of business in tandem with the pandemic waves; where a second and third wave would see large projects declining.

However, he believes these dips will not be significant and that the company will be able to continue to grow.