West Auckland Spark Business Hub: Experts in Innovation

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RBA Partner
Spark Business Waitakere provides fixed, mobile and IT products and services to consumer, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), corporate and…
RBA Partner

When you think of Spark and the services they provide, what comes to mind? Is it locating a handheld drill? Or monitoring combustible gas? What about designing an IT roadmap for the future of your business? If all that sounds impossible for a telco, it might be time to stop by the Spark Business Hub on Rosebank Road for a friendly chat.  

For over a decade, West Auckland’s Spark Business Hub has been supporting customers with core telco services, and over the last several years, cutting-edge tech solutions. The Hub was the first of its kind in New Zealand, a prototype office designed to offer telco support by locals, to locals. In February this year, the Hub’s décor was brought into 2024 with a modern refit, and owner Mike Hannan says that the services his team provide have come a long way since the days of copper lines and automatic iPhone upgrades for everyone in the office.

“When I first started,” he says, recalling his purchase of the business seven years ago, “80% of people were on two-year contracts for their mobile phones. That meant every 22 months, there would be a cycle of clients getting excited to upgrade to their new iPhone 7s.” 

At that time, he explains, conversations with customers were surface-level and centred on their smartphones. Now, Mike and his team pride themselves on delving deeper. “Our conversations have broadened, and as a result we get a much better feel for the issues our clients are experiencing with their technology. Often, if we understand a business’s issues, we can find the solutions. If we understand a business’s goals, we can deliver the required  technology enablers.”

As specialists in supporting small-to-medium-sized enterprise across a plethora of industries, the Hub’s tech solutions aren’t limited to supporting your basic IT setup; in fact, Mike’s team strives to create efficiencies and streamline processes wherever it’s needed within a business, including operations, health and safety, finance, human resources, and procurement. For example, sensor technology, broadly known as the “Internet of Things,” can help a business monitor their workspace, tools, systems, and processes to find better ways of getting things done. 

“We might do soil moisture monitoring in a winery,” explains Mike, “to understand that when they turn on the sprinklers every morning at 8 am, they should only go on at 30% so water can be absorbed instead of sitting on hard soil and evaporating. For construction businesses, we can use environmental monitoring to measure tolerances on vibration, noise, and even dust to support their compliance requirements.”

Other technology can help a business manage major hazards. “We work with a steel manufacturing business that uses combustible gas as part of their processes; we can put in sensors to monitor specific gasses to understand where people would be at risk of an explosion. There are cameras with artificial intelligence that can be trained to understand what a human looks like and what a forklift looks like, and they can give a warning when a human being is in an area they shouldn’t be.”

Mike and his team can also save you time, money, and a lot of wandering around when it comes to tracking down the tools of your trade. He says that for many businesses, smaller assets can often go walkabout within the warehouse or get forgotten on site. At $2000 to $3000 a pop, the cost of replacements can easily add up.

“When a business goes to deploy their people to do a job, often someone’s going, ‘Oh hey, where’s that diesel generator?’ and people don’t know, or ‘It was here last time’ or ‘It’s on that site.’ Sometimes businesses will buy a replacement or hire one just to get moving and do that job, when the unit might be sitting in a storage shed 100 metres away. We provide asset tracking and fleet tracking so the customer knows where their key assets are at all times and they can easily find them and use them that day instead of buying another one.”

But that’s not all the team at your local Spark Business Hub can help you with — not by a long shot.

“When clients are in merger and acquisition mode, we look across their IT ecosystem to help them streamline everything,” says Mike. “That’s ensuring the best CRM/EAP and app integrations and the best physical infrastructure, like the setup for successful team meetings — cabling, screens, the whole nine yards. Increasingly, we also host our clients’ Microsoft licensing on Sparks Cloud Marketplace, giving them a better user experience and increased visibility on their Spark billing.”

And if your business needs a hand with strategy and future planning, Mike and his team can help with that, too. “We provide Chief Technology Officer advisory services to some of our larger clients who are trying to figure out their roadmap for how IT can enable their business from a productivity and efficiency perspective. Often what they need is an independent third party with broad experience, which we can bring to the table.”

The team at the Hub doesn’t work in a vacuum; they have access to the larger Spark infrastructure and network of industry experts. The team regularly takes clients to the Spark Innovation Lab in the city to explore how tech can help their business drive, maintain, or validate wins. And although Mike himself has worked in a variety of industries, from beer and wine to tech startups, he says that it’s the opportunity to understand and work closely with local businesses that gives his team the edge. “We’re certainly not experts —  the business owners are — but we have an excellent team with really deep understanding because our Account Managers get to see multiple examples of how people are doing things. What may be new for one client is something we’ve worked on countless times, so we can bring a lot of efficiency to what we’re doing.”

To find out how Mike and the team at the West Auckland Spark Business Hub can help you and your business innovate and thrive, get in touch on 0800 824924 or via email at [email protected].

Roundabout Magazine

This article was published in Roundabout Magazine Issue 207 (May 2024).

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