Competing with the big guys for Federal spending

Competing with the big guys for Federal spending

ARN talks to Dataflex's Brian Evans.

What was your first job?

Working in the music industry as a promoter. I did that for a couple of years. It was exciting times in the industry; Australian bands were doing well with a great pub scene to back them up. I looked after five venues including the ANU, meaning Canberra had live music every night of the week. It was incredibly exciting and rewarding, as it taught me many things - most notably people management - which I've carried across into my "more" professional life.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

By accident, really. I applied for a job with an Australian IT company (Magmedia). Magmedia focused primarily on magnetics, tape, floppy disks etc. It had opened an office in Canberra supplying kit to the Federal Government and needed a sales guy. I have a feeling the managing director's son, who was conducting the interview, felt sorry for me. Unemployment was at about 18 per cent and I had been for an astronomical amount of interviews. Ironically, I was offered two jobs in the same day, I chose this one as the notion of working for an IT company was exciting and dynamic. The industry was starting to get attention and it has turned out to be a pretty good move.

How did you progress to where you are today?

Not long into the position I was promoted to Branch Manager. At the same time, a US company called Xidex acquired Magmedia, which then placed me within a multinational organisation. The US management team were looking at how to approach the various markets in Australia. I worked closely with them and in 1987 I left the organisation and established my own consultancy, Dataflex. I was an exclusive Xidex partner for the Federal Government.

In 1995 I had an excellent opportunity to work with Acer directly. A joint venture was established, Acer Canberra, whilst still allowing me to maintain my shareholding in Dataflex. With significant success in the Federal Government arena it was decided to set up a Government vertical and replicate that success on a state basis.

This gave me an opportunity to establish a larger network and gain knowledge in sales management on a larger scale. I spent the next 10 years working for Acer, EMC and HDS. This time was invaluable as it taught me lots about the vendor side of the business. The client is only 50 per cent of the sale.

Understanding the vendors, how they work and what their incentives are, enabled Dataflex to perform and understand what we bring to the market. Of course I also learnt a lot about selling ... hitting or missing quarterly targets and understanding compelling events. In 2005 I returned to Dataflex, adding value where I could. I have tried to mentor the team, allowing them to experience the "corporate feel" of sales disciplines that exist in a multinational, even though we are an SME, whilst understanding and developing our unique company culture.

What do you like about your current job?

What's not to like! I head up a dynamic organisation. I've positioned Dataflex to be nimble in the market place, with a 'can do' attitude. My team is a brilliant group of focused individuals who are passionate about the company, their jobs and their clients.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

I think Datafl ex right now; according to market research (The Intermedium Report 2006) we are top five as a hardware supplier and top 20 in overall supply of ICT to Federal Government. Not bad for a little company competing against the big guys.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?

I don't have time to focus on the negatives. The IT industry always manages to deliver the coolest products - you never hear of the food industry coming out with a new food group.

What will be the 'next big thing' in the industry?


What is the main focus for your company this year?

To really focus on our client relationships. We've got to be the experts in our field and we want our clients to be looking at us not only as suppliers but also independent experts. They have a question, we have the answer. They have need, Dataflex has the solution.

What do you do when you are not at work?

I like to get down to the coast, but time does not always permit. I am a keen Brumbies fan, play golf, listen to music ... I enjoy drinking wine with people who enjoy the same.

Do you like gadgets?

Yes, usable gadgets ... love them. I really enjoy the digital age, iPods, digital cameras.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I really liked the idea of being in a band ... playing stuff like Daddy Cool and just having fun. However, I never bothered to learn to play guitar. Which is why I got into promoting.

What is your biggest ambition?

To continue to challenge the perception of the role of small to medium enterprise business in the global setting.

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