Magazine article New Zealand Management

Are You Fast Enough? How Our Fastest Firms Take on the World with the Web. (Cover Story)

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Are You Fast Enough? How Our Fastest Firms Take on the World with the Web. (Cover Story)

Article excerpt

New Zealand's fastest growing companies ate making smart use of internet technology to brand their products and services, communicate with partners and provide a high level of support and feedback. Keith Newman talks to John Skeets, chief executive of Marshal Software, rated New Zealand's fastest growing company, and the leaders of two other high flyers, At]antis Group's Michael Whittaker and Icebreaker clothing's Jeremy Moon, to glean the secrets of their web usage and what it means for the rest of us....

Marshal Software has used internet technology to successfully `punch above its weight' in the global marketplace. The Manukau-based company has had phenomenal global acceptance over the past five years delivering software to minimise business security threats.

Marshal took the top spot in the Deloitte Fast 50 chart in October, with measured growth of 870 percent over the past year. Its MailMarshal product was also selected as the best real world `Junk Email Management' solution by US-based W2Knews in its 2002 Target Awards programme for Windows NT/2000 utilities. "Our competitors and customers really have no idea of our size because we're seen as an international company. Africans and Europeans have no problem dealing with us but Americans tend to see the US as the centre of the software universe," says Marshal chief executive John Skeets. "So these days we list our US address first."

Marshal has 55 staff including 18 offshore, where it now achieves 80 percent of its sales. "The internet has been essential in developing a global business which would not have been possible otherwise. For example the police in Columbus, Ohio downloaded their software from our website after finding out about us from our Irish distributors," Skeets says.

Marshal (www.marshalsoftware.com), sells internet content security products, MailMarshal and WebMarshal, which sit between the firewall and the mail server of medium to large firms.

The software is customised to suit `acceptable use policies'; isolating security breaches, malicious code, unnecessary bandwidth consumption and workers who use the internet for unproductive and illegal activities.

As well as allowing hundreds of customers to download software, updates and fixes from its website it also offers extensive support including access to a knowledge base, case studies and a web forum. The locally managed site is mirrored including access to a knowledge base, case studies and a web forum. The locally managed site is mirrored in the US.

Using the Heat helpdesk package Marshal has also been able to provide email support for customers in the Northern Hemisphere more effectively than they've had from competitors in their own markets.

Skeets says the internet is the new bar companies must jump to remain in business. "Having a presence and being able to be found is important, but over time you're going to have to build up functionality and maintain dynamism and freshness. That requires a commitment."

While the internet can be an amazing tool for improving communication and efficiency it can also be a time waster if online attention is unrelated to work. Atlantis Marketing, for example, saves $100,000 a year policing its perimeters for time wasters with Marshal software.

Atlantis rising

Atlantis Marketing is another of New Zealand's fastest growing companies which leverages the internet to sell its marketing and data analysis skills in Australasia and the US.

Atlantis was second in last year's Deloitte Fast 50 with a growth rate of 414.6 percent. It dropped back to 13th position this year but is still growing--currently at 220 percent. Company CEO Michael Whittaker was named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year for 2002.

Whittaker says the group made an early decision that its web presence would be for business functionality rather that just as a glossy brochure. …

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