About this Episode

We are getting used to seeing in the news how the politicians are going to ensure that all the homes and offices in Great Britain are going to have 100% high speed fibre internet access in an ever-decreasing timescale plus the progress of the removal of the existing copper network in an even shorter timescale. Add to this the initial roll out of the various 5G networks, with or without Huawei, plus declared strategy statements that the ‘Internet is Ok’ and ‘Internet First’ for Government data, we have a cocktail of change which is causing both Suppliers and Customers to re-think their own strategy.          

The Public Sector Networking Summits in London and Leeds are a great opportunity for the network suppliers and public sector customers to come together to talk about the changing customer needs, movements in technology and standards and the initiatives being taken by GDS, CCS and NHS-Digital to bring the different areas together. The two Summits at One Great George Street in London on 17thSeptember and a week later on 24thSeptember at Royal Armouries in Leeds are free for the Public Sector to attend. Industry sponsors include Capita, Exponential-e, KCOM, MLL Telecom, Redcentric, The Networking People, Virgin Media Business and Adept amongst others.

It is with Adept that Lynne Magennis is talking to today. Adept have made a transformation from a Calls and Lines SME reseller into a mid-market supplier of a range of technologies. Paul Mathews, the Head of Business Development, is to talk about those changes.

 

Paul Mathews

Paul Mathews

Head of Business Development, Adept Group

Paul has over 15 years’ experience working at a senior level within IT infrastructure, data services, telecommunication, unified communication and SaaS, on both New Business and Enterprise Account Management, clients include HMRC, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Kent NHS CoIN, Companies House, ING Bank, BAA and Mizuho.

Paul is very proactive and experienced in managing clients’ expectations, implementing large-scale global roll-outs and providing ongoing support.

Paul grew up in Australia where, prior to my career in data and communications, Paul served in the Armed Forces and went on to play semi-professional rugby.

Lynne Magennis

Lynne Magennis

Director

Lynne is the Innopsis Director focused on Podcasts and Design.

From a chemical process research background she has moved into the telecommunications business. Her day job is working for the Daisy Group.

 Outside work will find Lynne tending for her horses and dogs in the Home Counties.

Tuesday 17th September 2019, One Great George Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3AA

Tuesday 24th September 2019, Royal Armouries, Armouries Drive, Leeds LS10 1LT

With discussions around the Future Networks for Government (FN4G) gathering speed, Government Digital Service’s statement that ‘the internet is OK’, a potential shift away from PSN, NHS Digital’s outlines for the future of HSCN and the launch of Network Services 2 there is a growing emphasis on future public sector network services, connectivity and security.

No one solution fits all, and as public sector organisations by their very nature have differing levels of connectivity, security and service requirement we will look to break down and discuss the varied options open to the public sector’s technology departments and teams. We will discuss the potential of cost benefits, increased efficiencies and improvements to public services which can be obtained by the use of current and future network options.

The Public Sector Network Summit will address these issues whilst also focusing on the new Network Services 2 framework and the added benefits to the public sector that this new procurement model provides. Issues around security, zero trust, perimeter defined software and cloud connectivity will also be discussed in detail to provide clarity in this ever changing network landscape.

Attracting circa 200 technology and network professionals from across public sector The Public Sector Networks Summit offers delegates to hear and discuss policies, case-studies on excellent work already taking place around the country, engage with solution providers and network with public sector peers from central and local government, the NHS, emergency services, education and the voluntary sector

 

AdEPT unite communication and innovation through the use of technology. We bring the ideas and the solutions to your business to help you succeed. Put simply, we deliver products and services that help your business to grow, to be competitive, to increase profitability and to improve the way you communicate with your customers and your employees.

