Collaborative financing helps Missing Piece invest forward in ICT technologies


ICT outsourcing specialist Missing Piece has become a multi-award-winning business by focusing on the 3 P’s: Performance, Partnership and Progression. Its partnership with DLL recently helped them invest forward in faster, more scalable data center technology to meet new customer needs.

In 2008, Missing Piece was formed by Lex de Bruijn and Marco van Dam, to provide the kind of ICT performance they dreamed of when running their own insurance brokerage company. Neither had a background in IT, but they both felt the frustration of working with unreliable computers and networks and unpredictable IT budgets. They began their company with a clear vision for how they could improve ICT services for companies in the financial services sector.

“When we began, most companies bought their own PC’s and software and had an IT system manager,” says Director Marco van Dam. “We were one of the first to offer an ICT outsourcing model to small and medium companies in financial services. It took the entire ICT burden off their shoulders and provided the performance they needed.” Missing Piece customers pay a fixed monthly cost for each user and get state-of-the-art digital workspaces – including the connectivity and support they need to use standard Microsoft Office applications, communication programs like Skype and dedicated financial applications.

Twelve years on, their approach has proven its worth. Missing Piece has consistently achieved double digit growth, receiving the Dutch FD Gazelle award six times in the past seven years. Today, 40 employees serve 250 customers and over 5,500 users. Their success is built on strong partnerships. In the beginning, Missing Piece chose Cisco as their core technology partner and have been a loyal customer since. They started with Cisco networking systems and made the shift towards the computing and service side along with Cisco. “Our relationship is built on a shared vision for product development and service,” says van Dam. DLL has been their financial solutions partner since the start as well. Missing Piece quickly realized that the best way to invest in technology was equipment leasing via a second party. This would save them the time and effort of having to get bank loans every time they needed to buy new equipment. When the company wants to buy Cisco equipment, DLL buys it for them via the Cisco reseller, and then leases it back to them in the form of operational leasing.

“DLL usually gives us a five-year contract rather than the standard three-year contract, which matches the duration of use.” says Van Dam. “It spreads the interest payment over five years, which is very attractive for us financially. DLL bills us on a monthly basis, which also fits our operational model.” “Missing Piece is a very professional, customer oriented partner who shares our values,” says Stefan van Beek, DLL Account Manager. “They have dedicated themselves to serving insurance offices, accountancy firms, mortgage lenders and others in financial services. They understand their customer needs like no other ICT service provider, because they come from that world.” “A customer entrusts the heart of their company with us. In the financial sector, literally everything is contained in the computer system. If the system goes down, the entire company goes down,” says Van Dam. “We become an extension of our customers’ operations and we take that very seriously. Our service desk goes the extra mile to address issues promptly. And we are always looking at ways to improve our services to help our customers move forward.”

DLL has been a very flexible and knowledgeable financial solutions partner who has helped us steadily grow, while minimizing financial risk. Thanks to their help, we were recently able to invest a considerable sum in the new Cisco HyperFlex data center technology to build our future, by DLL and Cisco Capital splitting the leasing amount approximately 50/50 between them."

Missing Piece is continually investing in new technologies and service strategies to keep their customers progressing and growing as they face new challenges. Large players, like Microsoft and Google, are offering similar IT outsourcing solutions on a large scale. This is increasing the demand for more data center capacity, which is driving up prices. In the financial sector specifically, companies are converging and growing, meaning their IT systems have to converge and scale up as well. In 2018, Missing Piece was ready to take the next step in performance and efficiency by moving to the new Cisco HyperFlex data center technology. It unifies compute, storage and networking in a single compact system that takes up a fraction of the space of separate components in a data center. It provides strong performance and scalability to enable higher user productivity and less downtime, and support business expansion. Missing Piece asked DLL to help them finance a considerable sum for the equipment required to make the shift.

“The amount they were asking for was quite large compared to their balance total, so DLL did not feel comfortable taking on the full risk for this contract. At the same time, we believed fully in Missing Piece’s vision and business solidity,” says Van Beek. “DLL partnered with Cisco Capital, Cisco’s financing captive, to meet the customer’s needs. We all came together to discuss the possibilities. I’ve never been in this situation before, but we knew Missing Piece well enough to consider such an approach.” Van Dam: “We sat down with the credit analysts from Cisco Capital and DLL and had a very open discussion with them about our financials and vision for our company and services. This helped them understand the story behind the facts and figures. It’s amazing that we could have this conversation.” Ultimately, DLL and Cisco Capital both funded approximately 50% of the deal to share the financial risk. “This is true evidence of DLL’s focus on the customer. They do everything they can to make it work for the customer. This really exemplifies how strong the relationships are between all three parties. I also think it represents the direction of financial solutions in the future,” says Van Dam.

The new solution has been up and running for about a year with 60%-70% of the equipment funded in production. Van Dam: “This is a much better environment that raises performance for our systems. They are running faster and more dependably, and that’s the most important thing for our customers. It also gives us the scalability we need for customers that are converging with other companies and growing. We can now scale up a system from 100 to 200 users without blinking an eye. That’s huge for us!” The move has been economically beneficial as well. “This system takes up much less space so our operational costs are down. We are earning back our investment and a bit more,” says Van Dam. By taking a collaborative approach to equipment leasing, DLL has helped Missing Piece establish a forward-looking platform that makes financial sense and will help them continue to improve their services to customers and innovate their business going ahead.