Are technology companies too bogged down by techno mumbo-jumbo? Yes, according to CN Group CEO, Brian Pereira, who is determined propel the IT services company through its business values rather than technology jargon.
CN Group started out in 2000 as Computer Networks IT, an out-of-garage operation. James Gao and Shilin Tree, both IT technicians, saw the small and medium enterprise space as under serviced when it came to IT and began providing network support to those businesses.
Since then, Computer Networks IT has branched out and offers a broad range of technical expertise that includes IT infrastructure management with hosting and systems integration. It has even started its own consulting unit. Both Computer Networks IT and its consulting arm are known collectively as the CN Group.
CN group services a range of customers using Microsoft and SAP applications. It now has 60 staff spread across Sydney where the Group is headquartered, on the Central Coast up to Newcastle and in Queensland.
According to Pereira, the SME market his company is committed to faces the same problems as it did 10 years ago.
“SMEs are fairly under-serviced and from a solutions perspective, the solutions are not enterprise grade,” he said. “The marketplace demands more resilient and dependable applications and services from a technology perspective and we see a gap that we are actually filling.”
Pereira entered the company five years ago as an owner and non-executive director for on the board when Tree wanted to exit the company. Pereria was asked to step up and become the CEO of CN Group 10 months ago while Gao took on the CTO role.
He had been working as an executive director at HCL-Axon, the SAP service division of HCL Technologies, where he ran large portfolios across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. Despite having to give up a prominent position at a large multinational company, he was delighted to take up the CN Group CEO position in August last year.
“It was not a hard decision,” Pereira said. “As you can imagine, with my previous role, I was constantly on a plane so staying at home has its attractions.”
His background is in accounting but that hasn't stifled his ability in running an IT business. When he jumped on-board as CN Group's CEO, one of the things he implemented was a change of direction for the company.
“Technology companies tend to focus on technology solutions,” Pereira said. “One of the things we've done differently from previous years is focus on business benefits and try to deliver that with technology.
“Rather than talking about gigabits, terabytes and network speeds, we are actually focusing on delivering business values so customers get a view from a business perspective on what values they have by employing certain technologies with us.”
But that doesn't mean the technology solutions themselves have been neglected.
“We are still technology driven, but I think what we have done now is begun to think like our customers would in terms of what solutions would make sense for them and what values they would add.”
Well he must be doing something right. CN Group closed its 2009 financial year with a 25 per cent growth year-on-year. Not bad for a year when the world was hit by the global financial crisis.
The group has seen a steady yearly growth of around 20-40 per cent for the past five years. It now has about 150 annuity customers that have signed contracts with CN Group and a number of major clients.
It recently scored a multimillion dollar contract with the NSW Department of Teaching (DET) as an major integrator for a human resources and payroll system.
SAP introduced CN Group to the project.
“The DET contract is very exciting,” Pereira said. “The government is going through quite a few big changes at a State and Federal level and this gives us an opportunity to again drive that business benefits view we've done with other customers.”
Having experienced some major windfalls, Periera expects to double the size of the company in the next 12-18 months.
“Hopefully, we can continue to stay relevant to customers and come up with some new innovative solutions and do all the right things to double our growth,” he said.
And what is CN Group's five-year vision?
“We would like to be the first to be thought of when people think about preventing unplanned downtime [with their IT infrastructures] and coming to a one-stop shop,” Pereira said. “That has been the vision from when I started in August.
“Hopefully we can achieve that and people will think of us when they want to rationalise and integrate their suppliers.”
- Computer Networks IT started in 2000 as a garage operation.
- The company also has an IT consulting division and is now known collectively as CN Group.
- Current CEO, Brian Pereira, took over the company in August 2009.