 

AdEPT – Head Office

77 Mount Ephraim,
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 8BS.
0344 55 77 200

www.adept.co.uk

 

Intro: We are getting used to seeing in the news how the politicians are going to ensure that all the homes and offices in Great Britain are going to have 100% high speed fibre internet access in an ever-decreasing timescale plus the progress of the removal of the existing copper network in an even shorter timescale. Add to this the initial roll out of the various 5G networks, with or without Huawei, plus declared strategy statements that the ‘Internet is Ok’ and ‘Internet First’ for Government data, we have a cocktail of change which is causing both Suppliers and Customers to re-think their own strategy.          

The Public Sector Networking Summits in London and Leeds are a great opportunity for the network suppliers and public sector customers to come together to talk about the changing customer needs, movements in technology and standards and the initiatives being taken by GDS, CCS and NHS-Digital to bring the different areas together. The two Summits at One Great George Street in London on 17thSeptember and a week later on 24thSeptember at Royal Armouries in Leeds are free for the Public Sector to attend. Industry sponsors include Capita, Exponential-e, KCOM, MLL Telecom, Redcentric, The Networking People, Virgin Media Business and AdEPT amongst others.

It is with Adept that Lynne Magennis is talking to today. AdEPT have made a transformation from a Calls and Lines SME reseller into a mid-market supplier of a range of technologies. Paul Mathews, the Head of Business Development, is to talk about those changes.

Lynne: Welcome to the latest Innopsis podcast. Today we’re going to be talking to Paul Mathews from AdEPT. He’s the head of business development there. AdEPT as an organisation has seen a lot of changes over the last few years. Do you want to lead us through some of the bits and pieces that have been happening?

Paul: Good morning, Lynne. Yeah, of course I would. AdEPT, as a lot of people know, started off with Calls and Lines back in the 2003, and has developed from an SME into a mid-market player. We have developed our product base from everything from the voice environment through to connectivity, cloud-based and IT services. As an organisation, we’ve now moved into seven sites across the UK. We’re very UK centric. Everything from cloud services, Microsoft, AWS, Google, et cetera, to connectivity for HSCN, through to DIA circuits for the smaller marketplaces. Some of the big things that we’ve been doing recently are supplying HSCN to people such as the Kent COIN, which is over 400 plus sites, as well as Somerset Partnership, Great Ormond Street and quite a few different smaller, mid-market size organisations who supply the health and public sector environment.

Lynne: What tips have you got for growing public sector business? Because clearly yours has increased massively over the last …

PaulI think what it is is, we don’t work on a rate card basis. We work on going out, understanding what the client’s pain points are and what is good about what they’re currently doing, and trying to develop a solution that fits into that. It’s really about understanding the market. You know, I meet a lot of different people and there are people that we don’t get involved with, because we believe that what they’re trying to achieve isn’t scalable or adaptable to where we’re moving in the marketplace. So what we try to do is give them a solution that works now with what they have, but it able to upscale. So using layer three services, for example, in connectivity, I like to give people a lot of different options, not just connecting to HSCN. I’d like them to possibly use the connectivity we’re giving them to connect to Azure or AWS, voice. Run everything over one MPLS cloud at the moment, using things such as SD-Wan for backup, and delivering a bespoke solution for them.

LynneSo you cover a lot of procurement routes, I would imagine, with that rate of growth that you’ve had. So what are your feelings about the public sector procurement routes at the moment?
PaulIt’s an ongoing challenge. It has been. In previous lives, I’ve been involved with public sector, so I’ve seen a bit of change. We’re very lucky. Our chairman, Ian Fishwick, and a few other individuals in the organisation, saw the opportunity for AdEPT to go into our RM1045 and RM3825 for health, and pushed through the change that was required for us to meet those obligations when it comes to SLAs and partnering with the right people to deliver the services that we believe we can do, which we’ve done with Kent, Great Ormond Street, and others.
LynneHow’s your framework journey been? How did you find 1045 evolved for you?
PaulI’ve never had a problem with it. I’ve used it in another life, as well. I particularly don’t have an issue using RM1045, because it gives me a lot more flexibility. 3825’s a little bit more stringent, but as long as you communicate with Crown Commercial Services and you know where you stand, I’ve never had a problem with it.
LynneGood. Any other procurement routes? What other bases do you cover?
PaulWe cover virtually all of the portals, so we’ll do Azure cloud. We’re heavily on the education side, as well, through one of our divisions who looks after the London Grid for Learning, but also it goes out to a much wider spread than that. We also look at voice, so we’re doing different lots, unified communications, and things such as, as I said, cloud services, Azure, AWS, et cetera.
LynneSo digressing slightly, how did you feel your network services to application process went?
Paul: I wasn’t involved with it, thank goodness. I leave that down to my colleague, Tim. Tim Scott does all of that for us. I’m purely business development and thankfully focus on the public sector.
LynneAll right. We’ve touched briefly already on Kent with your HSCN. How has the rollout gone and how did the procurement go for that, in your opinion?

