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Visiting Bond TM's Support Team

Business

Founded in 2007 by Will Faimatea, Bond Technology Management (Bond TM) has enjoyed an extremely successful seven years. Today, Bond TM is one of the world’s leading technical management companies for on-board audio visual, IT, communications, security and navigation systems for the most advanced superyacht new builds and refit projects. SYT’s Merijn de Waard visited Bond’s offices in Barcelona and Amsterdam, to get an exclusive behind the scenes look.

Among the many services on offer - from full technology management for new builds through to periodic consulting assistance - Bond TM is the first company in the industry to offer fixed fee support services. This global, 24-hour coverage has a follow-the-sun type approach to support, allowing them to be able to resolve anything from a simple printer issue, to connecting a WiFi network.

The support service was established in 2008. Faimatea discusses the decision to start the service, saying that this development became a very obvious necessity when yachts were calling him personally as they couldn’t get through to the integrating companies after business hours. He continues to talk of a conversation with a colleague, saying, “That was when I said to Vladimir, let’s start a support division because the integrators aren’t reachable after 5pm and they are not setting themselves up for full support. They give their installation guy a phone and he takes the support call in the middle of an installation job.”

In comparison, the dedicated support team of the company are now made up of 11 people over three offices in Australia, the Netherlands and Barcelona, Spain.

Bond counts some of the world’s largest yachts as their clients. However, there is also a big market for this kind of support for yachts in the 40-to-50-metre range. These boats do not have an electronic technical officer (ETO), and so Bond steps in and acts as the “virtual ETO” for these vessels. The importance of having an ETO on board today versus the superyachts of the past is almost incomparable, and it wasn’t so long ago that simple car stereos were installed within guest rooms - a stark contrast to the high-tech systems found on yachts of today.

Within the Virtual ETO® service, the company supports, services and administers all IT, VSAT, AV and communications requirements for a fixed monthly fee. The services offered include e-mail hosting; server support and maintenance; infrastructure support and maintenance; on-board ETO services and Cisco VoIP support and maintenance. These services may also include maintenance and support services for TVRO and VSAT systems. Lachlan Lee, who works in the Brisbane office for the support team, says, “We cover the full gambit of support from the printers to audio to vision - everything. What we bring in is the different pieces to the whole IT puzzle. It is impossible for one person to know everything in IT, and what we are providing is the ‘filling in’.”

The email hosting feature, B-Mail, is notable for its development into one of the industry's leading hosting services. The feature allows clients to take control of all features provided. Being built and adminstrated by Bond’s own engineers and fully understanding the different requirements for email services on board superyachts is all part of the service. As Faimatea comments, “It’s no longer only about e-mail hosting but synchronising calendars, address books and mobile devices in several different locations.”

Herbert van der Westhuizen works in the Amsterdam office, which employs over half of the support team and acts as the main office for the support side of the business. In terms of customer service and ease of use, it’s important to know exactly who clients are contacting when it comes to support. Bond has developed an approach that allows clients to primarily maintain one main point of contact with the company. Van de Westerhuis says, “We try to split the clients up so each one of us gets a set of clients that he always supports, whatever happens. Support-wise or upgrade-wise, you get one person in Bond that you can speak to.”

Within the Virtual ETO® service, the company supports, services and administers all IT, VSAT, AV and communications requirements for a fixed monthly fee. The services offered include e-mail hosting; server support and maintenance; infrastructure support and maintenance; on-board ETO services and Cisco VoIP support and maintenance. These services may also include maintenance and support services for TVRO and VSAT systems. Lachlan Lee, who works in the Brisbane office for the support team, says, “We cover the full gambit of support from the printers to audio to vision - everything. What we bring in is the different pieces to the whole IT puzzle. It is impossible for one person to know everything in IT, and what we are providing is the ‘filling in’.”

As well as ensuring a single-point-of-contact approach, the follow-the-sun philosophy of the company means that somebody is contactable at any point in the day, from anywhere in the world. This comes not only from the multiple support locations, but also from the very concept of IT support. As Lee comments, “One of the advantages of how we apply IT now is that we can work from any location, anywhere. It is fantastic for that. Supporting the vessel, you wouldn’t even know where the people are.”

With technological systems and innovations constantly developing at a rapid pace, for the immediate future Bond TM intends to continue to train its staff and develop products to stay level with the changes in the industry. Van de Westerhuis assures that is exactly what the company is doing, “Everything is always evolving and there is a lot more hardware and software coming out, and we have to keep on top of that. The good thing is that we have flexibility within Bond, because Will is not scared of putting money into new technologies.”

With the support side of the business growing faster than any other part of Bond, and the company reporting an unprecedented amount of interest generated at boatshows, the future looks bright for the Bond support team.

By Merijn de Waard & Gemma Fottles

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