Iain O’Kane believes Xperience has helped clients become more efficient through IT
How long has Xperience Group been operating in the province?
Xperience Group has been operating in Northern Ireland since 1969, trading originally as MSCS (NI) Ltd. After a series of acquisitions, Xperience Group was formed to reflect the increased trading scope of the company and to assist in growing our market presence.
Do you have any plans for expansion?
We have just completed a comprehensive strategic review of our business and are embarking on a three-year expansion programme which we believe will see our customer base increase significantly.
We will achieve our strategy through a mixture of organic growth and acquisitions, which will see the company enter the Republic of Ireland for the first time and re-enter the Great Britain marketplace.
In 2008 we divested most of our Great Britain interests — however we believe the Xperience brand is still well regarded and we can enjoy further success within all these territories.
How has the downturn impacted on Xperience Group?
Like many small to medium-sized enterprises, we have seen a decrease in our client’s capital expenditure. However, we have seen an increased demand for our business services by assisting clients in becoming more efficient through the use of their IT systems.
While we have remained fairly cautious during the downturn, our business has turned in consistent performances while maintaining employee levels.
This has allowed us to invest in the business, ensuring that we remain competitive and function efficiently, positioning us well for the upturn. We continue to invest in people.
What is Xperience Group’s view on the corporation tax debate?
It is clear that the Northern Ireland economy must become less dependent on state funding but this will not happen overnight.
A cut in corporation tax can be used to great effect but it must not be seen as a silver bullet and should be used in conjunction with other measures, such as promoting and supporting start-ups and harnessing innovative ideas.
Have you launched any new initiatives to combat the current challenges?
We have worked with our suppliers to pass on finance options to our clients and offer annual support contracts which provide the security of maximum uptime with fixed costs.
In a competitive marketplace how do you win business?
By working in partnership with our customers we form long-term relationships, providing total IT solutions covering areas such as network architecture, installation, financial applications and end-user support.
The systems we design are resilient and efficient, with the goal of minimising total cost of ownership and maximising up-time.
Does the Government do enough to encourage business?
I believe Invest NI in particular have been very proactive in assisting many of our clients to not only become more competitive but also grow into export markets.
There needs to be a continued focus on fostering innovation and developing the entrepreneurial spirit which already exists in Northern Ireland.
What is the likelihood of Northern Ireland becoming a centre of excellence for the hi-tech/IT sector?
Northern Ireland can become a centre of excellence for IT due to our strong talent pool, excellent university programmes and innovation culture.
With more and more innovative hi-tech companies present in Northern Ireland, things are progressing, however, we must ensure that all areas of Northern Ireland benefit.
How do you compare to other IT solutions companies?
Our customers are provided with the assurance that the people designing and commissioning their IT systems have fully analysed their business needs and our systems are therefore fit for purpose.
Customer confidence is increased by the fact that our average length of service for employees is nearly 10 years, providing a consistent approach when discussing business needs and providing on-going support.
What trends do you foresee coming up in the years ahead?
There will be a continued push towards ‘cloud’ services, either for infrastructure or software. As the communications infrastructure continues to improve in speed and resilience, these technologies will become adopted.
For these reasons Xperience maintains close ties with IBM and Microsoft for the delivery of both on-premise and off-premise solutions, as ‘cloud’ will not suit all businesses.