Expert Review

Achieving growth in unprecedented times

Achieving growth in unprecedented times

The disruption of 2020 has rapidly accelerated IT priorities and how businesses consume IT

Credit: 148215348 © Pop Nukoonrat |

“For most organisations, the business strategy is their digital strategy,” Joe Craparotta, ANZ VP of Secure Power at APC by Schneider Electric, said in an exclusive interview with Nextgen and Data#3. Businesses have been forced to rapidly innovate this year, and those that have taken a leadership position on innovation are now in a much better position for the long term.

These businesses are also the ones that are now tackling the social, economic and business challenges that the necessity for sustainability will place on organisations moving forward.

The past year has been unprecedented in the impact that it has had on everything from the way that we work and live, through to our very concept of society. Fortunately, we have the technology, ideas, people and value sets to help us navigate through this challenging time, and for many channel organisations, 2020 has been a year of disruption, but also opportunity in the chaos.

“We ended our financial year at the end of June, and certainly we were pleased with our overall performance,” Laurence Baynham, CEO and managing director of Data#3. “The growth of 14 per cent that we achieved is not easily achieved on revenues at $1.6 billion.”

What drove Data#3’s success – as well as many other businesses in the channel – has been an acute understanding of how technology has provided solutions to the immediate challenge to transform the IT environment that many enterprises, across all sectors, felt. “We’re focused on the infrastructure space, and delivering end user computing, cloud collaboration, Microsoft Teams, and the likes of WebEx, as well as networking and connectivity and the various forms of cloud,” Baynham said. “The public cloud is certainly one that grabs a lot of the headlines, but the private cloud is equally as important and has provided a huge platform for our customers.”

Laurence Baynham, CEO and Managing Director of Data#3

The disruption of 2020 has not so much shifted IT priorities and how businesses consume IT, as it has rapidly accelerated it, Craparotta said. “We had all of that organic growth already coming through, and then there was this overnight acceleration, in suddenly needing to house capacity that would house all the data that was being created, while making sure that it was accessible and highly resilient as well.”

Building growth through partnership

Another key driver for growth, Craparotta said, was the ability for the technology industry to come together to offer holistic solutions that addressed the customer challenges.

Businesses have been able to achieve growth across the business through leveraging efficiencies, as overall IT spending declined by 2.8 per cent overall in 2020. This meant that CIOs have been actively looking to work with partners to identify and provide complementary and effectively modelled co-joint solutions.

“We looked at our vendor alliances with Microsoft, Cisco, HPE and Dell, and saw them becoming more important, and being a more efficient way to market,” Craparotta said. “We relied on getting in front of Laurence [Baynham]'s team, and coming together with stronger connections and education, and that has made the partnership stronger.

“We can be great at technology, but if it serves my purpose but has no relevance to you, then there's no use building the best technology for technology sake.”

Baynham agrees that this focus on partnerships has been key to his company’s success in engaging with customers through 2020. “The focus on the channel involvement and the go to market through the channel provides us a good deal of certainty, and when we've got certainty, we can invest,” he said. “What we like particularly in today's market, is the fact that the solutions that APC is investing in is actually complimentary to a lot of our other investments.”

Continuing to build post-pandemic

Australia has been in the relatively fortunate position of being able to limit the impact of COVID-19, to the point that many local businesses are now starting to look to recovery and the year ahead. It’s true that the country fell into recession and spending in IT fell overall for the year, but the expectation is that the rebound over the next year will be strong.

Joe Craparotta, A/NZ VP of Secure Power at APC by Schneider Electric

Those investments that organisations have made into IT and transformation will position them well for the future, Craparotta said. “I don't think we can disconnect technology from the economic recovery,” he said. “The other thing is that the data centre segment is one of the largest consumers of energy in the world, at about 5 per cent today, but the analysts are saying that by 2025 it will be between 20 and 30 per cent. It will be frightening if we don't connect this power and energy economy to the digital economy. As we come out of the recoveries, it needs to be a green recovery.”

As Baynham notes, we’ve seen more digital transformation in the last six months than the last ten years. None of those trends are going away. What’s exciting is what will come next. “It was a very exciting time before COVID and it's accelerated,” he said. “What we're looking forward to, is the economic recovery and government budgets catching up with the technology spend.”

Watch the full interview between Baynham, Craparotta, and Nextgen Distribution Director, Susan Searle, here.

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