Just prior to lockdown, Ethos Group acquired Pinnacle Document Solutions Group, a move that provides a solid platform for expansion in South Wales and the South West of England. Michelle Ryder spoke to Chief Executive Officer Barry Matthews, to find out more about the business’ plans and goals
Michelle Ryder (MR): You completed the Pinnacle deal just before lockdown, how’s business been over the past six months, and how does that compare to last year?
Barry Matthews (BM): I don’t think anyone could have predicted the advent and impact of COVID-19 12 months ago. It’s fair to say the past six months have been challenging for organisations in every sector.
Our services and solutions offering is pretty broad, and continuing to expand our product and service portfolio across digitisation, cloud, mobile, cyber and security services to address changing market needs, is a top priority for the leadership team.
So whilst the print side has been impacted, we have continued to trade throughout. In particular we have seen much greater demand for telecoms and software solutions. Across the group, our sales team are sitting at around 75 per cent of target.
We’ve taken time over the past few months making sure we cut our cloth accordingly and keep business moving as we look to the future. We’re cautiously optimistic as we enter Q4 and hopefully more offices begin to re-open.
MR: You said you’re experiencing stronger demand in other technology sectors, can you please expand?
BM: The massive surge of people working from home meant a huge uptick in demand for technology that would enable them to be as productive as when in the office. That spanned telecoms, video conferencing and IT services and solutions that enabled people to work from home securely. We have a strong team who supported our clients throughout, delivering the solutions and support they needed to continue business as usual.
As a group we continue to develop partnerships in emerging technology, a strategy that allows us to evolve and better support our customers as the business landscape changes. One example of this is recent investment in document digitisation and workflow transformation tools – areas where demand has accelerated due to the pandemic.
Print volumes are also slowly picking up again as people return to the office albeit many are adopting a hybrid working model.
MR: How have you changed/are you changing business operations?
BM: One of the key focus areas has been on ‘cutting our cloth’ accordingly, by that I mean reducing non-people costs to ensure there’s no wastage. We’re looking at our geographical spread and physical office set-up, considering what we have got and what do we need going forward.
There are lots of new opportunities that we will capitalise on – for example MPS is a proven way to help organisations reduce costs and increase efficiency, the MFP can be the backbone of the office, but even today, it can be overlooked. Our approach is to glean a forensic understanding of how clients use and do not use office equipment and then assist them in the best way we can to improve their operations and reduce their costs.
Over the past 12 months Ethos has invested heavily in high performing salespeople to generate broader penetration into existing customer accounts and develop new business.
We have also invested in service delivery to improve the overall customer experience by rolling out engineer connectivity and growing the service desk to support remote fault resolution.We have also created and launched a new cyber risk division. We provide a cyber security score card designed to enable clients to understand weaknesses in their set-up and the potential cost, we can then support them in closing the gaps and eliminating the financial and reputational risk of a breach. In today’s climate making sure home workers are operating securely has to be the top priority for everyone.
MR: What are the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today, can OEMs help?
BM: I think agility is really important – you have to be able to quickly react to change. It’s important not only to react to change within your own company but you also have to be able to flex to accommodate clients’ changing requirements – if you are to remain relevant.
OEMs are there to help their channel partners do business, so long as they recognise that and do all they can to help – that’s all you can ask.