Net Essence Ltd. is an IT support company based in Carshalton, Surrey, in the United Kingdom. Formed in 2009, the company is the result of the merging of two companies- a break-fix IT support company that also managed web-hosting and domain registration, with a company that specialized in internet marketing. Marketing Director Anthony Charlton says that once the two companies merged, and Net Essence was formed, the company began to mainly focus on IT support, although website development and internet marketing services are still supplied to the clients.
"We focus our services on small to medium sized businesses with at least 5 computers on site. In particular, we specialize in providing enterprise-class wireless network systems and then supporting our clients with managing the ever increasing burden the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon is placing on their networks. To this extent, we specialize in Mobile Device Management (MDM) and all of the related pressures on businesses, such as network load and data security.
"There are 2 unique elements of our service: first of all, we are in this game for the next 50 years, so that means we need to take the best possible care of our clients by recommending and supporting solutions that work for their business, not just the ones that we like the most. Secondly, we are small enough to be flexible in a super-dynamic industry (as the world of IT is) but with broad enough skills and partnerships to be able to stay riding the wave edge of current trends."
Charlton explained that the company's first priority is managing their client's IT requirements "and that means we are usually their first port of call for pretty much anything to do with their IT infrastructure, software licensing, telecoms solutions and even which mobile phone they should upgrade to. We endeavour to put in place strategic partners who are experts and specialists in complimentary services and who honour the relationship with our clients consistent with our own values.
"Whilst no-one can be all things to all people, we can and do manage as much in-house as possible – including network and WiFi management, data backup and disaster recovery and, of course, cloud-based email and office productivity systems.
"'Managed services' is not something that can be sold to a client over the telephone because being allowed to manage and monitor clients’ IT networks requires a certain level of trust. Furthermore, we know that our clients are often looking for, and in need of, additional services and solutions.
"We like to work closely with our clients in a consultative capacity to help and advise them in choosing the hardware, software and services most appropriate to them and their business. Specifically, we provide hardware such as servers, desktops and laptops and network equipment which we configure for our clients. We also focus on the promotion of the wireless networking equipment, data backup and disaster recovery and cloud-based e-mail and office productivity systems."
One of the two companies that merged to form Net Essence was a break-fix IT support company, but Charlton says that once Net Essence had formed, they moved the company to Managed Services as they were unsatisfied with break-fix.
"We have built the business to provide pro-active IT support through Managed Services. We were just as frustrated with the break-fix model as our clients were and so we made the transition to an MSP model as quickly as possible. Change is still occurring, but the break-fix days hold no attraction for anyone – especially those clients who have likewise made the move."
On-call 24/7 technical support for clients is a necessityAs an IT support company, when a client has a problem, it needs to be addressed quickly. Charlton explains that his company has two excellent methods for contacting his support team.
"The primary method of contact for clients who contact us regularly is via the Ticket Desk. They know that when they submit a ticket by e-mail, that it will be received and acted upon within minutes.
"Many of our clients prefer to telephone us directly. We encourage this a means of communication because as an outsourced IT provider, it is important that our clients feels as though we almost in the same building. For this reason, it is our support technicians who answer the incoming calls and because they know and understand our clients’ IT systems, they are able to deal with most enquiries without having to transfer the call to anybody else."
His company’s highly-qualified technicians are always available to answer support questions and help clients solve whatever issues need resolving.
"We have a couple of full-time technicians as well as “pool” of trusted technicians whom we call upon whenever we need them to provide on-site support for our clients. Our technicians are sometimes called upon to travel to other countries in Europe to carry out their duties. In support of the technicians we work closely with several other companies who provide specialist services such as data cabling and audio-visual installations."
Cloud and mobile present continuous new challenges for ITCloud services and platforms present many opportunities, as well as many challenges, to IT departments that must continuously find the correct balance between accessibility and security.
Charlton explained his company's use of cloud services, "Software as a Service (SaaS), Hardware as a Service (HaaS), Data as a Service (DaaS), etc… These, and other “as a Service” acronyms are becoming ubiquitous in the world of IT. Managed Exchange for e-mail, SharePoint and Office 365 for office productivity, remote data backup and disaster recovery solutions, all of these services are now being provided as cloud services. We provide all of these solutions and more. Our clients have been receiving all of these services extremely well. The uptake has been tremendous, not least because the services provide scalability and growth whilst the costs can be very carefully managed and forecast."
Constant change, new growth, and new services are a must for a growing IT support company in order to constantly meet new challenges presented by new technology. Charlton says that he sees tremendous growth in the areas of wireless networking and the management of wireless networks.
"With 12 billion devices connected to the Internet and the proportion of these being mobile devices rising rapidly, ensuring appropriate access to data is going to be an increasingly important consideration for almost all business. By working closely with suppliers such as Xirrus and the Xirrus Management System, we are bringing a cloud-based wireless network management platform that provides full monitoring and management of the Xirrus wireless Array network."
RMM, quoting, invoicing, and promotional solutionsAs far as the use of RMM (Relationship Management Methodology) tools, Charlton says his company uses Kaseya and that they have also used Level Platforms Managed Workplace. The company has currently been using "Kaseya for almost three years and the benefits of using the Kaseya system lie in the integration, automation and reporting that it provides. We have the Kaseya agents deployed on a mixture of desktops and servers and mobile devices."
Quoting and invoicing are integral functions of an IT support company, and Charlton says their system uses custom proposals for each specific product or service.
"The system that we use for quoting depends on the type of product or service being quoted for. Much of the hardware and software that we supply is sourced through one of several main distributors who provide quotation and ordering facilities. A quotation for a Managed IT SLA is often custom written after at least on meeting with the prospective client and a network scan to that is designed to establish the current situation and their future needs."
"Invoicing is managed through a dedicated accounts package which connects to many of the other systems we use through APIs."
Promoting businesses, especially IT support companies, can be an ongoing, challenging, and time-consuming effort. Charlton explains that IT is a fast-moving business and that his company must “be able to react and respond quickly to the changes that take place and keep up-to-date with the newest innovations. We promote Net Essence through the use of social media, in particular LinkedIn and Twitter, which provide us good platforms for quickly sharing information. Traditional advertising is not effective enough for MSPs and provides a very low Return on Investment (ROI), therefore we need to use other techniques. Selling managed services is about creating a level of trust and increasing confidence of our prospective clients in the products, solutions and level of service that we offer. Live, educational events are particularly effective and throughout 2013 we shall be increasing the number of live webinars and seminars that we’ll be hosting as a means to reach out to prospects and clients."
Mobile is the biggest challenge in the near future for Net EssenceThe BYOD movement has altered IT policies in many companies. But it is every IT department's duty to keep up with the ever-changing and progressing technological advances and Charlton says that Net Essence was well-prepared for this challenge and the company is well-prepared for other upcoming challenges over the next few years.
"The relentless growth in the use of mobile devices will present many challenges in the next 12-24 months. We recognized this trend some time ago and we have been positioning ourselves to meet the new challenges that are changing the way that employees work and the way that corporations manage their private data. One of the main challenges will be in providing our clients and prospective clients with the tools and information to equip them to make the best strategic decisions to adapt to the ways in which their working environments will change.”