Out in the industrial backroads of Taupo, away from the scenic lakefront lies Taupo Computer Services, managed by Graham Philip.
Taupo Computer Services, sited around the agricultural and vehicle suppliers of its parent company PSL Taupo, employs three staff and covers mostly firms in the Rotorua, Taupo and Turangi area.
The business offers hardware and services, particularly motherboards, videocards, RAM, network projects, network management and services.
It used to promote itself as a gaming specialist. but this route was not fruitful.
“I looked at Trade Me and there was no-one selling gaming PCs and we started advertising them. Within a couple of weeks there were 20 or 30 trying to sell these superfast gaming PCs. It turned out to be too competitive,” Philip explains.
Fortunately, Philip found a better alternative – search engine optimisation. Businesses typically have websites, but how good are they if no-one can find them on the internet?
This involves using Google Analytics, a bit of HTML code, web directories, and using keywords that allow them to be found. Having a blog on your website also increases the chances they will be picked up, he explains.
Already customers say the optimisation work is paying off for them, including the parent company PSL Taupo that is also claiming increased sales.
Philip says what also sets his business apart from others is his Bachelor in Computing Systems gained at the Rotorua-based Waiariki Institute of Technology; plus his trade certificate in electronics skills.
He started work as an apprentice mechanic, going on to work for 13 years as a TV technician. He then spent five years teaching English as a second language at a Christian missionary in Brazil, before doing his degree and working for an educational centre in Rotorua, handling the IT for 46 local schools.
“When you do have a degree, you have that knowledge,” he explains.
This means he can take a wider overview of problems, as well as having more in-depth skills.
Philip offers project management services and finds his skills useful in network issues.
One customer had power supply problems, but Philip was able to use his background in electricity to discover the problem: the quality of the electricity supply and its varying voltage. Much of Taupo is affected by such variable power and this caused one business to throw out a lot of equipment, like hard drives and power monitors, because of ‘spikes’ in the power supply. The issue has been raised with the government, with meetings between the local power providers and various officials and Taupo companies underway.
Networking, database services, plus backup and restore are a common source of work. Customers’ staff often don’t set up configurations properly, or they forget to backup something and the system crashes.
Another mainstay is software fraud. Philip carries out investigations of systems to see where ‘cracked’ versions of software are being used. Management may be unaware that their “techy” is using such software, but firms remain at risk.
“I see it as a liability for the customer. If you suggest to a CEO he steals a car for the company fleet, he’d be horrified,” he says.
Such investigative work then leads to other business – eliminating the pirated software from the system and then selling them the genuine item, “so it becomes a software implementation project”.
Recovering software systems after virus outbreaks is also an ongoing source of work.
“Rebuilding systems after a virus is quite a big earner,” Philip says.
Indeed, the company is a reseller for the Kaspersky AV programme.
However, because of the competitive nature of the home market, Taupo Computer Services is looking more towards supporting corporates.
“They put resources into making systems better. That’s where the money is. We have existing SME customers, but our aim is to try and find more corporate customers,” he says.
Being part of a well-established group of companies has advantages, says Philip. “We are not prone to that IT company ‘here today; gone tomorrow’ view. We are also a bit like the parent company’s inhouse IT department.”