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Balkans.com: Please tell our readers about S&T Serbia company and what areas in the Balkans that you do business in?
Predrag Vranes: With approximately 2,280 employees and sales of 411 million euros (2009), S&T is the leading provider of comprehensive consulting, outsourcing, systems integration and IT services in Central and Eastern Europe, with addition of branch offices in China and Japan. As geographic focus of the company is Central and Eastern Europe, it covers all Balkan states which are actually among the best contributors to the company overall success.
S&T Serbia is part of global S&T present in the country since 1996 and has about 90 employees. Belgrade office covers Serbia, with strategic business development in Republic of Srpska, and project based engagement in Montenegro.
Balkans.com: What goals have you set for the year ahead? Do you plan to spread out your business?
Predrag Vranes: The S&T Serbia will continue on its path of growth trying to raise its market share by virtue of mostly organic growth. We will continue consistently to explore market potential and growth opportunities for services and solutions in high demand.
The Business Solutions, Outsourcing and Managed Services business units are in the spotlight for these developments. For the Infrastructure Solutions unit, S&T is envisaging growth in line with the market, in conjunction with a sustainable retention of company profitability.
Our approach is that besides problems crisis creates some opportunities too, like better pool of talents and experts. In the coming years we would like to continue with attracting, developing and retaining best possible employees available.
Balkans.com: IDC, one of the largest independent ICT market research companies in the world, released the latest report on the IT services and solutions market in Adriatic region for year 2009. The most successful regional company in IT services and solutions is S&T group. Can you tell us more about it?
Predrag Vranes: As part of S&T Group for already 15 years, S&T Serbia largely contributed to this result. Its 2009 market share in IT services and solutions was 5.3%, classifying her to the leading Serbian IT companies. In all major categories (system integration, software and hardware installation and maintenance, custom application development, IT training and education) S&T Serbia is among the leaders in the country, and it is market leader in the category of network solutions integration.
IDC expects the IT services market in the Adriatic region to expand in next five-year period and we see opportunity in this. (http://www.idc.com)
Balkans.com: Who are your competitors in the region, if any?
Predrag Vranes: Our primary focus are regional companies with strong presence in Serbian market, so we can notice competition from companies such as Saga, Siemens, Asseco SEE, and ComTrade IT Solutions and Services.
Balkans.com: S&T Serbia successfully realized portal eGovernment. What are the main goals of that project?
Predrag Vranes: eGovernment portal represents unique access point on the Internet for providing electronic public services for citizens, businesses and officials. The main goals of the project were increasing the efficiency and transparency of administration and offering new service delivery channels and quick access to comprehensive information 24 hours a day. Solution had to be carefully designed in order to provide complex functionalities, high performance and reliability and at the same time fulfill the basic concept of usage simplicity. The wizard for electronic request submission, tax payments synchronization with National Treasury and the system for generating electronic services were the most innovative and therefore the most demanding tasks. Their realization along with the delivery of other subsystems such as content management system, time stamping authority or the system for processing electronic requests make a firm foundation for future development and continuous improvement of public services.
Thanks to the successful implementation of this project S&T Serbia has entered into this year’s finals the European IT Excellence Awards 2011. (http://www.iteuropa.com/content/european-it-excellence-awards-2011-finalists-announced)
Balkans.com: The crisis has taken a big toll on the most industry sectors, how has that effected S&T Serbia?
Predrag Vranes: During these years of crisis, S & T Serbia has maintained the stability of incomes, and more importantly we have held a stable number of employees.
The crisis has its good sides. It teaches about what economics usualy need to teach us and that is rational behavior.
The market is smaller because people only have money for what is necessary, practical and economically absolutely justified. A logical question arises: what users really need and what would be nice to have. Local companies engaged in mass-market equipment and licenses sales are certainly more affected, but it’s a business model which had been brought remarkable growth and profits to them in previous period.
Balkans.com: Which countries in the Balkans offer the best business environment for investors?
Predrag Vranes: It’s difficult to answer this question as S&T Serbia, and maybe colleagues from Vienna could give you better insight on investments in the region. You can always check Economy Rankings of the World Bank Group (http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings), which is not so favorable for Serbia, but our view is that Serbia is one of the best places for business development in the region, as it gives very good stuffing base.
If someone planes to invest in the Balkan region, historically, economically, and now politically, first choice would be Bulgaria, Romania or Serbia. We can say that Croatia and especially Slovenia are among those countries too, if they want to refer to Balkan region.
Balkans.com: Our readers are investors already present or about to launch a business in the region. What advice do you have for them?
Predrag Vranes: Be persistent and patient, and results will come. In addition, there is no better place than Serbia and Belgrade for relaxation after a hard business challenges. There are some problems as well, but “no pain, no gain”!