We get off the beaten track and think outside the box
An interview with Krzysztof Andrian, CEO at Concept Data, about how the company started, about looking for a niche in the mature IT market, development directions, collaboration with technology partners and building a team that understands business and customers.
Concept Data had its third anniversary this year. How did the company start? Where did you get the initial idea?
Krzysztof Andrian: Several years ago or maybe even earlier than that, the Polish IT sector entered a phase of major changes. We witnessed the consolidation of large integrators and brands such as Softbank, Emax, ABG, Prokom or Computerland were suddenly gone. They were replaced by really large entities that could engage in huge projects. It soon turned out, however, that these giants lacked flexibility which happened to be the basic need of companies looking for IT support. The models of providing IT services and solutions became more flexible. Big global players set their foot in Poland. All of this made the customers look for something else. A niche emerged in the market and it could be filled by medium-size companies with business agility on the one hand, and the capability of accepting large contracts on the other hand.
I spotted this niche and decided to take the opportunity. All the more so, because I had really good relations with technology experts who had extensive experience in working for commercial entities, in management boards and as sales directors. They understood the market and the customer needs. We jointly decided to set up a company.
How do you assess the company’s career from the start until the present day? What was the biggest challenge related to getting Concept Data onto the marker?
K.A.: At first, it was a turbulent time of dynamically creating and shaping the new entity. When I say dynamically, I mean the company itself, but also the business environment, the employment market and the changing model of providing IT services. We had to face all that.
On the inside, we needed to build a team and define our business model. We also worked on the finance management, our portfolio and the catalogue of customer needs. Of course, we started by finding people with the right competences. We needed people who would be brave enough to work for a company without any history, who would share their knowledge and contribute to the business strategy. Because that’s how we work – we’re a team.
We chose the flat organization model: we all discuss each project, sharing experiences and opinions. The company has no departments or projects run by a single person, so there are no situations when one employee sells something that the other employee is unable to implement. It is a unique model in which the entire team is trusted by the board and people learn a lot from each other.
What about business challenges?
K.A.: First of all, you need to become a trustworthy player on the market in a short time. Though we had a unique team with really extensive experience and access to cutting-edge technologies, we had to gain customers’ trust. We decided to do it step by step.
At first, we suggested limited-scope projects and contracts so that the customers could get to know out team, competences and technologies. There was no big risk for the customers and at the same time they saw the benefits of our solutions. It was a win-win situation. This strategy proved effective and we started getting contracts from big players.
The more customers you have, the more your company and its operations grow. So the next challenge was business scaling and finance management. We used the profits for personal development and new skills.
Today, Concept Data is a mature and recognizable company. What makes you different? What is the reason why customers choose you?
K.A.: First and foremost, we adopt a flexible and agile approach to our customers. From the very start we knew very well we do not want to be simply a provider of technologies. We were and we still are partners to our customers. We know about business and we see its different aspects clearly, so we can offer solutions that will improve business operations and will grow and expand along with the companies of our customers. We start by talking about the needs of the given enterprise. Using this data input, we propose a specific solution, presenting its benefits to the customer.
I say this more than once and I will repeat it again: the crucial role belongs to the team of people with extremely diverse competences and business experience. They are all open-minded and always willing to discuss new ideas. As a result, we can offer tailor-made solutions to each customer. We get off the beaten track and think outside the box.
This approach proved successful in Poland, but Concept Data is exploring and expanding into foreign markets as well. It that where you are headed?
K.A.: True, we entered the foreign markets quickly and we started with the DACH market. Why? Because Germany is a technologically mature country, it knows its needs and has a sizeable budget for IT projects. At the same time, they don’t have qualified specialists in this area. Companies appreciate the skills of Polish consultants and engineers. In turn, we really value the opportunity to collaborate with customers outside Poland, because we see a different perspective, a different and unique project environment. Time will come when we will import the good practices of such implementations into the Polish market.
We do aspire to become a regional company in this part of Europe. That is our goal and we have already finished the initial talks with our new new foreign partners.
What are the solutions in your portfolio?
K.A.: Our portfolio is based on the market research and talks with customers. We know the trends and the future business directions, we see how the operating model is changing. Today, we notice a very strong tendency: companies don’t want to know about the IT solutions we implement, they don’t want to learn them, they don’t want to educate their employees about the operation and maintenance of platforms and systems. That is why we offer solutions which follow three basic trends: SaaS, MSP and Cloud.
