"The market is more cautious in terms of projects, but investments in IT and technology remain a priority for the development of companies" - Interview with Bogdan Ciubotaru, Managing Partner Aliant
IT Channel: The beginning of this year was a favorable one for Aliant. What can you tell us about the company's evolution to this point in 2023 (also comparing to the same point in the previous year)?
Bogdan Ciubotaru: In the first half of the year, we achieved 20% better results compared to the previous year, exceeding the objectives we had set. From the second half of the year, however, we began to see increasing unpredictability, which hurt our performance in some areas and helped us in others. Compared to last year, we feel a general reserved context, the market is more cautious in terms of projects, but investments in IT and technology remain a priority for the development of companies, as the decision-makers understood the importance of being competitive in an increasingly digitized environment .
IT Channel: And this year, one of the main development directions of the IT&C industry is sustainability. In addition, this keyword has been joined by Artificial Intelligence. What can you tell us about the evolution of the domestic market in these areas and how the two intertwine in the Romanian business?
Bogdan Ciubotaru: Sustainability should be less of a strategic statement and more of a recurring practice, born from a set of common values, rooted in the organization. When development is done in harmony with the environment, consuming fewer resources and reducing the carbon footprint, the benefits are multiple, both for companies and individuals, but the motivation to do something concrete varies from case to case.
From this point of view, artificial intelligence can help as it can optimize processes, reduce energy and resource consumption and contribute to the development of innovative solutions to environmental problems. For example, AI technology can be used to optimize energy networks, monitor and effectively manage natural resources, or improve energy efficiency in buildings.
The most important thing in the case of the domestic market is that sustainability and artificial intelligence are topics on the table of several companies, and this gives us hope that in the near future the Romanian society as a whole will manage to take important steps in this direction.
IT Channel: Digital transformation is a key area of the Aliant company, through Digital/Hyper Automation – RPA, Chatbots, Low Code and XR / AR. How have Romanian companies responded to global trends this year and what can you tell us about the development areas related to this market expected for 2024?
Bogdan Ciubotaru: Regarding Digital Transformation and Hyper Automation, we have noticed an increase in demand from medium-sized companies for automation solutions, with the objective of efficiency and performance improvement. The technologies that make this goal possible are now accessible, and implementations can be done in a short enough time, so that new competitive advantages can be quickly used in the market.
In our Hyper Automation suite we provide solutions based on RPA, Chatbots, Low Code and AI, which although still has low adoption, will see significant growth in the coming years, generating better solutions in the vast majority of fields. 2024 will be a year of maturation in certain automation technologies, such as RPA, for example, and faster adoption of others, such as AI. The star will still be AI, with its huge potential for applications that we can only glimpse now.
IT Channel: You recently announced the partnership with Sharp. What does this association mean for Aliant and the Romanian print market?
Bogdan Ciubotaru: We want to be able to offer customers quality solutions that meet their business needs very well, regardless of technology. The partnership concluded with Sharp in the printing area is aligned with this objective. The market continues to be volatile, customer requirements reflect this fact, and this leads us to a strategy to diversify the printing portfolio.
The inclusion of Sharp in the printing portfolio, together with Xerox - a strategic partner of Aliant for 30 years, represents an increase in our ability to adapt and provide solutions well calibrated to the needs of our customers, whether we are talking about printing services or distribution of equipment and supplies.
IT Channel: In the first part of this year you stated that Aliant estimates an increase in turnover, through two strategic directions, growth through acquisitions and portfolio diversification. How do you see the evolution for the two strategic directions now, at the end of 2023?
Bogdan Ciubotaru: At the end of the year we can say that in both strategic directions we are at the point we wanted. In terms of diversification, we have added new technologies and partners that we work with in both Hyper Automation and Printing, and this opens up opportunities that were harder to access in the past and increases our level of competitiveness at the same time.
We are also at an advanced stage with an acquisition to strengthen our IT and Hyper Automation portfolio, which we hope to announce soon.
IT Channel: Every year you have collaborations with the academic environment in the country. What news do you have this year and what are the plans for 2024?
Bogdan Ciubotaru: We are interested in developing the partnerships we already have with Romanian academic institutions, an example is the RPA course supported by Tailent and Aliant at Ioan Cuza University in Iași, and also to open projects with new universities. We want to explore opportunities to bring innovative technologies closer to students so they can experience and understand them better, bridging the gap between what students actually learn and what skills are required in business and real life.