Swiss-Singaporean software company Acronis will continue with new hirings, aiming to reach a headcount of 1,000 in its Sofia research and development (R&D) centre by the end of 2022, CEO Sergei Beloussov told SeeNews.
“We will keep hiring, but the main issue is to find the right people” Beloussov told SeeNews in a March interview.
Acronis currently employs some 300 people in its Sofia R&D centre, a core one for the company. After the successful implementation of the company’s hiring plans a half of its global headcount will be based in Bulgaria.
Yet, some underlying problems persist in the sector. Even though Acronis sees Bulgaria as a good place for finding talent, the available talent pool is limited.
“There are very few software companies which are at scale, so there are not so many people who are experienced in the development of leading software,” Beloussov explained.
“We are experiencing problems with hiring the talents. There are a lot of highly qualified specialists with good technical skills in IT. They may be extraordinarily capable people, but yet not talented. Or they may be talented, but not brilliant. We are looking for the best software engineers, the top talents. Those unique top talents are rare in the world, but they exist and they are of tremendous importance to technology companies who depend on them. So we will keep looking,” Beloussov said.
Acronis considers four ways of tackling the problem: introducing different employee benefits, partnering up with Bulgarian universities, providing training courses and certifications, and relocating employees to Sofia from its offices across the globe.
Last year, Bulgaria’s economy ministry said that Acronis will invest some 1.2 million levs ($681,400/613,500 euro) in the expansion of the Sofia R&D centre, to establish a European centre for cyber protection, artificial intelligence and blockchain projects.
In September, Acronis received a $147 million (131.7 million euro) investment round from New York-headquartered banking, securities and investment management firm Goldman Sachs. The investment round set the valuation of Acronis at over $1.0 billion and enabled the company to expand its engineering teams in Singapore, where the company was originally founded, along with Bulgaria and the US state of Arizona.
Following the financing, Acronis has the opportunity to grow through acquisitions and is already doing so. In December, Acronis acquired Florida-based software company 5nine and is already considering the purchase of a company located in Southeast Europe (SEE), Beloussov said, adding that he can not reveal any details yet.
Taking into account the important role of academic institutions in attracting the right employees, Beloussov moves forward with his plans to help establish a branch of Schaffhausen Institute of Technology (SIT) in Bulgaria’s capital. The opening of the Sofia branch will most likely happen next year, the CEO noted, saying that this is a separate project that may help Acronis in some way, but it was not meant to resolve Acronis' issue with finding talent.
“However it will most definitely help us collaborate with Sofia Technical University and the University of Sofia. We will have an opportunity to attract the brightest people from those universities,” Beloussov also said.
Regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Beloussov said: “Yes, it is not a good situation and it will definitely affect our growth plans. But we are growing really fast - our target is to grow by 50% this year, so even if we grow 20 points less than that, it is still 30% growth. And even growing by half of that target, it is still 25% growth”
However, Beloussov does not believe that the coronavirus crisis will affect the company’s hiring plans and thinks that finding the top talents across the globe is the main challenge to Acronis’ growth and it is not related to the current economic situation in the world.
“We are much more limited by our ability to hire than by the economy but it is definitely not good, the general crisis is not good,” Beloussov opined.
On March 23, Bulgaria’s health ministry said that the number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country has increased to 201, including three deaths related to the disease as well as three recoveries. On March 13, the parliament backed a government proposal to declare a state of emergency until April 13, aiming to enable the authorities to more efficiently fight the coronavirus spread.
Acronis’ revenue on the Bulgarian market is quite small but the company is in Bulgaria not to sell, but to buy - to buy working time, the CEO explained. The company’s business in Bulgaria is growing very fast - by 150%-300% a year, whereas Acronis’ entire business is expanding at an annual rate of 50%, Beloussov noted.
In 2018, Acronis acquired Bulgarian software engineering company T-Soft following a successful partnership with it. After the conclusion of the deal, T-Soft was renamed to Acronis Bulgaria. Acronis Bulgaria said in 2018 that it plans to invest $50 million in the development of its Sofia R&D centre over the following three years.
Acronis, founded in 2003, is active in cyber protection and hybrid cloud storage technology. Enhanced by AI-based Active Protection technology, blockchain-based authentication and hybrid-cloud architecture, Acronis protects all data in any environment, including physical, virtual, cloud, mobile workloads and applications.
The Romanian unit of German automotive parts supplier Continental said in late May it has invested 200 million euro in 2019 and plans to invest a similar amount this year.Most investments last year were made in infrastructure, equipment, technology and training, Continental Romania said in a statement.
"The expansion of the office building in Iasi and new laboratories in Timisoara will be finalised. Also, we will continue to invest in state-of-the-art equipment," Continental Romania country head Christian von Albrichsfeld said.
