R&D designed to help customers

R&D designed to help customers

SystemCraft ~ peer to peer

R&D designed to help customers

Claudio Antonioli, SystemCraft managing director, talks with Vivienne FisherARN: How was your company started?

Antonioli: Prior to setting up the com-pany, I worked in Canberra in the public service and was always involved in computing. I started in 1988 under my own name and in 1989 set up the company. I worked on my own for the first five years, doing a lot of database programming and network installations. But it wasn't until 1994 that I started employing other staff, and from that point on it just kept growing. It was a mixture of lucky breaks and a lot of hard work. The networking side grew because some of the clients I was writing software for wanted the software to be multi-user. So the networking support took over, and the programming took a back seat.

What products and services does your company offer?

The primary service is the installation, configuration and support of networks, mainly in the small business market. We get involved in virtually everything except vertical markets, such as accounting systems, but we have good partnerships with companies who do carry out that side of the work. We also do quite a bit of Internet-related work, mainly infrastructure such as firewalls, mail servers, proxy servers, and VPNs.

How has your business been developing?

The Internet side of it has been progressively picking up over the last two to three years, and we see that continuing in a big way. We don't just install the network, because there's a lot of other ancillary integration services we also provide. One of the things we want to see ourselves getting better and better at is talking strategy with customers, knowing about their business and helping them grow their business.

We're also carrying out a lot more maintenance of networks and help-desk facilities for our customers. One example of this is the work we've done for the Sydney Dance Company. We went in, gave them advice and value-added their current setup to provide regular ongoing support and help them to grow.

What are the company's key business strengths?

We've got a really loyal customer base and dedicated staff. We're pretty good, I think, at understanding what the customer's expectations are and providing a cost-effective solution that works.

What areas of technology are you keeping a close watch on?

Some of the things I'm interested in are security issues, which are becoming a bigger and bigger issue. Wireless networking I think is also going to take off. Also, Web-based solutions or browser-based applications which can be run over the Internet, will make quite an impact. Bandwidth provided by ISPs I think will increase substantially and that will make a big difference to the Internet. I think the appliance market will, and has already, started to take off, and all the major vendors seem to be looking seriously at that.

How are you responding to these developments?

We try to do as much R&D as possible, testing lots of products all the time and seeing how useful they are for our client base. We can't be too far ahead or too far behind our clients. It's always a fine line between what you'd like to do and what is cost-effective.

What does the future hold?

Probably consolidating on internal skills and constantly working on that. In this industry you can never relax on that at all. We are looking at becoming a one-stop shop for our customers, from strategy through to dealing with the day-to-day stuff customers might need, expanding on the services we currently offer.

We'll be offering training services when we move into our new offices next year, both general or specific to our customers' needs.profileSystemCraftHead office: Leichhardt, NSWEstablished: 1989Staff: 10Growth: 35-40 per cent per annumTurnover: $2.4

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