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Aussie tech quiet achiever booms amid COVID-19 chaos

Ethan Group is one of Australia's less heralded tech success stories, but is enjoying a booming time as its services come under greater demand in the lockdown.

Paul SmithTechnology editor
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Paul Kawtal, the chief executive of Australian technology and telecommunications firm Ethan Group, is almost embarrassed to admit it, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been pretty good for business so far.

His company has largely flown under the radar for the past two decades as a success story in the local market, riding the wave of telecommunications advances and cloud computing, but its services in keeping medium-sized organisations connected could hardly be more in demand as Australia collectively works from home.

Ethan Group CEO Paul Kawtal says the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the importance of services it has spent the last 20 years establishing.  Steven Siewert

Kawtal says that early last month the company started to see a huge increase in in-bound enquiries, which he quantified as a 120 per cent climb in clients looking for help setting up remotely managed teleworking, including video conferencing, collaboration software, and remote access tools.

"We're a mature business and we wouldn't see the virus as a reason to scale our business, but we definitely have seen the investments that we've made in the last 10 years set us up for success," he says.

"It's dumped in our lap this type of growth because companies really need an IT company. But we're not here to profiteer. For example, we've given away free trials for WebEx to get customers up and running without the installation cost so they can get through this period."

Kawtal has been with Ethan Group since its inception in 2001 and has piloted it through an evolution from a pure IT consultancy to incorporate unified communications, cloud services and telecommunications products, including being an NBN enterprise wholesale retail service provider.

Comfortably profitable

It has relatively low profile amid a noisy local tech sector, because it hasn't needed to seek the limelight. It is comfortably profitable, and has never needed external venture funding, or to entertain the drama of a public listing.

The latest financial reports lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission were for 2018, showing it had revenue of $191.5 million (up from $177 million the previous year) and profit of $1.5 million (down from $3 million the previous year.)

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Summary | 5 Annotations
Ethan Group
2020/04/20 02:53
telecommunications
2020/04/20 02:53
cloud computing
2020/04/20 02:53
d as a 120 per cent climb
2020/04/20 02:55
SaveSharePrint articleLicense articleClick on tags to see all coverage of the topic areas that matter to you.Got itIntroducing your NewsfeedBetaFollow the topics, people and companies that matter to you.Get startedRead MoreBusiness ITEnterprise ITTelecommunicationsNBNEntrepreneurASX LimitedCloudPaul SmithTechnology editorPaul Smith is Technology editor and has been a leading writer on the sector for almost 20 years. He covers big tech, how businesses are using technology, fast growing start-ups, telecommunications and national innovation policy. Connect with Paul on Twitter. Email Paul at psmith@afr.com.auLatest StoriesCoronavirus pandemicBeijing accuses Australia of pandering to US in 'anti-China crusade'Rising US-China tensions over the pandemic are expected to further challenge Australia's already-strained diplomatic relationship with China.1 min agoPayments squeezeMyer, David Jones, Sussan Group shamed as late bill payersThe small ombudsman's final report into supply chain finance names and shames some of Australia's biggest companies for not paying suppliers on time.6 mins agoIPO3D metal printer eyes manufacturing rebuildCountries aiming to resurrect their own manufacturing base after the coronavirus shock should help fuel growth says the boss of a newly-listed ASX group.17 mins agoDigital InquiryBig tech penalties will be 'large enough to matter'Digital giants such as Google and Facebook will face substantial fines if they do not comply with with a new mandatory code of conduct for dealing with Australian media companies.18 mins ago
2020/04/20 02:58