The company will invest some 27 million euro in the expansion of its office building in Iasi.
Depending on the future projects and the development of the automotive industry, the company will continue to hire people this year, it added.
At the end of 2019, Continental employed over 20,000 in its engineering centres and production facilities in Romania working in international teams on the key trends of automotive industry, namely connectivity, autonomous driving and electromobility, by using methods such as artificial intelligence and big data, the company also said.
All five Continental divisions are represented in Romania. Continental has seven production units and four engineering centers in Timisoara, Sibiu, Carei, Nadab, Brasov and Iasi. Continental is a partner in two joint ventures in Iasi and Slatina and has a tire distribution center in Bucharest.
Source: SeeNews, 19 March
Recently Invest Lithuania hosted a lively online panel looking at how Fintech can help to tackle the global problems caused by the COVID19 pandemic. The chair of that discussion, Senior Investment Advisor Rugile Stonyte, now takes a closer look at how the Fintech community is dealing with the current crisis – and shares her expert insights into how it can take the current challenge and turn it into an opportunity. Read it below.
Although the impact of the COVID-19 crisis will be seen for many months to come, some Fintechs might find new business development opportunities, new markets, or even funding. A new wave of mergers might arise, as innovative companies will be looking to establish partnerships in order to up consumer trust. These are just some of the takeaways from Invest Lithuania’s very first Fintech Webinar that I had the pleasure to host. This article would not have been possible without the insights of Marius Jurgilas (Member of the Board at the Bank of Lithuania), Nigel Verdon (CEO of Railsbank), and Leslie Leaf (Chief Customer Officer at Revel Systems), all of whom had joined me in a lively discussion on Remote Economy, opportunities for Fintechs, Crisis Management.
Can this crisis offer new opportunities? Depending on your business model, that might be a yes
A long-overdue revaluation of assets has already happened, with the valuation of multiple companies dropping. Ripples from this drop will affect all types of assets. Nevertheless, the agile and flexible nature of Fintech companies will help a large number of them to overcome this crisis. Some are arguably positioned better than incumbent financial institutions, but it all depends on their business model.
Transfers and transactions all happen online, so facilitators should feel less of an impact. On the other hand, businesses running card services and Point-of-Sale systems are having their main selling channels restricted. Having already invested significantly in existing tech, they cannot simply move all their business to the virtual space, so adapting to new circumstances might prove to be more challenging.
The current situation could be a great business opportunity for lending companies, as traditional banks will be more reluctant to fund SMEs – a considerable segment of the economy, which is at the same time the most susceptible to market fluctuation. “Fintechs are faster than incumbent banks, which might not have agile solutions that would help them adapt to today’s situation at hand,” Marius Jurgilas said during our discussion.
Neobanks are known to be more customer-oriented and faster to adapt to the needs of their clients than traditional banks. Their digital infrastructure tends to be cheaper and technologically more agile, which may help them successfully survive the crisis. On the other hand, traditional banks have an established trust bond with their clients, and it may be difficult for challenger banks to attract new customers. As Nigel Verdon put it: “Capital will be flying to safety”.
The current situation may also be an opportunity for Fintechs to get funded, as VCs are willing to invest capital in avoiding burning cash. Furthermore, current circumstances may lead to new partnerships, new types of cooperation and M&As among Fintechs. “Under these circumstances, rivals might end up partners,” predicts Nigel Verdon.
The 3C survival strategy
The crucial element to tackling a crisis is moving fast. Companies must make decisions quickly, as every hour might be essential. It helps any company to model a gamut of different scenarios, from worst-case to optimistic. When you know what to expect, it’s easier to make the right decision, no matter how hard it is. “Be ready to shift scenarios,” Leslie Leaf warns. “And make sure the models you choose are good not only for you but also for your customers.”
Another critical step is to impose austerity measures immediately. According to Nigel Verdon, this could be achieved by adapting the so-called 3C plan, which has three main elements:
“Leadership today. Opportunity tomorrow”
How BSCs will drive the future
*Digitalisation * Process Automation * New Workplace Models
* Massive Cost Reductions * Dramatising your BSC's Credibility
In this extraordinary time, we are very excited to launch our 1st CEE Business Services – Virtual Summit, set for 20 May 2020, a super-energized, focused 1-day event for the vibrant BSC sector in CEE. We aim to replicate the confidential, personal exchanges that BSC directors tell us they want. Assess the market changes that have occurred, and develop actionable plans to lead in the months ahead.
An exceptional online event. Brought to you by European Business Services Association and CEE Business Media. Powered by the newest cutting-edge technology in online Events, including Plenary Sessions, Break-out Presentations, Networking, and Virtual Exhibition Booths.
