Michael Krüger: Continuing on a path of growth based on intelligent IT services


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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.

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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.


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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.

 

Michael_Krueger_5The 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.