Insight Enterprises Australia increased both sales and profits in the year to 31 December 2022 as the company continued to climb the IT services value chain.
The local branch of the Arizona-based IT solutions company reported a revenue increase from $167.3 million to $207.6 million and saw net profit lift from $8.8 million to $10.6 million.
That performance was well above expectations, Asia Pacific (APAC) senior vice president Mike Morgan told ARN, while describing the year as a "cracker".
Big hardware deals in Australia featured, particularly in enterprise and education, while the software category also grew on both sides of the ditch.
"We hold the vast majority of contracts in higher education," he said. "What's kept us differentiated and growing in those areas is the work we are doing in contemporary services."
Engagements with universities such as Sydney, NSW and a partnership with Auckland University were very different from just a few years ago, Morgan said.
The secret sauce of Insight's resilience was a multi-year transformation taking the business from being a leader in hardware and software licensing sales, particularly Microsoft, into what Morgan described as a "modern, contemporary, multi-disciplinary partner".
"Last year we coined the phrase 'solutions integrator' because we started to tire of the fact that in some jurisdictions we still get lumped in as a reseller," he said.
"We have a great capability there, but it doesn't define us."
That positioning picked up elements of reselling and the procurement of technology, still very core to Insight, but also the very significant, high-level services capability the company had developed both in the Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) region and globally, Morgan said.
Six and a half years ago, Insight had 4,000 people worldwide and 800 were in services, he said. Today it has 13,000 people and 9,000 in services.
"It's a pretty wild transformation if you think about it."
Insight had moved well past merely holding procurement accounts with major organisations to become a much more nuanced and blended business, Morgan said. Growth in services, both professional and managed, was now outpacing more traditional parts of the business.
"Also, traditional categories where we haven’t been that strong in this part of the world, like hardware, have been surprisingly strong," he said.
"It's almost not core to strategy, but once you become a more multi-tenanted provider to clients they start asking for everything you can do."
A few years ago, Insight tried to isolate what the business of the future would look like in APAC if it executed on all metrics.
"That allowed us to break it down to what sort of talent we would need, what locations would we need to be in and what was the portfolio of services and partners that would be involved in that mix," Morgan said.
Looking back, he said, almost every box in that vision had been ticked.
The 2016 US$10.8 million purchase of 90-strong Perth-based business technology consulting and managed services provider Ignia had accelerated transformation in A/NZ.
Insight has since been expanding its services to the east coast and was now using that as a base to extend into New Zealand.
"COVID helped because nobody could get people in place physically on the ground," Morgan said. "We could deliver remotely with scaled teams in Australia and then hire in NZ."
The timing was right for the company; Some of its customers are New Zealand-based businesses who had no option but to go to Australia for Azure. This is due to change soon however, with the opening of a local New Zealand region, which is due this year.
"We know there is going to be some repatriation work to be done there but think the timing has been really good for us," Morgan said.
Hiring was still the biggest challenge, so creating a differentiated and leading talent brand was vital. In that cause, Insight has successfully pursued certification as a "great place to work" across the APAC region.
As generative artificial intelligence (AI) dominates discussions, Insight has teamed with Microsoft to develop its own product that addresses business concerns about loss of IP and data into the public domain by sitting it inside the corporate firewall.
The technology is currently being used in the first national trial of AI in South Australian schools.
IT was continuing to become less of a department and more of an organisational capability, Morgan said, and it had been "turbo-charged" by anything with the word data in it.
Automation was also an investment hot spot in an environment where, Morgan said, there had been a change of mood. Budgets were now being diverted away from "spurious" or somewhat discretionary spending and put against hard productivity-based projects.
Technology had a great role to play in all of those scenarios.
"A lot of the integration challenges that you had inside your own organisation are just not an issue any more because the landing point is a common cloud environment built with integration out of the box," Morgan said.
That had changed the profile of people at Insight.
"There are far fewer people who know how to make the boxes and wires work these days and far more people who know how to convert a business problem, an opportunity, into something using the softer side of data and its possibilities," he added.