The IBA Group, a sizeable global IT service provider from Eastern Europe, has plans to expand its presence in Africa with South Africa being its primary base.
The company’s range of expertise covers mainframe software, business intelligence as well as IT consulting and development.
Armed with this experience, technology knowledge and several business partnerships with IT stalwarts – including IBM, Microsoft, SAP and Oracle – IBA plans to entrench its offering within the domestic market.
To help it accomplish this and other core objectives associated with the rollout of projects, IBA management has chosen to partner with local services provider Diverse IT Connections.
IT News Africa spoke to Sergei Levteev, IBA Group President and Helmut Kumnig from Diverse IT Connections, about the relationship, short-and long-term goals and the strategy adopted to generate more awareness domestically.
Response from Sergei:
You mention your long-term goals for South Africa are to implement projects using advanced technologies and approaches to IT business development. Could you please elaborate on the projects and the technologies being used
The IBA Group provides software services and solutions that can be used by companies for client and supplier relation management, planning and budgeting, and information security. The IBA Group’s focus sectors are mining, manufacturing, transport, and financial institutions.
Projects may vary in size and complexity but IBA stands out because of its ability to implement complex multiplatform projects. The company’s expertise in the development and maintenance of mainframe software and in the migration of classic legacy systems is second to none. Our other differentiation is a diversity of service portfolio. The technology offerings range from mainframe systems and enterprise applications to SAP, web-based solutions, business intelligence, and mobile applications.
What makes IBA different to other service providers competing at a similar level
As I mentioned, IBA is different because of its diverse service and technology portfolio, as well as the ability to implement large-scale projects. IBA has a wealth of engineering talent, strong employee loyalty (the annual employee turnover being between five and seven percent)), and competitive pricing. During its 20-year history, IBA has shown an unsurpassed ability to solve clients’ IT challenges. Customers value IBA for its advanced technologies and knowledge of processes and management methodologies.
Global giants like IBM, SAP, Goodyear, and Rockwell Automation partner with IBA on hundreds of projects. IBM, which has worked with IBA since 1993, has named the company a Premier Business Partner and one of its best-performing suppliers. SAP appointed IBA as its Gold Partner. Goodyear, too, has made IBA an integral partner in IT planning and execution, involving it in architectural and business process decisions from inception to completion.
What is your view of the state of the IT services space in South Africa, particularly from a technology integration and support point of view? Does it help being a global company within the South African market
Based on our more than ten years of cooperation experience with a South African company, I can say that local specialists have a high proficiency level and their requirements and approaches are up-to-date. The platforms and products used in the country are versatile and I see a growing interest in the services that IBA is providing.
One can also perceive a shortage of specialised skills in various areas in the IT sector, especially with integration, migration and support, mainly in the classic legacy systems. At present, most students concentrate on new platforms / technologies. As a global company, IBA is exposed to international trends, has experience in diverse markets and therefore is able to adapt to the South African market.
What is your view of the level of regulation & regulatory intervention by government within the ICT and telecommunications space in South Africa? How is IBA positioned to meet this challenge
At present, IBA has not experienced any issues. Should any challenges arise, our local partner will assist.
Partnerships are central to your strategy to engage the domestic market. How many partners do you have and what value to they bring to the table
Speaking about the domestic market, we have partnered with one company. It is Diverse IT. Connections and IBA has been cooperating with it since 2005. Thus far, we have been engaged in projects for a single customer, one of the four largest banks inSouth Africa. Our partner provides local support, marketing and sales services and is actively involved in most projects. They have created a co-sourcing working model with a local customer, which has proven to be beneficial to local resources and IBA. This model also assists in knowledge and skill transfer to local resources.
I would also like to add that partner relations are central to our business strategy on a global scale. IBA cooperates with many technology leaders, including IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle. We also strive to turn all our clients into partners. We know from our twenty-year experience that outsourcing yields the best results when a vendor and a provider work in partnership. If you perceive the vendor as your partner, you would never allow yourself to limit project implementation to “coding in line with the specs.” Our teams start working on a project with a thorough analysis of the customer’s business. In many cases, they come up with an optimized solution that may transform the customer’s business.
The availability of skills, cost of resources and available finances are just some of the major challenges impacting on IT procurement. Does this affect your operation and go-to-market strategy and how is this overcome
This is exactly what IBA is doing – providing skills that are in short supply in a specific market. Being an IT service provider, IBA offers high quality and specialised services at competitive prices. In short, we help local customers address these challenges.
What has represented the greatest challenge to increasing awareness in South Africa
This is our first attempt to become visible inSouth Africaand I was surprised to see a lot of interest both from customers and journalists. I think I will be able to speak about the challenges next year or later.
Is there a strategy in place for the rest of Africa and presence across the continent
The geographical expansion of most international companies in Africa began inSouth Africa. This why IBA selected the country as a target market. However, we do not limit our operations toSouth Africabut intend to focus on the entire region ofSouthern Africa. The future developments will show whether we need to expand further into the African continent.
What has been your impression of the CIO Africa Summit
We were hoping to see a demand for our software services and the expectations were more than fulfilled. For example, we received inquiries about our software services related to mainframe computing. To be honest, we were not sure if there would be a demand for mainframe software inSouth Africa, but it turned out there are a lot of mainframe installations here. Equally interesting to our prospective customers are ERP systems, SOA, BI, and mobile applications.
Response from Helmut…
As a local partner of IBA, what do you see as Diverse IT Connections’ role and value-add
We provide local support, marketing and sales support and are actively involved in most projects. We have created a co-sourcing working model with a local customer which has proven to be beneficial to Diverse IT. Connection-, client resources and IBA. This model also assists in knowledge & skill transfer to local resources.
How long has the company been an IBA partner
Our partnership started in 2005
Why did you enter into a partnership with the company
IBA has global experience and resources with specialised skills not easily available in SA and we identified this market potential.
What areas of ICT & telecoms do you focus on for new projects
Customised Software Development
What impact has global economic crisis had on ICT projects
In the beginning, various projects were stopped due to uncertainty of the outcome of the crisis. This, however, did not last long and most projects / initiatives continued.
What does IBA have to offer the domestic market
IBA will bring its established competencies in mainframe development and maintenance, and in the migration from classic legacy systems to new technologies to SA. Other important focus areas are SAP and SOA, in addition to the latest lines of business being BI (Business Intelligence) and mobile solutions. As a result, organisations inSouth Africawill be able to boost their IT operations, resulting in improved business performance.
Being partner to a global company trying to increase presence domestically, is there a great deal of pressure on Diverse IT Connections to perform/ reach targets
We are currently exploring various options to increase presence in SA, and there will be many challenges to face.
Please elaborate on current projects, those in the pipeline – any significance in terms of volume/size and businesses
We are currently involved in various projects ranging from small to large with a financial institution. There are several enquiries from various sectors but nothing confirmed.