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Business Transformation

CEO Chat With Paul Hutchinson, Hutchinson Networks

Going global

SS: I know that you're from the UK and the company, I guess, is headquartered in the UK?

PH: Correct. In Edinburgh.

SS: Yeah, in Edinburgh. Fantastic city. How recent is the move into places like North America and Asia and places like that? Have you actually won customers in those places yet or is that on the "to do" list?

PH: Our whole business methodology right now is lean and agile. The number of employees that we have is relatively small. The unique bit about what we offer is [our] global reach. We do that through engagement with subject matter experts. We're headquartered in the UK, as you say, but over 85% of every single pound or dollar that comes into this organization is derived from customers that are not in Scotland or not in the UK at all. From an international perspective, we're already doing it… We're in South America all of the time. We're in Asia working on data centers. We're doing product deployments across Europe for various manufacturing organizations.

SS: Are you growing the company organically or do you have an investor behind you?

PH: No. We're doing it all organically.

SS: Give me a sense of the growth that you're going through now. I mean, Light Reading doubled its revenues in the past three years. I mean, which is pretty exceptional but that's because it was so broken when I brought it back. That's not a typical number, is it? How would you define your growth? Obviously, it sounds like it's growing very, very quickly actually.

PH: It is. I think if I was to try to communicate the company's biggest challenge, it isn't one of opportunity and it isn't one of capability. It's one of managing growth. Some people would view that as a very enviable position to be in, but it's not easy. To manage that growth, in all manner of forms, whether it's human resources or better internal systems or the infrastructure to allow people to be the most productive or whatever guise it comes in, I think that's probably our biggest challenge.

I think, for me, it's all about constant improvement. Whether that's constant improvement in terms of, you know, our customer base or our expertise or, you know, how efficient we become or how profitable we are. That's always the measure for me. If you can look back and take a period of time and say, "We're better now than we were over that period of time," then that's the key for me. Growth is the biggest challenge. We're on a constant recruitment drive in all departments.

Then we've had to change the whole dynamic of our business and actually start to think about how we go to market and communicate what we feel the benefits of this business are to the market. That in itself is almost like a 180 in terms of how we were set up versus how we're set up today. Then moving on to probably the third line of revenue, which we haven't talked about yet, which is the recurring piece.

The stuff out of the 24/7 NOC [network operations center] that we have here, but also the Fabrix [a hosted infrastructure service] piece. For us, again, we need to look at how the business is set up today, because you've almost got three separate lines of business. We probably look at that as time goes on, but our strategy isn't to shut one of them off. It's to actually grow all three. That represents in itself a huge challenge. That's back the original question, the challenge primarily in growth in all areas and all aspects.

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