Meridian IT: Following the sun in search of customer value
- 11 January, 2018 13:00
Stephen White (Meridian IT)
Spanning 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the sun never sets for Meridian IT.
“We go where our clients take us, working in close partnerships to facilitate and deliver the best results,” said Stephen White, managing director of Meridian IT, when outlining the benefits of occupying a global technology provider footprint.
“Meridian offers clients more control, standardisation of design, management of vendor complexities, aggregated purchasing power and local presence with centralised accountability.”
As customers seek greater control over IT spend, the business is well positioned to capitalise at both local and global levels, leveraging an Australian reputation, bolstered by worldwide capabilities.
“It’s advantageous to have a partner like Meridian in each geography that can assist with the local needs and has the ability to cover international needs as well,” White added.
“Many of our clients look to Meridian to design and procure from a centralised location and have equipment delivered and installed throughout the world.”
Laying the groundwork
The shift in approach comes four years after Tardis, one of the country’s leading IT systems integrators and prominent IBM partner, rebranded to Meridian IT, following its acquisition by Meridian Group International in 2007.
Designed to align local operations with global strategies, the move has helped the business advance to the next level in terms of customer adoption, with the provider edging towards a vendor agnostic market approach.
And the approach has paid off, with Meridian now recognised as leading experts across Cisco, Dell EMC, HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft, Citrix, Lenovo, Sophos, NetApp, Nutanix, Veeam and VMware technologies, alongside its core heritage through IBM.
“We take a consultative approach to ‘discover’ and transform our assessments into business solutions using ICT expertise across four core competencies,” White explained.
Specifically, such competencies include data centre and unified workspace, alongside security and risk management, plus cloud solutions.
“As a large global entity, our clients have access to a wide range of solutions and services along with a variety of consumption and deployment options,” White added.
“Leveraging technology that fits our clients’ requirements using a multi-vendor approach is our first and only approach we take with our clients.”
In selecting vendors based on the company’s four core competencies, White said that once a technology decision is made, Meridian ramps up investment levels to retain elite accreditations, delivering customer- centric solutions as a result.
“There are many technologies that are key to our business today and no doubt new technologies that will hit the market over the coming years, however taking a services-first approach to our clients, ensures we remain vendor neutral and focus on the client outcome/deliverable,” White added.
From a technology perspective, the Sydney-based provider offers services around back-up, storage and infrastructure, as well as endpoint management, business intelligence and disaster recovery.
Crucial to this strategy is vendor selection, but in services world, a balance remains.
“A channel friendly vendor ensures they have a clear channel strategy and execute 100 per cent on that strategy,” White advised. “In addition to best of breed technologies, joint account planning, joint sales calls and joint marketing plans are essential to true partnerships.
“Coupled with this, a willingness to understand the partner strategy and how the vendor can align itself to that strategy. The vendors brand should never become more important than our own.”
With a wide-ranging technology portfolio in place, the company continued expansion plans through the recent hire of Louise Bremberg, as director of sales.
Backed by extensive sales and senior management experience, Bremberg spent 17 years at IBM in a range of enterprise server and sales roles, having also worked for a leading Big Blue partner in the UK.
According to White, Bremberg is responsible for developing go- to-market and sales strategies, creating new business opportunities and providing greater support for the existing customers in Australia, while working collaboratively with other business units to help global customers.
“Our unique business model offers value in providing a broad range of solutions and services aimed at simplifying IT for organisations,” White added. “Louise has the depth of industry knowledge and fortitude to focus on delivering positive and productive client experiences through collaborative sales engagements.”
For White, the addition of a sales director to the Australian team highlights the importance placed on achieving goals and deepening customer relationships.
“I value the development of trusted relationships with clients and partners and look forward to working with a large ecosystem in the partner community to deliver value to our customers and their businesses,” Bremberg added.
In offering an end-to-end service for the design, implementation and support of enterprise information systems, Meridian has evolved alongside an evolving industry, with technology disruption shifting traditional business models.
“Organisations chained to worn- out old infrastructures are looking for new ways to stay competitive and innovators are looking for new ways to stay ahead,” White observed. “Both need to sustain their current business model while ramping up to meet the needs of their clients.
“But no matter how fast the market continues to change and evolve, all businesses still have the same basic concerns.”
For White, businesses remain challenged by cost effectiveness and the cost of downtime, alongside security, risk management and risk aversion.
Delving deeper, organisations also struggle when managing change, in the context of technology, business growth and employee retention, remaining hindered when trying to foster innovation through staying agile, delivering quality and performance.
“Meridian helps clients focus on the hard realities through a prism of big ideas,” White said. “For our clients, the results of improving cost effectiveness and security will enable change, growth and innovation within the organisation.”
As explained by White, the business is forward-thinking in a “methodical kind of way”, proving high quality services to customers, in a bid to support end-user goals and challenges.
“Our expertise, approach and options empower clients to operate on dual modalities while transforming their business,” he added. “I know it’s a cliché, but the trusted partner approach to client engagement is still key to our sales success,” White added. “We pride ourselves on being candid, honest, reliable, exceptional, progressive, creative, dynamic, responsive and trustworthy.”
In an increasingly competitive world, White maintains the belief that strong connections with people drive business.
“We’re committed to building deeper relationships both internally and externally based on respect, attentiveness, expert service and collaboration,” he said. “All of the teams in our organisation connect with each other, our business partners and our clients to create extraordinary relationships.
“Our combined strength serves as the foundation for us to foster an internal environment of growth and development for our employees through continued education and certifications.”
Through assessing the changing dynamics of the market, White also acknowledged a shifting of the partner landscape, partners now armed with specific solutions and services.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say increased competition, but more focused competition,” he explained. “We have seen a significant increase in acquisitions over the past three years and therefore a more consolidated and focused approach from these organisations, ensuring they leverage the skills and expertise acquired.
“There has certainly been an increase in start-up organisations that are specialising in only one or two areas, such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, security and cloud.
“From a competitive perspective alone, traditional resellers like ourselves have had to transform to be competitive in the marketplace.”
With the original Tardis business founded in 1994, the local provider has endured more than 20 years of market change, coming out on top to service flagship customers such as Optus, Macquarie Bank and Fuji Xerox across Australia.
“Customers absolutely value longevity,” White said. “We still have a solid client base dating back to the Tardis days that are still loyal to our business, some of these clients represent a 15-year relationship, which is as strong today as it was when we first contracted with them.
“Most of these clients also represent strong references and have contributed to a number of case studies, which have been developed across multiple industries.”
Despite the emergence of new tech buyers — spanning different divisions within an organisation — White believes that the demands of the customer have not changed, more so expectations of what a trusted partner can provide them.
“We need to remember in today’s market, our clients are more empowered, in a lot of ways we the IT industry have enabled them; therefore, we need to be a step ahead,” he added.
“Typically, clients have already commenced their journey on the buying cycle, long before the prospect has been contacted.”
For White, the majority of customer engagements still lie in the traditional technology heartlands, with the CIO, CTO and IT manager.
“That said, there is an increasing engagement with CFOs, CMOs and line of business leaders,” he added.
“This is the new norm that we believe will continue, as clients are more empowered, and look to service providers like Meridian IT to facilitate the collaboration between business and IT, ensuring they stay relevant and profitable in today’s market.”
In looking ahead, White said key priorities during the next 12 months are simple, with the Meridian Group global strategy centred around continuing growth and expansion worldwide organically and/or through acquisition.
“We’re focused on staying committed to our clients and partners, while remaining responsive and flexible in our approach will ensure we continue to grow and succeed,” he added.