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BELARUS-based IBA Group has just celebrated its first ten years in Germany. Ulrich Lasarzik, CEO of IBA IT tells IT Europa how it set up and grew the business, and what it plans for the next ten years: “IBA was formed in 1993 in Belarus as a software development company. With the rapidly growing demand for IT technologies in the countries of the former USSR and with IT customers in Western countries, IBA evolved into an alliance of companies with development centers in Belarus and the Czech Republic, and sales/support offices in Germany, Cyprus, the United States, Russia, and Bulgaria. In 2005, following the admittance of the Czech Republic to the European Union, IBA Group relocated its headquarters to Prague. The German affiliate of IBA Group was set up in May 2000.
And the customers? “In response to numerous requests from customers working in the automotive industry, a number of meetings with prospective clients were held in Stuttgart and Northern Rhine-Westphalia.”
The task became clear very quickly. For effective cooperation, good command of German was needed. Also, it would be difficult to implement the complex solutions without the presence of IBA people on site with the customer. The German customers like to speak only their mother tongue and the application software was very tightly connected with the business processes of the clients, he says.
Eventually, a project involving IBA system programmers from Minsk who spoke good German or had translator diplomas was launched in late 1999. That was the birth point of IBA IT GmbH, the German affiliate of IBA Group. After extensive discussions with the local government bodies, the first official work and residence permit was issued. Three programmers from Belarus were working in Germany by the end of 2000.
A breakthrough that transformed the German IT industry and had positive effect on the IBA IT GmbH development was the introduction of a Green Card for foreign IT specialists. Aiming to overcome the shortage of skilled IT staff in the country, the Green Card programme brought thousands of foreign IT specialists to the German IT industry. The procedure for obtaining a job permit was simplified and standardised. Within a few months, the number of IBA employees in Germany grew to more than 20.
Where does IBA stand now in Germany? “More than one third of IBA Group revenue comes from German clients. And it has new initiatives – he wants to:
“Offer to our German-based clients our competencies in new technologies in mobile and internet service areas, including cloud computing; promote our competencies as an Eastern European leader in BI solutions for finance and manufacturing clients, and enter the market of Tivoli-based solutions.”
Which of these is growing fastest in Germany? “Web 2.0, SAP and other ERPs, business intelligence, data warehousing, and cloud computing.”
We have heard from some big companies that they have real problems finding skilled staff in Germany – does this affect you?
“It is true and has positive impact on our outsourcing business, because we can offer a near-shore or combined on-site plus near-shore delivery, which consolidates the advantages of easier project steering with an attractive resource and project realisation cost.”
What do you think IBA will be doing in Germany in another ten years’ time?
“Proceeding with our proven services; following up requests of the existing clients and grow with them. IBA aims to always be open to new IT industry trends in Germany and always offer the solutions and competencies that are on demand.”