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Introducing you to Datrix, part of the AdEPT Technology Group Plc

In April, AdEPT announced the acquisition of Datrix, an award-winning specialist provider of cloud-based networking, communications, and cyber security solutions.

At the time, industry press reported on this ‘game-changing’ development – and now that the dust has settled on the acquisition, we’d like to get behind the numbers to look why this is a gamechanger – and, most of all, what that means for our customers.

I spoke to AdEPT CEO, Phil Race, and Datrix Managing Director, Mark Thomas, to find out more…

What brought AdEPT and Datrix together?

Phil Race (PR): “Our focus is long-term, sustainable organic growth coupled with acquisitions that consolidate our fragmented marketplace. And with that strategy in mind, we have made a number of acquisitions over the past few years. When we do acquire, we look for businesses that are complementary to ours, using a rigorous scorecard to assess, among other areas, if the company can consolidate our offering in a vertical market, is financially stable, has strong levels of recurring revenue and margin, and which will bring enhanced capability to customers. We are also extremely focused on whether the team we acquire has a positive cultural fit.

“With Datrix, this acquisition ticked all the boxes. It’s an enterprise network and security specialist, and it deepens and builds on our portfolio of services in these areas and strengthens our position within the health sector.”

Mark Thomas (MT): “Interestingly, I’d not crossed paths with AdEPT before we started exploring the possibility of selling Datrix. I say ‘interestingly’ because it’s a reflection of how our specialisms don’t overlap. Of course, we work in similar areas, but the products and services we offer are distinct. So as two companies, we’ve got many similarities, but we have different areas of expertise and experience – and that’s what makes this such a great pairing – we fit together like pieces of a jigsaw picture.”

What does this mean for AdEPT’s customers?

PR: “I think more and more, customers are looking for a joined-up service from their IT partners – they don’t want lots of different suppliers to manage. But at the same time, they want those providers to have expertise in a wide range of different areas – and to be able to offer and work with a wide range of ICT product vendors – but do so objectively.

“This is why, with any acquisition, we look to join forces with organisations that have the right mix of services, talent and experience to complement what we offer. But more than that, we want them to be right for our customers.

“One other point that specifically relates to Datrix concerns a survey of ICT professionals we ran last year. We asked them about their experiences of the pandemic and found that cybersecurity and networking were their top priorities.

“This makes perfect sense, since we ran the survey soon after the first lockdown, just after ICT teams had taken on the enormous task of enabling their staff to work from home, overnight. With that business transformation, came renewed concerns about using home networks, cybersecurity of personal devices and the like. As Datrix specialises in enterprise networks and security, this strengthened capability is great news for our customers looking to address this change.”

MT: “Yes – we’ve seen the same themes emerge over the past year. And a good example of where we can help is our partnership with Cato Networks.

“Primarily, it delivers a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) network architecture for enterprises, especially those with multiple locations and flexibale architectures. But admittedly, that’s a bit of a mouthful – so in simple terms, it means that a  business can control its network and security at a granular level.

“For example, if you have an employee that works partly in the office, and partly at home – you can adjust their individual security settings by location, application, device – personal or business – or other contexts, like time of the day. The technology works by ensuring that the end user has a consistent experience, with security policies being applied in the background – it just runs in the background. For the IT team, the administration sits in the cloud, it affords levels of visibility and control across the WAN that to date have only been dreamed of, and importantly to the internal teams its flexibility across sites, devices and applications provides a seamless experience to both the end user and the business as a whole.

“What I will add is that it’s easy for people like us, who work in offices, to forget that a lot of businesses aren’t office-based and never have been – for example, hospitals, councils, schools, hospitality and retail. For far too long, they’ve had to deal with the challenges of multiple sites and people working in different locations, due to them consuming legacy WAN technology solutions; however by both deploying a CATO infrastructure and combining this with the Datrix managed service overlay, this now allows them to both embrace cloud solutions but with an enhance security posture.”

“With the pandemic and the massive changes it’s made to organisations, has come renewed concerns about using home networks, cybersecurity of personal devices and the like. As Datrix specialises in enterprise networks and security, this strengthened capability is great news for our customers looking to address this change.”

– Phil Race, AdEPT CEO

What makes AdEPT and Datrix unique?

