Business Online (Bizo) began offering managed services at a time when many local businesses were confused over what these services were.
Co-founder Wayne Dartnall admits the firm has had to educate the market from when it became an early entrant into hosted services in 2004.
Dartnall says “not many at all” were getting into this market at the time and he believes those that were adopted a “very narrow view”.
“There were people doing co-location and hosting, web hosting or basic email or online backup. But they were all siloed services. Very few were taking this holistic view of managed services, in terms of being able to go to a single provider and pay a monthly subscription and get the support you needed around your IT.”
Dartnall and Bizo co-founder Tim Mulcock also worked together to establish Enterprise Management Solutions (EMS) in New Zealand in 1996. EMS’ Cortex provisioning software allowed telecommunications companies to integrate separate services as one offering to the customer.
Dartnall and Mulcock licensed the software to become the core of Bizo’s managed services offerings.
The company has subsequently invested in development of its own software and infrastructure, as well as partnering with vendors, to provide a range of integrated services.
“We very much have a two-pronged attack,” says Dartnall. “We want to be the provider of choice to the end customer, but also the channel of choice to the vendors. We’re working this year and next on how we partner with more vendors that can fill gaps and how we integrate that into our core offering.
“With Bizo, we took that basic premise that the customers wanted an integrated set of services that looked at IT holistically, from computers to connectivity, and voice.”
The company has invested heavily in network connectivity to form the basis of its Get Connected suite of services. This suite offers connectivity to the internet and between different branches of companies. Bizo has resale agreements with telcos to provide internet services, as well as local and toll call services. In the voice area of the business the company also offers managed IP telephony and SIP trunking, where it has partnered with other firms, and works with Cisco on IP PBX.
Along with security services comprising online backup, desktop security and managed firewalls, it partners on backup and recovery for firms with 1TB or more of data.
However, Dartnall sees the company’s Get Working suite of services and remote work capabilities as having the most potential for growth. These services include hosted business mail and back office applications, based on Microsoft technology.
“The biggest opportunity we see is in the remote, work from anywhere concept. People want to access their email and information and talk to suppliers and partners and customers wherever they are.
“Workers just have to be available because business is encroaching on your personal life. Work from anywhere allows us to be flexible and move some of our personal life into the business day as well.”
Bizo’s core customer base is the mid-market, and its “sweet spot” is firms with between 50 and 150 seats. Though, Dartnall says it has customers with fewer or far more employees than 150.
The company has a network of less than 100 resellers, but is increasingly moving to indirect sales.
It now has 23 staff, most of whom provide operational support. Dartnall leads sales and marketing, while Mulcock oversees operations and infrastructure.
Bizo welcomes the increasing number of local competitors in managed services, with Dartnall saying it adds greater credibility to the sector, especially the efforts of large players such as Google and Microsoft.
However, he says the integration of services sets Bizo apart.
“If a customer is buying more than one service from us it makes it harder for them to jump, just because someone else offers a better price or something like that.
“The voice market is the best illustration of a market that churns, but if you’re providing voice and something else, you’re starting to develop a deeper and stronger relationship where a customer doesn’t feel so compelled to move.”
He says despite more firms getting into managed services, local companies’ “do it yourself” approach also represents competition.
“A lot of end user customers go out there and buy all these discrete components, or get a contractor in to put them all together, rather than use other managed service providers,” says Dartnall.