Six months of working from home has taught us many lessons – and not just how to bake the perfect banana bread. Ways in which businesses can become more agile and sustainable are now primary considerations, as leaders look at how their companies can bounce back – or even thrive – during Covid-19.
The pandemic has also separated firms into two distinct categories: those that are well-versed in the digital environment and have therefore made a smooth and successful transition to working entirely from home, and those that have suddenly realised the importance of digital transformation, as employees have struggled to access files and navigate the world of video calls.
Dramatic changes to our working environments and operating processes have encouraged a rapid adoption of digitalisation, and one company looking to capitalise on this development is Extrinsica Global. Founded in 2010, the Oxford-based firm is a hyperscale cloud solution provider, specialising in building and managing complex cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure – a key part of the Microsoft cloud environment.
Now, having secured a £3.5m Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) investment from BOOST&Co, the business intends to accelerate its current research and development programme, expand its team of experts and help more companies to embark on the path to digital transformation.
Hyperscale, cloud, digitalisation: what does it all mean?
Digital transformation is all about how organisations can adapt their processes, products and customer experience by using emerging digital technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, digital transformation will also include employees operating securely from any location and interacting seamlessly with business systems.
The challenge is that many companies have outdated physical infrastructure that limits their capacity to implement these technologies. They also lack the in-house expertise to build the functionality into a hyperscale cloud environment.
As a Microsoft partner, Extrinsica specialises in designing and building solutions for the specific IT functionality that an organisation requires, so that the firm’s entire IT estate can effectively operate from the Azure hyperscale cloud environment. This can range from CRM software and finance systems to services that use big data, machine learning and automation.
“We see ourselves as the organisation that takes businesses on their digital transformation journey,” says Simon Smith, chief executive at Extrinsica. “In the hyperscale cloud environment, there is a capability to implement new ideas quickly and to introduce cutting-edge platform services, neither of which can be matched by traditional in-house IT teams. Our expertise means that businesses can very quickly reap the benefits that hyperscale cloud computing solutions offer.”
A new need to be agile and accessible
“Operating from a hyperscale cloud environment means that businesses can empower their people to work in the way that they want to,” Smith says. “We are used to being able to select an application, download it to our phones and have that specific functionality available within seconds. This is increasingly the kind of ease and accessibility that employees expect from their workplace operating systems, but have not traditionally experienced.”
In recent months, employees have also encountered the additional challenge of working remotely – a move that has been far harder for businesses that still rely on physical infrastructure and in-house IT teams. Those that operate entirely “online” (such as BOOST&Co) were able to pack up their desks on a Friday and be working as normal at home the following Monday.
“In the current environment, it is the agile businesses that have enjoyed the most success,” says Lauren Couch, principal at BOOST&Co and head of the firm’s Bristol office. “Extrinsica has demonstrated this by taking the opportunity for growth via a CBILS loan, but the business also empowers its clients to be agile by offering them cloud-hosted IT capabilities that they would never be able to match in-house. A firm that is contributing to the growth and digitalisation of other organisations is one that we are thrilled to support.”
R&D investment will help the business to scale
The loan will be used primarily to accelerate the development of intellectual property that Extrinsica has been working on for the past 18 months. Having recognised that the talent pool for software engineering is limited, with a finite number of individuals who have the knowledge required to implement hyperscale cloud solutions, the company has been developing its own automation technology to provide this level of expertise.
The technology will dramatically improve the productivity of Extrinsica’s development and operations engineering team, ultimately enabling the business to employ more junior engineers, who will not need the historically high levels of skill required to undertake complex engineering tasks. It is a smart move, given that senior software engineers are a scarce resource, and also offers junior engineers the opportunity to develop their skills.
Extrinsica will use the funds to double the size of its R&D team and to expand its sales function in line with plans to scale its operations, as more businesses seek to begin their own digital transformations.
“The high regard in which Extrinsica is held by its customers in dealing with highly complex infrastructure is a clear example of its best-in-class cloud solution capabilities. It has been a pleasure working with Simon and his team, and we have no doubt that this investment, and the support of BOOST&Co, will further accelerate Extrinsica’s continued growth,” says Duncan Lamb, partner at BDO, which supported the company in this growth funding round.