The Santander Small to Medium-Sized Business of the Year Finalist Focus: Piers Linney

Piers Linney

Tell us about your business
Outsourcery is a world-leading Cloud Services Provider (CSP) based in the UK. The company has one of the broadest offerings of cloud-based services for businesses of all sizes. These services are based on innovative Microsoft technologies and built on best-of-breed HP hardware, covering hosted software applications (software-as-a-service), virtualised servers (platform-as-a-service) and next generation unified communications (UC) and collaboration solutions, as well as connectivity and professional services to deliver fully integrated and hybrid solutions to end-users. Outsourcery is a founding member of the UK’s Cloud Industry Forum and a member of the Microsoft Cloud OS Network (COSN), a highly selective worldwide consortium of 25 CSPs committed to building solutions on the Microsoft cloud platform. It was also the first organisation outside of the US to be named Microsoft’s worldwide ‘Hosting Solutions Partner of the Year’, which is a huge accolade.

As an Ofcom-regulated company, Outsourcery aims to remove the need for businesses of all sizes to own and manage IT, telephony and unified communications infrastructure on-premises, with end-customers ranging from start-ups to FTSE-100 companies. . One of the things that makes Outsourcery unique is its network of over 500 partners, all offering Outsourcery’s cloud services. These organisations range from SMBs right through to large-scale enterprise organisations like Virgin Media Business and Vodafone.

How did you fund your business?
I invested £10 million of my own money developing Outsourcery with my business partner Simon Newton. The company was floated on the Alternative Investment Market in May 2013 when it raised £13 million to fund the expansion of the business.

What is the biggest challenge SMEs are currently facing?
For a lot of SMEs, the main challenge is figuring out how to respond to the growth of your business. IT has a big part to play in this. A lot of our SME customers have come to us to implement scaleable cloud services because they’re in need a viable and cost-effective IT strategy to accommodate growth without breaking the bank. You’re dealing with a workforce that is expanding in terms of the amount of employees you have, but it’s also not unusual now for staff to work on the go, so a higher degree of flexibility is needed. Collaboration is another challenge faced by a lot of SMEs today – they want to enable their workforce to collaborate in the most efficient way possible, without the constant need for business travel in order to communicate effectively. IT, in particular Unified Communications, is something that should supports this, not act as a barrier to it.

Can you give any advice to others starting up business?
Keep your initial capital costs as low as possible, don’t get put off with a few set-backs at the beginning and learn to cut your losses sooner rather than later – it’s the long game that counts.

How do you foster innovation throughout your business?
A business isn’t making the best of its opportunities if innovation isn’t one of its core priorities. The inner workings of a business and the people it employs change constantly, so it’s crucial to continue innovating to improve services and to continue meeting – and exceeding – the needs of clients. At Outsourcery we foster innovation by training our employees on an ongoing basis so that they can grow and explore new ways of improving our offerings. We also work with our partners on various projects to harness our skills and develop solutions with other bright minds in the industry. One example is the development of our Secure O-Cloud platform, a secure cloud platform for the UK government, developed with our partners Dell and Microsoft. I know it’s a bit of a cliché but innovation really is at the heart of what we do – cloud in itself is new, exciting and innovative and as ‘the cloud experts’ innovating is just what we do.