GCI's Blue Chip buy prompts channel strategy reset

GCI's acquisition of IT managed services giant Blue Chip marks another step towards a channel ‘sea-change' according to CEO Adrian Thirkill. Announcing GCI's third and biggest acquisition in 18 months he indicated that channel partnerships built by GCI Channel Solutions are likely to realign as the company continues to transform.

This will include the absorption of the profitable £6m Channel Solutions division into the company's overall MSP model.

Director of Channel & Midmarket Sales Mark Whitehead has departed the business, but Thirkill stressed it would be business as usual for certain channel partners.

"We already have people in the business that will take on the responsibility, so its wider and deeper within our organisation rather than having it stand alone.

"The support will carry on as normal because the type of partners we engage with will change. If you are an old-fashioned partner and you just want to buy connectivity at a cheap price, then go to somebody who does that as their core business.

"A channel partner that is sophisticated, wants to digitise themselves and deliver their customers end-to-end business outcomes will understand how to engage with us and will find it much easier to engage with us.

"I can't change our business in line with UK business requirements and not change the way I am structured towards the channel. You can't do one without the other."

The acquisition of Blue Chip, which delivers end-to-end fully managed IT services to large SMEs, enterprises and public sector organisations, makes GCI one of the largest privately owned Managed Service Providers in the UK with 500 staff, turnover approaching £100m and an impressive technical capability underpinned by multiple vendor certifications, including 10 Microsoft Gold accreditations alongside others from leading vendors such as HP, Fortinet and Enghouse Interactive.

"Our latest acquisition is another great name and is right up there with earlier acquisitions including Outsourcery and Freedom which have already added immeasurably to our capability," said Thirkill.

"It's a really simple story: We are continuing our commitment to finesse the shape and direction of GCI and align our services and solutions with our customers' requirements across all sectors in large SME, mid-tier enterprise, strategic partners and UK Government.

"Digital transformation is here to stay and it naturally flows through to digital ‘business as usual'. Helping our customers to shape, plan and then deliver their digital journey is what GCI is all about, and Blue Chip is another keystone within it. Digital business life is becoming all about our customers' business outcomes and our role in supporting that."

Richard Cook, MD at Blue Chip commented: "It's a reasonably rare thing for two technology organisations with around 20 years' experience each to come together in complete aligned agreement. Adrian is spot on: the journey to an integrated digital business is indeed complex.

"The technology interdependencies are challenging and the solutions are many and varied. But the task is made easier if you have a trusted guiding hand. The personal touch ‘technical support pod' concept we have finessed over 20 years and our well-invested processes and systems provides just that: an assurance to our customers that we will ‘live and breathe' their world and always put their best interests first. This mindset is the bedrock that underpins our customer partnerships and is a great cultural fit too with GCI. I look forward to joining the GCI board to further accelerate this customer value."