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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY - NINE COMPANIES PLACED IN FAST 50 RANKING

Slovak IT companies among region's movers and shakers

SLOVAK IT companies are holding their own in international competition. Nine Slovak companies made the list of the 50 fastest-growing IT companies in the Central and Eastern Europe region.
The Central European Technology Fast 50 ranking is annually compiled by Deloitte, based on revenue growth over the previous five years.

SLOVAK IT companies are holding their own in international competition. Nine Slovak companies made the list of the 50 fastest-growing IT companies in the Central and Eastern Europe region.

The Central European Technology Fast 50 ranking is annually compiled by Deloitte, based on revenue growth over the previous five years.

"The competition is dominated by software companies," said Dariusz Nachyla, Fast 50 director. "This year 24 of them took part in the competition."

However, dot.com companies also recorded an extraordinary growth, he said.

The top Slovak finisher for the second year in a row was Eset, which took seventh place. The company recorded 1,466-percent growth in revenues over the last five years.

The key to its success was the internationally successful NOD 32 anti-virus software. Compared to last year, it had 366-percent growth in revenues.

Ipesoft, which provides IT solutions for energy and industry, was the second fastest-growing Slovak firm in the ranking, with 1,098-percent growth in revenues over the last five years. It came in 13th for the second year in a row, but it beat last year's revenues by 213 percent.

Millennium 000, which offers e-business solutions, was the third Slovak firm on the list, with a five-year revenue increase of 776 percent. It came in 15th overall. MicroStep-HDO followed in 28th place, with 317-percent growth. Aston ITM came in 33rd, with 269-percent growth.

"Rankings based on (revenues) is mainly important from a benchmarking perspective," said Zuzana Sehnalová, marketing manager of Millennium 000. The company is mainly involved in websites, but it is gradually developing an application business.

It can be motivating for a company to see where it ranks among its competitors in a certain market, Sehnalová said. It can watch its position change each year and learn from more successful companies.

"Moreover, a position in these rankings is a sign of prestige and an effective tool for smaller but successful companies to make themselves visible and stabilise their position in the industry," Sehnalová told The Slovak Spectator.

The ranking also lets companies look back at their financial performance over the last year, said Miroslav Trnka, technology director of Eset.

"Competition motivates companies to better performance, and at the end of the day it positively impacts the whole company," he said.

For MicroStep-HDP, a spot in the rankings is proof that developing their own technology and sophisticated systems was the right path to take, MicroStep's Peter Jamrich told The Slovak Spectator.

A Polish company, Blue Media, topped the Fast 50 list this year, with five-year revenue growth of 11,226 percent. Second place went to another IT company from Poland, Travelplant.pl, which recorded 4,798-percent growth. Bulgarian Universal K came third with 2,900-percent growth.

Firms can qualify for the Fast 50 rankings if their revenues reached at least €50,000 (Sk1.7 million) in 2002. The company's headquarters must be based in Central Europe and it must use mainly its own technology to build its revenues. A firm cannot participate in the competition if its technology was developed by other companies, even if the firm uses it in a specific way.


Labour a key


Most technology companies in this region consider the greatest challenge to be employing and maintaining qualified labour, Nachyla said. At the same time, top qualified labour was considered to be a key factor in their growth.

"Slovak IT firms face great competition from global corporations on the labour market," Sehnalová of Millennium 000 told The Slovak Spectator. "Our aim is to prove that a Slovak firm can also give its employees a professional workplace, and our people have the opportunity to grow with us."

Another big challenge for IT companies operating in Central Europe is internet penetration throughout all of society.

"It creates room for technology innovations," Sehnalová said.

Apart from the main ranking of 50 fastest growing companies, Deloitte ranks companies in its Rising Stars category each year. A Rising Star is a company that has had extraordinary success but it has not been on the market long enough to meet the criteria for the Fast 50 ranking. The revenues of Rising Stars companies must have been at least €30,000 in 2004.

The winner was a Polish company, Hoopla.pl. The top-ranked Slovak company was Soitron, which came in fourth in the Rising Stars ranking.


Slovak IT market still healthy


The IT market in Slovakia is getting saturated, but it will keep its healthy growth rate in the coming years. According to recent reports from the IDC consulting company, the Slovak IT market will grow by more than 10 percent in 2007, which is 2.5 percentage points less than last year.

A slow-down in the momentum of the IT market last year was mainly caused by delays to some public sector projects, as well as large companies and organisations becoming saturated with information technologies, according to IDC.

In 2006, international IT companies dominated the Slovak market. HP, Siemens Business Services, and Siemens Program and System Engineering were the largest, with a combined market share of 28 percent.

"Slovakia has made great progress over the last decade and it has become a safe and popular country in the EU for investing in high-tech production," Jeffrey Vavra, IDC's director of IT services market research, told the media.

"The same applies to the IT services market, which grew in 2006 despite a drop in public-sector spending. It is becoming evident that the (Slovak IT market) has matured and it has reached a long-term sustainable pace of growth which will secure sustainable development regardless of possible ups and downs."

System integration was the most demanded service in 2006, with 19 percent of the market share. IT outsourcing was the fastest-growing area in 2006. Compared to 2005, spending on this type of service grew more than 175 percent, and it had a market share of 7.4 percent.

The financial sector spent the most on IT services in 2006. Its share of the total spending on IT was 26.3 percent. The second-largest customer was the public sector, with a 21-percent share of the spending, followed by industrial companies with a 16-percent share.

IDC predicts that the IT service market in Slovakia will grow 11 percent a year on average over the next five years. The growth will be supported mainly by public sector demand, a growing demand for top services, growing dependence on IT, and the influx of foreign direct investments.

IDC is an international analytical and consulting company operating on the information and communication technology market.


- Marta Ďurianová


Central European Technology Fast 50tors
  Company Country Growth (in %) Business
1 Blue Media Sp. z.o.o. Poland 11,226 Software
2 Travelplanet.pl SA Poland 4,798 Internet
3 Universal K Ltd. Bulgaria 2,900 Communications,
computer networks
7 Eset spol. s r.o. Slovakia 1,466 Software
13 Ipesoft, s.r.o. Slovakia 1,098 Software
15 Millennium 000,
spol. s.r.o.
Slovakia 776 Internet
28 MicroStep-HDO,
spol. s.r.o.
Slovakia 317 Software
33 Aston ITM, spol. s r.o. Slovakia 269 Software
39 Ultrazvuk, s.r.o. Slovakia 195 Semiconductors,
components, electronics
40 Anasoft APR,
spol. s r.o.
Slovakia 177 Software
41 Kros a.s. Slovakia 175 Software
44 Visicom a.s. Slovakia 162 Software
Source: Deloitte

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