Paul:  With all, it was an extremely large procurement. It was the largest N3 network, and winning that was an extremely good feather. The hard part was delivering it, but we’ve delivered it within nine months. We’re also the only organisation to deliver a COIN or any sort of HSCN roll out of that size on time. The difficulty was the actual liaison with the different partners in regards to the IP migration. It took time for us to develop the right relationship with BT. Once we had the right people on board, they were exceptional.

We found some very good project managers and others, who, as you’d expect with BT, knew what they were talking about, and very helpful. But overall, there are always going to be issues with a project of that size. It’s just a matter of communicating and making sure that you understand what they are and trying to resolve them as quickly as you can. I had a very, very good team behind me. People such as Tunama, who is the project lead for us. And I was used as I should be, the escalation point and the account manager, and we got it there. In fact, we signed it off on Tuesday.

Lynne: Fantastic. Good news. You’ll be getting a gold star then from NHS Digital.

Paul: Who was there at the time, so yes, we’ve got a good relationship with NHS Digital.

Lynne: The golden people at the moment then. Touching back briefly to AdEPT’s history, how have you found the transition from SME to the mid-market place that you’re going?

PaulIt’s a very good point. I’ve been with the company just under three years. When I first joined, we didn’t have a network. We do have our own network now. We were initially focused on calls and lines and it developed into connectivity. Ian has gone out and procured some organisations who we felt were a great fit, and have been, such as Atomwide for education, ETS and ShiftF7. Basically we’re joining together as an organisation, all of those different silos, to deliver everything from an SME product space, i.e. voice, cloud-based, local-based, to things such as Avaya, Azure and a different range of tools.

But the journey’s always going to be difficult when you’re bringing six, seven organisations together, as people from other organisations well know, and I think it’s going to take time for us to get to where we want to be. But at the moment I’m able, as a solution provider, to go out and basically offer everything within the group’s environment at the moment, including our new network, Nebula, which is in its infancy, but is going from strength to strength on a day to day basis.

