Exertis recently shed the Micro-P and Gem versions of its name to become a singular UK brand. The blending of the various strands of the organisation goes beyond the marketing material to the organisation’s structure. A company with a strong reputation in IT distribution, Exertis is well placed to offer support in the increasingly converged IT and mobile markets.
A major reason for bringing all the brands together was to benefit vendors. As long as Micro-P and Gem still existed, the potential for long-term customers to refer to the old names diluted the Exertis brand. Gerry O’Keeffe (pictured), MD of UK and Ireland at Exertis, explains that the company wanted to help vendors easily recognise the full range of businesses that come under the Exertis label: ‘Historically the business has been siloed with different individual franchises. This meant that vendors weren’t aware of the full portfolio of businesses. It’s been important to rebrand for this vendor base, especially as the business has had a policy of growth through acquisitions.’
Combining the names to provide a singular identity also fits with the company’s desire to demonstrate its expertise when it comes to convergence. The brand wants to be able to draw together the different areas of expertise to provide resellers with a package that covers both mobile and IT, O’Keeffe explains: ‘There are four pillars to the business now; IT, mobile, the connected home and supplies. We are always looking at ways to access new technologies and bridge the gap. When mobile was brought into the business in 2009 you could see that the IT vendors were going that way. Since then there has been greater convergence with IT, mobile and the connected home.’
Mobile and IT
The blurring of the divide between mobile and IT is one that provides new opportunities as a result of the more customer service-centric relationship that IT sellers have with clients. Mobile services have traditionally been tied to a specific time period, while IT has been sold in other ways that often involve a relationship where the customer and seller are in more constant contact.
Gerry O’Keeffe believes that there is a lot of potential for the brand to capitalise on the changes that are occurring in this space: ‘Traditionally, the mobile tariff had a specific time pattern that was tied to the length of the contract. This has meant it has been difficult to sell new services to the customer. The challenge for a mobile reseller in comparison with an IT reseller is that the IT reseller has many reasons to be going back to the client, whereas the mobile reseller has to work harder to find reasons to be going back to the customer.
‘These days the person buying handsets for a company will be IT director as part of a wider set of responsibilities. Our challenge is finding new ways to bring revenue streams to our customers. We are always looking to find new methods of bringing more mobile products to our IT resellers and more IT products to our mobile resellers. Convergence has occurred where mobile and UC has come closer together as a way to supply a business communications devices. We can only help mobile and IT resellers in terms of partnerships, but it is something that will occur more and more.’
Another area where Exertis is looking to push the boundaries for distributors is in its managed services. O’Keeffe is keen to point to the acquisition of Cohort Technology; a small security and communications distributor that had a great deal of experience in the managed services arena: ‘The Cohort acquisition gave us a great route into managed services – the business is a small one but it has a lot of experience in this area. These are now places where a distribution service is going beyond its traditional responsibilities and is providing a technical solution for the customer.
‘We develop these services with the plan to pull in the hardware purchases at the back end. We use pilot studies to explain to potential clients the benefits they can get from taking on our managed services; showing clients how we have engineers who are working 24/7.’