Turkey is a country that is very ambitious about digital transformation
How was itelligence born? What was the need to start such a business?
Norbert Rotter: The foundations of itelligence, which wrote the story of a startup becoming a global technology company, were laid in 1989 in Bielefeld, Germany. Not a garage – but a modest, three room office provided the setting for where Herbert Vogel and Wolfgang Schmidt founded S&P Consult. From day one, they were very clear on serving as an SAP-only consulting firm. They adopted an innovative approach and believed that keeping pace with the times and going beyond the present could only be possible through innovation. Seeing how far the power of technology could extend, Vogel and Schmidt continuously challenged what was available and found new methods and technologies, developed their own solutions, and prioritized shaping the future as a necessity.
S&P Consult underwent its first ‘rebranding’, becoming Schmidt, Vogel & Partner (SVP) in 1992, and began to draw repeat clients from across Europe as the company grew to 25 employees by 1993. Some business relationships that were formed as early as 1994 still remain today, 25 years later! SVG expanded in the ensuing years with the establishment of subsidiaries in Switzerland, Austria, and the U.S., taking a huge leap in the company’s journey toward becoming a global business
With the dawn of the 21st century, the company went public as SVC AG, and later joined forces with APCON, a Hamburg-based software specialist with big clients in banking, telecom, and logistics. The cooperation with APCON helped grow international reputation.
In 2000, itelligence AG was born, comprising more than 700 clients and over 1,000 employees, truly establishing itself as a trusted provider of SAP for the mid-market. In 2008, itelligence became a part of the NTT DATA Group, marking a huge milestone. This strategic partnership led to further growth with new locations, data centers, and more accolades.
Where does Turkey stand in terms of digital transformation? Are we behind compared to the rest of the world or keeping pace with the times? What do you think Turkey’s advantages/disadvantages are compared to Europe and other countries in the region?
Bahri Danış: In order to asses where Turkey stands accurately, we should begin with where digital transformation stems from. We are talking about a digital-native and tech-savvy generation that is already mature, working in companies, serving as managers, and more importantly a customer. And yet, they don’t have any time! Therefore, they want everything to happen quickly and easily. This forces businesses to respond to all the expectations. When this is case, the big budget projects that we previously carried out with large companies and groups can nowadays become accessible to small-sized enterprises under a specific segment.
Turkey is a country with high potential that is very ambitious about digital transformation and writing inspiring success stories… From a country that previously imported foreign applications, we have now come to a point where we are exporting our implementations
Turkey is also a dynamic country. This uniqueness equips all businesses and especially the executives with the skills to be agile, flexible and quick. These skills set us apart, particularly in the technology and software world where change is very fast. Even though there is still room for improvement in innovation, product development and promoting what we do to the world, it is a fact that we have huge potential for the near future. When we tell our headquarters about what we do here and when they see our achievements especially in international projects, they easily understand this potential.
Is digital transformation a must for all businesses? What would missing or delaying digital transformation cost to a company?
Norbert Rotter: We are living in an era when the ways companies do business are changing and business decisions are being shaped by technology. In today’s world, making a business decision without considering technology is not possible. And this applies to businesses of all sizes from corporations to SMEs and B2C companies that sell to end-users. The reason for this is that topics such as cloud technologies, Internet of Things or Artificial Intelligence have now become services in line with the rapid changes in customer behavior and demand. We are talking about an era when most of the customers are procuring these services like paying rent. There is also the matter of significant pressure and demand from the customers and consumers. So, no matter what their size is, all businesses have to enter the digital transformation process. Otherwise, they won’t be able to become competitive and more importantly sustain their existence as industry actors.
What should businesses pay attention to in digital transformation? What are the most common mistakes?
Norbert Rotter: Digital transformation is easily confused with “digitalization” and often regarded as simply using next generation technologies. But, digital transformation actually means a radical, irrevocable change in the business model using technology. So, digital transformation is not a concept actualized with a single technology project, but more like a roadmap… It does not seem possible for companies to achieve this transformation without a roadmap, which they should follow as they think long and hard about long-term business models and make full use of technology while going through the process step by step.
The success of itelligence Turkey is well-known and confirmed with multiple awards. How did you achieve this level of success in Turkey?
Bahri Danış: At itelligence Turkey, we maintain an annual growth rate of approximately 40-50% every year. The architect of this level of success is of course our young and dynamic team. We are rightfully proud of the fact that a team from Turkey is achieving exemplary work worldwide. We owe the success of our team to our boldness and expertise. And also to the fact that we put our heart and soul into everything we do… Our biggest reward comes from the fact that we are setting an example both in Turkey and the region, as well as the world. So much so that we are creating projects for not only Turkish companies but also multinationals’ manufacturing sites and companies in Turkey. For the last 5 years, we have been supporting Turkish companies’ international operations in countries including Russia, the US, China and Mexico. We also manage the Dubai office of itelligence from Turkey and carry out all operations together with our team. At itelligence Turkey, we believe in our country and the market, and aim to transform Turkey into a regional hub to cater to the world.
How did you as itelligence Turkey succeed to become the largest international partner in the SAP ecosystem?
Bahri Danış: When itelligence first entered the Turkish market in 2012, we had an organization of nearly 140 people, which today rose to 890 employees. This growth is regarded as an incredible success story, especially when you look at it from abroad because Germany grows 10-12% on average every year while we have surpassed these rates and grew 8-fold in four years. We believe that our ambitious goals are what drive us, and we charge ahead with the goal of becoming an organization with 1,000 employees. Accordingly, we make significant investments and place our focus on generating new solutions with new technologies and shaping the future by attracting new generations while preserving our team spirit. We take pride in proving the success of the projects we undertake to the whole world and we strive to make Turkey the hub of this market.
How do you, itelligence Turkey, view 2020? What kinds of changes to expect to see in the industry?
Bahri Danış: We at itelligence Turkey see 2020 as a year when we will continue our growth trend. We expect it to be a year when we will carry out exemplary projects together with our team in Turkey both within the country and also abroad, and create new solutions and projects in areas such as robotic process automation, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and next generation enterprise applications as well as products we develop here. We anticipate some industries that have so far stayed stable to expedite their investments in Turkey starting from the second half of 2020 and believe that we will contribute significantly to the growth and profitability targets of our customers with our projects.