Lynne: So how is that development of that platform going? Talk us through that.
Paul: We’ve built an MPLS network. So it allows us to use a diverse and resilient network that’s based in Orpington and DCs around London, and it allows me to go out and sell DIA to MPLS to a smaller marketplace than I’d normally do. So it gives us a little bit more diversity in what we’re doing.
Lynne: How do you see it developing in the future?
Paul: Well, like anything, because I work in public sector, I would like to see it to be adaptable, so that the solution set that we’re selling through Nebula is diverse, so I can touch virtually any vertical within the country. And I’d like it to compete with the providers that we believe should be our target market, which is organisations that are probably a little bit bigger than we are at the moment.
Lynne: You’re head of business development. How is the business going to develop within AdEPT as a whole?
Paul: I think it’s quite sunny and bright for AdEPT now. We’ve got a nice little orange colour code going, which makes it extremely bright and sticks out, especially on the cabs that Ian sorted out. As an organisation, I can only see it going forward, for me particularly working. We have such a large project range. When I mean large, it’s scalable. For example, our relationship with the Azure and AWS side of the marketplace is strong. We supply to a broad range of organisations. We do a lot of cloud services that AdEPT hadn’t touched before, but they were opening up spaces in different verticals for us. So that part of the business is great. We’ve got very good relationships with providers that we use to supply MPLS networks. Everybody from CenturyLink through to smaller organisations that allow us to deliver specific bespoke solutions, and we have things as 356, Avaya relationship, Pragma. So we’re covering a lot of the market space for the middle market, and it’s growing for us.
Lynne: So your expansion into the different product sets is what’s fuelling your expansion into the different verticals, as well?
Paul: Yeah, correct. I mean, I can use virtually, as I said before, the whole range within the public sector, but what I can also do is take that to other verticals. So people who supply government, people who supply financial institutions, or the insurance vertical. It’s just a matter of adapting those platforms to suit the requirements of the client.
Lynne: Is AdEPT still in its acquisitive phase or have you reached the part where you’re going to hunker down
Paul: As everybody knows, everything is an ongoing development in business. It never stands still. We do have to accept change and quite frankly, we quite enjoy it because it gives us more opportunities to sell in different vertical.
Lynne: Never say never.
Paul: No, we like the glass half full. We’ve never been a half empty company. I mean, growth is just part of the process that Ian put in place all those years ago.

Lynne: Used to be your core business, calls and lines. How are you dealing at the moment with the end of WLR?

PaulWell, we’ve got a plan in place. We’ve got products ranging from, as I said, Avira, Pragma, Nebula itself. We have relationships with, obviously, BT and Gamma, as most organisations do. We’re offering alternative environments, and we’re going through not only our own customer base, but other areas, to deliver something that we believe works.
Lynne: How are the customers accepting it?

Paul:  Do you know, I think the main issue for that is more about not being told why it’s changing, and that’s the real issue. Change is okay. A lot of people are actually jumping on board the SIP and IP environment. It’s just understanding why copper’s been cut off. And when you tell them the reasons being, they’re quite surprised.

Lynne: We’ve all known about it for ages, but actually when it happened, everybody seemed to be very surprised. It was a dangerous brother’s moment, wasn’t it, really? “Oh, good grief, look at that. Heavens above. Didn’t think that was going to happen,” but yes, it has. Do you think there’s a little bit of denial? Do you think anybody’s in denial about it still?
Paul: I think there were a lot of people in denial about it, but it’s happening.
Lynne: Yes. Where are people going to be without their backup, which is all so carefully put in place and …

Paul:  And security, et cetera. You know, there’s a variety of different things it impacts on. Luckily for me, it’s not impacting on my area as much.

Lynne: So, HSCN, where do you see that going within AdEPT? How have you brought that to fruition?

Paul:  We developed our strategy initially about three years ago where we put together the framework detail, got the accreditation, obviously, stage one, stage two, working with organisation called Convergence Group. We decided that we would start slowly, working on the peripheral regional, as AdEPT did in those days. So we started having conversations with a broad range of trusts across England, and out of that came a very interesting, what I would call, strategy from NHS Digital and trying to get people off as quickly as possible, but we had to help them develop their business case. That’s the important thing that I’ve found with HSCN, it’s making sure that the trusts understand what they actually want. It’s not just about HSCN, because HSCN, at the end of the day, is a layer three service. The hardest part is, how can we make it work for them? How can we deliver them a service that increases their capabilities, not just now, but for three to five years going down the line, dependent on, of course, what happens with HSCN as an accredited network?

Our strategy was to get an understanding of the marketplace, so I spent the first 18 months of HSCN talking to a lot of people in the south, everything sort of south of Cambridge and Oxford, ranging from Somerset through to Great Ormond Street and Kent. We developed a strategy on what those people were telling us, what they needed. So for Kent, we delivered a structure that not only relied on HSCN, but covered off on opening up cloud services, interconnectivity between the trust, which is still there, and in places, putting in tin. So things like firewalls or virtual firewalls, giving them a service  that basically covered their connectivity requirements. If needed, we also were looking at adapting voice solutions for them, and covering everything I possibly could with Layer 3, and even Layer 2, technology just to make sure that the offering that we had in place was not … I don’t like the word future-proof, I actually like compatible with where they’re going for their next three to five year journey.

