Kalin Tsvetanov, CEO of Intelligent Systems, on the future of business software, challenges facing companies, winning customer trust, and what lies ahead.
Forbes interview, published on the end of November 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digitalization of business. Nowadays, more companies are looking for ways to improve the efficiency of their teams when working remotely. To meet these business needs, Intelligent Systems offers the newest software solution of Microsoft for small and medium-sized organizations.
Dynamics 365 Business Central is an ERP solution available as a cloud service (SaaS), helping to automate, standardize and optimize key business processes. The software solution can be accessed through different devices, including mobile phones, integrates with other Microsoft products, and it is installed and upgraded with just a few clicks.
“The way we download new app versions on our phones, TVs or cars is now available for business applications as well.”, says Kalin Tsvetanov, CEO of Intelligent Systems.
He shares that it is a great opportunity for companies to start operating on such a platform in the first phases of their life cycle because it will grow with their business. Another benefit Dynamics 365 Business Central provides is its compliance with Bulgarian legislation, and availability in Bulgarian language.
Based on his experience, Mr. Tsvetanov is aware that moving to a new way of managing a business is a big step for companies. More than 15 years ago when Intelligent Systems carried out one of its first implementations, part of the team had to stay at a customer’s home.
“One day, we arrived before our host, and we had to turn off the alarm system so we could enter the house. Then he told me: “I trust you with my business. Thus, I am not afraid to let you in my house alone.
Maybe it sounds like a cliché, but this situation revealed to me the big responsibility we take on.”, says Kalin Tsvetanov.
The most important thing before migrating to a new software is the customer to feel secure. He will walk an unknown path, and he will need someone to warn him about all possible difficulties and help him take a shortcut.
Since its founding in 2004, Intelligent Systems has started working with a strong team of 10 people. (Till now, these people are still part of the company, holding key positions in the organization.) They laid the company’s foundation with the desire to justify the customers’ trust, learn all important specifics of their industries, and speak their language all the time. This is important because “our daily routine is 80% working with people and 20% technical tasks”, says Tsvetanov.
In his opinion, this helped the company become a leading partner of Microsoft for Bulgaria during its first year on the market. Intelligent Systems received the recognition based on the technical skills and knowledge of its employees, time for project implementation, and estimated annual turnover.
The recognition has certainly united the team and contributed to building of a healthy work environment. There sharing of knowledge and experience is rewarded, and introduction of new practices is encouraged. Kalin Tsvetanov says:
“We are always self-critical. We listen to our customers and partners. We listen to our employees as well.
We dare to initiate change when the results would lead to improved quality and efficiency “.
This attitude helped the company go through the economic crisis back in 2008 without any serious negative consequences. The team achieved this by focusing its efforts on sectors that continued to grow despite market difficulties. Companies from these industries needed more than ever a digital solution that meets their expectations and ensures the protection of business data.
The strategy turned out to be successful, and in the following years, the number of international projects increased. As a result, Intelligent Systems opened a new office in Albania in 2010. The reason was the capable workforce and strategic geographical location. A year later, the Bulgarian technological company expanded its business to a new market – Turkey. In 2015 Intelligent Systems foreign trade took up over 40% of total turnover.
Based on this experience Intelligent Systems realized that the needs of Bulgarian clients do not differ from those of international customers.
“The challenges are the same for all companies during the project implementation. The strive for optimization, efficiency, and better planning are a main motivator for every business.”
The next expansion move of the software company was in Romania at the very beginning of 2020. After a deep study, Intelligent Systems chose the country and had high expectations to become a hub for its activities in Eastern Europe. Two months later, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything known and transformed the market. Negotiations were postponed, and most of the potential customers of Intelligent System started withdrawing. Thus, the technology company could not offer full engagement to its new employees in Romania. The same situation came into play for some of the teams in the other offices of the company.
Kalin Tsvetanov shares that the pandemic was not a wasted time for Intelligent Systems team. During this period, the company has not laid off a single person. Also, the organization focused on internal processes. Intelligent Systems optimized the offered services and upgraded the solutions for different industries. Thus, Intelligent Systems became much more prepared for the situation and started offering what the market needed at that moment.
At the end of 2020, the company opened a new office in Belgium. Intelligent Systems made the step without closing any of its other offices, including the Turkish one, where the economic situation poses business challenges. However, Intelligent Systems has found a solution that provides an advantage.
“Our office in Turkey serves the Arabic market. It is much more appropriate for the companies in this region to work with our Turkish office than with the ones situated in Europe”, Tsvetanov says.
Today, Intelligent Systems has more than 500 successful projects in 55 countries worldwide. In the following year, Kalin Tsvetanov plans to expand on new markets with a richer product portfolio designed by the Intelligent Systems team. Also, the company is planning to start an internal training academy for its employees and customers.
At first glance, everything seems easy for companies in the IT sector because the trends are towards digitalization. However, Tsvetanov emphasizes that the challenges for the business are not technological. They are related to people’s motivation and willingness to look for new and more effective solutions for their teams.
Find the Bulgarian version of the interview HERE.
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