This is a 100% online event with some unusual, cutting-edge features supported by our technology partner Hopin.to, including:
We've got a great Agenda with plans for nearly 25 Speakers and 150+ expected guests from across the Business Services sector from CEE, Western Europe, US and Japan.
The ongoing pandemic has shown that far more tasks can be solved remotely than previously common. More than half of enterprise service centers are opening up new development opportunities in the current situation. They are launching new services, expanding to new regions, and taking part of the burden from their sister centers in Asia, which failed to transfer their employees to work from home and had to temporarily stop traffic. All this was made possible by earlier massive investments in technology and digitization. This results from a recent survey of the ABSL association, which associates business service providers in the Czech Republic.
“The ongoing pandemic has shown that any unusual situation and crisis will be better overcome by those industries and companies that have focused on digital transformation in the past. As a result, the business services industry is expanding its scope even now, during a pandemic, ”says Jonathan Appleton, director of ABSL.
New services, new regions
Czech business service centers are busy at the moment. The ABSL survey showed that 56% of them open up new opportunities. More than a tenth of the centers (12%) take over the processes from their sister organizations in Asia, where the infrastructure did not allow all people to be transferred to work from home and had to be temporarily depressed; These include IT support for home workers, data consolidation, digitization projects and the introduction of robotic automation. It is with these services that Czech centers allow many world companies to operate smoothly even now, during a pandemic.
Recruitment for referrals and withdrawals
Given new volumes of work and growth, centers must continue to recruit. According to the ABSL survey, most of the new employees are currently recruiting on recommendations, but cancellation of dismissal by employees is also common. “With the advent of the pandemic, many employers in our industry have noted the interest of employees who have been redeemed at the notice to withdraw their notice and remain in the company, worried about the uncertainty that the present time brings. This option is generally welcomed by employers, ”says Jonathan Appleton, adding that 12% of centers have similar experience.
Stabilizing element of the Czech economy
It is expected that not only the Czech economy, but the world economy will shake after the end of the pandemic. Unemployment will rise across the disciplines and large losses will occur. Business services should not be subject to similar scenarios as they represent one of the broadest options for applying the knowledge economy, a trend that is least vulnerable to economic crises compared to manufacturing industries.
“I am sure that the development of our industry in the future can significantly contribute to the stabilization of the Czech economy, which before the crisis contributed to Czech GDP by 6% and gave work to almost 120 000 people. I believe that the importance of our industry for the Czech economy will continue to grow, ”concludes Jonathan Appleton positively.
Summary points from 15 April ZOOM Roundtable for BSC Leaders in CEE
Summary points from 31 March ZOOM Roundtable for BSC Leaders in CEE
Summary Bullet Points:
Polish-based award-winning outsourcing firm FlexDev predicts a shift in outsourcing IT and Finance functions, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing business leaders to rethink their outsourcing destinations. The change could see jobs being brought back in-house locally or see companies leveraging a nearshore delivery function to gain more control and reduce risk. During this downtime for businesses, created by the world COVID-19 pandemic, business execs are starting to re-evaluate and are rethinking their outsourcing strategy including models, and destinations, according to FlexDev's Executive Vice President, Graham Fell.
Multiple reports on CE business services show Poland is often measured on the number of employees, which is relevant for transactional processing but not for companies delivering high value-adding services and solutions such as software development. Poland should no longer be viewed as a cheaper alternative for services outside of transactional processing, but more of a centre of excellence for delivering high value-added services and solutions. Polish developers are ranked third in the world at Hackerrank.
"Companies need to not just focus on a cheaper workforce, but more on quality of services. Poland is transitioning to a destination of best-in-class business professionals which ultimately improves the quality of services, ultimately drives down the cost, ensures tighter compliance, and ensures UK companies can re-gain more control while reducing the risk," confirmed Graham Fell.
Elias van Herwaarden, Founder of "Locationperspectives" and visiting professor at the Faculty of Business and Economics, commented: "Nearshoring will gain a bit of momentum, indeed. But given the wage cost differences with far-shoring and the nature of the work sent to e.g. India or the Philippines, I do not expect a one-on-one transfer-back. Nearshore wage costs and employee aspirations simply are prohibitive to re-shoring the very transactional work that was sent to low cost countries across the globe AI and RPA as the more likely response. GBS and SSCs will very likely bring the processes back home - on-shore and nearshore. They will increasingly opt for distributed, networked service delivery models. Locations with mature shared services/delivery ecosystems could benefit from this. At least if they can adequately respond to an accelerated need for digitally educated and STEM talent."
"Polish people have a strong educational background. According to the New York Times, almost 40% of Polish people aged 25-34 have university degrees which thrusts the country into the top rankings in Europe when it comes to education. This is good news when looking for top talent," added Mr Fell.
