The idea of providing IT support for SMEs has transformed into a daily mission with ambitious plans in the last 15 years. Since then, Exxo has honed its focus on SMEs and stands as a leading cloud provider and IT ally in the Zurich area. In this interview, Stefan Dettwiler, founder and CEO, discusses the company's journey, its major milestones, and his future aspirations.
What was the original inspiration behind the foundation of Exxo and how has this vision evolved?
When we started, there were two of us. With Exxo, we only wanted to support SMEs in the Wohlen and Muri region in the canton of Aargau with IT support and engineering; caring, competent, and holistic.
Our vision was merely to be able to make a living from it. Already a year after the founding, we were able to win a private bank in Zurich as a significant customer. In general, we had more and more customers in Zurich.
Three years after the founding, we moved our location from Wohlen (AG) to Schlieren (ZH). In the meantime, we have grown to 7 employees. From there on, we covered the greater Zurich area and grew by one to two positions each year. And from then on, we were also more visionary; we want to become one of the leading managed and cloud services providers for SMEs in German-speaking Switzerland. Still caring, competent, and holistic.
Can you tell us about the key growth steps and key successes of Exxo since its founding?
There were certainly many happy coincidences that were important for Exxo’s further development. This includes winning the private bank as a customer. The IT manager of the bank lived in the region and had seen our interview in a regional newspaper. But there were also some strategic decisions that were very positive for development. For example, the move to Schlieren or the establishment of our own cloud services. We now operate two data centers and most of our customers use hosting in the eCloud.
How has your strategic vision evolved to meet the changes in the IT market and the changing customer needs over time?
In 2011, we had our first customer who had everything with Microsoft Online Services, the predecessor of Office 365. At that time, it was still the case that most SMEs had their own server infrastructure. I realized that the cloud has enormous potential for companies and at the same time will be a "game changer" for us IT service providers.
That same year, we started building our own cloud services. For the first one to two years, these services were still a side product. After that, virtual servers, hosted exchange, and many other services sold like hot cakes. Today we focus on hosted server, Azure, Microsoft 365 and managed services. With our mission to be a caring IT partner for SMEs, we still fully meet the core needs of our customers.
What are Exxo's core competency areas and how are these competencies used to support customers in tackling the challenges of digital transformation?
Our services are divided into the areas of "Cloud and Infrastructure", "Smart Work" and "Managed Services".
Cloud and infrastructure form the basis for the digital development of every company. We provide computing power, storage, and networks in the cloud and on-site with customers.
Building on this, we provide solutions and apps for collaboration, communication, and productivity under the area of Smart Work. This includes workstations, Microsoft 365, and many other apps such as email encryption or Business Intelligence (Power BI).
Finally, we offer the operation and support for all systems as a managed service. Whether firewall, network, support, or cyber security; all services can be booked with us with clearly defined features and a fixed annual price.
Can you give us examples of successful projects where Exxo's services have created significant value for customers?
Projects are part of our onboarding of customers. The onboarding is usually accompanied by the introduction of new applications, transfer of applications and data and the setup of managed services.
After onboarding, our customers can fully focus on their core business and take advantage of many new opportunities. We take on the responsibility for operation and support. Since this is our model, we naturally have numerous cases like, for example, Blum&Grob Lawyers in Zurich.
About a year ago, B&G started the transition to the cloud with Exxo. We first migrated their 60 workstations from the existing Citrix landscape to an environment with Microsoft 365. We rolled out 60 notebooks with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, formerly Intune, and at the same time introduced Exchange Online. In the second step, we migrated all applications into the eCloud.
Today, B&G has no central IT infrastructure on site, except for the internet connection, network devices, and a managed firewall. The transition took about 6 months. During this time, our engineers conducted training with the customer and the account management closely accompanied the onboarding.
Since then, B&G has hardly had to make any more IT investments, the IT runs extremely stable, and the customer's representatives have a contact person for any concerns around technology.
How does Exxo differentiate from its competitors in terms of services and digital transformation management approach?
Our approach is the caring and holistic care of small and medium-sized businesses. This may sound banal at first. However, it is a challenge to maintain this care as a general contractor through growth. This approach would hardly work anymore if we were also to take care of larger companies. Our focus is on SMEs. We have been following the all-in-one principle for over 10 years. Nevertheless, we still have room for improvement. But when we pitch to interested parties, we already notice that with our story, our offer, and the entire setup, we have good cards. Our existing customers confirm with their positive feedback that we mostly fulfill this caring and holistic approach.
What were the reasons for Exxo's connection to the Sequotech Group and how does this alliance strengthen the activities of both units?
After almost 15 years of positive business development, I wanted to take a big step forward for Exxo and for myself personally. If you look at the IT industry, a merger is likely sooner or later. I was excited about Sequotech because we, as a company, can continue to pursue our strategy and growth plans. Together as a group, we can build a leading Swiss tech company. And I am very happy to be involved in these plans, as is our management. The current situation with around 200 IT experts and our service portfolio as a group is excellent.
Can you tell us about the specific synergies between Exxo and Sequotech and how this will benefit the achievement of common goals?
With UDITIS, we have a strong full-service provider in Romandie. With Exxo, the same in German-speaking Switzerland, although the focus is still on the greater Zurich area today. Throughout Switzerland, we already have the middleware champion with dbi services. The portfolio is very complementary today. With the targeted development of the individual organizations, the use of synergy potentials and the connection of suitable IT companies, we will be able to implement our growth plans.