The CEO of Ultima claims an £18m upgrade to its headquarters can serve as a template for midmarket customers embarking on digital transformation (DX) projects.
The reseller and managed services provider is in the process of shifting its staff to a newly refurbished building within Reading's Manor Park, which was created by Ultima founder Max McNeill.
The move will enable Ultima to create 50 new roles, and double the tally of apprentices it takes on each year from 20 to 40.
CEO Scott Dodds likened the investment to Ultima "drinking its own champagne".
"This is a restart, a transformation, a modernisation for our business all up, so it's a big deal for us," he told CRN.
"We've been using our own business, which has 400 people and £100m turnover, as a case study for midmarket companies about the challenges of digital transformation. This new building is part of that. We're modernising all the infrastructure and facilities, we're using more cloud services and SaaS so we can be more mobile, and we are automating a lot more things through software robotics. And we are spending a lot more time on the people bit.
"We call it M³H - modernised, mobilised, mechanised and humanised."
When asked about Ultima's growth plans, Dodds declined to divulge revenue aspirations.
Increasing the customer base is an important metric but the Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, HP and Dell partner is also putting an emphasis on offering more services to existing customers, Dodds said. To this end, at a launch event last night (pictured, with Dodds on the left), Ultima piloted 13 new service offerings around modern workspace, modern datacentre, and assurance and compliance.
"Our ability to manage services for our clients -that's where we see a lot of our growth potential and ability to scale the company," Dodds said.
Dodds said Ultima's mantra is to help its customers stay ahead of the flow of ‘digital rivers' such as the flow of people through LinkedIn and Facebook, commerce through Paypal and Amazon, messaging through Instagram and WhatsApp, and content through Netflix.
He said: "How do you plug into these flows and take advantage of them, rather than being drowned by them? That's the conversation we are having with many of our customers. How do they stay ahead of them or take advantage of them to be the disrupter?"
The £18m sum includes investments Ultima has made across the infrastructure of the entire business park, which it bought just under three years ago, although a lot of the sum relates directly to its office move, Dodds said.
In a statement, McNeill - who founded Ultima in 1990 - said: "We have rented out some of the 40,000sq ft to other technology companies, including Fortinet and Veeam who previously weren't based in the town. It goes without saying that our investment in the business park has created further employment opportunities in south Reading, and will continue to do so. I've lived in the Reading area for 34 years, so being able to contribute to local employment is very important to me and demonstrates our long-term commitment to the community."
Most of Ultima's staff have already moved across from the old site, which was located on the other side of the park, with technical support and managed services staff set to make the switch next month.
Asked whether Ultima had made any painful missteps in its own DX journey that its midmarket customers could learn from, Dodds said he could give "hundreds" of examples.
"One example though is that we realised we need to spend an awful lot more time on our own people, and indeed also bringing more people into the organisation," he said. "It's about how we live up to the expectations they all have in this new, digital, fast-flowing world."
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