In today's tricky business environment, specialists who can show customers where to make savings and find new sales are prospering.
Despite starting during the recession in January 2008, Stellar Consulting, a Queen St-based Auckland business intelligence consultancy, has grown in the past three years by nearly 250 per cent, and plans to open a Wellington office.
The four founders and equal partners - managing director Grant Broadbent, Grant Hunkin, John McDermott and Travis Barker - work well together, says Broadbent.
Broadbent has a 30-year IT sales background at United States multinationals such as Oracle and NCR/Teradata and his three co-founders came from CapGemini NZ.
"When we threw our CVs together it represented a complete picture," says Broadbent. "It has worked by sheer luck personality-wise. We are compatible from the non-detailed gloss over everything [personality type] to the balance-the-books personality and all the bits in between."
The company made it on to the 2012 Deloitte Fast 50 by "selling the dream that is business intelligence", says Broadbent. Business intelligence, or BI, sets out to help organisations use data about their activities to best advantage.
Stellar's customers include Auckland Council, Watercare Services, Fonterra, TrustPower, Auckland International Airport and Toyota NZ.
"We can very probably find opportunities where information can help them, insights which can help them make changes to business processes, improve efficiencies and market share," says Broadbent.
Unlike other such consultancies, Stellar focuses on developing the best BI solution for each customer, as opposed to offering broader IT services. It is independent of major IT vendors so customers can choose the technology that best suits them.
An example of where BI can play a part is in large companies where the organisation might have different groups of people doing the same thing. "They might all be doing heavy lifting - such as mundane data processing," says Broadbent. This can be automated and staff redirected to higher value work. "We can spot reinventions of the wheel," he says.
Stellar's growth is coming from repeat business with existing customers. It expects a big spurt from the Wellington office."If we get Wellington established, we will grow by 50 per cent in the next year - we are looking to appoint 10 to 12 people down there."
The Government will be the main source of business in the capital. "There is a big opportunity for Government to become a lot more efficient," says Broadbent.
Its other customers in Auckland include Contact and Meridian Energy and, in Palmerston North, it caters to Toyota NZ.
A 10-year overhaul of operations at the Inland Revenue Department is an opportunity Stellar hopes to be involved in. It has a foot in the door as a member of the IRD's panel for provision of BI.
Stellar's turnover is about $5 million. When establishing the business, the four founders "tossed in $5000 each", says the managing director.
"We've been profitable right from the get go. We've never had to borrow any money."
The four founders try to get away each year to discuss the direction of the business. "We are avid skiers," says Broadbent, "so we tend to have strategic meetings in Queenstown."