Fastest firms in the East

ALTHOUGH the PC skills of common people in Slovakia significantly lag behind those of the established EU-15 countries, when it comes to developing new software, many Slovaks can feel proud.

ALTHOUGH the PC skills of common people in Slovakia significantly lag behind those of the established EU-15 countries, when it comes to developing new software, many Slovaks can feel proud.

The international consultancy firm Deloitte recently published "The Central European Technology Fast 50", its annual ranking of the fastest growing IT firms in Central Europe.

Although Polish firm Pro Futuro SA took first place, Slovakia's overall ranking is improving each year. In 2000, when the first such report was published, the fastest growing Slovak firm took 30th position. This year, the Slovak Republic made a significant improvement, with the fastest growing Slovak firm taking 7th place. The Deloitte report identifies the leading technology companies based on revenue growth in 2004 compared to 2000. The competition is open to companies from 16 countries in Central Europe: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Eligible firms must have been in business a minimum of five years and have base-year operating revenues of at least €50,000.

Slovak firms that succeeded to acquire positions in the top 25 say that the quality of their solutions is comparable to those of EU-15 countries. They see their enthusiasm, dynamism, and high working pace as their collective advantage. But Slovakia is a small market, and many Slovak IT firms lack the international experience that gives many other companies a leg up on the competition

These Slovak firms emphasize that competition in the IT business is strong and predict it will increase. At the same time, they look forward to this challenge, since competition is the engine driving their further development.

The Slovak firm taking 7th place, Elas, acquired a 100-percent share in HT Computers in 2004, helping it reach a 1,070 percent revenue growth in 2004 compared to 2000. In February 2004, Siemens Business Services (SBS) signed a contract to buy Elas. SBS now belongs to the three most important IT firms in Slovakia, providing various complex software solutions, hardware shipments and outsourcing.

"Slovak firms are able to compete with international companies and not only through [lower] prices. But when a customer demands support and solutions on an international standard, Slovak firms have a smaller chance to succeed," Rudolf Lukačka, business development expert of Siemens Business Services (previously executive officer of Elas), told The Slovak Spectator.

Ninth place belongs to Ipesoft, which grew by 869 percent within five years. The company was established 12 years ago and offers solutions in the area of energy production and distribution.

"The market segment where we operate in Slovakia and want to operate in Central Europe is new compared to other IT fields. It [the segment] cannot do anything other than grow," said Ján Rovňaník, director for trade and marketing at Ipesoft.

Anasoft APR, at 17th place, grew by 342 percent. The firm, in business 12 years, exports logistics solutions, facility management, banking and integration applications.

Jana Ohrablová, marketing and communication manager at Anasoft APR, pointed out that the Slovak market has a limited size and that is why the company focuses part of its activities abroad. "Good Slovak IT firms are equal to firms in the EU-15, particularly in specific segments."

Ability Development SK has been on the Slovak market since 1995. In 2004 it showed a 329 percent increase in revenues compared to 2000, putting it at 18th place. It develops and supports software solutions based on the software platforms of international vendors such as IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, and SUN.

"Flexibility and lower price is the advantage of Slovak firms in Central Europe. Less experience with large international projects could be the disadvantage," said Andrej Klačan, general director of Ability Development SK.

The Technology Fast 50 in Central Europe - 2005

Rank Company name Country Growth (%)*
1 Pro Futuro SA Poland 22,102
2 Cleverlance Czech Republic 2,933
3 HOGA.PL Poland 2,382
4 Wind Telecom Poland 2,256
5 Logos Czech Republic 1,086
6 AARON GROUP Czech Republic 1,081
7 ELAS Slovakia 1,070
8 ESET Slovakia 935
9 IPESOFT Slovakia 869
10 Blue Media Poland 800
11 Poland 759
12 kirowski Hungary 487
13 Web Design Factory Czech Republic 459
14 Advatech Poland 422
15 Ultrazvuk Slovakia 383

Source: Deloitte
*Growth in revenues in years 2000 - 2004.

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