Turning a Corner

Comms Business Magazine talks to Nicholas Scallan, CEO of Pinnacle Technology Group about how he is turning around the company and his outlook for the future.

What have been your key growth areas during the past year and what are your growth expectations for the coming 12 months? Tell us about your ‘turn-around’ activity. What went wrong? 

Pinnacle Technology has an impressive customer base, passionate employees and exciting product capabilities. However, the business has been loss-making for some time, primarily through a lack of integrating disparate acquisitions and by resourcing an inappropriate sales strategy, which has now ceased.

Since being recruited by the new Board in March, I have embarked on a strategic review to sharpen the focus of the business, return to profitable revenue growth and continue to reduce costs. Progress has been made on each of these – for example the Easynet announcement to consolidate our network access suppliers – and we have also improved our customer experience, through investment in a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and training. On the growth front, we can see that Pinnacle’s managed IT Services and Security capabilities are strong and these, underpinned by being able to provide voice, data and mobile communications, mean that we are able to address a client’s full communications needs and work as a trusted partner.

This is particularly relevant in the small and medium business market – a core market for Pinnacle. This also sees us having a strong proposition for the mid-sized UK enterprise and public sector markets as well, particularly where clients have buying expertise and want to work with a partner providing ‘best-of-breed’ services.

What are the three main market trends and emerging markets that are influencing your go-to-market strategy this year? 

The growing importance of cyber security, and the increasing need for all organisations to have a strong IT Security capability to deal with threats, coupled by the means to be able to do something knowledgeably once a threat has been identified. This has been clear in the mid-market and public sector for at least the last couple of years however it is increasingly relevant to small and medium businesses as well. Secondly, the importance of data security and backup. This does not always mean ‘cloud’; it’s a data strategy and backup solution appropriate to the clients’ needs. Thirdly, we continue to still encounter – dare I say far too often – the continued use of Microsoft XP!

How do these market drivers translate into your near/mid-term channel strategy? 

These trends in the market help us to focus our sales channels in a way that is most relevant for our clients, so that we engage meaningfully with them to help address their business needs, as opposed to being technologically ‘pure’ for the sake of it. Our view is that technology should enable, and we therefore look to address our clients with our direct channel, with consultancy and professional services, by sourcing best-of-breed solutions, and by becoming their trusted advisors for their communications needs. A good example of this is Aberlour Child Care Trust, a client who has outsourced their IT helpdesk to us, in addition to providing them with managed IT services.

What strategic channel moves will you be making in the coming year in terms of attacking existing markets with new products/services and addressing new markets with new products/services?

We will continue to grow our IT Services and Security propositions, continuing the shift to professional and managed services based on the wide experience we have. These will continue to be underpinned with strong voice, broadband and mobile offerings, so that Pinnacle provides a complete solution for our clients. From a route to market perspective, Pinnacle will continue to grow both direct sales and further enhance existing and valued channel partnerships.

What do you see as the biggest challenges/opportunities in the UK ICT channel and how will you maximise the opportunity and address the challenges as they relate to you? 

While we’ve said that we’re focusing on the likes of data security and backup, it’s also about ensuring that you have a strong reactive presence that can be quickly shaped to meet the ever-evolving needs of the market. Our people are key to this – having a good team around you, and being passionate about what they do is essential. We have the benefit of being able to react quicker because we’re a streamlined business, and that allows us to see the whole picture. The bigger the company, the more time it takes to manoeuvre. Furthermore, we welcome the challenges, because it is within those that the opportunities also exist.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine