Network integration powerhouse refocuses

Network integration powerhouse refocuses

Anixter, as a network integration business in Australia, is no more.

The networking powerhouse will now operate in this country as NetStar Australia Networks, as it splinters off as an independent business from the Anixter distribution business.

NetStar will have an ever-increasing focus on services, said Kent Brooks, the company's managing director, with its goal being to lift services revenue this year from its current 18 to 25 per cent of the total integration business.

The global decision to split the networking integration operation from distribution came about because the two are simply very different businesses, with the potential for conflict and competition, Brooks said.

"Distribution is not our core competency, it's network integration," he said.

The ability for shareholders to judge the two businesses separately and on their individual merits was a big driver in the decision, he said.

Network remains

NetStar will not be a worldwide name, although it may also be used by the company's Asian operations. Despite this, Brooks claims the company is not about to give up its global leverage. Even its European operation, which has been sold off, is still a part of the Anixter network, he said.

"Even though we may have different names or may even be owned by different companies, we still have worldwide partnership agreements, that's part of the contract," Brooks said.

"We want to be known as NetStar but we'll still have 'A Division of Anixter' underneath the name in very small letters."

According to Mitch Radomir, former Gartner Group analyst who will now manage business development and marketing for NetStar, in terms of "pure network integration" Anixter is at least on par with Com Tech as the biggest network integrator in Australia.

"Com Tech have a very big business in areas like Notes, whereas we are pure network integration," he said.

The Anixter network integration business grew by 45 per cent last year and will grow by 40 per cent this year, Brooks said.

Based on research he did at Gartner, Radomir believes NetStar is around three times as profitable as the typical network integration business, putting that down to its service focus.

Since taking charge, Brooks has transitioned the business from being "a box pusher" to an organisation where half of its 110 staff are now in technical or engineering services roles.

"We're in the services business," Brooks said. "We're not in the box moving business. All our efforts will be directed at increasing our services content and releasing new service offerings."

For example, NetStar will aggressively ramp up its Remote Network Management centre and will also offer new services for the small-to- medium enterprise (SME) market, a business that Radomir will head up.

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