Park Place Technologies CEO: 5 Red-Hot Growth Investments In 2020

‘Everyone thinks M&A is so sexy, but if you think about it that way and you’re in a position like mine, you’re going to be unemployed. It’s not about buying a company, it’s about integrating them effectively,’ says Park Place Technologies CEO Chris Adams.

5 Key Investments For Park Place Technologies

Fast-growing solution provider powerhouse Park Place Technologies is investing on several fronts in 2020 to drive sales to the next level with a focus on services, data scientists and creating a new position to elevate its culture globally.

“Our strategy this year is to expand on everything that is working and where we know the market is heading,” said Park Place Technologies CEO Chris Adams in an interview with CRN. “There are significant opportunities in 2020 for us to grow our software components and for us to capitalize on a lot of our managed services.”

The Cleveland Ohio-based company is a CRN 2019 Triple Crown award winner and ranks No. 104 on CRN’s 2019 Solution Provider 500 list. Park Place grew revenue by over 100 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Since 2016, Park Place has acquired a total of thirteen companies or strategic business units including its recent acquisition of network monitoring software specialists Entuity. The company has historically been a data center maintenance star but has expanded into monitoring with its sights set on better leveraging data.

Adams breaks down five key investment areas for Park Place this year that will drive growth.

‘I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know’

We’re investing in data science and data scientists. I’ve got 17,000 customers, 500,000 pieces of equipment in over 150 countries and probably 50 to 75 different manufactures. Each of those 17,000 customers is a different security profile and environment. I think I have the most complicated data center in the world. There’s a lot of data there and a lot of information that if we put some data science and AI on, we could probably learn a lot more. I don’t know what I don’t know, but I have a lot of stuff. One big initiative this year is to start mining that data in the long term.

In terms of the customer experience, what if every time I have a customer I can now say, ‘Based on your profile, here’s your high risk. We know this because we have 500,000 assets in 150 countries, and we see that this manufacturer in this particular instance fails a lot higher. However, we see this manufacturer fails lower in this instance. We’re not going to tell you what equipment to use. We just want you to understand your circumstances.’ So that’s the future – predictive and proactive is big. We want to get better at that. Data will be a big investment for us in the next three years starting in 2020.

‘It’s A Pretty Expensive Investment, But The Rewards Are Substantial’

Everyone thinks M&A is so sexy, but if you think about it that way and you’re in a position like mine, you’re going to be unemployed. It’s not about buying a company, it’s about integrating them effectively. We have a special team that’s dedicated to that. We have five people on the team that focuses on finding and integrating businesses into Park Place. That’s the key differentiation for our success and why we’ve been able to do 13 [acquisitions] so efficiently.

We don’t try to co-mingle acquisitions with people with day jobs -- that’s a recipe for disaster. We have people dedicated for finding and integrating companies. We have a former operator whose job is to go out and find things to help the integration. We have a former director of HR. We are a people company. So having someone out of the HR space is important. We have a former VP of finance on that team as well who does all the modeling and financial integration. We also have a former sales manager and another former operator on that team. These are all high-end employees. These are not entry level jobs. These are people with 20 years’ experience -- all of them. It’s a pretty expensive investment, but the rewards are substantial.

I do expect to do a couple of maintenance [acquisitions] this year and a couple deals that are outside of maintenance and more around innovation.

‘Monitoring Is Very Sticky’

Monitoring services are great margins for everybody involved. If you’re a channel partner and don’t want to sell third-party maintenance services, but you want something sticky in the customer, monitoring is very sticky. The customers just eat it up.

There’s so much risk associated with the network. It’s so important especially now with hybrid environments where a lot of the equipment is in the cloud. The network is critical. So making sure you understand how your network is performing, what kind of traffic you're seeing and even simple things like if you’re a network administrator and you have a list of applications that are high risk or are website, ‘How do you monitor whether or not you're actually seeing traffic there? How good are your tools?’ Our tools are very effective at monitoring that stuff and it gives customers peace of mind. They don’t have to babysit traffic to make sure that something high risk doesn’t happen in their environment. So the network is really an opportunity, particularly in network performance management software like Entuity and the monitoring services you can provide around the network.

New Global Cultural Ambassador

I’ve just approved a global culture ambassador for the company because culture is huge here. We do a lot of things like social committees with budgets, and I want to make sure everything is consistent. I want a consistent employee experience globally. Employee engagement is the goal. We’re always working on creating a culture where people don’t think they’re just a number. You want people to want to come to work.

What matters to ‘Employee A’ and ‘Employee B’ can be very different. ‘Employee A’ may want my job one day. You have to give them the environment where they can get there. Only one of them can get it, but you have to give them the environment. Someone did that for me before. You have to keep the next generation engaged and excited. That’s important. But ‘Employee B’ may just want to coach their kids’ softball team. That’s important too because when they’re here, you want them excited and doing a good job. And when they’re not here, they need to be happy. We have to create an environment where we can support that. There’s a lot of different variations of those stories for employees. Culture is critical. That’s why we now have a global culture ambassador.

Even understanding different cultures is important to us. You have a lot of bias when you grow up somewhere and understand that culture. So you assume everything is the same, but it’s not. Making an employee feel important in Asia- Pacific, for example, may be a different formula than in the U.S. Culture is huge. … This new global ambassador role will oversee all individual regions and make sure we provide consistent guidance.

‘Everybody Needs Maintenance’

Maintenance is a really great business. Everybody needs maintenance. There’s plenty of room for both the manufacturers and us. CDW is a great example and a client of ours. They’re talking to their customers about what’s most important for them. If the customer says, ‘If I go post warranty, for this stuff in this data center I only want to talk to IBM about.’ If the channel partner is listening, they’re selling the customer what they need and what they need in data center one is different than what they need data center two. And typically, third-party maintenance services will fit well in there. There’s a lot of gear out there. Customers have a lot of products in the data center. So maintenance services are always an opportunity.