Poland focuses on leveraging cutting-edge technologies that are up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. Polish people are also experts when it comes to agile and scrum methodologies for software development. This is very appealing to companies that want to outsource as Poland is ahead of the game when it comes to keeping up with technology shifts.
"Culturally there is very little difference between Poland, the US and other European countries. This contrasts with the top outsourcing software destinations – China and India. Poland also boasts excellent language skills ranking ninth in the world in the EF English Proficiency index 2015 and 10th in the 2016 edition, getting ahead of most Eastern European countries. Poland offers a stable and healthy economy, a highly skilled workforce, a dynamically growing IT market and US and EU standards in IP protection and data security," confirmed Mr Fell.
Integrated International Payroll (iiPay), the cloud-based market leader of global payroll and technological services chose Budapest for the location of its centre serving the EMEA region. In the first step the office starting with 60 associates will take care of operative tasks in English, German, Polish, Spanish and Italian languages, but the short-term plans also feature the expansion of the service portfolio.
Integrated International Payroll (iiPay) is a service-driven global payroll provider built on innovative and patented SaaS-based technology. The iiPay system enables quick data management and supports the integration of business intelligence in payroll. The services of the US-based company enable the centralisation of processes present in several countries and the simplification of payroll systems, at the same time ensuring compliance with the prevailing law in all countries, where it has clients and associates. Currently iiPay provides comprehensive, global payroll services for 70 clients in 170 different countries worldwide, and closed the previous year with over 60% growth both in regards to the number of clients and earnings.
As the next step of the company's expansion strategy Budapest was selected as the location of its hub serving the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region. iiPay targeted the establishment of 60 new workplaces in the first half of 2020 in Budapest primarily in the field of client implementation and operative tasks. According to the plans the office will also facilitate support functions, like human resources, recruitment, sales and marketing, as well as information technology and product development in the near future.
The business services centre (BSC) industry is one of the most dynamically growing sectors in Hungary today. Currently some 120 centres are operating in Hungary providing jobs to over 55,000 people, typically to young persons belonging to generation Y (born between 1980 and 1999), who speak foreign languages and have university degrees, therefore it contributes to retaining the highest possible number of talented and well educated young people in Hungary to a great extent. Due to the high salary, quick promotion opportunities and the possibility to use foreign languages this sector attracts many young people with university degrees: 78% of employees have university or college degrees and the average age is 32 years. The hubs primarily provide financial, IT, HR and customer service support regionally and globally.
The Shared Services Centre will deliver knowledge intensive services with 100 new roles(March 5, 2020)
DNV GL is a well-established brand in Poland within the maritime, business assurance, energy and digital solutions sector expands its Shared Services Centre in Gdynia with over 100 new roles.
The Shared Services Centre (SSC) started in 2016 manages, currently employees over 450 experts in HR, Finance, IT and Real Estate Management & Procurement. The SSC is transitioning into delivering even more knowledge intensive services and plans to grow 100 new roles within IT, HR, Finance and Real Estate Management & Procurement.
Building on its current expertise, the DNV GL SSC will provide both transactional and knowledge-intensive services. The SSC in Gdynia will play a key role in shaping new, harmonized service delivery model for DNV GL and ensuring scalability, standardization, automation and efficiencies in services provided.
Aleksandra Czerwińska, Global Centre Manager Finance says: “Building on the experience of 170 specialists in Finance we see a place for experts within management accounting and tax accounting. This will enable the development of new competences not only for our present employees but also include acquiring specialists from the market interested in working in a dynamically evolving environment.”
The IT department will also expand the activity scope. The biggest development is planned within areas related to Business Intelligence and infrastructure with intense competence development in areas related to Microsoft environments and Linux-based systems. While the procurement team will focus on support in Central Car Fleet Management and implementation of digital procurement tool for internal users, as well as an automatic payment solution.
“ DNV GL’s expansion plans both in terms of headcount as well as services shows us that we are going in the right direction by creating friendly policies and a healthy, innovation-driven business environment in the Tricity. We will continue to support and drive their growth through our Invest in Pomerania initiative”, says Mieczysław Struk, Marshall of the Pomeranian Voivodeship.
Ewa Żabińska-Socha GSS Global Centre Manager HR says: “We have started the recruitment process for many new roles. At the moment, in HR, we are building teams of professionals within such areas of expertise as compensation and global mobility, the latter providing support to employees worldwide. We have released many job advertisements and more will be appearing, so I already now encourage to regularly follow the list of vacant positions on our career page.”
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11th annual CEE Business Services Awards
Build it or Buy It?: Outsourcing in Poland and Central Eastern Europe
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