On 19 November, the Bechtle IT system house Austria celebrated its tenth anniversary in Vienna. The right time to talk to Managing Director Robert Absenger about the past and the future.
Mr Absenger, on 19 November the Bechtle systems integrator in Vienna celebrated its 10th anniversary. How have things developed over that time and what have been the most important milestones?
A deciding factor in our success has been the establishment of a systems integrator that operates throughout Austria. In terms of milestones, the acquisition of Sitexs Databusiness in 2013 was definitely one of the most significant, marking the beginning of a series of positive developments with annual sales increases of around 20 %. Over the years, the number of employees has increased to 170, many of whom are very highly trained and work independently and responsibly within an excellent structure. With their help, we have been able to win around 600 customers, putting us in a position to handle major projects with complex requirements or challenges posed by international logistics, cementing our position in the premier league of systems integrators and earning ourselves an excellent reputation along the way. We’ve been looking after a good number of our customers for many years and this continuity and loyalty is worth its weight in gold.
Last year saw the acquisition of the systems integrator Ulbel & Freidorfer and you moved into new premises in Graz in September 2018. What effects have these had on business?
The acquisition of Ulbel & Freidorfer has not only seen us grow significantly, but has also enabled us to expand our areas of expertise to include client management, logistics and public sector clients. This was the reason for us opening our competence centre in Graz, which is responsible for taking care of our public sector clients all over Austria. I’m delighted at how quickly and effectively the teams from both Ulbel & Freidorfer and Bechtle Graz have become a strong, single unit, helped by the move to the new location. This strength has been reflected in how our customers have benefited from our newly combined expertise in numerous projects.
How has the IT market has changed over the last decade and what challenges has Bechtle faced?
As the topics of managed services, clouds, security and the modern workplace have grown in importance, Bechtle has adjusted focus accordingly, and we are in a position to offer excellent solutions and services for all areas.
170 employees in 5 locations - this is the epitome of a dispersed organisation, but how does that affect communication?
I am particularly pleased that we not only have outstanding individuals, but also a team that works together extremely harmoniously. This isn’t only the case for the locations in Austria, but also across national borders, illustrated by our excellent communication with our colleagues at the headquarters and the other systems integrators, with Bechtle providing a good technical foundation for project-related or virtual teams, who are able to collaborate using internal systems and tools.
Employees are the driving force of a company, but how do you support them?
We want to support and challenge our employees, but not overburden them, which is why we invest heavily in training, both national and international, at our vendor partners or at the Bechtle Academy. We also have a number of team-building events and incentives, but it’s most important for us to foster collaboration between both colleagues and management. It’s incredibly important for me that people know my door is always open for them
Bechtle COO, Michael Guschlbauer was a guest at the ceremony in Vienna. How good is the connection between Austria and the headquarters in Neckarsulm?
Very good and there is a mutual appreciation for the contact we have. This is also true of my team, who are in constant contact with the colleagues in the headquarters and other systems integrators. The Bechtle way of dealing with the systems integrators, i.e. central support combined with a “laisser-faire” attitude, is one of the essential factors for our success and continuing positive development.
What are your short, medium and long term goals for Bechtle Austria?
Our short term goal is to well and truly exceed our sales targets before the year is out. In the medium and long term, we would like to continue with our Austria-wide branch concept.
Artificial intelligence, clouds, blockchain and other technologies are causing radical upheaval, not only in the IT industry, but in society as a whole. What is your assessment of these technologies and how is Bechtle dealing with them?
Developments in IT over the last 5 to 10 years have had massive social, economic and technological impacts—something that hardly anyone would’ve predicted. Trying to assess how things will evolve in the future has become almost impossible due to the complexity of these technologies and the fast pace at which they develop. We need to observe the market and its trends and make sure we are prepared for whatever our customers may need and this is one of Bechtle’s greatest strengths. We don't carelessly hop on any bandwagon, but bide our time and only when it is right do we fully commit ourselves.
Published on Nov 23, 2018.