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Maintel boss confident of transforming the business

After a few months in the hot seat, Ioan MacRae believes channel player Maintel has the weapons in its armoury to drive future growth

Maintel is looking to continue its transformation into a high-value services business and has plans to grow its own partner ecosystem over the course of this year.

It has been almost four months since the former Avaya UK boss, Ioan MacRae, stepped into the CEO role at Maintel, with a brief to spearhead the firm’s next stage of development.

The main building blocks were in place with the business already having developed its own ICON platform and starting to shift the business away from low-margin to more valuable contracts.

MacRae is looking to continue to move the business towards the cloud, and he wants to get this approach bedded down in every aspect of the firm’s approach to the customer.

“In the first three to four months I’ve been here, my motto is very much ‘cloud first’. The mentality of everything we do has to be cloud first,” said MacRae.

He said that there was a pressure to change and move away from the traditional model of just reselling a vendor’s technology, wrapping a service around it and then coming back to upgrade it.

“In the past couple of years, the markets moved, and you can’t do [the traditional model] any more. It’s become highly competitive, and customers are far more educated and intuitive of what’s out there,” he said.

“Equally, their purchasing decisions have changed, and they want to be able to consume services and products without buying them. Customers want to be able to have the flexibility depending on what happens in their own business – the typical flex-up, flex-down service.

“As a business, we have had to change from very on-premise perpetual, and we are still in that transition into a pure consumption, opex [operational expenditure] and subscription-based offer with services associated with it,” he added.

Maintel has built the Icon cloud platform that serves medium and large-sized enterprises with unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact centre as a service (CCaaS) – with Mitel and Avaya the main vendors being offered – plus all of the connectivity, SIP provisioning and mobile with security. The business can also add Cisco’s software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) option into the mix.

“A customer can, in essence, be someone we provide connectivity to right up to our largest enterprise customers, where we run their entire fixed telephony as a cloud, their CCaaS platform, network security, WAN deployment and their mobile estate as a managed operation. And now, [we can offer] extra security with SD-WAN over the network and applications,” said MacRae.

The firm’s customers are also going through a transformation process, moving towards a true omni-channel environment with a single customer view, exploiting tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots to improve user experience.

Those changes put Maintel in a strong position to meet evolving needs, and MacRae adds that the firm has also developed its own contact centre, CallMedia, so it has its own omni-channel, private branch exchange (PBX), independent CCaaS offering.

“[CallMedia] is going to be a very big focus for us as part of our overall cloud and services offering, and its designed for the SME and mid-market,” he said.

“Maintel has built the entire infrastructure with the cloud platform and the infrastructure associated with it, such as the dual datacentres. We’ve done the heavy uplift in terms of infrastructure, we have got market-leading vendors on there, which is key, and we have developed our own CCaaS platform where there is a gap in the SME market.”

The firm has used open application programming interfaces (APIs) to make sure that the development of its platform can continue to evolve and work with a wide number of applications.

Partner growth

As well as developing its own cloud platforms and contact centre, the other growth area identified by MacRae is around the possibilities of working with other channel partners.

“The area for growth, outside of our direct customer base, is working with other partners,” he said.

“A partner can take on our Icon platform and white label it, and they own the contract with the customer and can wrap their own services, like installation and other integration skills, and they can flex up and flex down, while we provide all of the infrastructure in the background.

“The big area is building out a reseller community that can take advantage of our investments, [so] they can focus on clear margin and look after their customers.

“It’s growth area I would like to start taking out of the UK. We are very UK-centric, bar one or two customers in Ireland, and the next step of our journey is looking at international growth.”

The message to investors is that while Maintel is in the middle of a three-year transition, it has made the big investments to position itself for the future and has clear growth plans under MacRae’s leadership. Recurring revenues are already 70% or above, and it is looking to increase its revenues to 75%, with 50% of that being cloud revenues, in the next couple of years.

“We’re lucky, because we’ve done all the big investment. We’ve got the portals, we’ve got all the vendors we need to integrate with, and we’ve got a very good customer base on that journey of transition, and the sales team are very active in acquiring new customers because our capability is there,” said MacRae.

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