The ‘Partner Spotlight’ series explores partners operating in the local channel landscape right around the country, from Cape York to Hobart, Byron Bay to Fremantle and beyond. This edition focuses on the Robina-headquartered managed services provider (MSP) Clarity.
Maintaining business normality during the COVID-19 pandemic is one thing, but starting up a business during this time is in another ballpark entirely. It's in this very situation where Clarity’s story begins.
The managed service provider (MSP) was founded by Drew Pollock and Brodon Hirst after being 'burned' by local MSPs while working at a digital media company.
“Neither of us had worked in managed IT services before, but we had both had lots of exposure to MSPs as clients and we had the skillset required to do managed services,” Pollock said to ARN.
“We were underwhelmed to say the least by our experience with local MSPs. We had always been used to higher levels of service, support [and] sophistication as working in internal IT teams sets a higher standard.
“We asked ourselves the question ‘What if we started an MSP with the goal of replicating the internal IT team experience?’ This was the biggest pain point we felt as customers of MSPs.”
Clarity has four locations in Queensland, with its head office in Robina on the Gold Coast, but isn’t tied down to any given office. In fact, Pollock is dedicated enough to travel as far as Brisbane and Lismore to meet with clients, driving for two hours at a time.
However, Clarity’s seven employees aren’t based in any one location and live anywhere from Northern Rivers to Brisbane, providing local services when possible.
That service, according to Pollock, primarily focuses on professional services, with the majority of its clients coming from real estate agencies, law firms, accountants and medical businesses, as well as not-for-profits, property development and travel businesses.
“We generally deliver our clients an overall better whole of business IT solution,” he said. “We start each engagement with an IT health check, reviewing our client’s current IT portfolio and delivering a gap analysis/report.”
Clients that decide to stick with Clarity then move on to disaster recovery and business continuity planning, IT security and cloud initiatives, Pollock added.
The business’ offerings includes those powered by Hosted Network, its private cloud provider, which enables Clarity to offer infrastructure-as-a-service, desktop-as-a-service, disaster recovery-as-a-service and backup-as-a-service, among other cloud-based solutions.
“We selected Hosted Network given the enterprise data centre backed solutions and their approach to partnership – from solutions design, pre-sales projects and support,” Pollock said.
“Using their platform, it allows us to deliver managed cloud solutions which are proven and backed by a team who are truly wonderful to work with.”
In addition, Clarity has vendor partnerships with Microsoft, and also utilises solutions from Ubiquiti, Fortinet, HP, BitDefender, Veeam and VMware in its offerings.
Due to its work in various verticals, the MSP also finds itself partnering with software vendors specific to its target areas. For example, many of its law firm clients use legal practice management software LEAP, so Clarity made the decision to become a certified partner of the software vendor to gain access to its priority support team.
When it comes to other areas of the business, such as internet and phone services, Pollock said the business remains supplier agnostic.
“We don’t sell telco services white-labelled, or managed print. We instead operate like our client would expect an internal IT manager to operate – an objective third party to evaluate telco or print suppliers without a dog in the race,” he said.
“Being our client’s advocate to provide clarity and certainty about the best outcome for their business, we go to market to manage the procurement process and evaluate several potential suppliers on behalf of our clients.”
Surviving during the COVID-19 pandemic is one thing, but Clarity has managed to thrive during this time, with Pollock chalking it up to the business’ approach of acting like an internal IT team.
“Thinking like an internal IT manager, we take on more than other MSPs, we get outcomes for our clients rather than pointing fingers at third parties (often taking on more than we should), we deliver a higher level of service and we’ve got lots of experience in key verticals and as C level execs for consulting to manage the whole IT portfolio for our clients,” he said.
Both Pollock and Hirst have transitioned out of the day-to-day support duties after putting in an escalations team with a team leader and are now primarily doing project work, bringing in employees where possible.
This is in addition to other facets of the business, including growing the business, consulting and providing technical leadership for escalations.
Moving forward, Pollock would like to see himself and Hirst step further back from project work spend more time on business operations, with the end goal of a 50/50 split between the two areas.
Past this, Pollock also has his eyes on expansion, with Melbourne and Sydney set to be Clarity’s next markets.
“Brodon and I are the type of people who are never satisfied. We’re proud, for sure, of what we’ve achieved in a relatively short period of time,” Pollock added. “However, we always see things we want to improve.”
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