Software as a Service, because customers have stopped thinking in terms of long investments. Solutions change rapidly, there are new players on the market all the time, new standards get implemented, so companies want no perpetual licences any more. They look for a flexible model. A majority of our technology partners offer such a model.
Managed Services Provider is an answer to the changes in the employment market and in the pace of business operations. Considering this hectic pace, customers focus on the business and have no time or resources to learn technologies which support their business but which are not critical. That is why they look for a partner who will take care of their IT infrastructure, give advice and adapt the solution to changes in the organization.
And what about cloud solutions? Isn’t it so that companies prefer their key systems on the premises?
K.A.: True, survey shows that in Central Europe the cloud accounts only for 20% of IT solutions in enterprises. However, this is changing very quickly. From the customer’s perspective, the cloud has two important benefits. First, it is the incredible time to market. The customer has no worries about the resource, people’s competences or hardware capabilities. The service is purchased and its configuration and commissioning take much less time than in the traditional model. Second, it is the speed in which cloud platforms develop. Their life cycle depends on the needs of the customers and they include Polish and global customers alike. Enterprises get an added value. And they are seeking it more and more often. That is why today each reputable provider chooses the cloud.
What are the key competences you develop at Concept Data?
K.A.: We build competences in three key areas: cybersecurity, service management and digital identity. As regards cybersecurity, we focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence. This results from several factors, including the growing complexity of cybersecurity on the customer’s part, a huge number of security incidents which we need to identify and verify their severity for the organization, their impact on business and protections for the future. It is indeed a very wide scope in which we can help our customers.
Another important aspect of business management is automation. There is a growing need to manage the expanding hybrid environment in large enterprises. Customers experience problems with cataloguing their resources within the cloud and on the servers, with management of these resources and all the components and with verification of their operation in line with implemented standards and security policies. The service management solutions do all of it automatically and in cycles. The manual audit can never satisfy this business needs.
And there is the area of digital identity. It encompasses the identity management within the enterprise as well as the information on customers and the entire ecosystem of large organization and business partners. Furthermore, there is the information about the privileged technical user who has significant privileges within the systems. By implementing the solutions, we show the customers they can audit such activities and feel secure.
Your portfolio includes solutions from several technology partners who specialise in these areas. What is you model of collaboration?
K.A.: We want our technology partner to think of us as the extension of its organization in the local market. He can expect us to know the market and the customer needs, to reach the customer, prepare the offer and perform pre-sales tasks. We are not a company that simply implements the partner’s solutions. We get close to the customers, we understand their needs, we work professionally and we know the standards of the market. This is what we can offer our partners. Our role is to show the partner how we can effectively provide and implement the partner’s solution in Polish companies. Sometimes minor nuances get in the way, for instance the local approach to cloud-based solutions. Sometimes the issue is the lack of clarity in the licence model. These things are extremely important to customers.
In turn, we expect the partner to see us in terms of a part of the ecosystem that is necessary to get their solutions through to the enterprise customers. We want to be perceived as a team you need to invest in and provide with knowledge, for instance with respect to new versions or new functions. We need training and certificates, we need access to the best practices, case studies etc.
In other words, our partnerships consist in really close collaboration between Concept Data, our technology partners and the customers. It is an open and transparent collaboration based on mutual understanding and the understanding of business needs. As a result, we provide our customers with fine-tuned and tailor-made solutions.
Are you planning to start collaborating with new technology partners in the nearest future?
K.A.: We look for new partners, when we see such a need in the market. Inquiries from companies and our customers as well as the dominant trends are the key indicators which say that the market needs something more, that specific solutions or services are called for. The process of partner verification and the decision to extend the portfolio follow the business sales activities.
At present, we are talking with 2 or 3 potential partners, but we will give more information when the time comes.
Thank you for the talk.
Company’s Registration Address:
Concept Data Sp. z o.o. Sp.k.
ul. Piękna 24/26A,
office: +48 22 833 86 35
fax: +48 22 832 17 19
North Gate Building
ul. Bonifraterska 17,
office: +48 22 833 86 35
fax: +48 22 832 17 19
North Gate Building
ul. Bonifraterska 17,
ul. Piękna 24/26A,