Bristol-based Eduserv is an unusual IT services provider. Halfway through its 38-year life, it decided to become a not-for-profit charity. Its customers operate in the public and third sectors, such as local government, education, health, central government and charities. Eduserv sees its role in helping these organisations make the best use of technology in order to serve their customers better and cost-effectively. The company has a subsidiary which handles business that doesn’t fit its UK charitable status, principally overseas sales of identity and access management software. This operation gifts its profits to the charity.
The business employs over a hundred people providing its customers with cloud solutions, preferential licence agreements for software and online resources for the academic sector, and federated identity and access management solutions for learners, researchers and health professionals. Eduserv has an unusual ethos in that it encourages self-sufficiency among its clients. It is happy to support clients as long as they want but, unlike some service providers, it tries not to tie them into a long-term service dependency from which escape is difficult.
The company is transitioning from its award-winning cloud services based on its Swindon data centre facility to public cloud services, focusing on Microsoft and AWS platforms – which is a recognition that private datacentres can’t keep up with the suites of tools and platforms that global providers can. This decision is wholly in keeping with Eduserv’s focus on helping its customers make the most of their technology investments.
Engagement with techUK
Through the quality of its guest speakers and participants, techUK has proved very useful in helping Eduserv keep up to date with issues and gain fresh insights into industry developments and its market sectors.
Natasha Veenendaal, head of marketing and Executive Briefing Programme lead at Eduserv, notes that some membership organisations for technology businesses, “run the danger of just getting tech companies together with each other. And, although you can get some benefit from this, it’s not quite the same as talking to the people that are going to be using your services.” She added, “I think it’s good that techUK does get that balance and brings in voices from the market and helps us talk to that group.” It’s not that the other contacts don’t matter. The overall effect is to help build communities of mutual interest.
Eduserv works in partnership with other vendors and sees relationships like those with Microsoft and AWS growing in importance. techUK provides an excellent forum for building those relationships, also offering a strong bridge to Government, which enables a healthy exchange of information with the tech industry. Influence flows in both directions.
The main areas of participation with techUK are through Eduserv’s CEO, Jude Sheeran, who is on techUK’s Public Services Board, and occasionally blogs, presents at events and attends various techUK functions. For example, the company’s CTO, Andy Powell, presented at a recent event on Smart Cities and GovTech and Jude Sheeran wrote a piece on the Government’s SME dilemma during techUK’s SME Campaign Week. These aren’t about “Here’s our software or case study. Aren’t we great?” - they’re at a higher plane, but not unreachable. They are more likely to focus on how current and emerging developments will improve the lives of suppliers and customers.
The Government has a stated aim of increasing the amount of business it conducts with SMEs. In fact, this was the topic of the CEO’s mentioned earlier. techUK has already shown that it is supportive of the SME cause and it provides both the cause and Government with leverage and access, something that would be made more difficult without the strength of such a trade association. Natasha Veenendaal says, “SMEs encourage innovation and it’s important to keep that intellectual property in the UK.” Once again, techUK’s ‘bridge to Government’ is useful when it comes to spreading awareness of such developments in the tech SME arena.
Natasha Veenendaal provides a good reminder of why we’re all here. She says, “Technology is a massive power for good if it’s harnessed in the right way.” That seems to pretty much sum up the intent of both Eduserv and techUK.