Rob Dance on ROCK's coming through 2020 and ambitions

04 May 2021 Consultancy.uk 5 min. read
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While 2020 was a tough year for many businesses across the UK, digital services firm ROCK spent the year working to transform and expand its company. Founder and CEO Rob Dance spoke to Consultancy.uk about what is next for the fast-growing organisation.

Like many innovative and fast growing businesses in the world today, ROCK has its roots in the crisis years following 2008. Launched by CEO Rob Dance after he left university, the firm’s first office was his childhood playroom in his parent's house. In the decade since, the company has moved out, and grown to over 130 staff.

“At the time, it didn’t occur to me that I’d started a business during one of the most uncertain economic periods in history. I believed in my vision and neither the financial crisis or ensuing recession ever crossed my mind – I was focussed on growing ROCK, on hiring new employees, winning new clients and beginning to offer services to commercial organisations,” Dance told Consultancy.uk.

Rob Dance on ROCK's coming through 2020 and ambitions

“Competitive markets meant that we needed to be innovative. We didn’t realise it at the time, but we’d been using techniques such as automation and machine learning for several years before we encountered the relevant terminology. At the time, we assumed that the new techniques we were adopting were widely used, only later discovering that we’d been harnessing new and innovative means of making ourselves more competitive.”

The technology firm which began life offering hardware repairs and anti-virus solutions to consumers now supports clients in a range of industries, and across a range of technology solutions. Services it provides include managed IT support, telecommunications, cyber security, application development and – as of 2019 – digital consultancy. According to Dance, however, now is not the time for the firm to rest on its laurels – and instead, he is helping to drive further transformational growth to take ROCK to the next level.

“In our more recent strategy we have updated our growth model,” Dance explained. “We’re structuring ourselves around five key areas – Consultancy, IT, Cyber Security, Cloud, and Software. We call this approach ‘Anything Technology’. Our commitment to ‘Anything Technology’ means we’re able to provide our clients with absolutely anything technology related. With a plethora of new ideas additional services can be added in the future but focusing on these five services initially in 2021 will ensure that our focus is not diluted.”

Transformation

By capitalising on ROCK’s strengths, the firm hopes that these five services will revolutionise its operations, and further differentiate it from the competition, providing “huge growth opportunities for our employees.” If that weren’t enough, however, the firm is also launching a new section of the business to deliver clients a blend of the digital and innovation services which have already helped ROCK grow.

Called ROCK X, the section draws on its experts in data and analytics, automation, software development, digital marketing, enterprise technology and related disciplines – enabling the section to take a digital-first approach while seeking to achieve a transformative impact on clients. Most importantly, however, it is an offering which is centred on one of the firm’s core values, something Dance is proud to point to.

“Innovation is in our blood…. We recognised early on that there’s a reason why organisations like NASA can constantly innovate where many companies can’t. ROCK X will help our clients replicate our methods of innovation. We want to support clients in absolutely every area of technology and this extends far and wide, at a rate which is only increasing.”

“Innovation is in our blood… We want to support clients in absolutely every area of technology and this extends far and wide, at a rate which is only increasing.”

Further living up to the firm’s innovative reputation, elsewhere, ROCK is also in the middle of launching a platform aimed at transforming how it delivers services to its clients. According to Dance, the offering provides access to all ROCK’s services, but is also a full ERP solution providing full business support across areas such as HR, finance, operations, and risk management, among others.

While the name and branding are yet to be revealed, Dance believes that ROCK will be “the first consultancy firm to provide services in this way.”

New clients

In the here-and-now, ROCK is already growing its client base with its currently offering. In the summer of 2020, the firm picked up a three-year contract with Red Kite Community Housing. The £3 million project sees ROCK work as an IT partner of the group, helping transition it from its current system to new private cloud hosting; and backup and disaster recovery; as well as the provision by ROCK of full service desk provision, including an on-site resource at the firm's head office.

Looking ahead, Dance’s core ambition is that ROCK will provide clients with the tools that have “helped us to grow” as a business, “we will strive to be the most innovative and client obsessive company in the world.” Above anything else, he asserts that this client-centricity will be key to keeping the firm on its current growth track.

“We continue to obsess over client satisfaction and this is our highest priority as a business. Analysis of our latest company strategy revealed that “client” was the most frequent word, with six out of thirteen categories focused on providing further value, with no additional cost.

At the same time, the company is keen to use its progress to give back. Amid the continued disruption of the coronavirus crisis, a sustained recession, and the fallout of Brexit’s conclusion, many people are facing hard times – and as such, 2021 was coined as ROCK’s “year of CSR.”

“We’re off to a great start,” Dance concluded. “We are at a stage where we can give back to the community, providing a number of benefits to combat inequality, poverty, environmental issues and more. We also recognise the benefits we can bring to our own workforce through a number of workplace initiatives, and through supporting team member’s ongoing personal progression.”