Twenty years after establishing his telecommunications business in Larne, Managing Director Britt Megahey attests that flexibility and innovation has ensured that Barclay Communications has been able to successfully evolve and thrive alongside the emergence of digital.
Initially a telecommunications company with a primary interest in mobile solutions within the retail space, the group has transitioned into software expertise and now operates solely business to business transactions.
Established with just two initial staff, including Britt himself, the group now has around 200 employees, offices in other parts of the UK and turns over around £20 million annually. It has cemented its reputation as Northern Ireland’s largest independent communications company, opting to expand on its mobile solutions offering to include landline and digital services over a decade ago.
“Though the company has undergone a lot of change, great customer service has remained our mainstay. We’ve stayed ahead of the trend in terms of recognising and accommodating the needs of our customer but that has always been supported with a service offering above and beyond our competition,” says Megahey.
Predictions have been made for even sharper growth of the company after the recent announcement that Barclay’s, along with their sister company WorkPal, has been awarded a place on the Government Framework for the Digital Marketplace, making their services available to over 36,000 public sector buying organisations.
The Digital Marketplace is a transparent environment for public sector organisations to purchase the right technology and digital capability to improve their digital services to citizens. For Megahey, the benefits are huge in creating greater opportunities for trading partnerships within and across supply chains.
“This award offers greater opportunity to sell and market our products at competitive prices when compared to other sales channels. For us and for our customers it will dramatically reduce procurement time, meaning that buyers in this space no longer need to carry out lengthy tender processes as the frameworks ensure our services are fully compliant with procurement standards and regulations.”
Undoubtedly the most exciting aspect of Barclay’s latest product offerings is its own workflow management system, a product that has been five years in the making and a potential catalyst for major market expansion.
Megahey explains: “WorkPal has dramatically enhanced our already extensive offering and will be the key factor in our predicted revenue growth. After its soft launch around 12 months ago, WorkPal has become our fastest growing product and is likely to be the biggest percentage increase of our revenue going forward.”
The mobile and desktop app streamlines workflow for businesses utilising field workers and offers greater efficiency in a range of aspects from customised job agendas through to job completion reports, staff tracking and mobile invoice creation.
“Five years ago, we began writing the code for a product with the end goal of being able to put it onto a handset as something that would help businesses. At the time, the ‘paperless journey’ wasn’t the buzzword it is now, however we knew that it’s where we wanted to go and we saw a growing demand for it. WorkPal makes companies, councils and people more efficient, ultimately saving them precious time and money.”
Megahey emphasises the transformative effects WorkPal can have on organisations, whether their staff count is two or over 5,000. “One of the most attractive aspects of WorkPal for our customers is WorkPal forms. This allows for data captured from the mobile app to be automatically synced back to a desktop, providing your forms for email and export, meaning documents can’t be lost.
“The bespoke nature of WorkPal means it’s as affordable and flexible as companies require, saving money and growing profits.”
As well as bespoke shaping of the product for the needs of users, Megahey believes that constant evolution is also a key to success. Barclay Communications currently employs 12 software designers who are constantly updating the features of WorkPal and are regularly including new features where demands are recognised.
Fresh from demonstrating the product to an organisation of 4,000 potential users in London, Megahey explains that the product has allowed Barclay’s to expand its market beyond Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland and the rest of Britain, where he indicates a particular focus at this moment in time.
“We have put in a lot of work in ensuring Barclay Communications is now a known and reputable name across the UK. That’s paid dividends to the extent that we are now looking even further afield. Currently we are in discussions with two customers in Dubai but we know that this product has the ability for a greater global reach and that will be a priority.
“We believe that our product is better than anything than is currently on the market and through constant innovation and upgrades we believe that we can stay ahead of the competition. As demand and digital capability changes, so will we. Currently we are looking into the potential for the application to be compatible to other smart devices, smart watches for example.”
“WorkPal has dramatically enhanced our already extensive offering and will be the key factor in our predicted revenue growth.”
The evidence of Barclay Communication’s success is evident in their search for up to an additional 50 staff across their offices in Northern Ireland and Scotland and an inclination that they are open to acquisition opportunities.
“We’re looking at other products and services at the minute across the UK,” admits Megahey. “Energy is something that has been mooted and it’s something we are exploring.”
Quizzed on the challenges that face Barclay Communications going forward, Megahey says that the export potential for WorkPal means that he and his staff are very much tuned in to the outworkings of Brexit. While currently the business has seen little change, he admits that as exports of their software product increase, so do does the likelihood that any change will cause disruption.
A second challenge he recognises is the search for talent. Praising his current staff, which have been critical to allowing the company to thrive in the service industry on their 20th anniversary, he says that like-minded people are needed across all areas of the company. As the company grows, “we are exploring greater collaboration with the higher education institutions to ensure that graduate skills match the company’s demands”.
Outside of work, Britt says that his hobbies and interests revolve around horses and the Templepatrick-based Glenpatrick Sport Horses owned by the Megahey family. A father of four, two of Britt’s sons (Chris and Harold) are professional show jumpers, Ian heads up WorkPal Sales and his daughter Susie is studying to be a school teacher.