CIO100 2017 #31-100: Darius Mistry, Imagetext Systems
“Being in the IT industry, business transformation and change management are a regular occurrence for us,” says Darius Mistry, managing director of Imagetext Systems.
“Over the past two years, we have had to significantly transform our business to adapt to the change in the use of IT infrastructure within our client base,” he says.
“As the usage of cloud technologies became predominant, we had to quickly upskill ourselves to enable our clients to adopt these new technologies. As part of our sales strategy for our clients, we had to adopt these same technologies within our own organisation.
“We have migrated most of our clients onto the Adobe Creative Cloud, and the Microsoft Office 365 platforms. The next phase is to take our clients onto the Azure server platform.”
He says the company set a target to migrate 100 per cent of its clients onto the cloud platform within three years. Two years down the line and it is close to 80 per cent there.
“To meet the objective we had to put in strict monitoring tools in our CRM process, train our engineering team, template the migration process to enable quick and successful roll outs at an economical cost for our clients, and train the sales team to understand the sales process around a Cloud migration process,” says Mistry.
The first few migrations were a learning curve for Imagetext’s engineering team. But as the team became used to the process and templated it, the next few migrations went through smoothly.
“This cloud migration journey has put us under significant financial strain. But having planned the internal cost structures accordingly, we have managed to not only survive but also thrive during this tough migration period as we increase our bottom line numbers,” says Mistry.
“The decrease in the top line numbers made us work a lot harder to explore other avenues of business that we were not thinking of, to compensate for the shrink in the revenue dollars.
“For example, we were solely focused on IT systems and infrastructure projects in the past. But now we have started to get involved with AV, communications, VOIP, and Web development projects, as well within the existing client base. This has opened up revenue opportunities for us to explore, a completely new set of clients in new industry sectors.”
Mistry says Imagetext is constantly trying to find innovative ways of doing business.
“One example of this is where we have started doing most of our support work remotely, by providing client’s remote management tools on their desktops and laptops. Our engineers can take over and rectify and install almost every bit of software application or sort out software faults, without leaving the office.
“Another example is that we needed to diversify our product offering to our clients to incorporate mobility as part of their web-based solutions. This was because Google stipulated that it would not rank the websites that were not mobile platform-enabled.
“We secured an audit tool that enabled us to do clients’ website audits and then rank them for SEO and mobility optimisation rankings. Once identified, we offered the website optimisation as a service within our portfolio of product offerings.
‘’A third example is that we identified our email hosting platform was not cost efficient compared to the more modern Microsoft Office 365 platform, so we cannibalised our own hosting platform and shifted all our clients on to the Microsoft 365 platform.”
Tracking emerging technologies
Darius says he and his business partner John Preisig who is the technical director, are constantly evaluating the emerging technologies to identify what fits within the company’s overall product matrix, says Mistry.
“Whilst bringing in these new lines of business to compensate for the lack of revenue from our existing clients migrating to the cloud technologies, we had to strive that much harder to keep the traditional stream of business coming through with the supply, and support of the IT infrastructure.
‘We have cut down on the products we sell and support and focus our energies on only the few tried and tested platforms, so we can be laser focused on these products, and achieve a level of expertise , second to none in the world.”
Being a medium sized organisation with the original owners also full-time employees, a flat management structure has been maintained. Employees drive their day to day activities around focused KPIs and objectives.
He says the greatest challenge Imagetext faces, is to identify the winners within the plethora of new initiatives coming from all directions and trying to choose which initiative to promote to our clients.
“Once we have chosen the platform, we then need to put together a sales, marketing and internal training programme so we can adequately support our clients. This process becomes extremely difficult when we have new initiatives thrown at us almost at the pace of 15 to 20 new major transformational changes coming each year, in different aspects of the overall IT infrastructure environment.”
To manage the challenge, the company has created a robust selection package based around a few key criteria.
These criteria are the main reason why the company has managed to not only survive but also thrive in a highly competitive, challenging and disruptive industry which takes no prisoners, says Mistry.
“In my humble opinion we are a world-class IT organisation that has survived 30 plus years in this industry, which grows only because of constant change.
“We have learnt not only to embrace change but turn it into an advantage. We did this by managing to steer our business to thrive amongst the change and with systems to take advantage of ongoing change to create a competitive advantage, and at the same time a barrier of entry for the competition.
“In our industry you survive and grow by being nimble, make quick decisions that are 95 per cent correct and learn to take advantage of the constant change.”