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Ashley Fernandes

Ashley Fernandes on maximising IT

By Ashley Fernandes

Managing Director - Colva Ltd.

SMEs are the beating heart of the UK’s economy which is why Colva have made it their mission to provide scalable, enterprise services at an affordable price. That’s the mission of Colva Tech: the SME focused branch of the Colva brand headed by Ashley Fernandes.

Having begun his career working for large multinational tech companies, Ashley founded his own IT company over a decade ago. Colva grew rapidly in providing IT solutions to large corporates both nationally and internationally.

From the success of Colva – four years ago Ashley extended the brand to create Colva Tech. Colva Tech was founded to establish a trusted IT Services company that puts the customer first with a focus on enhance SMEs services and operations. Colva Tech is positioned to disrupt the SME Market and introduce real, positive change to the perception of IT Services, Consultancy and Affordability.

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What does the Colva Tech suite of IT services look like?

Colva Tech specialise in the following Service areas; IT Support, IT Security, Infrastructure, Cloud and Artificial Intelligence.

Our solutions are designed to be affordable and billed on a monthly basis with no hidden fee’s and tailored to our customer’s needs.

All services delivered through Colva Tech are underpinned by our growing Service Desk, providing a first point of contact to all our customers and the central point which all services are delivered and managed from. It's all about customer experience - customer service is everything, we still work with our first customer.

Our customers have been a key driver behind the growth of Colva Tech and the direction taken to ensure we can continue to provide the highest level of support expected from our customer base.

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How do you stay ahead of the game with new technologies and changes within the fast-moving tech world?

Colva Tech work in partnership with our selected vendors and in turn have achieved accreditations with each to ensure our team are continually up to date with the latest technology trends, capabilities, and services across our vendor network.

We work in close partnership with HP, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft, and Cisco all of which provide enterprise grade services and support.

Colva Tech are committed to training the staff on a regular basis with bi-weekly visits from the vendors to advise and inform of trends in the market as well as investment in technical areas to ensure the technical team are certified and capable of providing the support required from our customers.

Maintaining strong relationships with our vendors gives us the opportunity to share these insights with our customers to ensure they have access to the latest technology.

AI is huge topic right now and there are lots of things we’re doing with that too– so watch this space!

The whole team has a big interest in IT and we practice what we preach – everything we install, we use.

We do get to play with some crazy new products too – like the liquid-cooled servers which recycle the heat to be used in other areas of the building, such as heating a swimming pool.

There’s a synergy between technology and sustainability and we can use utilise solar in the energy market for tech.

What are the biggest factors for businesses in harnessing IT and tech at the moment?

It’s the understanding of what’s out there because IT is changing so rapidly. You go back to just before the pandemic, and people didn’t know how to work remotely. Now there’s the company culture piece, as well as Security, GDPR, and the meteoric rise in the use of Microsoft Teams and Zoom Video calling enabling businesses to expand globally at speed.

The employer market is now a lot more fluid and diverse. We have customers that don’t even have an office, they operate completely remotely, and they need an IT solution that enables them to collaborate, create and securely work anywhere at anytime.

I think the biggest factor at the minute that’s driving how business harness technology is the remote working aspect. It’s become an expectation now and business owners are having to trust staff are working productively (wherever they are) but this introduces additional technologies and complexities which need to be carefully considered, implemented and supported to ensure your staff can work efficiently.

"The employer market is now a lot more fluid and a lot more diverse. There are customers we've got that don't even have an office now."

What are your plans and aspirations for the future?

For the next five years we are on our second growth plan. We are looking to rapidly grow the team and expand into other areas like AI and ML.

My ultimate plan is to use technology to pro-actively enhance SMEs and their innovations. Whether that becomes a solution in a box, with everything the SME could possibly want, secured and stored in the cloud.

The thing is, the technology isn’t in the device, it’s all managed in a UK Data Centre, so businesses truly can work anywhere. If there’s a flood, fire, or a business just wants to move and work somewhere else, the technology is no longer holding them back. I want to make it as simple as possible, so the solution is an office in a box with everything included in simple. monthly fee.

Corporate Social Responsibility is also an important element in your business, can you tell us more about that?

You get to a point in business where you want to give something back. We try and do a lot of charity work. This year we supported Wave 105’s Cash for Kids by using our contacts to provide tech like tablets, Kindles, and headsets for children.

We sponsor a BMX bike team, we have AquaAid Water Coolers in the office to support the Africa Trust whom build wells in Africa to provide clean drinking water, as well as other local causes throughout the year.

Being Southampton born and bred, the maritime industry is also close to my heart, so we sponsored the Maritime UK Awards last year.

"I think the HR element of IT is probably the biggest thing at the minute that's driving how things work –whether it's the physical hardware or the work-life balance mix."

Ashley Fernandes - Managing Director, Colva Ltd.

What personal philosophy do you live by that you have applied in your business?

Something I try and teach my kids is that there’s no such thing as can’t – you just haven’t found a way yet. Because nothing is impossible. I started and grew this business on my own with literally nothing and I’ve been

able to create a good life for my family. I think if you work hard at something, and you turn up, you make the effort, and you keep going – then anyone can do anything.

Who or what was the last thing that inspired you?

I’ve read most of the books by the Dragons from Dragon’s Den. I find it motivating to see how other people have done things and overcome pitfalls. Other business owners that have succeeded like Duncan Ballantyne have been inspirational.

Ashley Fernandes