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We’ve punched above our weight without going head to head with big players: Holocentric CEO

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Home-grown Business Management Systems (BMS) provider, Holocentric has outbid larger international companies for tenders in Australia by harnessing the strengths of being a smaller operation and eliminating, where possible, the need to go head-to-head with better-resourced competitors, according to its CEO, Bruce Nixon.

The tech company, which has offices in Sydney and Canberra, has worked with companies such as Australian Tax Office, Westpac, Airservices Australia, NSW Transport Management Centre, Qantas, Sydney Water, UGL Services, Western Power, Iceland Air and IP Australia. It currently employs around 40 people but Nixon said he expects his workforce to grow by 50% over the next 9 months.

He spoke to Dynamic Business about Holocentric has had with winning engagements with some of Australia’s largest organisations to deliver an integrated BMS. 

How has Holocentric competed against larger companies?

“A key strategy we use is not to always going head to head with larger players. One tactic we use is to look for the gaps that our competitors’ products present and even help them to use these products in a more efficient way.

“We’ve also done a lot of work to figure out our competitive advantage and focus on that. We discovered that clients, which are typically large organisations, have trouble understanding their operational environments and linking their processes, making strategy execution, compliance, transformation and continuous improvement extremely difficult to carry out. This is what we try to solve and how we have built our BMS product.

“Because of this, there is no one in the Australian market currently that can replicate what we do. Some can do elements, but we have differentiated enough to be unique, but broad enough to appeal to many different types of clients.”

Is being a small operation a competitive advantage?

“Absolutely. The key strength of being smaller means you are more agile. At Holocentric we have a strong R&D team and are constantly looking to how we can improve our products. While our R&D budget might be smaller, we have some very bright minds, and being smaller, we can implement and test changes much faster than our larger counter parts.

“Further, being smaller often means you can be closer to your clients. We have a strong culture of customer service and take considerable time to get to know our clients and the challenges they face. We customise our offerings to the client, rather than the off-the-shelf options you tend to get from larger tech providers.

“Large international organisations typically have limited capability in Australia and even less flexibility in meeting customer needs. They will often have solutions developed for another market and very little, if any, influence over the shape of products and solutions for individual customers.

“We are also very focused on our core offering, a Business Management System. We find that many of our larger competitors have a range of products and need to compete internally for resources and budget. We do not have that issue as we are dedicated to the one solution.”

How can other SMEs ‘punch above their weight’?

“There are a number of things you can do:

  • Focus on the customer: Become a partner not only a provider and you will more likely see increased long term client relationships as they can see you are invested in their business. This may require greater investment in meeting customer requirements but will pay dividends through long-term stable customer relationships.
  • Evolve: Keep making improvements to your products to better appeal to your customer base and get ahead of your much slower moving competition.
  • Niche yourself: Whether it’s a specific issue or certain industry, niching will help you be seen as an expert in that field, making it harder for your more general, generic competitors to stack up against your offering.
  • Back yourself: If you know you have the best solution for a particular customer problem, take them on and don’t be afraid of a shootout.”