Melbourne-based Layer8 Networks has proven itself something of a network and collaboration champion in 2020 by embracing its technical roots.
The company placed sixth in the 2020 CRN Fast50 after achieving annual revenue in excess of $3.3 million, at a growth rate of 161 percent.
The company’s founders, Ben Brockliss and Matthew Pook, told CRN that customer service was its real differentiator.
“For us, it has to be customer service, we're relentlessly customer-focused,” Brockliss explained.
This is achieved through a flat company structure where, from the directors down, Layer8 mandates that its employees are always available to tend to customer needs.
“I think delivery is key for us. We've both got technical backgrounds. So we know what we're good at,” Pook explained.
“We try to stick to what we're great at delivering and if we say we can deliver something we know we can do it on time.”
Layer8 specialises in networking, security, IP telephony and collaboration.
“That's what we pride ourselves on,” Pook said.
“We are deliberately trying not to stray too far from our strengths,” Brockliss added.
However, Brockliss was quick to stress that the company did see common challenges when dealing with customers whose needs extend beyond Layer8’s core competencies. In this instance, Layer8 will engage vendors which complement the company’s existing offerings.
Brockliss said the company had been fortunate to work with many gaming, hospitality, retail and entertainment companies. Layer8 also has a number of government clients.
“Our previous work history has introduced us to a couple of these companies,” Brockliss said.
He added that growth in these industries was not due to a specific focus from Layer8, but rather its commitment to customer relationships.
“We prefer to stick to a technology stack that we offer to customers rather than a specific industry vertical,” Brockliss said.
“We focus on those core technologies, and how they would apply to a hospital versus a local government, a bank or a finance house.
Brockliss said Cisco Meraki had been Layer8’s best vendor in 2020 and the company had deep skills in the vendor's UC and networking stacks.
Pook said that while Cisco was facing an increasing amount of competition from other networking and UC vendors, Layer8 had seen considerable success by sticking with Cisco and pitching solutions through a security lens, which he said had been top of mind for many of Layer8’s customers.
“We want to make sure that customers are using the remote solutions securely, whether that is collaboration, networking or telephony, they're accessing those services securely across their networks. So the Cisco stack is ideal for that.”
Brockliss praised Cisco’s innovation in moving products from on-premises to annuity-based models.
“That's interesting for us and a challenge as well,” he said. “We're used to servicing equipment on-premises, that's complex, but now they're moving to cloud, they can operate their infrastructure a little bit more themselves. So we're happy to adjust and adapt to that to make sure we can still provide a level of service to those products.”
For distribution, Brockliss and Pook praised Dicker Data for its support during a difficult period for procurement.
“We signed up with those guys from day one,” Brockliss said. “And that was really just from industry reputation.
“We lucked out with our key relationship from the start, Dicker really helped us navigate the beast that is Cisco, making introductions and [assisting with] marketing campaigns and all sorts of stuff they've helped us with.”
When asked to define what made Layer8 Networks so successful in 2020, Pook and Brockliss said that it was a matter of sticking to principles.
“I guess it's just compounding hard work,” Brockliss said. “We started about four years ago and it started off just under our own efforts with those strong customer relationships and industry, people that we knew.
“Over time, you're visiting people, talking about your story, getting a bit more profile, getting the name out there, using those reference cases from pieces of work that you've delivered. It recognises the work we've been doing over the past couple of years.”
“It's definitely a culmination of that effort,” Pook added. “We've brought on sales resources as well and business development resources.”
“So we've been really pushing that business development aspect, including product sales into our services offering. We lead with product but we back that up with strong services which I think sets us aside from some of our competitors, who just deliver products without the back end, or backup.
“That's been part of the growth and hopefully we can increase that this year. We really want to grow another 160 percent over the next 12 months.”