2019 CRN Fast50 No.4 - CSO Group

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This article appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of CRN magazine.

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2019 CRN Fast50 No.4 - CSO Group

CSO Group’s Michael Simkovic is no stranger to building businesses. In addition to an accounting and management consulting background that stretches back into the mid-90s, the chief executive spent 17 years helping ASG Group grow into the large IT solutions provider it is known as today.

Having held the title of general manager of strategic accounts, sales and solutions, Simkovic built a number of business units within ASG between 2000 and the end of 2016, including an Oracle practice and, notably, a national cybersecurity practice.

When ASG was acquired by NRI in 2016, Simkovic saw the change as an opportunity to step away and build his own focused cybersecurity company.

CSO Group bills itself as an information and cybersecurity specialist company with a business-centric approach.

Though headquartered in Perth, CSO delivers its services right across Australia. That’s possible because chief operating officer Hank Clark is based in Canberra, while other staff as well work from a Sydney office.

CSO’s approach to cybersecurity has always been to engage with organisations at a business level to help them understand and manage risk, Simkovic tells CRN.

“The mantra that we have is that security is a business problem, it’s not an IT problem,” he said. ”I want us to be an asset to our customer organisations. What we did not want to do is transactional reselling where we sell something, implement it and move on,” he said.

Simkovic said being specialised, knowledgeable and agile were the key ingredients to CSO Group’s market position.

He drew an analogy that modern business security challenges were like the old days of ERP demands, wherein multiple services and solutions need to integrate and communicate with each other in order to be at all effective as a cohesive whole.

CSO also has strategic IT partnerships that help it to deliver end-to-end cybersecurity solutions.
“We have and continue to create partnerships that allow us to collaborate with organisations that are specialised in specific fields,” Simkovic said.

An example being Microsoft specialists who have deep expertise in Office 365 and know how to get the most out of the Azure platform. Those applications need to be secured, so we partner with an organisation that specialises in Microsoft and we leverage their infrastructure managed service capability to provide end-to-end cybersecurity outcomes.

“That’s one way we look at how we can add value by bringing functional elements together for our customers.”

In the 2019 financial year, CSO earned revenue of more than $9 million and grew 167 percent. While Simkovic said strong sales and an increasing number of its own managed services deals were coming out of incumbent government and enterprise customers, much of 2019’s sales success came from net new business, a positive sign for the future.

Helping CSO provide an integrated ecosystem of security solutions is Symantec, which named CSO as its ANZ and Pacific partner of the year for 2019. Looking ahead, Simkovic said services would increasingly support CSO Group’s growth, which is expected to continue in 2020.

Key executives:
Michael Simkovic (CEO), Hank Clark (COO)

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