In “The Market for IT Consulting and IT Services in Germany,” the IT survey published by Lünendonk on September 22, 2020, 76 IT service providers share their insights about developments, trend topics, and future predictions. In an interview, our CEO Holger von Daniels also speaks with Lünendonk about growth, success, and the holocratic leadership structure at valantic.
You can read the entire interview with Holger von Daniels from the current Lünendonk® study (p. 58-60) here:
Founded only in 2012, the digitalization specialist valantic has grown so much that in 2020, it made the Lünendonk® list of leading IT consulting and systems companies. valantic founder Holger von Daniels explains the company’s success and how it came about in the interview.
LÜNENDONK: Last year, valantic grew tremendously once again and made the Lünendonk® list for the first time in its still-young history. Would you have thought this would happen so soon? And what does it mean to you?
HOLGER VON DANIELS:Even if making the Lünendonk® list is nice, in the end, size isn’t what matters to us. Instead, we are motivated by being able to realize ever larger and more exciting digitalization projects for our customers.
And we are also motivated by gaining more experts who bring along a lot of new impulses, perspectives, and solution approaches.
LÜNENDONK: Such growth means constant change – how can a company process such fast growth?
HOLGER VON DANIELS: Our holocratic leadership structure is something very different: We are set up in decentralized, small units, each of which has a specialized focus, something that allows us to be very close to our customers. We call these units Competence Centers; they offer clear structures and a professional and cultural home for our colleagues. We achieve the group-wide cohesion via uniform systems and various purpose-related management committees. Decisions, for example those about new growth steps, are made with participation, which guarantees that the change brings more opportunities than risks for everyone. In addition, we have a basic set of values for which all colleagues assume responsibility and which they embody everyday.
LÜNENDONK: Due to the difficult current situation, many IT projects at companies are being put off or canceled altogether. What experiences has valantic had with its customers with regard to their willingness to invest?
HOLGER VON DANIELS: Early on, we relied on topic areas in which companies have to invest constantly, such as customer experience. That’s why we have come through the crisis relatively well; in the last few months we have hired many new employees and continued to grow. E-commerce and digital marketplaces are among our growth fields in the crisis since many people now have to professionalize their digital points of sale. And also many of the projects that we have taken on are designed for the long term. An SAP S/4HANA migration, including consulting, preparation, and concept phase, on through to implementation, can take a few years. The logistics solutions sector has also been huge lately: Due to the sometimes difficult supply chain situation as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, our solutions and expertise in the digital supply chain management sector are in high demand. In short, we are continuing to grow despite the crisis.
LÜNENDONK: What measures have you taken during the Corona crisis for your customers and for valantic itself?
HOLGER VON DANIELS: With respect to customers, we offer them solutions for more entrepreneurial resistance; these put them in a position to regard the crisis as an opportunity and make use of it. Our package of measures was available to our customers shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic in Europe and the subsequent lockdown.
I’ll give you an example: We helped one customer modernize and simplify its monolithic E-commerce environment from the ground up. The result was an immediate cost reduction and 70% more sales. Many companies that were suddenly in a situation where they had to pay employees for shorter working hours were able to work with us and our SAP HCM solutions to create a good basis for making this happen. In supply chain management, with our cloud-based Connected Chain Manager, we were able to help a series of customers completely revamp their logistics processes and supply chains in order to avoid delivery bottlenecks.
We ourselves – that is, the 1,100 valantic colleagues who were only able to work from their home offices – pulled closer together due to Corona. With the hashtag #wirhaltenzusammen [#westandtogether], we developed a series of internal initiatives to strengthen one another and stick together in the crisis. The actions ranged from virtual brown-bag sessions and fitness hours to math tutoring, homework support, on through to story hours for the littlest ones. Important for sticking together were and are the regular virtual meetings via videochat solutions such as Microsoft Teams. We also set these up for many of our customers. To the astonishment of all, the much-scorned German networks stood up to the charge and there were hardly any breakdowns.
LÜNENDONK: A result of the Lünendonk® study is that ever more companies are investing in the establishment of digital touchpoints and, in connection with this, in customer experience management. You have acquired some digital agencies in precisely this sector in recent years. Are you expecting increased demand for full-service services from your customers?
HOLGER VON DANIELS: Customer experience management is a fast-growing sector. Due to Corona, online shopping – in contrast to the general downward trend – put fresh wind in the sails of digital points of sale.
So that it’s not just the big players who win and the goods get to the customer despite supply chains that are disturbed in many places, it is especially urgent to make B2B commerce digital and put it on a new basis for the long term. My colleague Urs Haeusler of valantic CEC Schweiz recently discussed this very well in an interview.
As he says, clearly there are solutions with out-of-the-box E-commerce tools that allow you to sell products online as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. But B2B commerce is actually more complex than this and requires functionalities that are attuned to the needs of industries and trade partners. That’s why our recommendation is to develop a clear digital business strategy in order to implement a B2B platform based on this; a platform that integrates the company’s IT architecture and is completely automated thanks to continuous processes. A game changer for B2B commerce is also the IoT connection and networking of machines, devices, and entire streams of goods in the supply chain. In order to be able to help our customers with all of these topics, we need a broad portfolio with many different services.
LÜNENDONK: Keyword supply chain: Covid-19 has shown that many global supply chains are very fragile. How do your customers in supply chain management position themselves?
HOLGER VON DANIELS: Many of the existing SCM and ERP solutions are much too monolithic and can therefore not provide the necessary transparency along the entire supply chain. At valantic, by contrast, with our cloud and web-based Connected Chain Manager (CCM), we have developed a solution that addresses all processes along a company’s global supply chain – down to unforeseeable incidents – and makes everything transparent. We regard such solutions and our extensive consulting expertise in monitoring and controlling all supply chains as supply chain excellence.