15 years is, I have discovered, quite a long time in a tech business. When I started M12 Solutions back in 2003 I knew we would be around for a few years if I got most things right. What I couldn’t have foreseen was the rollercoaster of trading through the Great Financial Crash Recession. Or how inevitable convergence might look for businesses. The world pre-smartphones, pre-VoIP, pre-cloud and pre-apps, wasn’t actually too dissimilar to today. Businesses have similar problems and challenges and the stuff of designing, implementing and supporting telecommunications solutions is reassuringly similar. Yes, the functionality is maturing and as ever the price points decrease, and consolidation and exits in our industry mean that the landscape continually evolves.

Within this fast-paced turmoil, M12 presents itself as an oasis of professional stability, as a business who is innovative on its front edge yet is collectively very competent and friendly in depth. Those who choose M12 as their provider like the quality job that’s well done. Then when they need us, for whatever that might be, we’re quick and professional.

This only happens because our team of people at M12 care about our customers. If there is business pain it gets fixed and in the day to day, hopefully we are in touch and advisory, to just the right amount.

I’m sure it’s well known that most of our team have been in the business for many years. We have also had new blood as our ISP side of the business (Giganet) makes steady progress as well. We know our customers like the continuity of talking to people who they know and who know how their organisation runs and who answer the phone without them having to go through an auto-attendant.

I was asked by a business friend what was the key to staying power and I came back with various well trodden themes. But it wasn’t until our board meeting last week that ‘The One Thing’ came back at me. It can all, I think, be distilled into that unswerving belief that ‘our future is better’. Effectively that’s doing all the right things today to reach an even better tomorrow. And that does come from me, the business owner and has always been steadily distilled to everyone at various internal events, meetings and get-togethers. I guess when mostly the topics of tomorrow do inevitably keep coming true as time passes then you really take your people with you.

A subject which I keep reinforcing to those in sales, is that I believe there has never been a better time to be in telecoms. This time though there is an almost perfect wave appearing where M12 will be properly set to take advantage, which might take us far. Let me share some of this with you.

The M12 team celebrating our 15th birthday with a BBQ and activity day at Royal Victoria Country Park.

We have many differentiators which help us to win new deals that we work on. Our products are great and like-with-like we are seldom beaten. Proven 24×7 back up and proactive value-added services are very appealing, especially when appropriate customer references provide great reviews. A major element which sets us apart though, is our status as an extremely well-connected and properly resilient Internet Service Provider. Years ago when we had to buy from ‘distribution’ we had masses of pain and taking control was a fantastic development which means that our voice services over our Internet are as good and resilient as they can be.

All well and good, but how does this scale? As I write we are in the last stages of fine tuning our new Giganet website. We learned from our experience providing local wireless internet about how to do this and our new site will uniquely allow customers to almost self-serve. As internet users we are used to configuring our new cars, seeing inside potential new homes and reading the first chapter of a book we might buy. We all do our research and we are told that most people will be 70% pre-sold before they even start a conversation with potential suppliers. We think M12 with our Giganet brand can fill a niche and give organisations that multiple options of speeds and self-configured information, so they can get up to date, get accurate, researched prices before they engage with us. In our world we think this will be a first and hopefully we’ll get some first-mover advantage.

That said, what keeps us collectively excited are the continual improvements we help organisations make, where their quality communications gives them confidence to grow, be better at customer service and handle every opportunity that comes their way. Solving problems and later providing great back-up. We also know they like our ability to keep their costs under control.

Back in 2003 we had just a handful of suppliers which has grown to a few dozen today, as what we do has greater breadth and complexity. Their support and innovation helps to ensure we always have a competitive edge and we very much appreciate their work on our behalf.

I’m pretty sure that you won’t get a ‘15 more years’ article from me, with two sons in the business and our youngsters of M12 starting to hit an age that begins with a three! I know that keeping up that important role of nurturing and development will ensure we keep serving business for many years to come, with further leadership coming through. All the best for your business – so far for me it’s been a blast!

by Andrew Skipsey