PR: “On our website and documents, you’ll see we stand for ‘Uniting Technology, Inspiring People’, but this goes much deeper than a slogan. What it means is that we bring technology together for the benefit of people, our customers, to help them see what is possible. The latter part of the slogan is about our people, too – we want our staff to be ‘inspiring’, in the sense that they bring different thinking and ideas to our customers.

“And I think that’s one of the things that makes us unique – first and foremost, our staff live for solving our customers’ problems. We don’t have agendas to push particular products or vendors, but instead we always keep in mind that the world of technology is complicated and confusing, with lots of discrete areas of technology – and that’s a big part of how we approach solving our customers’ challenges. We’ve got real breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise, so we’re able to draw on this to provide the right solution – not just any solution.”

MT: “It really is over-stated, but yes, I agree with Phil, it’s our people that make us different. We have a 96 per cent customer retention rate and in that respect, we punch well above our weight compared to the really big players out there.

“Another point – and it’s a passion of mine – is that we make our customers feel as important when they’re not buying anything as when they are buying something. Our service is consistent – our sales staff become account managers, so it’s in their interests to be transparent and open from the outset, to make sure a client always gets the service that they’re promised from day one.

“One other way we’re unique is our agility. In this respect, a lot of companies ‘talk the talk’ but don’t ‘walk the walk’. I say this because a lot of our business comes from customers who are disgruntled with their current vendor – and often their experience is their providers aren’t flexible – they’re not responsive to their day-to-day challenges. With us, if a client has a problem, our first thought is ‘how do we solve this for you’. That’s very reassuring for a client who is in a difficult position.

“On a final note, one other way we’re different is how transparent we are with our clients. We give them access to the same things we see, so they know what we’re doing and can see it with their own eyes. It’s a genuine partnership – not a supplier doing the work but leaving the client in the dark, giving them no choice but to turn to us if something goes wrong.”

“Through our partnership with Cato Networks, we can help a business control its network and security at a granular level. For example, if you have an employee that works partly in the office, and partly at home – you can adjust their individual security settings by location, application, device – personal or business – or other contexts, like time of the day.”

– Mark Thomas, Managing Director, Datrix

As Datrix is new to the AdEPT family – and will be sharing formal case studies in due course – are there any examples of Datrix work that stand out, particularly in relation to the pandemic?

PR: “I’ll let Mark answer this, but I would say that Datrix’s work with the public sector is outstanding.”

MT: “Thank you Phil – there are lots of great examples of our work with the public sector over the years. For example, we support Community Health Partnerships (CHP) with a fully managed wireless infrastructure across 164 sites, providing this service for both their clients and for internal users.

“We also work with a number of NHS trusts, where we provide an end-to-end service, with the likes of the Royal Surrey County Hospital, where we provide a full managed service – covering design , configuration, installation, network, security, with staff on site.”

What’s next on the AdEPT-Datrix plans?

PR: “The next step is integrating the companies – our ’Project Fusion’. But as our clients will know, bringing together companies is not an overnight project. For us, while we’ll be integrating systems such as customer relationship management and human resource management – and we’ll be doing this in a way that maintains and builds on the unique strengths of each company.”

MT: “Yes – it’s about bringing the two companies together in a way that complements each other, building on each of our joint strengths and providing maximum benefits to our customer base. What I’d add is that I’ve already been working in an AdEPT office, and it feels like I’m part of the furniture – in a good way!”

On an individual note, what makes your job rewarding?

PR: “Without a doubt, it’s solving problems. And continuously learning. I don’t think you should ever stop learning, and in that sense, being humble is essential. I’m the son of a plumber and I grew up on a council estate – I hope this grounding stops me getting too big for my boots. Plus, my children are always happy to give me a reality check.”

MT: “I completely agree with Phil on this – it’s solving problems that gets me out of bed in the morning. I’d also say that working in technology and the associated services industry exposes you to a huge rate of change – and I thrive on this. I’m passionate about finding solutions to customer challenges – it’s not passionate about pushing a particular vendor – it’s about seeing through that and understanding where your value lies; more often than not it’s a sum of the parts. And the older I get, the more interesting I find it.”

Further information

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT