As the world of business becomes more and more reliant on online platforms, the demand for IT expertise increases. For smaller companies and startups however, the cost of hiring a full scale IT department to cater for their needs at times is simply not feasible, and some companies must forgo quality IT systems and support due to budget constraints.
Irish company Brandon Global IT is attempting to solve this issue by crafting a high quality team of IT experts, fluent in network, server and cloud solutions (among others), with offices in Dublin, Galway and now New York.
This week, IrishCentral chatted to Tom O’Neill, Managing Director of Brandon Global, about what drove him to start his company and what advice he would have for newcomers in the IT industry.
Tom, Tell us a little about your company: When did it form? What was the inspiration?
In 1998, about a year after I returned from the US, having worked in New York for over 10 years, I set up Brandon Consulting Ltd. Seeing how some IT companies in the US were helping their customers to leverage IT in their businesses, I felt that there was a similar need in Ireland at the time for a similar service.
Being focused on excellence and coming from a technical background, my focus at start-up was on the Microsoft range of server products (Exchange Server, SQL Server, Systems Management Server), which were all relatively new at the time but were in high demand.
What problem does Brandon Global solve?
Many small to medium sized businesses cannot justify having any in-house IT staff. Even for the companies who may look to take on one or two IT staff, getting the whole range of skills needed to get the most out of their IT investment is just not possible.
For such companies, we become their IT department, looking after all aspects of managing their IT environment. This not only includes dealing with specific issues that an employee may be having, but also strategic planning and IT budgeting and everything in between.
What kind of growth has your company experienced?
The company experienced rapid growth at the start but as usually happens with business growth curves, it started to flatten. We have now started to implement an expansion plan that will put the company back on a growth path for the next few years. This will be accomplished by maintaining a focus on what we do really well. This narrow focus is what will enable our service to scale easily.
Tell us about your industry: What was it like to break in to? How have you shaken things up?
With no entry barriers, anyone who decides to start an IT company can do so. The problem this creates is that customers (who often have little knowledge of IT) have no way of telling which companies are capable and trustworthy. Our approach is to first identify the customer’s business requirements and then decide, with the customer, what the actual technical solution should be - taking into account any budget considerations.
Who are your competitors?
We have many competitors, ranging from the large IT companies who do everything IT, to the man-in-the-van operators who try to do everything themselves. Our approach to competition is to educate the customer on how a solution or technology will improve their business. By doing this, the customer can then make an educated decision based on the expected return of investment.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced so far?
As with most techies, it is very easy to get distracted by new technologies and lose focus. Maintaining a focus on the customer and their business needs has to be job number one.
What's been the most important lesson?
Keep it simple and play to your strengths. No one can be good at everything. Within a company or team, you need to figure out where your strengths are and then surround yourself with people who have the skills that complement or balance yours.
What international markets do you foresee the company expanding into?
As part of our long-term plan, we have other global locations selected, including the US West Coast, the Middle East and Asia. As we increase the number of locations globally, we will become more relevant to more companies who also have offices there.
Will maintaining your identity as an Irish company be important to you, or are you seeking to brand yourself differently?
Our Irish identity, we think, will be a positive selling point since Ireland is well known globally as having a highly educated workforce.
How can IrishCentral readers help you?
There are many small and medium sized businesses that are struggling with IT. We would love to have the opportunity to talk to them, to demystify IT and help them turn IT into a tool to be leveraged to meet their specific needs.
What advice do you have for other people starting out in your industry?
I think for someone looking to start any company, first figure out what you are really good at, then see if this actually is something that a customer would value and pay for. Following on from that, learn what your real strengths are, and more importantly, where your weaknesses are. From there, start to identify others that you could build a team with, whose strengths complement yours.
For more information on Brandon Global, visit www.brandon.global