The world of IT is often coloured corporate grey and is bland and totally free of romance.
But IT Works in Lower Hutt has a point of difference. Liam Brady, 31, and his wife Paula profess their love for each other on the company website, complete with a picture of them cuddling, accompanied by the story of how they met and fell in love because of IT.
Liam met his wife to be while working as a tech. She says her computer somehow needed fixing a lot more than was usual, which coincidentally gave Liam more time to chat her up.
“He really is a bit of a softy," Paula says on the company website. "I guess I saw that in him when he climbed under my desk to fix my computer for the first time.”
Five years later, the couple are married with kids and running their own IT service company with three employees and as much passion for IT now as the early days of their romance. Liam confesses to a love for IT at work and at home. He says the early years of the business were as much about sales as they were about fixing computers. His first few SLAs were sealed by a handshake and good faith.
The company now has around 20 customers requiring regular attention. The main focus of IT Works is client satisfaction and vigilance about service level agreements. The company offers managed services from its relationship with software and cloud provider, GFI.
“The number one hardest thing about being a small IT company right now is that there are dozens of IT companies around all offering the same services with access to all the same suppliers and the only point of difference we have is the service we provide," Liam says. "Things like quicker times getting there and being
more available, being more helpful."
“There’s only 12 workable hours in a day really," he continues. "So how do you do that? I think
it can be done. We’ve got our own thing that we’re focussing on. We’ve come up with an idea, and I’m probably not going to say because I don’t want it in print just yet.”
Liam says an idea he has for a marketing strategy is as yet untested and he’s keeping it close to his chest until it’s launched.
“It’s something the other IT companies are not doing and I really hope it’s going to change the way our business is. We’re competing in a market where service is fantastic. It’s where you make you money. People can go to Harvey Norman’s and buy computers at prices we could supply but if they buy from us at slightly higher [price] if there’s a problem you come to me and you deal directly with me. In my opinion IT these days is more about service than what you’re selling. You need to be knowledgeable and have fun with it.”
Liam says the company is building on its expertise and product knowledge.
“Cloud is going to be huge, but we’ve still got customers who are not interested in going cloud because of pure security reasons," he says. "They want to keep everything in house. But those people are slowly coming around to realising that putting everything in the cloud is going to be the way to go. So I do think that the cloud is going to play a humongously significant role in the next five years in terms of how things work.”
Liam says the role of the local IT specialist who is available and accessible will not go away in the near future. “I still think everyone’s going to need IT. Companies are still going to have some things kept locally. They’re still going to have mission critical computers and systems that have to be working and if they don't, that company will stop making money. So I don’t think we’ll be squeezed out.
“Part of the challenge is that IT changes so quickly. The funny thing about this industry is that you’re expected to know. As an IT expert if someone asks you about something and if you give the wrong answer they will have judged you how good a service you’re going to provide. So as an IT provider it has to be your mission to stay on top of this.
“That’s going to be forever. People want advice. They want to know what to buy and whether you can set it up for them. They don’t want to think about it. Lots of people don’t care about their IT systems, they just want it to work. ‘It was working yesterday, I want it working today. I don’t care what’s going on just make it work.’ That’s their attitude.”
Liam says he doesn’t see a future where IT is perfect. “Things are always going to break down. If IT was perfect, would you still need us? Probably not, but IT is not perfect and I don’t think it ever will be.”