In a market crammed with more than 10,000 providers - spanning value-added resellers, managed service provides, system integrators and many more - differentiation can be difficult.
Yet that is the order of the day for Australian businesses, businesses seeking tailored solutions to meet clearly defined objectives.
“Specialisation and focus are key aspects of being a technology provider in the current market,” observed Ian Richards, managing director of IntegrationWorks Australia.
“We have found clients that are leading in their industries are forming long-term partnerships with specialist technology suppliers who provide thought leadership.
“These relationships provide a partner ecosystem of expertise, that allow clients to draw on a greater pool of experience when delivering solutions.”
Headquartered in the heart of the New Zealand capital, in Wellington, IntegrationWorks continues to build out capabilities across the Tasman, driven by growth in key markets such as Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Next up, Canberra and Western Australia, as the integrator expands across the Australian market.
“The opportunities that we see in the Australian integration market are focussed on connectivity internally and to the wider ecosystem,” Richards added.
“Our experience shows that Australia and New Zealand remain very focused on providing short-term resourcing, or internal project development to meet these opportunities.
“We leverage our extensive experience in other key markets and segments to provide actual solutions to industry problems, such as attracting and retaining customers through meeting their needs.”
Founded in 2005, the business specialises in professional and technical services, offering in-depth expertise across integration architecture, application programming interfaces (API) strategy and program management, in addition to coding, DevOps and testing.
In short, the more complex the integration development and deployment, the more suited IntegrationWorks is to the job.
“Our global award-winning integration experience, combined with our delivery methods, frameworks and processes allow us to provide world-leading integration solutions for our clients,” Richards said.
“We are independent of any specific technology or vendor, which allows our customers the freedom to select the most appropriate integration platform to use and share their information more effectively.”
Despite alliances with Red Hat, MuleSoft, IBM and Dell Boomi - alongside Brisbane-based Internet of Things start-up Reekoh - Richards said taking a neutral stance allows the business to align technology to customer requirements.
“We are engaged with several global standards bodies in our key market segments to provide integration advice in working groups and new standards development,” he added.
“This experience has provided the opportunity to directly influence our technology vendors in building new product features and roadmaps in their integration platforms, as well as providing a conduit to our clients for feature requests and enhancements.”
From an end-user standpoint, IntegrationWorks counts TrustPower, Christchurch City Council and New Zealand Police as customers, alongside Inland Revenue, FMG Insurance and New Zealand Racing Board.
Specific to Australia however, a breakthrough came in June 2017, when the business bolstered presence by leveraging strong demand across private and public sectors.
Triggered by a “major” Queensland healthcare government contract win, the integrator upped the ante across the Tasman, following up with Sydney and Melbourne office openings.
“Our customers are world-leading organisations, and they always have the same drive as we do for continual improvement,” Richards added. “New technology driven business models have provided the requirement for our customer’s products and services to be more interoperable in their markets, and external markets.
“We have seen an increased spend on interoperability frameworks and technology, and a demand for skilled integrators with proven experience.
“A great example of this is Open Banking, where interoperability requirements now extend beyond banking and finance into market segments such as utilities, healthcare and manufacturing.”
For Richards, integration technology that is “secure, robust and can scale” provides the platform for these new distributed business processes.
“The technology vendor leaders are the ones that can consistently pivot with the market to support the new standards and protocols required for the client business models,” he added. “IntegrationWorks are the enablers of technology to implement business strategies.”
In assessing the spending patterns of the Australian market, Richards said customers are primarily pursuing cloud services to reduce cost and risk associated with existing legacy platforms and vendors.
Furthermore, the move to shift common workloads to serverless functions, and focus on core capabilities has created a “strong demand” for platform-as-a-service and hybrid cloud integration.
According to Richards, this allows organisations to implement digital transformation faster and more efficiently with a smaller footprint.
“Having a clear digital transformation strategy and roadmap for execution are key to our business customers,” Richards added. “Working cloud effectively into the company strategy means more than just shifting infrastructure to remove cost.
“Digital transformation is about using technology to provide a fundamental change to how a business operates and serves customers. Successful transformation actually starts with people and culture in the organisation, and followed by the products and services to customers.”
Despite strong appetite for innovation, Richards acknowledged that digital transformation skills remain “very low” on both sides of the Tasman, and in many cases, being “learned on the job”.
“Digital transformation is being used as a concept by services vendors to drive out costs in organisations through the use of technology,” he explained.
“This is actually digital evolution, not transformation, and leads to a decrease in operational costs but not a transformative business model or game-changing product.”
A new ecosystem of providers
As the ecosystem of partners, vendors and distributors evolves - morphing from a structured supply chain to a spider web of suppliers - Richards cited cloud and as-a-service models as the key trends impacting the channel today.
“These trends are providing organisations with the ability to out-pace leading organisations in their markets, and quite often they are more educated in the use of this technology than the channel,” he added.
“Software and operations costs are being driven down by the changing licensing and support models, which is a positive impact that the channel can and should deliver.”
Consequently, the key challenge for technology providers centres around the “finite and limited” skilled expert resources available in the current market, and the increasing costs of servicing implementations and support, according to Richards.
“Vendors must be prepared to take on new business models and solution propositions from technology partners,” he added.
“Clients are now moving at a rapid pace and technology providers are under pressure to deliver. Vendors that can support the technology providers more effectively will grow market share, while those that cannot will decrease in significance.”