Growing fish in a big pond

Growing fish in a big pond

It doesn't take long to realise that FishTech managing director Nick Fish represents a new generation of IT businessmen. Fish has the passion of a young man making his mark in an industry that doesn't do favours for up-and-comers, yet he talks with the wisdom of a veteran, and is quick to acknowledge the support of his partners - business associates, vendors, staff and customers. An impressive selection of partners, clients and friends gathered recently to witness the official opening of FishTech's new Sydney CBD premises. ARN's Tom Allen took the opportunity to talk with the MD about the new level of service that integrators need to provideFish describes the company as an independent software vendor, specialising in business improvement solutions. "Our three core areas of activity are consulting, professional services and product. Although the three are separate revenue streams, they are so heavily interrelated through the business improvement solutions we provide that they are never supplied separately.

"In consulting, we are complementary to traditional management consulting and system integrators that are involved heavily in business processes or business restructure," he explained.

Consulting, professional services, product. Fish said that FishTech spearheads the business solution using what he calls "business architects". "Where we get involved is not so much in systems integration and consulting in the process of the installation of a pre-packaged application, but extending the process to look at how the various pre-packaged applications interrelate," he said.

"Product represents about 60 per cent of our turnover, but approximately 30 per cent of our profitability. Consulting and professional services represent the balance, around 40 per cent of our turnover, and 70 per cent of our profitability," Fish explained.

Fish describes the business structure this way: "We go to our market with a team. We use team order processing, and each team [or business unit] within FishTech is headed up by a business architect. This person is the main hunter of business. The corporate vision, administration and support for business promotion is provided at the executive level of the company. This is not included in the team structure, and includes our board of advisers.

Fish explained that relationships with clients are managed by genuine account managers. "They are not sales representatives - they manage the marriage," he said.

The way Fish sees it: "Good hunters elsewhere end up generating so much business that they are forced to become farmers. Hunters don't make good farmers, and what we've done is to separate the farmers and allowed the hunters to keep hunting. Both can then focus on the client, one on the business processes and the other concentrated on the client's day-to-day requirements."

Three core tenets. There are three core tenets on which FishTech bases its business relationships. "First, you plant vision. We must be able to provide vision to a client, in terms of either having input into a strategy they are already working on, or providing another expert point of view on the way they are implementing a strategy," he said.

"The second tenet, mostly established by the account managers, is intimacy and trust. This is definitely an area where FishTech has a unique selling proposition - that we are focused not only on vision, but also how we make the relationship more and more bilateral."

He concluded, "the third tenet relates to our professional services, and through this we must deliver impact."

This is not an idle claim. FishTech recently started consulting with Rogen, the presentation specialist associated with Sydney's winning Olympic bid.

Fish explained: "What we want to do is have our architects focusing more on the niche high level consulting, and that's why we are hiring the people with that sort of background. If all we were offering was the opportunity to be a reseller of a product we wouldn't be able to attract this sort of people."

FishTech sits across several parts of the channel. It is increasingly recognised as a software vendor, with a message brokering package Fish believes is unique in the groupware space. It is also a software reseller, and he says it is recognised as one of the largest Lotus Notes groupware specialists in Australia. "Our strategy won't change much, but our products will over time," he added.

Integrators and consultants. Fish said that some system integrators and management consultants are concentrating on business process re-engineering and business restructures by delivering applications such as ERP systems. "Where they leave off is the integration between those ERP systems. They may not want to do the process mapping and then install the best fit pre-packaged application," he said.

But often, the application will not suit all aspects of an organisation, or an ERP application will be handed down from overseas headquarters that doesn't necessarily suit the local operations. According to Fish, this means IT directors are faced with applications which have to be integrated, and there is a definite need for integration between the various applications.

It's been said that FishTech seems to be in an almost constant state of change. Fish doesn't retreat from such claims: "I recall three years ago, people asking how often are we going to reinvent ourselves. Today you don't even hear that. Every day there are changes going on from the top strategy centres to make sure the organisation is changing."

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