Commsworld CEO Blog December 2018

As we approach the end of another exciting year for Commsworld, and for many of  our customers, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one for the support we have been given in 2018.  As ever, our growth and exceptional success this year has solely come from the support and strong relationships with our customers.  This notion that our customers have brought us to where  we are is something that we will never lose sight of, and we remind ourselves of at every stage of our journey.

So,what have we been up to in 2018? What have we achieved this year and importantly how do I see us progressing next year and the years beyond?


2018 – A Phenomenal Success!

Well where do I start?  It has been an outstanding year for Commsworld - we have excelled all projections, targets and ambitions we had set ourselves at the start of the year.  As we’ve seen each year, the demand for businesses to be connected continues to grow.  We’ve seen insatiable appetite from organisations of all shapes and sizes to consume and rely on Cloud services in an unprecedented way, which will no doubt accelerate going forward.

To quote a great customer and friend of Commsworld, Chris Van Der Kuyl from 4J Studios; ‘’We are living in the era of the fastest pace of change in human history – it will never be this slow again’’. This quote says it all.

Some of our achievements in the year, which I will expand on later in this blog:

  • Awarded the largest Public Sector contract (in our sector) in theUK
  • Acquired a Cloud Services Business to broaden our abilities and portfolio
  • Expanded our Fluency network creating the UK’s largest independently owned fibre network
  • Over achieved our financial targets and secured numerous long-term recurring contracts across the UK which underpins our ambitions in the years ahead
  • Restructured our Board, bringing in highly experienced individuals to both exec and non-exec roles

Before I put some meat on the bones of the above I look back over the last few years and think of the barriers we had to overcome and the difficulties faced by an SME Technology Company based out of Scotland and how the ‘big players’ perceived Commsworld and the ‘advice’ they gave to me directly and indirectly over the period.

I see Commsworld as an innovator and disruptor in a Telecom Market that for many years has cried out for transformation.  The ‘big players’ have dominated the top-end of the market and used the ‘small players’ as their agents (for want of a better term).  Basically, an inexpensive route to the small, less profitable market whilst still maintaining control.

Customers wanted and demanded more than the status quo. Like all entrepreneurial organisations we saw the opportunity and we were determined to fill that gap.

I describe our journey with the big players as below when we had the temerity to dare compete:

  • They told us we could not bid (we were too small)
  • They then told us we could not succeed (we were too small)
  • They then told us we could not deliver (we were too small)
  • They then told us we could not repeat (we were lucky)
  • They no longer tell us anything

The reason I say this is not to blow our own trumpet but more to say there is no reason whatsoever for SME organisations not to question the ‘norm’ and to be bold and innovative in their approach to their chosen market.

Financial Performance

Our financial performance over the last 3 years has been more than encouraging.  Having more than doubled our revenues with an average annual compound growth of 28% taking the business in 2018 through the £20m barrier.

Our profitability has increased exponentially over this period and will continue to accelerate in the years ahead.

We have secured numerous long-term, multi-year, contracts with some of the largest Public Sector and Commercial Sector organisations in the UK that guarantees the long-term stability of the business. This provides a solid platform on which to build on as we look to expand our business throughout the UK.

ECS Acquisition

We acquired a quite brilliant company, ECS, on 1st  May 2018.  A business we have worked alongside in collaboration for many years and one with who I had forged a long and trusting relationship with their Founder and MD, William Fairhurst.

This acquisition was partly driven by the demand from our customers for more integrated and Cloud Based Solutions.  As we all move more and more of our business-critical services to the Cloud it is critically important that Commsworld can deliver and support these Solutions & Services via a Hybrid or Pure Cloud environment.

This also brought to our portfolio the likes of Cisco and Microsoft products and solutions.  Many of our customers require an integrated project or ‘’single throat to choke’’ if you like, as their own requirements become more complex and important to their operations.

So, we now have, in house, a suite of Products, Services and Solutions that will cater for most if not all our Customers’ requirements both today and into the foreseeable future.

Strengthening our Team

As we grow, we clearly need to develop and grow our capability, experience and professionalism as a business.  We have made numerous high-level appointments across various areas of the business, particularly in Service Management and Project Management.

We also appointed Bruce Strang onto our board as MD within the business to overview and help build the organisation.  Bruce joined us from City of Edinburgh Council where he was CIO and seen first hand our unique abilities, prior to this role he was MD at Capita Updata.

Fluency Network Expansion

Our ‘’Jewel in the Crown’’ is our UK wide Fluency Next Generation Network which is expanding at an incredible rate, driven by our customers with no external borrowings or speculative investments involved. Uniquely in our market, the entire Fluency network is built on contracts from our customers with no risk to our business. “Build it and they’ll come” is simply not in our vocabulary.

Our approach is somewhat unique for providers of our shape and size. We pride ourselves on genuinely having a capability that matches and exceeds that of the ‘big players’ however many people don’t understand how we do this and make assumptions, pigeonholing us as an ‘aggregator’ of other providers. While we do of course have Layer 2 access to all the best networks to give us 100% reach of the UK, the assertion that we’re an ‘aggregator’ couldn’t be further from reality. 

Many people’s traditional understanding of a ‘real’ network operator is one that digs up the roads (and is probably made up of remnants of previous companies that have gone bust in doing so).  Commsworld’s unique position has been established by building the same network reach and capability that a ‘real’ network operator might have in the past, but crucially by leasing fibre in the ground (consuming at Layer 1), and lighting it in the same way we would if we owned the asset.

Early 2019 will see Commsworld light up over 2,000,000 Metres of fibre in a figure of eight around the UK, which will slingshot the Fluency network into position as the largest privately owned Optical Core Network in the UK.

So very high-level view of our Fluency network highlights: - 

  • Passing through 25 towns and cities
  • 82 Points of Presence (PoP’s)
  • 53 BT Exchanges
  • 26 Data Centres
  • 2,000 km of Optical Core Network
  • 8 Tbs Core Optical Capacity
  • 10,000 km of Metro Dark Fibre Reach
  • 130 Gbs Peering & Transit Capability
  • 3 Tier 1 Global Transit Providers
  • 7 Internet Exchange Points
  • 25 Tbs On-Net Edge Port Capacity
  • 19 Off-Net geographically distributed 3rd party interconnects (TalkTalk/Sky/Virgin etc)

2019 And Beyond

We have not been sitting on our laurels admiring the progress we have made in the last few years, rather we have plans in place to grow our business exponentially in the years ahead.

Having secured and delivered some of largest the most challenging projects in both the Public and Private Sectors we are looking to accelerate our expansion throughout the United Kingdom. We are now fully engaged with numerous organisations/frameworks and collaborative partnerships with a sales pipe line that is extremely exciting.

With the myth of ‘only the big boys can do these things’ now truly put to bed we are finding many Enterprise and Public Sector organisations throughout the UK are inviting us in to discuss and explore what we can do for them that is different from the status quo.

Over the last few months alone we have had contracts awarded from numerous large and Corporate Companies within sectors such as Airports, Banking, FTSE 100, Legal & Financial, Contact Centre & Tech.

In Summary

I look back at the times, not that long ago, when I was told (often in no uncertain terms) that Commsworld was too small and too insignificant to play with the ‘big boys’. I am pleased to say the more this was levelled at us the more determined we were to prove the doubters wrong.

The Telecom sector, as mentioned earlier is one of the last remaining sectors in the world that requires a shake-up. Why? Because customers demand it.

We are all excited within Commsworld to help drive that change and in doing so help our clients achieve great things for their businesses via the unstoppable Internet and Cloud services that are quickly redefining the business world of tomorrow.