And it worked for us. I’d built relationships up. I went to a quite a lot of different meetings. The Kent COIN, for example, is six trusts, four of those are acute, as well as eight CCGs. Totalling, as you can imagine, a plethora of different people who were managing and looking after their own infrastructure. So it was making sure we understood what each trust had. So the project mindset was Kent COIN as a whole, and then breaking it down into sub projects so that we understood everything that the trusts needed. With the CCGs, that’s an ongoing project at the moment. A slightly different variation, because you have to involve different sections of the NHS and you’ve got to deliver a slightly different service, and that’s what we’re doing at the moment.

It’s been great that we can develop our relationship with NHS Digital, as well. We’ve had a very good contact, Mike Oldfield-Marsh there, who’s being very straightforward with us about what NHS Digital expect from an ISP. If we then move over to places like Somerset, again, different area, different conditions, and a different environment, but very similar sort of format. So supplying connectivity to a decent sized county and making sure that we’re not only delivering it from a technical point of view, but also cost-wise meeting those requirements. Because as we all know, the market has changed in the last 10 years considerably, and we in public sector are very cost driven at the moment. Whereas, you’ve got to try and deliver a service that is cost effective, but is going to give them what they want, that stability they need.

With Great Ormond Street, very different, again. A single site, but much more diversity in what they’re actually looking to do with their connectivity. We’ve been able to sit there and deliver a broad section of services. Moving forward, it’s a great relationship to have with such a great brand. I spent a lot of time there and worked with them extensively to make sure that we deliver what they actually need.

Lynne: Do you find the customer interactions are different at the various different levels within these NHS organisations?

Paul: Yeah. I mean, you’re going to. I deal with people who were part of the STP environment. The CEOs, the CIOs, will have a different viewpoint on what they’re looking to achieve and what they’re doing. Their infrastructure manager will want something else, but they’ve all got the same idea and scope of what the NHS needs and what those particular trusts require, and it’s my job to make sure I give them something that works for all of them. So giving them the pricing points that work, but also giving them the solution that can deliver what they need.

Lynne: As the owner of a successful rollout, have you got any tips for other NHS trusts who are yet to go into the migration phase of their …

Paul:  I think it’s quite easy. Communication is the key. Talking on it. We had, initially, weekly project meetings. We also brought them on site, so we sat them down in front of us. For Kent, that is. For Somerset, I went to Somerset. I made sure we discussed everything from their high level design, their statement of works, and then their low level design for each site. It’s just communicating anything that arises. IP migration is an interesting thing to do, especially with BT. BT were very helpful once we got the right people involved, and we were able to deal with not just, let’s say, a shortage of planners, but also capacity issues that were around, particularly in Kent, which was resolved quite quickly.

I think it really does come down to just understanding what your needs are, making sure your business case is there and making sure you understand the subsets that you actually have, especially with N3, because where a lot of public IPs there and a lot of redundant information was being pushed out over N3 that realistically should never been.

Lynne: I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who’d like to get some further information and talk to you about your HSCN experience, as well as the evolution of AdEPT. Is there anywhere coming up soon where we might be able to talk to you?

PaulYes. We’re at the Public Sector Network Summit on the 17th of September in London, so more than happy to have people come along. If you want to do a pre-meeting, I’ll be available for breakfast, as long as somebody else pays, that’s great. But no. If you need to meet me at any of those events or if you’d like to go online, you can find my details on our website.

Lynne:  I think that’s going to be very interesting, and I’m up for multiple breakfasts, as well, thank you very much. Thanks, Paul.

Paul:  Thank you very much, Lynne.