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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.

“If we hadn’t switched to offering managed services, we’d be struggling,” says Claremont CEO Mark Vivian

When Mark Vivian joined Claremont in 2011, the company was a consultancy. But over his nine years at the company it transformed into a managed services business, alongside more traditional IT services. 

Claremont focuses specifically on providing and managing the Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle cloud application services. 

A number of years ago we saw a push for cloud application products, where Oracle were trying to get us and others geared up to recruit people and train people to help them sell into their install base and into the wider marketplace as well,” he says.  

However, Vivian believes that the marketplace wasn’t yet ready for this push, despite some success stories. 

“We did a cloud application implementation project with insurer RiverStone. They were an existing Oracle customer, and it went very well – on time and on budget, and we thought that was going to be part of a big wave of projects which never really happened,” he says. 

But what Vivian and his team found was, there were a lot of customers who were looking to stay on Oracle’s product set and were feeling neglected a few years ago, because Oracle’s sales teams were only focusing on selling cloud products. Now, Oracle has switched back from that strategy, and reformed an on-premise team to serve the customers that were still using those products. Oracle has also agreed to continue to support and develop new services for these products, until at least 2031. 

Within this period, Claremont made a strategic decision to focus on that on-premises customer base, and to double down on its focus on managed services.  

In terms of services, the company looks after business’ HRpayroll and CRM systems, offering both DBA and technical support services. 

It has also helped customers with new systems during the pandemic – it went live with a furlough system for the National Trust in April. 

When the National Trust closed all of their parks and stately homes, quite a chunk of their workforce had to be furloughed,  so we implemented a system to ensure everyone got paid the correct amount of money,” he says.  

Vivian suggests that if Claremont hadn’t started focusing on managed services a few years ago, the company would have taken a big financial hit during the pandemic.  

“A lot of projects have been put on hold or cancelled as a result of Covid-19, whereas people need their key business systems to keep running during a crisis, so the services we’re providing are critical to these organisations. As a result, we haven’t seen any issues on that side of things,” he says. 

“If this had happened a few years ago, we would have certainly been struggling,” he adds. 

Business-as-usual for Claremont, but not for customers

Claremont was a remote-working organisation prior to the pandemic, meaning that its delivery consultants have always been home-based and that only a few employees – Vivian included – had to switch from working out on the road or from an office to working from home.  

But from a customer perspective, there have been bigger changes as a result of the pandemic. Some Claremont customers have opted to move away from on-premises products altogether, shifting to cloud-first strategies which has meant moving to one of the hyperscalers such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud.  

However Vivian claims that there are issues with putting Oracle services onto some of those public cloud offerings, and therefore he says many customers have turned to either Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, or Claremont’s own cloud offering.  

Other customers have been looking to get more out of the existing investment they’ve made with Oracle – which is where Vivian says Claremont is aiming to provide support. There are also organisations that are seeking to upgrade from earlier versions of Oracle E-Suite Business which won’t be supported at the end of next year. 

“Those are the three areas that are quite hot at the moment; it’s been quite surprising that during lockdown that a lot of business development activity has been continuing and we’ve been onboarding new managed services customers which has been great,” he says.  

Vivian is hopeful that the managed services side of the business will help the company to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.