IT swimming, not sinking, claims Datacraft

The IT market over the past 90 days has kept getting busier, says Datacraft managing director Robin Hartendorp.

“We don’t know quite what’s driving it but it’s all about consultancy and professional services work,” he says.

“The first thing I would have expected to see to drop off in the current economic situation is product sales, but we haven’t seen that yet. Perhaps that will begin to happen in the New Year.”

Datacraft is this month celebrating 30 years of business in New Zealand. Today, it is a $60 million company employing 170 people — and with considerable growth targets.

“Datacraft Asia has the goal of being a US$1 billion group by 2010,” Hartendorp says. “Our share of that is $100 million Kiwi. To do that, we need to be a 250-person company. We have an insatiable appetite for people.”

Datacraft is also celebrating its 30th anniversary in New Zealand. The company was founded in 1976 in Melbourne to provide network technologies to the Australian market. A manufacturing facility was built to produce Datacraft-branded modems, which were soon being sold in New Zealand. One of the first big customers was the New Zealand Police, who kitted out the Wanganui computer centre with the modems.

In 1978, Datacraft New Zealand was established in Lower Hutt.

The company shifted its focus to network integration in the 1980s and became a substantial reseller. In 1991, it became one of the first Cisco resellers in New Zealand.

The use of networking technologies continued to evolve. Hartendorp says that SNA to IP was really the key. “The banks spent good money on that.”

One of Datacraft’s first major network projects was early in the 1980s, providing an X25 network for police.

“Our focus today is still around networks but that has taken us into security, telephony and the call centre space.”

In 1993, the Datacraft group restructured by consolidating its Asian businesses into a holding company and floating Datacraft Asia on the Singapore stock exchange.

Listed South African company Dimension Data had bought the Australian company, and a few months ago, Datacraft became a wholly owned subsidiary of Dimension Data, a US$3.8 billion company, which is Cisco’s biggest global partner.

In New Zealand, Datacraft is operating several lines of business, including .Net development, converged communications, security, call centres, datacentre infrastructure solutions, management solutions for telcos, and its core network business.

“The heart of our business is services,” Hartendorp says. “We’re an engineering company — 90% of our staff are engineers.

“Those skills have become more available over the past six months, with a lot of people returning to New Zealand.”

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