#Call4.0Leaders | Voicu Oprean (AROBS Transilvania Software): Co-opetition is a critical element in the life of software services or tech solutions companies

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 07/12/2021 | 14:19

A rapid transformation has swept almost every industry the past few years, and the pandemic and other major global shifts, such as climate change and socio-politic and economic developments, have forced organizations to adapt accordingly. The business world is changing quickly and 2022 is truly heralded as the now or never year. Business Review continues its established Call For Leaders project, with another  #Call4.0Leaders Interview which features Voicu Oprean, the founder & CEO of the Romanian IT company AROBS Transilvania Software.

 

  1. What projects have you carried out over the past year to make your company’s operations more sustainable and resilient?

The pandemic crisis has made us re-educate ourselves and our companies. Resilience and sustainability were the most in-demand features of leaders and companies.

We made quick operational changes after implementing remote work procedures and revisiting our supply base and our contracts.

We ensured that the deliveries of services and products followed the smoothest and fastest procedures, and the partners gained the best from our collaboration.

We offered flexibility for most AROBS clients operating in the impacted industries. We decide to provide no-charge fleet management services for our institutional partners in medical emergency services for several months during 2020.

But most of all, we never took a break from our objectives to deliver value to our customers and never stopped developing innovative software products. One of them is MonePOS – our contactless and paperless payment solution in partnership with a leading Romanian bank, primarily targeting small and individual entrepreneurs. Also, we worked consistently to improve versions for our solutions – like the latest version of our star product TrackGPS. We have not stopped to approach our partners and customers, gain feedback from the market, and work on continuous improvement of our processes.

We are an IT company, but we are also looking into procedures, and we have taken steps toward the best techniques and tools we might need, moving quickly to digitize operations end to end. For example, we were implementing solutions for digitalization, data reconciliation, and adapting our procedures for remote work.

 

  1. How can we find the right balance between intelligent machines and human intelligence in the new business reality of accelerated automation and digitalization?

I firmly believe that every business might survive and thrive through reinvention, complete customer service, optimization, total digitization, and continuous improvement of the processes.

All businesses need to continue to digitalize as soon as possible. The last two years have taught us the hard way this lesson that some avoided, but now no one can ignore it. The company that will withstand any crisis is digitized, optimized, and connected.

More than that, the connection from anywhere is getting to full speed. Now, location is not the critical differentiator anymore, as it used to be, and people need to have all the support to work remotely.

We are not yet in “the finding the balance between intelligent machines and the human intelligence” phase; we might overestimate the level of progress and digitalization in Romania. Let us have this conversation, on this subject, in about 5-10 years and, maybe, we will be able to compare ourselves with the EU leader in digitalization, Estonia.

 

  1. Are flatter, more agile structures better equipped to succeed in the new reality than their more traditional and rigid counterparts? How would you describe your organization in this regard?

The best decisions in business are made when the information is complete, the communication is open, and the organization is agile, with the adaptability muscles well trained. Plus, people in an agile business structure are responsible for delivering to customers without being pushed in that direction.

I see AROBS Group as an agile organization with an intrapreneurial spirit and a mindset to address various challenges from the market, with a diversified business model present in many industries and geographies. We move fast in implementing our three-pier growth strategy: by acquisitions, opening locations in new business landscapes, and organically developing our customer base.

At the same time, we move step by step in situations new to us that allow us to learn during the journey. One good example is our announcement on the Bucharest Stock Market listing. We started with a private placement that became the largest in the BVB history; after that, we plan to float on the AeRO market, followed by the Main Market in 2022 after completing all the main market requirements.

 

  1. Is the business world evolving from a competition mindset to a co-opetition one? How integrated is your company in this regard, and what can you tell us about your partnerships with other organizations?

Your question reminds me of the Resilient Leaders Planning Scenarios, a point of view published by Deloitte, which I read a while ago: The passing storm, Good company, Sunrise in the east, and Lone wolves.

I like to think that our scenario at AROBS is a scenario of involvement, reinvention, and acceleration through digitization, similar to the Good company theory proposed above. I see as the only solution to overcome the difficult times for any business or industry, the development and implementation of digital services and better products, optimal customer service because our customers as partners with whom we can overcome any obstacle.

We believe co-opetition is a critical element in the life of software services or tech solutions companies active at the regional or global level. We work with various competitors in some areas, but we partner with them on other levels.

We also believe the concept of co-opetition should also be understood as a robust ecosystem of companies, small or big, and institutions, based on the premise that we are all stronger together. We have clients and subcontractors that are more than just that, and they are our partners; we are building the future of the community, of the industry, together.

One significant example for me is the Transilvania IT cluster – an organization that holds together 120+ companies and institutions – we have developed a strong partnership between companies in various projects lately, from education, HR, or sharing resources for a critical project.

I am fully committed to the win-win philosophy. I firmly believe that the “the winner takes it all” approach might have immediate benefits, but it is not for the long run. If you want to walk fast, go alone; if you want to reach further, go together. This saying is valid both in life and business.

So, here in Transylvania, it is widespread to hear or read about a group of companies (otherwise, maybe, competitors) that jump in to support various initiatives where the Universities or the public authorities do not have resources.

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Mihai-Alexandru Cristea | 21/09/2022 | 14:17

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