Saturday 17 March 2018

Your Business: The cloud has a silver lining

Eamon Moore tells Sean Gallagher about the four pillars around which his outsourced IT business is built

Eamon Moore and Sean Gallagher at the EMIT offices in Santry. Photo: David Conachy
Eamon Moore and Sean Gallagher at the EMIT offices in Santry. Photo: David Conachy
Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher

From sending and receiving emails to storing and protecting information, IT is now at the heart of almost everything we do. IT equipment, systems and services now underpin almost every modern business function.

But while hi-tech advances have resulted in many benefits for businesses, they have also brought with them additional challenges - what hardware? Which systems? And how to integrate all these different elements together?

Eamon Moore is one man who knows the answers to these questions. Set up in 2003, his award-winning IT company EMIT now employs 14 staff and has an annual turnover of almost €2m.

"We are a lead partner for both Dell and Microsoft in Ireland," enthuses Eamon when we meet in his offices in Northwood Business Campus, in Santry. "Unlike most traditional IT companies, we focus strategically on the integration of IT with the key business objectives of our clients."

Eamon goes on to explain that the business is built around four key pillars. The first of these is IT infrastructure, where the company supplies, installs and supports everything - from PCs and laptops to switches and servers.

Secondly, they provide Microsoft-based cloud computing services which enables companies to move their data from being stored traditionally on the companies' own servers to the cloud, where it is then stored securely in data centres managed 24/7 by Microsoft.

The third pillar is IT security. Driven largely by an increase in hacking and security risks, EMIT helps clients protect their data from threats both within their businesses and external to them.

"We were also the first in Ireland to launch our 'Firewall as a Service' offering," Eamon explains. "This allows businesses to outsource their security to a specialist company like ourselves on a monthly subscription basis. We then provide them with monthly security reports including statistics on any potential threats across all their internal and remote networks or mobile technologies."

Finally, the fourth pillar of the company - business productivity - involves providing software that offers greater efficiencies in how operations are run. These include CRM (customer relationship management) systems that allow sales staff to manage leads and track customers, from initial enquiry to final delivery of products or services.

"Using excel sheets is fine for gathering information, but importing this type of data into a CRM system allows businesses to integrate it and produce all manner of useful reports and statistics. While most owners and managers of businesses still use their gut to make decisions, having intelligent data can help improve the quality of their business decisions," insists Eamon.

The company's customers are predominantly SMEs whose staff numbers range anywhere from 15 to 500. These are drawn from a variety of industries that include professional services, not-for-profit, technology, financial and semi-state bodies. More recently too, the company has become active in other sectors such as construction, engineering and distribution and logistics.

Eamon grew up in Beaumont on the north side of Dublin. At the age of 15 and still in secondary school, he got a part-time job in the IT department of CSK Software - a Dermot Desmond supported company. Excited by what he learned there, he went on to complete a degree in computer applications at DCU. However, when he finished university in 2002, jobs were scarce as a result of the fall-out from the dotcom bubble of 2000. However that year would bring even greater personal sadness for the young graduate.

"My mother died that summer after a lengthy battle with cancer - it hit me and my sister very hard," explains Eamon. "Her dying wish had been that I would pass my final exams. So the day of her funeral was a bitter-sweet occasion because that day I received my results: a first-class honour - something that would have made her very happy," he adds.

A few weeks later, Finbarr Crowley, the managing partner of the legal firm that was looking after his mother's affairs, rang to say that his firm were looking for IT support and if he would consider working two days a week for them.

"He insisted that I become a sole trader rather than an employee. I didn't really understand why at first," explains Eamon. "It was only later that he told me that he felt I was destined to work for myself and wanted to encourage me in that direction. Using my mother's dining-room table as my office, E-MIT Solutions (Eamon Moore IT) was born. Within a few months, word spread to other companies and soon my diary began to fill up. I was now in business for myself."

Over time, Eamon expanded both his client base and his team. The downturn in the economy ironically helped in this regard as more and more businesses opted to outsource their IT needs rather than hire their own full-time staff.

In 2012, he studied Cloud Strategy at the IMI - something that completely changed his thinking about the future of the IT sector generally, and his own business in particular.

"I had long held the belief that I didn't want the company to be a traditional IT business selling hardware and break/fix contracts. But up to that point, I had been grabbing all types of business and offering far too many different services just to ensure we kept growing. I realised that, if I was going to be successful, I needed to develop a more focused strategy and cloud computing would be at the heart of this," admits Eamon. "That's when, after some soul searching and some further research, we launched our current four-pillar strategy," he adds.

Part of this focused strategy saw him concentrate on two key partnerships - Dell and Microsoft. Around the same time, Michael Dell began to take an interest in what Eamon was doing.

"He picked up on one of my blog posts, sent me a LinkedIn message and has since become a big supporter of ours," explains Eamon proudly. "We also had similar success with Microsoft. Having started to grow our Office 365 business at pace, Microsoft HQ in Seattle produced a video case study on our business which they profiled at their World Partner Conference in Orlando - which helped us become a Microsoft Gold partner shortly after," he adds.

In October 2015, the company was awarded Dell's Global Social Media Partner of the Year and shortly afterwards also picked up Dell's Security Award for New Partner of the Year for Ireland. Less than 12 months later they were also awarded Microsoft Global Partner of the Year for Small & Midmarket Cloud solutions - the second Irish company ever to win a Microsoft Global award.

"It's really been a joint effort from a very dedicated and loyal team," insists Eamon as he introduces me to all his colleagues. He is also pleased that events have come full circle and he was able to appoint a non-exec chairman to his board - his former mentor, Finbarr Crowley.

Full of energy, Eamon is now focused on scaling the business even further. He wants to position EMIT as partner of choice for both Microsoft and Dell in Ireland and sees expansion coming by way of continued growth as well through a mix of external investment and acquisition.

As we leave Eamon, he hands me his business card and points to the company's main office phone number, it's the number of his late mother's home phone. Today, it serves as a gentle reminder to him of how it all started and of his mother's positive and lasting influence on his life.

Eamon's advice for other businesses

1 Focus on your strengths

"Focus on your personal strengths and what you do best in business. Part of being successful is learning when to say no to opportunities that do not take you in the direction you want to go. This can be prospective customers, new technologies or potential partnerships."

2 Don't be afraid to try new things

"Change is everywhere. It is constant and good. Welcome it, don't fight it. Those who do not adapt to changes in market conditions or customer demands run the risk of being left behind. Even if things don't work out, use these as learning experiences and do better next time."

3 You just can't beat experience

"Surround yourself with great people whether this be your team members, board directors, partners, or mentors. There is so much to be learned from others with more experience than yourself. Being open to take advice can deliver positive outcomes for your business."

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