Equinox IT pushes its borders

Equinox IT pushes its borders

How a consulting firm is growing, 'opinionated but not besotted' by technology

Wellington-based consultancy firm Equinox IT says it is increasing the number of its clients in New Zealand regions beyond the capital, and is on the verge of winning business in Australia.

The company, which has been around since 1995, has built its business with an emphasis on independence in its IT consulting, software devlopment and tech training practices.

“I started off with mainframes in the 1970s and I’ve seen so many silver bullets come along from the vendor community that I came to the point where one does get cynical about technology,” says Roger Dalgleish, managing director. “If we are going to recommend a solution, we have to understand the technology, first and foremost, so we work hard to understand all the significant technologies.”

“We’re opinionated, but we’re not besotted with technology,” adds Dagleish.

The strategy seems to be working as the company starts looking away from government — which currently accounts for 65 percent of its revenue — and more to the private sector to grow its business. The company has plans to double its staff size over the next three years, and intends to focus on private sector engagements to generate its growth.

Equinox currently employs 60 full-time staff and a dozen contractors at its offices in Wellington and Auckland. Dagleish says the company is beginning to win more clients in Hamilton and Christchurch, including developing a software product for one organisation.

The company has developed expertise in Java and Microsoft development, and in January, it was announced that Equinox was the first Microsoft Gold Partner for Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) in New Zealand.

“We’ve had a partner relationship with Microsoft since 2005, when we wrote their original First Foundation Server training,” says software development director, Deane Sloan.

Sloan says the partnership has given Equinox access to crucial development tools and expertise. But vendor relationships come second to practical business decisions.

“If it’s not core to what we are, we don’t feel the need to be building everything and we will happily use other suppliers’ technology,” says Sloan. “And that extends to what we talk about with our customers. If something is not strategic for them, we’ll help them go through and understand, for example, the risks of cloud. It’s factual dsicussion. We can see value in a lot of technologies coming out but we want to make sure it’s appropriate to customer need.”

Dalgleish describes this as a kind of optimisation for client needs.

“If you look at the trends we probably don’t hang over the bleeding edge of adopting technologies, but we're near it,” he says.

While Equinox has a goal of doubling in size in the coming years, it is also set to make a handful of new hires in the next few weeks. The company does not have plans to expand geographically at this time.

Because of its work with Java, Equinox IT also has a partner relationship with Oracle. In Sloan’s opinion, vendor programmes are not always necessary for resellers to do business.

“I think you can set up shop by yourself without those deep vendor relationships, because vendors do make tools available and they do put so much of their information online,” he says.

But, there’s a caveat.

“It’s kind of like moving from just being good to being excellent,” Sloan says. “It’s difficult to do that, and that’s what we’ve aimed to do in our relationship with Microsoft.”

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