In 2008, GISA broke all previous company records for sales revenue. Together with the company’s 15th anniversary, it has two major reasons to celebrate and many reasons to look back on this time as a success. Since its inception in 1993, staff numbers have grown nearly fivefold. At present, the company has over 430 employees working at six locations. GISA is also the leading IT service provider in Central Germany. The company has remained true to Halle-Bruckdorf, where it continues to maintain its head offices. The location of the main facilities offers many advantages, including excellent transport links, its close proximity to the Martin Luther University and the availability of commercial space that is ideally suited for data centre operations. The over 430 employees provide the driving force behind the company’s success. To ensure the company is able to maintain its high standards and continue on its path of growth, the IT service provider is constantly on the lookout for highly qualified IT specialists. In 2008 alone, it took on 70 new employees. Together with its subsidiaries, ICS and SASKIA, the GISA Group now employs over 550 people.
Most of the junior staff comes from the region. GISA works closely with regional universities and universities of applied sciences including the Martin Luther University (Halle-Wittenberg) and Merseburg University of Applied Sciences. Work placements and topics for degree dissertations are available to students at these institutions. On a further note, the company’s IT specialists are frequently asked to speak to students and report on practical aspects of their work. The company also sponsors the “Do IT here” campaign, organized by the Industrial Initiative for Central Germany. The common goal here is to increase the profile of Central Germany as an IT hub and bring skilled personnel to the region. The Halle-based firm is proof of how companies can effectively respond to a shortage of skilled employees through in-house initiatives. To name one example, GISA has developed a special training programme for new and current staff that allows high-level technicians and managers to be trained in-house and further developed. To ensure a smooth transition for new staff when they enter the service of the company, graduates with BA and MA degrees in computer science and business disciplines with a focus on IT are offered the chance to start as trainees. During the 24-month programme, trainees are actively integrated into the work process and take part in interdepartmental projects.
The portfolio, which comprises process and IT consulting services, as well as the development and hosting of IT solutions at its own data centre, is available throughout Germany. Current customers include nearly 150 SMEs and large companies. Although many come from the region, a growing number are from Berlin and the Frankfurt/Main area, where GISA opened regional offices in 2004. GISA is the long-term outsourcing partner of many regional companies. In 2004, envia Mitteldeutsche Energie AG (enviaM) transferred the operation of its entire IT infrastructure, including hosting, to GISA. In addition, GISA provides select IT services to other companies such as EVH GmbH and DREFA Media Holding.
The company pursues a growth strategy that focuses on innovative, marketable services and is partner to many large software companies such as SAP AG. As a way to give back something of its success and help up-and-coming companies, GISA has served as one of the sponsors of the IQ Innovation Award for two years. As sponsor for the award in the category of information technology, the company seeks to encourage firms from the region to develop innovative ideas and, in doing so, gain an edge on the competition.
GISA’s success has been made possible in part by positive growth in the IT sector. According to figures released by the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM), the German market for IT services grew by 6.3 per cent in 2008. As a consequence of the financial crisis, forecasts for 2009 are lower, at between four and six per cent.
This does indicate, however, that these services are still in high demand. Services such as outsourcing and standardized software solutions are seen to have the greatest market potential here. Demand for the former continues to grow, as companies and their IT departments are under constant pressure to reduce costs, something that IT outsourcing can quickly deliver.
With regard to technology, GISA has taken a pioneering role. For instance, it was one of the first companies in the world to implement in practice a new type of IT concept that interlinks software from different manufacturers. This “service-oriented architecture” has enabled the company to improve the design of its internal settlement process and to offer clients greater transparency and faster provision of information in electronic payment transactions. Through these efforts, GISA has assumed a leading role, for which it has gained recognition throughout the industry. This includes an award from BITKOM for special achievement in the area of service-oriented architectures. Jürgen Klaus, head of corporate development and communication, explains the innovation as follows: “Based on our modular concept, we create business processes from individual services.” This means that in contrast to the standard monolithic IT systems used in the past, structural changes are now easy to implement. “This reflects the dynamism in the economy, where two years is deemed too long for the development of a new IT solution after restructuring has taken place.”
In this way, GISA seeks to maintain its path of growth and plans to be among the 50 biggest IT service providers in Germany by 2013.
The author was born in 1964. He studied economics at the Martin Luther University. Since 1993, he has held executive posts at various companies including Mitteldeutsche Feuerungs- und Umwelttechnik GmbH und VA TECH in Vienna and Linz. Since September 2001, he has served as the managing director of GISA GmbH. At the same time, he oversees the business operations of ICS adminservice GmbH.