Interview by João Moreira, CEO of Abaco Consulting for ExecutiveDigest [PT Only]: https://executivedigest.sapo.pt/empresas-tem-de-acelerar-respostas-e-urgente-eliminar-tudo-o-que-nao-seja-agil-defende-joao-moreira-ceo-da-abaco-consulting/
In the certainty that the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation already underway, companies need to reinforce their strategies and João Moreira, CEO Abaco Consulting, in an interview with Executive Digest, explains why, more than ever, technology is preponderant in life and development of organizations.
But the pandemic also served to expose weaknesses in the Portuguese business fabric that urgently needs to be addressed. The solutions can not only ensure survival, but also guarantee prosperity, warns the consultant.
After the atypical year of 2020, companies now face the urgency of recovery. What are the main challenges?
2020 was, in fact, a totally unexpected year. We never thought of coming to live a reality like this and, without a doubt, many companies were not yet prepared to support and overcome all the challenges that were placed before us. This new year, which is still in its infancy, is beginning to show us that, for now, nothing will be different from what we have experienced so far and will undoubtedly be more digital, both in the way we do business and in the organizational processes, with technology it will play an even more important role in the life of organizations.
Despite the technological developments that have occurred in recent years, it was possible to prove that there are still many obstacles that limit our action and that, in fact, they have always been part of our daily lives, but we never stopped to think about them. Only now, with the limitations that we all had because of the pandemic, do we really realize how important digital is. This is to say, that it is urgent to eliminate everything that is not agile, in order to allow us to have a fast business model to react.
Thus, the biggest challenge now, for companies, is to be able to define and implement measures in order to adapt to this new reality, evolving their business models and building solutions that not only survive, but also thrive in the new scenario business that will come. It is therefore essential that companies prepare themselves to be digital, from the sales process to the beginning of the expedition, from the purchase of the raw material to the production planning, from the recruitment to the compensation and career development models.
With the pandemic still to be controlled, how should companies prioritize their goals?
All companies now face very difficult choices in responding to this new “normal”. But, after almost a year of pandemic, it is essential that we get more out of everything we are experiencing. Knowing how to foresee new changes, problems, be flexible, transparent and be prepared for possible unforeseen events is fundamental for us to be able to face this new year.
We must not forget that, more than reinventing ourselves, we have to rediscover ourselves and find new ways to create value for our Clients, Partners and Employees, the most important of which remains communication with them. At this time, it is important to continue to give primacy to internal communication and to send messages that encourage tranquility and respect for the imposed rules.
Nevertheless, our goal is to continue the growth of the operation, which is why it is crucial to attract new talents. This will be one of the great challenges, not only because there is more demand for qualified professionals in the market than the available offer, but also because of the current context that has significantly changed the recruitment, selection, integration and training of new staff.
With the digital transformation underway, everything was accelerated with the pandemic. In this matter, what has become essential for companies?
For many, or almost all, companies, in fact, this pandemic has had a huge impact and this new year will be quite different from what they knew. It is a fact that Covid-19 has driven and even accelerated the digital transformation of many companies and, in this sense, it has become essential that they have the capacity to reinvent their processes and invest even more in the digital transformation of their business. , because only then will they be able to overcome this crisis that we face.
Abaco Consulting has a strong presence abroad. How do you compare the reality of Portuguese companies with those of other markets in which they operate?
In the UK and Switzerland, we can see two different speeds in terms of innovation. Portugal will eventually be positioned between the United Kingdom, which is more avant-garde and Switzerland, which is closer to the large multinationals. In Brazil, due to the size of the market, we were unable to define a standard, but we observed a continuity of investments in strategic and heavily exporting sectors, such as in agribusiness. In short, we can see that culturally there are four distinct realities. In Portugal, there is clearly a strong evolution in this area, mainly driven by the pandemic, which, coupled with our ability to quickly adapt to new situations, has accelerated the digital transformation of many companies.
As companies are the engine of the country’s economy, how do you see the evolution of the economic situation in Portugal?
We believe that it is a sector that is growing, even due to the investment that has been made in this area. And the good side of 2020 is that it was marked by the great technological impulse that we have seen and by the greater commitment of companies to digitize their processes, which in a normal situation would have been slower, and, above all, by the greater recognition of this need, which allowed not only the development of new businesses, as well as the modernization of almost all verticals.
In this way, we feel, on the part of the market, an acceleration of digital transformation processes in organizations, which constitutes an opportunity for growth for many organizations. During the year 2020, despite the context of the pandemic and the economic impact in some sectors, we won new customers, which allows us to look to the future with optimism.
In the case of Abaco, where does the strategy to succeed in the ‘new normal’ go?
Despite the crisis ahead and everyone pointing out that 2021 will not be an easy year, taking into account the reality we live in and the difficulties that many sectors and companies are facing, we are confident that this year will be globally positive for the technology market. of information, and a lot also for management systems, which will have to adapt to respond to the new business challenges of companies, more flexible, with more mobility and faster access to information and consequent decision making.
In this context, our objectives for this year focus on three key aspects: maintaining the positive evolution registered in recent years and consolidating our international presence, particularly in Brazil, as well as reinforcing our focus on ‘nearshore services’, which has won greater preponderance in this context of remote work and, finally, betting on the reinforcement of our competences that embody our strategy of specialization in ‘Manufacturing & Operations’, which today gains particular relevance as the need that these areas and organizations have to digitally transform.
We believe that this year we will develop new opportunities to explore, both in terms of verticals and in terms of geographies. We believe we can increase the volume of business in Portugal, but especially in Brazil, where we aim to grow in double digits. In any market, we will continue to focus on differentiation due to the vertical specialization of the markets and the ability to implement innovative technological solutions, in which we are pioneers, such as SAP S/4HANA and other solutions based on cloud and mobility technologies.
In conclusion, in 2021, we will not wait until the end of the pandemic to chart our course. We will navigate in uncertainty, but with the path set.