EXCLUSIVE: Former CE staffer ramps up Linktech Solutions

EXCLUSIVE: Former CE staffer ramps up Linktech Solutions

Company has already secured strong relationships with key vendors including EMC, HP, VMware, Cisco, Fusion-IO , Riverbed, APC, Microsoft, Veeam

Less than six months after leaving Corporate Express (CE), former general manager of IT solutions, Ahmed Latif, is building momentum in his new endeavour, Linktech Solutions, and on a mission to carve out a niche in the IT solutions and services arena.

Latif said Linktech Solutions has already secured strong relationships with key vendors including EMC, HP, VMware, Cisco, Fusion-IO , Riverbed, APC, Microsoft, Veeam, and has a team of 20 skilled employees in its arsenal.

“Linktech was born where some of the people that were made redundant [from Corporate Express] took it upon themselves to continue the journey that the IT solutions division started a few years back, and the birth of Linktech Solutions was pretty immediate.”

Latif, who wears the CEO hat at the new endeavour, came on board to take the organisation to market. The company, which recently moved to Mascot, has its headquarters in Sydney and an office in Melbourne.

He said the company is ramping up activity in the areas of datacentre optimisation, the next-gen office (nXgen client access), cloud, availability and BYOD (bring your own device).

“We look at the end user as the focal point. It’s no longer at the infrastructure that sits in the back end, it’s about how quickly and how well you can service the end users. So we’ve got a big play around next-gen,” he said.

Latif’s vision is to capitalise on the momentum in the IT solutions and services arena and is aiming for Linktech Solutions to become a trusted advisor.

“We have an opportunity to reset the expectations. We found it difficult in our previous organisation to really become relevant from the smarts perspective – the solutions piece, the services piece – and even though we did a fantastic job in trying to change perception, there was still the stigma of being part of a bigger office products organisation. We’ve now managed to set the right expectations with our customers. A lot of our customers are sitting back and looking at us as a technology organisation – a technology partner - rather than as a supplier.”

Target customers include the 200-2,000 seat market. “We also have clients that are 6,000 seats.” Although the main focus is the mid-market, he said the company has the ability and consultancy expertise to do projects for large enterprise.

Key verticals include health (the company is in the midst of hooking up a hospital in Melbourne), along with education (private schools are the big play at the moment), the corporate market (considered the company mainstay), government, both federal and state in NSW and Victoria, and enterprise (not as a big volume partner, but more as a strategic, niche player).

Reflecting back on his time at CE, Latif said he has fond memories of his massive achievements. “I joined the organisation in 2007 as NSW state manager and 18 months later I took on the GM role. During all of these phases I don’t think we missed a target, apart from the first quarter, for four years, which is incredible.”

Moving forward, he wants to keep the new business model at Linktech as simple as possible. “In bigger organisations it’s hard to do that because there are so many stakeholders. In smaller organisations the simplicity of the process is very refreshing. I have gained 50 per cent of my time back to do proactive things rather than reactive. This is how we want to maintain it as much as we can.”

Alongside Latif, former CE employee, Trevor Voss, is also at the Linktech leadership helm. He wears the CTO hat and has been responsible for helping to get the business up and running, in securing vendor support and in formalising the company culture.

“All our people have skin in the game – they live and die by the success of the organisation.” And while the team physically left CE, Latif said Linktech Solutions still does business with the company.

“At the moment, we have six to eight projects with Corporate Express at the one time. We have pre-sales and delivery capabilities that Corporate Express doesn’t have, but they do have the market reach. We go in joint calls and in joint proposals,” he said.

“It is very complementary at the moment and I think it will stay that way. We are going to partner with Corporate Express fairly well because the pure volume product business is not our core go-to-market.”

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