In February Armstrong Watson supported the Directors of cloud and network solutions business Atlas Cloud with raising equity investment of £2m from the Northern Venture Capital Trust Funds managed by Mercia. The world has changed quite dramatically since then so I arranged a video call with Pete Watson, Chief Executive of Atlas, to see how things had been going since the investment.
It certainly has! We provide a managed IT solution to our customers that gives their staff the ability to access whatever IT tools they need to do their job on any device from anywhere. At a company level we very quickly took the decision to effectively close our office and get everyone working from home. As you might expect given what Atlas does, we were able to make that change to our working practice seamlessly, with no impact our ability to support our customers.
Not really. Mercia have been really supportive since the outbreak, proactively providing us with insight from other companies in their portfolio to see if there are things we could be doing differently, or things that we are doing which others could learn from. They have been in regular contact outside of board meetings and we are building a great relationship.
The circumstance is providing some opportunities for us. Our mantra is “IT for the modern workplace” and businesses have been forced to think differently about what the workplace is, and therefore how they need to deliver their IT solutions. The coronavirus is certainly accelerating the conversations we are having with many businesses - they are coming to us wanting remote working solutions for the staff delivered yesterday. That has created some significant technology challenges and our tech team are working round the clock to deliver for customers. We have customers going live daily, often within a week.
We have seen businesses going through two phases of thinking. The first phase was panic – how do we comply with social distancing rules to keep our people safe while also able to work, ideally from home if possible? After this is up and running the second phase is where businesses have implemented a solution and they start to encounter some of the practicalities – how do you manage productivity, can I seen all the information I need, what about data security? We think there is a logical third phase which some businesses will reach where they start to question what the future of work looks like – is there a need for big expensive offices if we have found ways to deliver answers to the questions in phase two?
Absolutely, we’ve been able to react to changes in the market very quickly. We had profile from doing the deal, and had working capital to be able to accelerate the investment we needed to scale up quickly to support our customers.