Doing business with Darius S Mistry of Imagetext: The golden rule that powers IT

‘If you treat your client success as your first priority, everything else follows.’
'Every organisation plays lip service to the phrase customer focus. But are they really customer focused?'
'Every organisation plays lip service to the phrase customer focus. But are they really customer focused?'

Name: Darius S Mistry

Title: Managing director, Imagetext Systems

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How long have you been in your current role?

I have been in an ownership role in this business for the past 21 years. I have been the managing director of Imagetext Systems for the last 15 years after joining the business in 1994 where I held the position of sales director for six years.

What business technology issue is your organisation focusing on?

Imagetext began as an Apple reseller in 1984, since then we have grown to be a leading systems integrator, specialising in the integration of Apple OS into the Windows environment. Apple has always played a critical role in business infrastructure, primarily in the digital media, graphics design, print and publishing, and advertising industry sectors.

These sectors use the Apple, Adobe and specialised software products as their core business tools. Imagetext has strategically gained specialised expertise in the integration of these Apple OS based applications into the back end Widows environment, where Apple has never had a significant presence. Imagetext had to acquire the Windows expertise based on client demands, where our clients wanted just one IT vendor to support their entire IT infrastructure including the networking and communications structure.

Due to our Apple suite expertise we have also been involved in the integration of the mobile technologies and mobile solution implementations lead by Apple’s iOS devices such as the iPads and the iPhones as technology has diversified in the business arena. If correctly implemented and tightly integrated into the existing back end systems, these mobile technologies can be used to derive significant efficiencies and business cost savings to organisations. Imagetext has been at the forefront of mobile technology solutions in order to help drive businesses forward.

Due to our high-end expertise in the Apple and Windows OS integration, every solution we have brought and promoted to the NZ market has always been cross platform savvy, so the Windows and Android mobile devices are always part of the overall solution strategy that Imagetext implement with every client.

Currently we are heavily involved in migrating our client’s in-house IT infrastructure to the cloud. Our internal investment in staff training, market research and technology leadership has given us a significant competitive advantage over some of our other counterpart IT systems integrators.

I consciously made up my mind when I got into business that I would not like my business to take priority over my family life. A good balance in life is critical to be effective in business too.

Darius S Mistry, Imagetext

What are your interests away from work?

Quality family time is very important to me. I have seen so many industry professionals and business owners devote their entire energy to their careers and business to the detriment of their family life. I consciously made up my mind when I got into business that I would not like my business to take priority over my family life. A good balance in life, in my humble opinion, is critical to be effective in business too.

I also spend time on charitable work, as again, I believe that brings in a different dimension to me as a person. I have been a visitor for an organisation called Age Concern for over 15 years, where I visit the elderly who don’t necessarily have family members available to spend time with.

I am also an active Rotarian and have been a committee member for the NZ students exchange program that Rotary organises for young school children to broaden their horizons. My daughter participated in one of these exchanges a few years ago and the difference it made to her level of maturity and understanding of life was really amazing.

What spare time I get beyond these activities I take my motorbike out for some good country road riding. New Zealand has some of the best motorbike riding roads you can find. I am also a casual golfer when I visit my holiday home in Pauanui.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

The best piece of advice I received was from my Dad when I left home at the age of 21 to work abroad. He said, "Son, treat every person that you meet as you would like to be treated.”

This one piece of advice has helped me in many situations, including some very challenging client relationships, but if you really are open and honest with your clients, and remove any smokescreens or any hidden agendas, 90 per cent of the time the result achieved is exactly as you and the client would like it be. I have always practiced this philosophy both in my personal and professional life. It may not have achieved the out come you want, but is definitely the best outcome for all parties concerned. True win-win result.

Professionally, who do you admire most?

Steve Jobs is one of the most profound IT professionals that I could have come across. Especially since I have been associated with the Apple brand from its first inception in 1984/85. I have seen the ups and the downs Steve went through with the brand and how his sheer determination to succeed, despite all the adversity he faced, has really made a strong professional impact in my life. Steve’s “client centric” approach in my opinion has made Apple what it is today. As Steve very succinctly put it, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology - not the other way around."

How long have you been working in IT? How did you get into IT?

Except for the first four years of my working career, where I worked as a trainee engineer with Siemens AG, I have always been associated with IT. Whilst working for Siemens, I got introduced to the first mainframe systems, and the efficiencies they brought to the work place just fascinated me. Plus in the late 80s IT was just turning to be a lucrative and innovative career to be in, so when I was offered to start in a sales role with Wang Computers, I jumped at the opportunity. This was in 1985, where I started selling the Wang’s OIS - word processing systems to banks and insurance companies. The same owner who ran the Wang agency then introduced me to an upcoming computer company called Apple. I was asked to head a new team to start up an Apple agency in 1986. I was fascinated by the whole approach that Apple took, being the underdog of the industry. I have not looked back since. I also had a short stint for two years with HP during my 32 years in the IT sector.

If you weren't working in IT, what would you be doing?

I have never given any other career a serious thought, because IT has almost consumed 32 years of my 36 years of work. But after coming to New Zealand 29 years ago, I have always marveled at the mind boggling scenic beauty this country has, and it has played at the back of my mind that, if and when I do think of retiring from the IT industry I will get involved in a tourism business where I can invite high net-worth tourists into this spectacular country of ours and show them the scenic spots, often not on the main tourist guide maps.

Can you share a key pointer for success at a time of fast paced technology changes and what Forrester calls ‘the age of the customer’?

I have just one pointer for success – be ‘genuinely customer focused'. The emphasis here is on the word “GENUINELY’. Every organisation plays lip service to the phrase customer focus. But are they really customer focused? Have they taken the time, made the effort, and spent the energy? It takes all three to seriously understand the customer’s real needs, before they leap into carving out solutions.

We at Imagetext are constantly trying our best to be customer centric. It is not easy when you are so dependent on external factors such as the pace of technology change, logistical issues related to being at the bottom of the food chain for the major International suppliers, cost and pricing issues due to the microscopic economy NZ has compared to some of the global economies and of course the huge currency fluctuations we have to live with on a day to day basis.

But with every challenge there is an opportunity, and that is what we need to be focusing on. If we can start to see the opportunities that these constant challenges create for us, we can never loose any battle.

At Imagetext we saw the decline in the IT revenues coming almost 10 years ago. At every Apple conference we were told to focus on '’beyond the box solutions”. True to their word Apple cut the margins on the product for the reseller very early on. Those resellers who were primarily box pushers could not survive. I remember 29 years ago when I first came to New Zealand there were 53 resellers of Apple products spread throughout the country. I cannot recollect any that have survived these past 30 years. Imagetext Systems will celebrate our 30th year in business next year.

Imagetext has always gone out and found out what our customers true needs are and tried to deliver services to match those needs. i.e. our premier support service product iCare was brought to the market almost 17 years ago. Only the very top end IT systems integrators had thought about a service delivery product to add value to their products at this level. Currently, we are offering way beyond just support services to our clients. We even offer business growth advice using IT, through our business process and business road mapping services.

If you treat your client success as your first priority, everything else follows. I don’t think there is a better path to success, whatever change happens in the industry and whatever pace the changes come at you your success is guaranteed with this approach.

Related: Customer experience is the new competitive battlefield

'I also spend time on charitable work, as again I believe that brings in a different dimension to me as a person' - Darius S Mistry
'I also spend time on charitable work, as again I believe that brings in a different dimension to me as a person' - Darius S Mistry

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