The 2020 balance sheet is, taking the context into account, a positive balance sheet. Although we did not reach the objectives initially set for this year, as a result of the pandemic situation and uncertainty that was reflected in some slowdown in the business, the truth is that we were able to react very quickly and even take advantage of some opportunities that this context gave us. presented. It is known that the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation in some organizations and sectors of activity. The fact that Noesis is a reference company in these areas, plus the fact that we reacted quickly and had an offer that touches many of the areas of greatest need in this period - cybersecurity, infrastructure, customer experience, agile development, among others - allowed us to position ourselves with our customers and the market as a reliable partner for this transformation. Thus, despite some slowdown, especially in the initial period of the pandemic where some projects were suspended or postponed, the negative impact was not as marked as in other sectors of the economy or as the initial projections pointed out and allow us to close the year 2020 with positive results and with growth compared to 2019.
How much is Noesis' business in Portugal and what percentage does it represent in Altia's global business in Europe?
The integration in 2020 of Noesis in the Altia Group, a Spanish-listed multinational group, does not allow us to disclose results for this year, due to the legal obligations that bind the Altia Group to the Madrid stock exchange.
Even so, in general terms and taking into account the results of 2019, we can say that the business of Noesis represents between 35% to 40% of the total turnover of the Altia Group.
What are the expectations for 2021? Will the business grow? What are the most relevant areas?
The prospects are that 2021 will be a year of growth in Noesis' turnover and also of strengthening our International operation, namely in Brazil and Spain.
Knowing also that the scenarios and perspectives now outlined will naturally depend on the evolution of the pandemic context and crisis in the main markets where we operate. Still, when it comes to the pandemic, the signs for 2021 are encouraging and we believe that the business and the goal we set will be possible to achieve and will allow us to continue to grow next year.
Regarding the most relevant areas, as I mentioned earlier, Noesis's offer is very much in line with the major trends in technology and the perspective we have is that in all of them there will be opportunities and business growth. We believe that topics related to Cloud, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, or Automation will continue to be the focus of organizations, areas where Noesis expertise is very relevant. But also other topics such as Quality Assurance, Customer Experience or Low-code, will be areas where we will continue to bet and win new projects and customers, in the different geographies where we operate.
Taking into account the need for job creation in Portugal, has Noesis planned to hire in 2021? How many employees do you close in 2020, and how many do you think you have at the end of 2021?
Noesis has been actively recruiting in the market in recent years. The IT sector has been one of the most dynamic areas and has contributed the most to job creation in Portugal and Noesis has also actively participated in this chapter, in a highly competitive market and where the ability to attract and retain the best talent is a factor differentiator. We will end this year with a number very close to 950 employees, which will mean an increase of close to 100 employees compared to the end of 2019.
For 2021, we have not yet determined the expected number of hires, but we will continue in line with recent years, generating employment. We believe that with the growth forecast for 2021 it will be possible to overcome the symbolic barrier of 1000 employees in the next year. It will be an excellent sign for Noesis and the economy.
What are the main difficulties that you find, in the Portuguese market, at the moment, regarding the approach to the digitalization of companies?
It is always difficult to generalize or draw big conclusions about the market, especially when we talk about technology and in a market and business fabric that is very heterogeneous, both in the profile of companies that compose it and in the level of digital maturity of each organization.
Noesis operates mainly in a medium-high segment, that is, the vast majority of our customers are medium-large companies, and some of the main organizations operating in the market. In these types of companies, digitization or digital transformation is already at a high stage of maturity and the great challenge for Noesis is to be able to continue to add value and bring innovation to meet the growing challenges of these organizations, for example, at the level of all the themes related to data, artificial intelligence or automation. On the other hand, in companies with less digital maturity, the challenges are on another level, of adoption, optimization of processes or infrastructure, even. More than difficulties, we find very interesting challenges in the market in Portugal, which also oblige us to improve the quality of delivery of our projects and to be more efficient since it is a market and an economy with lower growth levels than other markets.
What advice do you give companies to overcome the difficult times we are going through?
I stick to what Noesis' area of expertise is, I think it is important to reinforce a message that has been widely conveyed in this year 2020, that of digital acceleration. It is necessary for organizations to continue to look at these issues and to place technology and digital transformation at the center of their decisions and strategy. This issue has long ceased to be an exclusive IT issue or a cost item in organizations' budgets and this Pandemic has come to highlight this further. The acceleration has been strong and the organizations that best follow this acceleration and this transformation will be the ones that will be more competitive. This is also a lesson that we have learned from other crises, namely economic ones, of the past and which have already been studied in an exhaustive way. The organizations that best adapted in times of crisis, that did not stop investing and that resisted strategies exclusively focused on “cost containment” were the organizations that survived and that even saw their market position strengthened in the “post-crisis". This is yet another historic moment that tests the resilience of organizations and the capacity of managers, where decisions and investments made in 2020-2021 will certainly have a differentiating impact in the following years.
Originally publish (in Portuguese) in Computerworld