Readify's managing director, Graeme Strange, leads the team that won four awards at Microsoft's Annual Partner Awards, and was also named as global partner of the year. ARN sat down with him to discuss how the company had become such a success over the last year, and what the future holds.
Tell us a bit about your history with Readify?
Readify has been around about 12 years. I didn’t start it up, that was another good friend of mine, Graeme Armstrong. I joined him after a couple of years. He has since sold out of the business.
About two years ago we took on some private equity to buy out the existing shareholders that weren’t working in the business. BlueSky private equity has been a partner of ours ever since.
The latest challenge is how we get listed on the ASX, and that timeframe is meant to be May now. That is, if all the ducks line up.
You’ve just won Microsoft Australian partner of the year, as well as international partner of the year – amongst a host of others. What’s happened in the last year that’s taken you to the next level?
We’ve always been a company that has had developers at its core. They are the heart and soul of the company, our corporate DNA. I think for a long time when Microsoft was extremely product-centric, and licensing-centric, we didn’t sell licenses.
Now in a world where software is disrupting everything, where innovation isn’t just one of those buzzwords, but something that you have to think about from the board level down, you can’t ignore it anymore.
Software is at the centre of this explosion of technology, devices are basically a lump of metal if they don’t have the right software in them.
It's also a disruptive part of processes, look at Kickstarter. Taskgrabber, Uber, AirBNB, they are all disruptive and software is at their core.
So we’re in a great space for Microsoft. As they move towards this Cloud first model, the people that are driving this consumption, this stickiness on their platforms – whether it be in the app space, mobility or Cloud consumption - are people like us.
Our customers, like Barnados, have been central to us winning these awards. We had to rebuild Barnados entire case management system, after the NSW government effectively dumped a whole bunch of kids in care - which had an effect on that industry. So we jumped in and built their case management system, called MyStory.
With Laing O’Rourke, they wanted to reach out to their staff and contractors, and they had no idea what mobility devices their contractors were using. You have to assume they’re using all sorts. We built a platform that they could start to deliver services from, so that didn’t have to build it all over again on iOS, Android or Windows. Build it once, and it deploys out to everything.
There’s some clever technology, some clever thinking from clever people here.
What are a few examples?
What we do is we create a bunch of IP basically. You can go on our website and have a look at something called knock knock. You have to pass a whole bunch of code puzzles, before you can even upload your resume. We had 104 applications last year. We made offers to less than 5 per cent, we keep that bar really high.
We’ve actually given it away to a few partners overseas. I zapped them the source code. It’s a small industry, it's nice to help others out.
It's nice to have a business model that morphs with an industry that is changing rapidly. For example, if you are an accounting firm or in professional services, not much changes year to year. Accounting standards are pretty steady. But in our industry, every year, everything changes.
Two years ago people were talking about Cloud, but that commoditisation and infrastructure was not really there. We jumped on early. We saw it coming four years ago. We have a piece of IP that maps technology trends.
Last year, we were all over Internet of Things, we picked up two proof of concept jobs, they were circa million dollar jobs. You also get seen as thought leaders. IoT is going to be big. All the analysts think it's going to be big. We thought, let's get this going now. We did this event series where we tried to educate the market.
We’re already going out there and talking about holographics – which is significantly ahead of the curve, but we will take several significant bets along the way. That way we know our business model changes and you’re never left in a situation where you have to do transformation.
So many companies have to do a transformation programme. Why? Because their technology hasn’t moved from one year to the next. They just do the same thing as last year. How is that a strategy? Ours constantly morphs. That’s our ‘business as usual’.
What's on the agenda for the next 12 months? What new tech are you working on?
We’ve just started our next strategic three-year-plan.
From a technology perspective, I think IoT will come of age. I’m not saying it's this year, but it might be the next.
I do think that once the Hololens team get that in market as a consumer device, which I don’t think will be within the next 12 months, then we’ll see a rush in that direction, especially for those industrial applications.
Certainly, the barriers to entry for that kind of technology is very high. That’s music to my ears, because most players won’t try. The average price for an app of augmented reality will be around $5 million. That’s going to knock a whole bunch of people out. It's not just two developers working together, you’ll need audio technicians, artists and 3D graphics designers.
We’ve started building out around that space, we’re developers at our core, but we have designers now too. Because if you build great software and no one wants to use it, what's the point?
We should also be ready to close on the design company, Folk design, that we’ve bought 20 per cent of.
Data analytics is another one. These are the technology areas that are going to get big over the next couple of years.
We are buying a data analytics company, so that brings in mathematicians, data scientists, a good bunch of guys out of Sydney – they’re really really smart guys.
So, developer, designer and data are the key spaces for us into the future.
Australia, and most of SE Asia, has been slow to push services. Our economy has relied pretty heavily on digging stuff up out of the ground. We’ve been slow to embrace a service economy. So it's all about software services.
Identity management and security will also be major factors. Ashley Madison’s and Sony’s hacks can only happen so many times. Only so many CEOs can lose their jobs before changes happen.
Any last words?
Our staff have been central to these awards. I’m a firm believer that if you put a good team around yourself, they’ll make you look great. Our customers obviously too, we look for innovative customers, because they’re the visionaries behind these projects – we just make them happen.