Intellectual property (IP) ownership isn’t everything.
In an industry where IP is imbued with ever greater levels of value, it’s no surprise that some software vendors try to create new solutions or platforms that they can sell over and over again for recurring revenue.
In this environment, designing unique software solutions for customers on a case-by-case basis and then handing over the IP rights may appear like lots of effort for such a short-term reward.
For Intergy Consulting however, it’s precisely this approach that has resulted in a loyal following bolstered by solid, long-term growth.
For more than a decade, the Sydney-based company has made a name for itself in the local market through providing customised software solutions for organisations of all shapes and sizes, often to help improve operational efficiency and customer engagement capabilities.
As an independent software vendor, Intergy draws upon open source platforms, such as Symphony, Magenta, MySQL, and Drupal, as well as Microsoft development platforms which include .NET, ASP.NET, and SQL Server.
Through these resources, and others like them, the company creates web-based and on-premise software solutions that cover components as diverse as customer relationship management platforms, spanning scheduling, job management, invoicing and payments, accounting integration and dashboard reporting, among others.
But crucially, every single solution is tailored to meet the individual needs of the end-user.
“We don’t have any software products per se, so we build all of our software made to order,” Crotty said.
“The benefits of that include that the software the [clients] get is exactly what they need, nothing more, nothing less. That simplifies the software and makes it easier to use.
“This approach also means that we only charge for the software one time, so there are no ongoing fees associated with that. This, in the long run, could mean economic benefits to our clients as well.”
What this approach means is that the customer ends up owning the IP and the software that they pay Intergy to develop and build.
According to Crotty - in founding Intergy in 2004 - customers can thereby innovate, move businesses forward, and step “over and above” the competition.
“Our methodology doesn’t appeal to everyone,” he acknowledged. “There are some companies that would prefer to simply take something off the shelf and run with it, because of ease-of-use, and so on.
“But we do believe that there is a market for the services that we offer, which allows companies to transform their business in the most effective way.
“It also means that the client takes full ownership of the IP and benefits 100 per cent from the idea. So if that idea really takes off, that client is successful.
“We’re not in the business of running other businesses. Our business is in software development. That’s what we do. And, frankly, we think that if a client has a great idea and it takes off, they should be the ones that benefit from their IP.”
While Intergy’s business model means that the company never sees potential future profit flow in from the IP of the solutions it develops for customers, this doesn’t mean that it misses out on future business associated with those solutions.
“Now, we benefit indirectly, because the more successful our clients are, the more work we get out of it in the long run,” Crotty explained.
“We seek to establish long-term relationships with our clients, the more successful they are, the more successful we are, as the product enhances over time and evolves.”
In operating for more than 12 years, and some customers have been with Intergy since the very beginning.
Consequently, long-term partnerships and repeat business have seen the company work on the second or third round of upgrades to a particular customised software solution for long-standing customers.
“We like to act as their long-term technology strategic partner and to upgrade them when it’s appropriate, when there’s a business case to upgrade them,” Crotty added.
The prospect of owning their own IP is a big selling point for many customers, according to Crotty, who said organisations see the investment they make in the software developed by Intergy as an asset that will continue to provide and add value over time.
Additionally, by hanging onto the IP, Intergy’s cusromers can make use of the federal government’s research and development (R&D) investment tax offset incentives, as well as other grants aimed at driving innovation among Australian companies.
These incentives would be much harder to apply for with an off-the-shelf package, according to Crotty.
Unique solutions for unique problems
Much of the time, however, companies come to Intergy for the problem-solving potential that only an individually-tailored, once-off and unique solution can offer.
Crotty and his team make a point of approaching every business problem first and foremost from a consulting perspective, and then from a software solution perspective.
This is no surprise, given Crotty’s own background as a consultant for global professional services firm, Accenture.
Between his own experience and the professional histories of his senior team, Crotty believes the company is well stocked with knowledge from a multitude of market sectors.
This broad knowledge-base, in combination with the close collaboration it does with its customers, is one of the driving forces gives Intergy the ability to find unique solutions for specific business problems.
“We’ve been involved in the Australian small business marketplace for a long period of time,” he added.
“A lot of our staff members have moved through small businesses. So we’ve got a lot of deep experience in particular industries now.
“We don’t do things immediately as directed. We’re not pure developers; we also have business analysts, solution architects, industry experts, that we can bring into the mix to come up with the optimum solution, in close collaboration with the client.”
The road to growth
Intergy’s consultative approach has seen the company undertake work for very large organisations, both in the private sphere and the public sector, including Origin Energy, Hilton Hotels, and Sony EMI, as well as numerous smaller and medium-sized organisations.
In addition to the consulting expertise the company retains among its Australian-based contingent, it also leverages software development expertise from a team of more than 50 people in India - all of them Intergy employees.
In fact, Intergy’s Indian operation has helped to see the company’s entire employee footprint balloon from just two people in Australian in 2004 to at least 52 across both countries in 2016.
Crotty said this structure is what allows Intergy the ability to leverage a growing team of talented developers overseas, while maintaining Australian quality standards for local clients.
It also means the company can continue to focus on creating personalised, custom-made software for its customers while surrendering the IP rights to its solutions.
For Crotty, there are some very good reasons to continue doing things this way, not least because it keeps him and his team on the front foot when it comes to new technology and innovation.
“One of our core values is transparency and creativity, which we get to use, and innovation,” he said. “I enjoy the freedom and the flexibility of being unconstrained by what an existing product does. It also keeps things interesting.
“We think that building custom software, and building it in the most efficient way based on years of experience and [software] libraries that we have, and only charging once, we just think that that’s the right thing to do.
“I personally really dislike seeing inefficiencies within an organisation, and we’re primarily about delivering the right solution to the right problem to avoid wasted resources, and that’s driven a lot of what we’ve done so far, and the way that we have grown.”
This article originally appeared in the November issue of ARN magazine - to subscribe, please click here