Building up Empired

Building up Empired

Vision to create a bigger IT services player in the market

Russell Baskerville (Empired)

Russell Baskerville (Empired)

Credit: Empired

New operating systems, leadership structure and go-to-market model are shaping up Western Australia-born IT services provider Empired for significant growth in the year ahead. 

Launching a new digital experience platform and refreshed branding, Empired managing director Russell Baskerville is enthusiastic on what lies ahead, saying the past three years were a period of slow growth, but that the company had done a lot of work under the surface in getting its systems, service offerings and go-to-market strategy in shape. 

“There’s been a lot of work done to build those processes and that model to make sure it’s correct,” Baskerville told ARN.

“We were very much in the process of getting our systems right and our culture right. A lot of that is now behind us and we’ve won a great deal with Western Power, and we’re heading in the right direction.” 

In relation to its systems, the company consolidated to one ERP platform across the organisation, a centralised CRM platform and a single services automation system.

This led towards the creation of its new digital experience platform, which focuses on engaging with customers in a more modern approach to help them meet their unique business challenges and outcomes.

“With go-to-market and services, it was really clear to me that we had to build a position in the market, and be clear about what we stood for,” Baskerville said. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at where we really want to play in this market and how those services align to industry trends, and I think some of that comes back to a refreshed branding.”

From a management perspective, the company -- which acquired New Zealand provider Intergen in 2014 -- developed an integrated leadership structure to run its Australian and New Zealand operations as one organisation, complemented with vertical practices that run across both, along with regional-led management teams.

“We’ve got a highly motivated team with over 1000 people today and everyone is really aligned in terms of our goals,” Baskerville said.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX)-listed company has a clear vision on driving its East Coast business, where it has about 300 staff across Sydney and Melbourne.

Baskerville spied plenty of potential to pull the growth trigger for the business, not shying away from a potential acquisition route in the next 24 months. He also highlighted a number of organic growth opportunities within its data business and its Microsoft business applications stack, along with managed services and outsourcing deals. 

“The opportunity for us to leverage some of our bigger deal experience in other markets and go after some managed services is front of mind for us in the next 12 months,” he said. “Likewise in NZ, which is very much a Microsoft applications business, we are looking to introduce some larger annuity deals there too.

“We can touch and feel it right now — we know exactly what those deals are in the regions — our balance sheet is in great shape, our financial performance is pretty solid and that also allows us some opportunities to possibly accelerate that with acquisitions as well, which haven’t been on the radar for a number of years.  

“Over the next 24 months, we’re going to kick that back into gear as a growth strategy for us on the table, which we’ll consider,” he added.

From a sales perspective, Baskerville said the company has stepped away from individual service lines or product-led approaches, to being more customer solution oriented.

“We launched our new website — our digital experience platform, it talks very much to customers and what they’re trying to achieve. There has been a lot of work in refining those services and getting our market strategy correct,” he said.

On top of that, Empired has also been consolidating its partnerships and tightening its alignment with Microsoft. 

“Our relationship with Microsoft has completely changed from three years ago, to now and today we’re proud to say we can offer services almost across the entire stack — infrastructure, security, software and applications, and we’re one of the few players in the market that can do that. We’ve worked hard with Microsoft to build those skills sets,” he said. 

Within WA, Baskerville said it has remained with its organic growth strategy, driving bigger outsourcing deals and was currently pursuing larger customer deals that would add significant headcount to the company. 

Along the East Coast, he said it was experiencing phenomenal results within the Microsoft Dynamics space, particularly in the financial sector. In New Zealand he said, it will continue to drive deals within the public sector arena. 

“The market is a good place to be in right now, there's a lot of broader macro thematics that are driving demand in the technology sector and running a business that has a platform for success is something I’m pretty excited about,” he said.

During its first half FY21 results, Empired's profit leap of 284 per cent to $7.7 million following a long period of “disciplined” finances. 

Revenue was also up 7 per cent to $90 million and earnings before tax rose 43 per cent to $11.3 million.

The company's sales pipeline was up by 45 per cent with its top four customers on track to contribute more than $50 million in revenue for this financial year. 

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