Neil Needham joined Babble when it acquired Lake Technologies in 2020. Since then, he has been onboarding numerous new sales team members who have joined as part of Babble’s rapid buy and build strategy, which has seen the company acquire seven businesses in the last 12 months alone. Neil has also looked after customer retention and led the Private Branch Exchange (PBX) displacement team, which is dedicated to ousting outdated systems and aiding transitions to cloud telephony services.
Now, a year down the line, we caught up with Neil to see how his role in digital transformation is going:
Tell us about your career in tech
“Back in 2013 I was brought onboard to increase recurring revenue at Lake Technologies. Even back then, competing cloud technology was on the ascendency, and as a tech business that sold hardware it was vital that the company shifted away from selling telephony hardware equipment, and moved to cloud-based solutions. In a couple of years, I’d increased recurring revenue by 70% – and I’d built up the company’s mobile credentials for good measure.”
What appealed to you about Babble?
“I first met Matt in February 2020, when Lake Technologies was your classic telco business. To be honest, once we’d met and set the ball rolling there was no stopping us. Babble brought the means and the will to fast-track the business into the modern age – and with all the cyber security and cloud telephony to boot. It was like the future; the one-stop-shop for technology – and that was pretty appealing. It’s time to enter the 21st century.
“The scale of Babble, coupled with the scope of what it still plans to become – to work somewhere that holds that sort of determination and tenacity – how can you not feel inspired?”
How have you found working at Babble, mid-pandemic?
“Well, I’ve never worked from home before, so I had to get to grips with a new role without meeting The Babble team in person. But all in all, it has been a good year. Voice To Teams has been a great way of communicating with both internal teams and supporting clients. It’s refreshing to be using the technology that we are selling to our clients. The hybrid working environment appears to be part of the next normal for working post pandemic.”
Do you think the acquisition would have gone differently without the pandemic?
“I think what’s really telling is that Matt wasn’t put off by the pandemic. In fact, Babble’s acquired Lake Technologies, Ultracomms, Shape Networks, Corporate Management Telecom ltd (CMT), Activ Technology, 81G Blue and Sesui in the past year alone. In his view, businesses that have a strong model and can survive the pandemic are the ones that have good foundations that are worth investing in.
“For me, this reflects the real confidence Matt and the team have in both their strategy, and their drive to upsell products regardless. It’s such a supportive and positive place to be, and you all feed from the same energy. Just because the rest of the world has slowed down, it doesn’t mean we need to.”
What sets Babble apart from other businesses when it comes to acquisitions?
“I’ve been involved in business investments before and those were lengthy processes. In previous situations there were maybe 10 different offers, plenty of moments of doubt and worries that the sale might fall through. They were long and mentally stressful – not something you want to endure if you can help it.
“Babble was a different situation entirely. It went something like this: Matt and I met in person for the first time on a Wednesday, and by Friday he’d sent the offer. We chatted through the numbers, and we knew we were on to something that was achievable.
“Of course, there was a bit more to it than that, but I think when you’re dealing with genuinely good people who see real value in your business, and they approach you with such confidence, precision and self-awareness – frankly, that’s how it’s done.”
What future goals do you have with Babble? Any interesting plans in the pipeline?
“I’m ready to get fully emersed in my role – and hope I’ll be able to meet my team in person soon. We’re really ramping up cloud telephony at the moment, with plans to displace around 60 PBXs each month. It all builds on the transition from having one-off purchases to recurring revenue. So that’s a key focal point for us to get stuck in to – and I can’t wait.”
What interests do you have outside Babble?
“I have a fantastic home life; with 5 children and 3 grandchildren, there is always something to keep myself and Janine busy. We are hoping to be able to spend some quality time on holiday when restrictions are eased and it’s safe to do so. It’s also good to get out on the golf course.”