The Payoff Of A ‘Highly Complementary’ Merger
Axispoint is on a roll. Earlier this year, the rising New York-based solution provider, which specializes in software development and consulting, acquired the venerable Tekserve Apple reseller brand, as well as its B2B subsidiary, T2 Computing, both of which delivered hardware and engineering expertise in the deal.
The acquisition, which took place in January, helped catapult Axispoint up and onto CRN’s Solution Provider 500 list for 2017, where it’s ranked at No. 301. (Both Axispoint and T2 are being maintained as separate brands.) More specifically, the T2 deal is designed to address the need in Axispoint’s top customer vertical – media and entertainment – for a strong, end-to-end partner in content creation, management and monetization.
Axispoint’s CEO, Dan DiSano (pictured), talked with ITBestOfBreed recently about his company and the impact of the acquisition. (The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.)
How did the acquisition of T2 and Tekserve complement your offerings?
It’s highly complementary. T2 and Tekserve are an infrastructure engineering firm and they build systems for major media, entertainment and sports companies, as well as others; anyone that’s really dealing with content. So, from a vertical [industry] point of view, it was a strategic fit.
We had also been working with them for two years. We had done a project together for a major media company. The teams knew each other; that’s always helpful. And then there’s an intersection in an area called MAM: media asset management. We do customizations around media asset management. We do workflow development, where they kind of architect a media asset solution. They configure, they implement, they support thereafter. So, together now, we are kind of full service in that area.
So, in short, what that does is it’s given you more of the technical chops to go along with your business development and business relationship-building skills.
What I would say is that the acquisition has given me scale, vertical dominance in entertainment, media and sports. It’s given me depth and breadth of talent. It’s also given us strength in the Tri-State [area of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey]; we’re both headquartered in New York.
What business demands are driving the biggest opportunities for Axispoint today?
Clearly, content is king, and it’s been not just media companies. You can be a financial services firm, an insurance firm, a pharmaceutical firm, and have real content needs. A lot of those firms actually have their own media and production departments because either they’re building content for their consumers or for their internal teams. [That has] driven for us needs around developing and monetizing content, managing and maintaining and distributing content. So, for us, the boom for us is to have the content world explode. That’s directly relevant or related to consumers and how they’re actually consuming media. And mobile has been a big driver. [It’s] been an incredible driver for how consumers want and use content and media, which has driven both Axispoint and T2.
Prior to five years ago, IT in general [did] a lot of automation, cost reduction, gaining efficiency. There’s always going to be a part of IT that’s [focused on] that. However, in the last five years, our clients have embraced – because their consumers have changed – disruption, innovation. Think of the work we’re getting now … people, even Fortune 500 companies, are saying, “How do we disrupt our industry before someone else does?” So it’s from the startup all the way up to large enterprise entities, [they’re] figuring out they need to innovate before someone else does … and you’ve seen it in a number of markets.
The kind of business that we’re getting is really kind of solving complex problems, which a company like mine loves. If you can solve your clients’ most complex issues, you’re going to be in it for the very long term.
When it comes to building relationships, what are the biggest things a company can do to enhance them?
First and foremost: Be truthful. Tell it like it is, when things are going well and when things are problematic. There is no such thing as a project that never has any bump in the road. There’s always going to be something that comes up. And you have to be open and honest with your customers. If you do that, they will appreciate that. There are times when we’ll turn business away. We’ll work well with a company, and then they say, “Can you do this?” and it’s something maybe out of our strike zone … So, if you’re open and honest with your clients about what you really do well and what you don’t, and you have open communication, you’ll feel a real difference in how the relationship goes.
A lot of our clients come from referral … People buy from people, so for us, it really is a people business, and we’re open and honest with our customers.
And then at the end of the day, you have to deliver.
What are the best ways to stay ahead of the curve on technology?
There is no silver bullet on that. Technology, as you and I both know, is ever changing. Today, something will be different from yesterday. The way we do it is a … multi-pronged approach. For instance, we do have continual training and learning. That’s important. For instance, T2 Computing has certifications with certain hardware and software manufacturers. We have certain certifications in software development. We go to conferences. [At a recent conference,] I met with about 25 startups, just personally. Meeting with their CEOs and learning what they’re doing and where they see the market going. So, it’s not just changing technology, it’s how to use technology in a different way. We try to stay on top of both.
What are the most important qualities in someone you want to hire?
First of all, you want them to be talented at the position. If we’re looking for a business analyst, that business analyst has to have strong analytical skills to be able to work with C-suite executives and translate business requirements to technical requirements.
But putting aside the actual skills, we look for good communicators: high integrity, open and honest. We look for people that want to work in a team environment, and everyone here has to love problem solving, because if you don’t, Axispoint and T2 Computing is not the right place.
Then, we really like people who work well in a team. And the most important thing when you hire is culture. I can’t stress that enough. No matter what company you go to, make sure you fit with that culture and they feel their culture is a fit with you because that’s going to be one of the key factors in you being there a long time and succeeding.