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This year’s CRN Fast50 winner Anittel highlights an important trend within the Australian IT channel.
The product of several mergers and acquisitions amongst a number of what were essentially pure-play IT solutions providers and integrators, the company has for the past few years been working to position itself as a full end-to-end IT&T company complete with its own telecommunications infrastructure.
The irony of the situation isn’t lost on Anittel’s managing director and executive chairman Peter Kazacos. In 2004 he made his fortune selling Kaz Computing to Telstra, which itself had the idea of the being a full solutions provider.
Now Anittel is competing with the carrier, most aggressively in the largely untapped markets of rural and regional Australia which have traditionally been underserved in the technology department. Kazacos seems almost boastful when he declares that Sydney doesn’t even rate in Anittel’s top three markets.
Anittel plans to change all that and by all accounts is making some serious headway.
“Over the past several months Anittel has opened two new office locations to increase its national footprint to 17 regional and metropolitan office locations,” the company says in its 2011 annual report. It has a three-year plan to establish operations in a further 43 locations throughout Australia. Its most recent new office is in the country music capital of Tamworth.
Anittel’s winning of this year’s Fast50 challenges the adage that growth becomes harder the bigger you get. This year it was named as Deloitte Australia’s fastest growing technology company – measured over three years – with just over 1000 percent growth.
Still, its revenue growth in 2011 was well shy of its 2010 results. And for the full year ended June 30, 2011 the company reported a full year net loss of $19.9 million.
At the time Anittel attributed most of the red ink to costs associated with absorbing several acquisitions over the past 18 months.
Earlier this year Kazacos admitted to CRN “we underestimated the integration of all the different companies”.
But he is adamant that the company will be back into the black in the current financial year.
“We will be profitable this year.”
Currently Anittel has 200 staff, down from 270 last year.
The company has also made some significant personnel changes at the top.
Earlier this year then Anittel chairman Kazacos orchestrated the removal of then CEO Ilkka Tales along with director Carlos Perez as part of a strategy to assure the market it was serious about arresting its flagging fortunes. Soon after he brought on three channel heavy hitters; former Kaz Group executive Michael O’Sullivan was named director and chief operating officer; and IT industry veteran Chris Calamos was named finance director; and former Ingram Micro sales and marketing director John Walters became an independent director.
Kazacos explains that Anittel is “in an organic growth phase” but he doesn’t rule out buying further companies should it make good business sense to do so. Most recently Anittel bought Townsville IBM integrator Future Townsville, for an undisclosed sum. In the past year, Anittel has bought resellers in regional NSW towns including Albury and Dubbo.
Kazacos says that while most rural and regional businesses in Australia would have some sort of IT services company available to them, the depth and quality of the offering is generally behind those in metropolitan centres.
“The thing that tends to be missing is they don’t have someone that can do the full service like we do.”
Anittel is also very sensitive about the importance of customer service for customers outside of metropolitan areas, and this is something that the company has invested considerable money and effort into improving.
“The relationship they have with the supplier is very important to them,” Kazacos explains. "It’s not like we sell and they never see us a again – small towns – see people walking down the street.”
“There’s a lot of engagement with customers.”
Anittel describes its key differentiator as its “integrated voice, data, cloud and managed IT services capability. Anittel is now well advanced in the development of its cloud offering which it hopes will benefit from the combination of IT and telecommunications infrastructure and expertise.
The company announced that it has built out its national network with redundant intercapital links connecting 12 points of presence nationally including in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.
It also continues to expand its national ADSL2 network and claims to have migrated hundreds of services.
Anittel says it has leveraged its communications networks to secure new business with “well known enterprise” brands, the company’s first wholesale sale, and further development of the company’s dealer network. The company has been expanding its MPLS network for the past several years, extending its ability to provide communications services to remotely located businesses. It has also been selling capacity to wholesale customers.“
Price and reliability is sufficiently attractive to allow dealers to make a profit,” Kazacos says.
He adds that the NBN should also lead to the development of new and improved IT&T services for rural and regional Australia.
Anittel is also hoping that its investments in telecommunications will help it to gain a good share of the growing mobility marketplace.
Kazacos notes that while it appears to be a two-horse race between Android and Apple’s iOS “it will be interesting to see where Microsoft will go in the mobile space”.
“There are a number of customers who are saying ‘Where do we go’?”
Another interesting question for the industry to ponder is to what extent the large installed base of Windows XP users will migrate over to Windows 8.
This year Anittel was named by Microsoft as a finalist in its small business specialist partner of the year category. The company also firmed its relationship with Apple with the two organisations forming a partnership to work together on opportunities in the education market.
Other achievements for the past year included Anittel’s selection as a preferred supplier for the Western Australian Local Government Association supplier panel.
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Issue: 315 | May 2013
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