• Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I am the Chief Executive Officer of CIS. I developed my passion for IT during school in Cambridge. I began my career as a Systems Analyst through to a manager of 16 providing worldwide in-house technical support as well as assisting with project planning and implementation. Steadily I progressed to more senior roles, consulted at CIS and then brought into the business. I now lead a strong team of managers in delivering our best solutions. I am always looking to provide new and innovative solutions for clients of CIS.
• What is your brand philosophy and how does it give you a competitive advantage?
CIS has a strong brand, we leverage social media platforms to engage with our clients and simplify the very complex world of Information Technology. Our brand is clearly defined across 4 key pillars of our organisation and is clear to our customers, we make technology work smarter for your business, removing jargon along the way.
• What customer-centric strategies do you use and why?
We believe partnership is the key to mutual and sustainable growth. We aim to give all end users the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, harnessing the power of IT to connect and optimise business objectives. Our vision serves as the framework structure for our Roadmap, providing guidance at every aspect of our business by describing what we need to accomplish to continue achieving sustainable, quality growth. People: We strive to be a great, fun place to work, where staff are inspired and rewarded for loyalty and performance. Portfolio: Bring to the world a portfolio of quality Cloud Services that anticipate and satisfy businesses goals and aspirations. Partners: Nurture a winning network of clients and suppliers, together we create mutual, enduring sustaining value. Productivity: Be a highly effective, lean and fast-moving organisation.
• How does your business recruit and retain your employees?
Our staff retention rates are calculated annually and are compared to industry, these have been particularly high in recent years, on average being 96%. We are constantly growing as a company through organic growth and acquisition. As our client base expands so does our need for more staff. Our recruitment process is extensive in order to attract the best people for the roles we require. Our team building days provide a great way to build better working relationships, improving staff communication skills, these days hugely assist in retention by giving everyone a greater sense of involvement and belonging. We empower teams to become more mission focused and to achieve more with less direction. Our biggest challenge is finding the talent that wishes to work in a fast paced, vibrant environment where you are empowered to support customers as if it were your own business. Therefore, it is crucial for us to retain and cultivate the talent we recruit.
• What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your business and how did you overcome it?
Within the past 12 months we have achieved the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification for Information Security Management. This came as a direct response to the needs of our banking clients, reaffirming our commitment to security and data protection in an ever-evolving environment. It was difficult to implement the relevant processes whilst already adhering to most of the practices as well as getting the report together our auditors to validate. We celebrated when that award and certificate was finally granted to us.
• What inspired the launch of your business?
The organisation was built upon the foundation of honesty and building longevity with our customers. Delivering solution and not just products, leaning our trade, owning our trade and delivering the best we could deliver to our clients – building 20 year+ relationships in many cases.
• What is the number one factor in your business success?
The staff are our biggest asset, we empower our people to make decisions in the best interests of the client every day. We encourage training, growth, expansion into new areas of technology or even a full career change. Our team are supported by the management team and we like to help staff strike a balance between their careers and their personal interests and goals and support development in both areas, our clients’ most common feedback “you have a great team and amazing people!”. We have implemented appraisal and review processes and have taken feedback from staff on how this should be carried out. It is with this feedback from the staff and careful planning we make changes in the business, we approach every change with staff sensitivity in mind and one of our favourite questions is “what could we do better?” This always brings out great ideas and enables staff to have their say. We also have an employee rewards scheme where the staff can get access to a whole host of benefits, supporting each other’s success and providing a platform for recognition. Through staff feedback, it became obvious that not everybody simply wants more money. As part of the ever-evolving internal processes we have introduced Sharepoint as a portal for staff members to collaborate on projects and work. Happy staff = Happy Clients = Simple!
• What makes your business unique?
We are a B2B organisation and we sell directly to companies of any size. We are unique because all our products and services are modular, where we can, we build them and own them our self. Companies can buy entire products and services from us, or they can purchase parts of our services individually to suit their organisation. We are strongest when a company takes all of our services and allows us to deliver and manage the entire CIS IT managed service suite, from connectivity, through telephony, to IT security, cloud and support, we have it covered for the client.
• Explain your growth-funding path?
CIS has grown organically 30% year on year over the last 5 years, the organic growth has been bolstered with multiple acquisitions of other organisations. We have further acquisitions planned in the future to help us achieve our eventual goal of becoming Oxfordshire’s primary IT support company. Exciting times for 2018– watch this space!
• What technology has made the greatest difference to your business?
This is a difficult question to answer because technology is always changing and advancing. Initially we were first to the cloud market some 9 years ago, ahead of everybody. The latest product that has made a huge difference is our bespoke and exclusive, GDPR compliant encryption platform. With GDPR coming into force in May, encryption is becoming more prominent to ensure data security. This solution delivers better than every other market offering, believe me, we tested them all!
• What future advancements do you foresee in your market and how are you preparing for them?
Private cloud is one of the key growth areas in the IT sector. As early adopters of cloud we feel we are strongly positioned to push further growth. We have developed a variety of products and services around our own, ultra-secure, private cloud platform and are now offering them as services to be consumed on a monthly subscription basis. The services include VoIP, a file storage application, site monitoring, support, application and system hosting, backup and disaster recovery. Our subscription model leads to a sound and predictable revenue stream that we can manage and forecast accurately. It also allows us to invest effectively in new technologies, R&D, people, processes and cloud infrastructure. It also allows clients to know where they stand, budget, forecast and plan their business growth too.The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is going to play a huge factor in our continued growth in 2018 and beyond. Our product offering has expanded to offer an extensive encryption platform which will help towards organisations’ compliance with the GDPR.
• What’s your favourite business book?
I have two favourite business books - ‘Losing my Virginity’ and ‘Finding my Virginity’ - Richard Branson’s Autobiographies. Richard belief in enabling the right people and letting them deliver the vision you have is exactly our ‘MO’.
• What will you discuss in your BIO2018 presentation?
I will be discussing the General Data Protection Regulation and the importance of data encryption specifically, I will also be in the CIS tech zone demonstrating the latest and greatest technologies to our clients and prospects.
• Who is the Target Audience for your BIO2018 presentation?