While other solution providers in the market might be building their businesses around technology from more traditional legacy IT vendors, Axis Business Solutions is throwing that model out the window.
The Portsmouth, N.H.-based solution provider has pivoted its business to focus on what it sees as disruptive and emerging technologies, and is seeing enormous success for both itself and its clients, CEO Peter Estes said.
“I think this is the differentiator for us. Our competition is really into legacy technologies and they become beholden to those vendors and the technologies they sell … and they’re tied into just what that company can offer,” Estes said. “We’re offering them solutions that give them a competitive advantage in their market and that’s the key for us. That’s where customers see value for us.”
Axis Business Solutions started 13 years ago with just one person, and has growth organically to a $30 million company with 32 employees and offices in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. It serves a wide variety of clients, from SMB up through enterprise, with around 740 client engagements at some level today.
The company is highlighting its growth and work with emerging technologies this week at its sixth annual Axis Business Solutions Customer Summit in Ogunquit, Maine before 60 of their top clients. This year, the company is celebrating a new emerging technology partnership with Data Gravity, a data-aware storage platform from the founders of EqualLogic that helps all sizes of companies manage their data in a cost-effective way. Given the success of EqualLogic, which was acquired by Dell for $1.4 billion in 2008, it’s an eagerly anticipated technology that has garnered lots of attention in the industry, including $30 million in venture capital funding led by Andreessen Horowitz in 2013 and winning Best in Show at VMWorld 2014.
Chris Harney, director of emerging technologies for Axis Business Solutions, said that what really drew him to the Data Gravity features in particular was how it made expensive technology, usually reserved for enterprise companies, affordable for mid-range companies. Additionally, the executives said Data Gravity understands the channel, has a strong team and understands the value of Axis Business Solutions.
One example of how the company has already seen success for its clients with the Data Gravity solution is with a law firm in Portland, Maine. Prior to bringing on Data Gravity, the law firm faced audits, where if it couldn’t produce historic documents over the past 15 years. The company measured how much it cost in time to collect these documents, and it sometimes added up to more than $100,000 in lost productivity. With the addition of $60,000 worth of Data Gravity technology, less than the cost of a single audit, the law firm can now enter a keyword and all of the documents are immediately called up.
“That’s huge,” Joseph Paquet, Axis Business Solutions vice president of vendor alliance and relations, said. He added it gives the law firm a competitive advantage within the industry.
The goal for Axis Business Solutions is to fulfill clients’ needs in three areas: containing costs, mitigating risk and increasing productivity, Paquet said. To that end, on top of emerging technologies, the company offers managed services and technical services, such as managed print, networking, Microsoft, storage and more to fulfill clients’ other needs.
“We’re unique in the emerging technologies, but once we’re in we can help them on so many levels,” Estes said.
However, while the solution provider does offer services around legacy technologies, its primary focus is on the emerging technologies. One reason is “pure economics,” Paquet said, as he said being one of 1,000 resellers selling a technology in a region means a “rat race” for clients for resulting low margins, after costs such as certifications are accounted for.
“I think we learned really quickly. I think that was the nature of the business and that’s the nature of how a lot of our company does business — we saw quickly that you had to be different,” Estes said.
The downsides to legacy technology, Paquet said, is that they aren’t as nimble as emerging technologies can be. He said it can be difficult for the company to steer itself to new solutions, which means clients are left dealing with older technologies and solution providers are trying to fit client needs to match what those technologies are able to provide.
“A lot of our competition that isn’t like-minded to our management team here, they’re trying to take customers. They’ve got solutions and they’re trying to fit customers into it instead of the other way around,” Estes said.
The solution provider’s ability to choose the “real winners” in the market is what attracted the attention of its newest vendor addition, Data Gravity President and Co-Founder John Joseph said. Axis Business Solutions is a company that he said “transcends” the traditional reseller model, seeking out technology that can add value to their customers beyond a transactional relationship.
“What appealed to me about them was their access to technology … that they bring to their customers in a methodical and organized way. What I mean by that is they’re out there working with emerging technology companies that are looking to disrupt the status quo for midsize companies,” Joseph said.
While Axis Business Solutions has seen a lot of benefit from its focus on emerging technologies, it hasn’t been without risk, the executives said.