We spoke with Jan Skvaril, who as a Czech, has lived in Bulgaria for the last 17 years, and acts in NEXT Consult as a Client Success Partner.

His experience is a blend of consulting, technology, and hands-on managerial experience. He has spent 17 years in business & IT consulting, 10 of which were in Deloitte across Central and Eastern Europe. Jan has also 8 years of experience in managing leading distribution, logistics, and manufacturing businesses in Bulgaria.

NEXT Consult is an international business consulting and digital transformation firm, operating primarily in SouthEast Europe. It was established in 2010 by former senior executives from Deloitte, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP. They are a client-obsessed team of diverse talent with 100 professionals from 6 nationalities, and it represents the world’s leading technology vendors - Salesforce, SAP and UiPath.

The IT industry has been developing rapidly for many years. What have been the major growth drivers for your business?

2020 and 2021 were golden years for technology companies. The Covid pandemic has accelerated digital adoption and transition to the cloud, it has also driven the development of new products and services. Financial institutions which were relying heavily on customers visiting their branches had to react very quickly and fully digitalized their marketing, sales and customer service processes. Many sectors were pushed to online sales and cashless payments. That is why our company has experienced 40% growth year over year.

HR professionals sometimes see technologies as an enemy, which reduces people's interactions and spoils a company's culture. What is your opinion about the balance between people and technology?

Around half of all existing work activities could be automated in the next few decades using Robotic process automation (RPA) technology. Just like people, software robots communicate with systems and applications to speed up processes and reduce the workload on humans.

One HR professional may find this technology invasive, as it could lead to headcount reduction. The truth is the opposite. RPA enables organizations to shift employees' attention from low-value tasks to higher-value ones that deliver better customer experience and ultimately support revenue growth.

For example, customer service representatives once spent a significant amount of time gathering data for different customers’ requests. This limited the time they had to directly engage with customers in consultative conversations. But, now, software robots handle that gathering work, giving employees more time to engage directly with customers about meeting their needs. In addition, the shift to more valuable work makes employees more engaged.

What major technology trends do you expect for the forthcoming years?

By 2025, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet. Robots, automation, 3D printing, and more will generate around 79.4 zettabytes of data per year. Far-greater network availability, powered by 5G, will drive broad shifts in the business landscape towards digitalization.

At the same time, the enormous digitalization creates challenges for data security. Even before the Covid pandemic, more than 8.5 billion data records were compromised. Despite advances in cybersecurity, criminals continue to redouble their efforts.

I predict we’ll see huge growth in the area of security technology and high demand for security experts.

It is a general observation that the Covid pandemic affected the staff turnover. What has been the situation in the IT industry?

For a decade now, the IT sector has not only been one of the fastest-growing business segments in our region, but also the industry that provides its employees with opportunities for a high standard of living, and steady income growth.

We introduced the home office long before the pandemic so we did not have many challenges to keep working under any new business conditions.

Like in other industries we observed a sharp reduction in staff turnover due to uncertainty. Currently, we experience industry dynamics that makes us innovate people management every day to stay competitive in the industry.

We are delighted to introduce Ioana Badea.

Ioana has joined Friisberg & Partners, Romania as a Digital Technology Partner.

With a background in Human Resources Management and an extensive experience in technical recruitment and organisational development, Ioana is an open minded and creative individual, with a special interest in adding value to different organizations by recruiting the most suitable employees.

Her curiosity and attention to detail, together with more than 10 years in different digitalized industries from gaming to air traffic control systems and space, means she has the key qualities necessary to manage the relationship with our clients in the Digital & Technology sector.

Ioana has extensive technical understanding due to her experience within different fast-paced environments, with multi-layered organisations focused on research and development of hardware and software throughout Romania, the Netherlands and Germany.

Embracing Agile philosophy for many years, the Scrum Master certification came naturally, offering her the advantage of understanding in depth group dynamics as well as the software production environment.

Ioana is also a social activist promoting growth attitude and conscious change. She enjoys up-cycling projects and has a special interest in renewable technologies, nanotechnology and innovation for a better future of our planet.

CEOs face new and very specific challenges in supporting their organisations through, and then managing the lasting implications of, this current crisis.

According to recent work by Gartner, sixty-nine percent of boards accelerated digital business initiatives because of COVID-19, with almost half now actively looking for fresh technology expertise. Digital business models are now being pursued in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic - business strategy is changing.

Board members that are not themselves Digital Natives might lack the insights and expertise required to make informed decisions and reasoned judgements regarding, for example, AI, UCaaS, Digital Marketing, IoT, 5G - which are needed to ensure their business will survive.

We have talked with many companies over recent months that have made significant investments in the analysis of Big Data, automation and new forms of online collaboration. These moves, originally forced by the need for business continuity, are now finding permanence as processes change forever across all industries.

Technology enterprise leaders and industry analysts with whom we have spoken have confirmed that such shifts would be near impossible without a digital strategy and effective technology leadership. Long before the pandemic, strategic decisions by CEOs and boards, on behalf of shareholders, including the setting of company goals and assessment of the top teams’ performance were increasingly linked with investment and hiring decisions related to technology. That has simply been fast-forwarded by the virus.

Yet, despite the rapid and widespread adoption of digital business tools all around them, there are still many large companies that try to continue to function without the technology expertise of a CIO at the board table.

"As a CIO, the CEO and the board expect from me, not only to fix the WiFi... They also expect me to put the right priorities on the right strategies.... "

Rene Deist, CIO Faurecia

Technology is reshaping business models in almost every sector but securing the best technology leaders can be problematic...  However, Friisberg's Partners and Consultants are fully familiar with every dimension of the issue. Your business may not even know what it really needs, but we can help you shape your thinking and then identify and attract the right leadership, for your business as it will be - and needs to be - to thrive.


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