We caught up with Kevin Timms, chairman and chief executive at eacs, to talk all things from the future of IT to the importance of robust cyber-security whilst employees work from home.
Why was eacs started?
Founded in 1994, eacs has become the expert in the delivery of IT Services to the mid-market. It is an award-winning and trusted provider of IT solutions and managed services in both the private and public sectors.
The company supplies practical, innovative and cost-effective IT products, solutions and services to businesses across a number of different industries. Solutions include end-user computing, infrastructure, cloud computing and systems management. The services range from ad-hoc consultancy, support and training through to fully managed or hosted IT systems. Our priority continues to be to provide the best possible support to our customers, whether that is through helping them implement the latest technology or providing them with an all-encompassing managed service.
What does the future of the IT and managed services industry hold?
Now more than ever technology has proved itself to be a business enabler, not just a cost centre. IT and technology providers have been a crucial part of this, but now is the time for tech companies to carry through with the resilience they’ve shown during the COVID-19 pandemic as the lockdown continues to ease and remote working endures. In a nutshell, the key question for IT leaders to ask is this: ‘With the worst of the turbulence likely to be over, how will we have to adapt and respond to different risks over the coming months?’
For example, schools and universities are already having to rely on remote learning that they neither anticipated nor designed their systems for. As shifting work off-site will be a massive, unexpected transition, this is where the IT sector, particularly MSPs, will play a crucial role and be in a position to take that headache away. For some MSPs, this will be uncharted territory. But if anyone can up their game and provide a new level of support, MSPs can. After all, they have already demonstrated at the start of the lockdown how quickly they can understand the needs of their customers and scale in a crisis.
Not only will the sector have to adjust to this, but they will also be faced with a host of other challenges. For example, if and when staff begin to move back into the office space, they will have not been on a domain for a number of months. This is likely to drive a significant uptick in Service Desk calls as people struggle with cached passwords, missed updates and patches and adjusting configurations for systems that had been tweaked to support remote working.
If IT leaders don’t start thinking about these issues, they can be sure that competitors will, which should serve as a warning if they don’t want to be left behind.
Is the need for robust cybersecurity more important in a post-COVID world?
A period of global disruption is always a particularly enticing time for cybercriminals, who often try to take advantage of crises to disrupt operations and hack businesses.
Compounding this with the rise in home working, it is no wonder we have seen an increase in cyberattacks during the pandemic. Most of the time, a cybercriminal’s best way into a network is through a company’s users, and for a business that may not have invested in the security tools needed to support remote access, they have been at the top of a cybercriminal’s list.
It was staggering the number of businesses that were not prepared or did not have a robust and secure Business Continuity plan in place before the pandemic hit. We are very fortunate that being a tech company we had been using the tech required to ensure secure, business-as-usual operations for a while. We have invested heavily to attain an ISO22301 Business Continuity accreditation in 2019, and as part of our planning, we established processes and practices which would enable us to continue to operate in a secure way.
Looking ahead, as it is likely there will be staff self-isolating at home or avoiding travelling to the workplace, everybody knows that remote working will become much more common. This will open up further questions such as are home networks as physically and digitally secure? Are employees knowledgeable and diligent enough to maintain effective remote working security practices?
With this in mind, it is vitally important that companies to get the right plans in place to make sure that they are ready and prepared for a sudden increase in staff working remotely. It is crucial that IT teams continue to conduct a thorough audit of their hardware and software and close any gaps in validity, remote access and adoption.
However, some in-house IT and technical teams are not able to initiate and maintain these plans effectively. For these businesses, they need to look for outside support which specialise in the mid-market. Getting an answer that is appropriate to the size of the problem is key to ensuring that productivity amongst employees or the security of the business isn’t compromised.
One thing is certain – the cybercriminals are here to stay, and they have deep pockets to continue to fund their activities- at a time when many businesses are cash poor. We have solutions that can help redress that imbalance.
What does the future hold for eacs?
We are very positive about the future. Whilst COVID-19 has obviously served up a rather large and unexpected dose of uncertainty across every industry we have the right mix of business to enable us to weather the storm. Indeed, our managed services offering, which accounts for more than half our revenues, has seen robust growth over the last three months and we have actually added four new clients. We have also experienced strong demand for our cloud consultancy services, while our hardware and software business has remained stable, having seen strong initial growth in the sale of laptops and software such as Citrix.
At possibly the most challenging economic period we have ever experienced, we secured a refinance and upsize deal, which has enabled us to not only refinance part of an existing facility, but to upsize the debt on more favourable terms to support the growth of the company. Following on from this refinancing, our organic growth plans for this year include setting up a 24/7 service desk , creating our own Collaboration and Innovation centre, and expanding into Microsoft PowerApps, for which we are witnessing increasing demand from our growing mid-sized client base.