Cloud scenarios on the rise
Frank Jakobi in the interview about the Lünendonk study "The Market for IT Consulting and IT Service in Germany" (Study available in German only). Frank Jakobi, Vice President at SYCOR GmbH, is responsible for the worldwide Microsoft Dynamics Business.
According to the 2016 Lünendonk study, midsize IT consulting firms grew faster than the large consulting and IT service corporations. What was Sycor's recipe for success in 2016?
Frank Jakobi: I believe continuity is our recipe for success. We have been putting the customer first and emphasizing long-customer relationships for many years. We also have extensive process knowledge in the industries we serve, and we are systematically strengthening our position as a full-range IT service provider. In addition to the Microsoft Dynamics portfolio, we are masters of the full Microsoft stack. We deliver integrated solutions that meet the needs of our customers precisely. In doing so, we as a midsize company interact with our customers at eye level – and they really value that.
You also succeeded in hiring 100 new employees even though the employment market is highly competitive. From your perspective, what are the personnel marketing challenges in the age of digitalization?
Frank Jakobi: Yes, we did succeed in hiring a lot of great, very well qualified new employees. There are several reasons for that. We have become more visible in the market, making us increasingly attractive as an employer – especially since numerous interesting projects are being awarded to us as well. Furthermore, not only our customers and partners but also our employees have seen that we are reliable over many years. Employee orientation is just as important to us as customer orientation. We consistently strive to make our work collaborative, meaningful, and fun while allowing everyone to be themselves. Apparently we are successful in putting these values into practice on a day-to-day basis and also communicating that – regardless of the effects of digitalization on personnel marketing. We are growing continuously as a result.
How do you view the state of the digital transformation among your customers? What technologies do you consider most important?
Frank Jakobi: There really is no all-inclusive answer for that. Our customers are in very different phases of the digital transformation. Nearly all of them include the topic in their medium to long-term planning. Some are already implementing projects with us. We are convinced that the digital transformation demands end-to-end integrated processes and above all a uniform database along the entire value chain. Heterogeneous legacy IT landscapes that have developed over many years need to be replaced. Introducing a company-wide ERP system is therefore often the first step. I believe Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations leads the way here, since the solution is based on the Microsoft Common Data Service as the uniform database for all Microsoft services. With Microsoft Dynamics as the foundation and its numerous easy to integrate, innovative solutions, the Microsoft portfolio offers everything we need to accompany customers in the digital transformation.
What else should companies be looking at?
Frank Jakobi: Data analytics is an important area since the digital transformation always involves data evaluation as well. Companies need to look at the processing of real-time data, collaboration technologies, mobility, and new business models among other things. A product-as-a-service-(PAAS) business model for manufacturing companies is a good example. Manufacturers combine physical products or systems with the required services and flexible billing models.
Where do you see the development of the cloud going?
Frank Jakobi: Our customers are increasingly open to cloud solutions. We have already realized several projects in this area, and even brought one customer 100% into the cloud. Many however merely complement their IT with cloud solutions, thereby creating a hybrid landscape. An IT service provider has to be able to support that. We must not forget that many customers still prefer on-premise solutions when it comes to ERP or other systems. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, the choice is theirs: It comes in a cloud and an on-premise version that can also be used in hybrid scenarios. I am however convinced that we will implement considerably more cloud scenarios for our customers in the medium to long term.
What skills and topics are becoming more important for an IT service provider?
Frank Jakobi: IT service providers are facing several challenges. First of all, they must be able to offer consulting, implementation, and operation for on-premise, cloud, and hybrid scenarios. Fortunately we have already overcome that hurdle. Developments also show that there will no longer be pure ERP or CRM implementation partners in the future. Individual, end-to-end solutions for a customer's processes have to be built on the basis of the Common Data Service with the right components of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 portfolio and the entire stack. This is going to become increasingly important to customers. A service provider needs solution architects and project managers with an overview of the entire Microsoft stack to accomplish this. Since we are seeing a trend towards more and more agile IT projects in the digitalization environment, the corresponding methods have to be introduced in the company as well. Providers that want to be competitive now and in the future also have to ensure that their own organization follows the high innovation speed of Microsoft as a partner, quickly adapting to new technologies. That is the only way to serve as a partner for customers, recommending suitable technologies and integrating them into the IT landscape. A considerable investment is therefore required at all levels of a company.
What else does an IT service provider like Sycor have to do in order to accompany customers in the digital transformation?
Frank Jakobi: Those who adapt their own processes to the new requirements, for example in delivery, are going to be successful. Any existing department thinking also has to be overcome, and new forms of collaboration within the company and of course also with customers need to be found.
Thank you for talking to us, Mr. Jakobi.