Case Study by Craig Ashwood - General Manager A/NZ, Orca Tech
Orca Tech is the fastest growing and only value-added distributor focused on cyber security and analytics in the Australia/New Zealand region. We have a broad customer base and represent a number of large cyber security vendors across the industry.
We started the business approximately three years ago when our founders, who had previously founded and sold an IT distribution business, saw a gap in the market. Essentially, there were no companies focused on cyber security – we felt the industry needed a niche, nimble player.
Our growth over three years has been exponential – our revenue has grown from just over AU$3 million in the first year to around $35 million in our third – and that growth shows no sign of abating.
A big part of our business success is determined by the quotes we generate – for every 2,000 quotes we produce, we close about 300 opportunities. The quotes are reasonably straight forward, but they do require manual configuration to meet the needs of each prospect. With a dedicated sales operations team of just three people supporting our sales team and growing demand for our services, we could potentially find ourselves reacting to opportunities as opposed to proactively pursuing new avenues for growth.
We’ve worked with The Missing Link for many years - both in our current capacity as Orca Tech and in our previous organisation. They are in fact, one of our clients as well as a supplier. So, we’ve built a strong relationship with the team there, which is based on trust. So, when Aaron (The Missing Link CISO) told us that they had just launched a new Robotic Processing Automation division, and suggested we explore ways it could improve our business efficiencies, we decided to see where it could take us.
The Missing Link suggested we might derive the most benefit from RPA by using it to generate quotes, so we entered into a discovery phase on this basis. This involved a few short meetings with the team, during which we worked with them to define the processes we use when generating quotations. Then they used Microsoft Teams to ‘look over the shoulders’ of our sales team as they worked.
Before the discovery phase, The Missing Link had met with our sales operations team to explain the process and the benefits that would come from it – both for them and the business – and so they were actively engaged right from the start.
I have to admit, I wasn’t convinced that our quotation process could be completely automated, but I was happy to spend time reviewing the way we do things in an effort to identify any opportunities for improvement. If anything, I could see we’d come away with more stringent documentation about our processes for quoting, foreign exchange management, automated renewals quotes etc.
The discovery phase was brilliant. Having delved into every step of our process, we discovered that while our team was doing a great job, and generally, working to the same song-sheet, there were inconsistencies to improve on and short-cuts that could be taken. We observed opportunities to streamline the system and improve our quotation template so that our sales operations team could become more efficient with their time, manage the increasing number of quotes requested, and be freed to concentrate on less mundane activities.
Depending on how our business grows, I can see the opportunities for improvement identified at this point – regardless of any automation – will generate a return on investment within the next 12 months to two years. It’s exciting to think that the changes we’re already implementing will cover the work of two people, which means we don’t necessarily need to hire more staff right now during these uncertain times and we can utilise the additional bandwidth to work on some proactive tasks.
What’s even more exciting is that during the discovery session, we realised an opportunity to automate our customer relationship management system (CRM) and our outbound marketing activities. This will really free the sales team from some of the more mundane aspects of their daily work so they can focus on new opportunities.
From a business perspective, we have an enormous amount of trust in The Missing Link – purely because we’ve known them for so long and because they are recognised in the industry as trusted business partners. Because of this, we’ve given them access to data that we probably wouldn’t share with any other organisation, let alone one of our customers.
We’ve got a bit more analysis to do before we decide whether we go ahead with automating our quotation service. However, regardless of whether we do or not, the discovery process has helped us document and improve our processes, and that’s been well worth the investment. And the idea of automating our CRM and outbound marketing is one that gets us really excited.
As a small niche business, there’s always trepidation surrounding the idea of automation – we like to have human involvement in everything we do. But having gone through this process with The Missing Link, we realise we don’t have to jump in deep – we can opt for ‘attended automation’ which will allow us to maintain some human input in daily decision making.
I’m really looking forward to the next steps.