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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 23, 2008
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IT Team-Up Brings Benefits
April 23, 2008   
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Young Polish IT company Cube and Irish IT specialist Trintech say that teaming up last year has benefited both partners. Cube was set up in 2006 as part of the AKJ Capital Group. It specializes in consultancy, training and e-learning in addition to software development and integration. Trintech is an Irish IT company specializing in software that automates reconciliation, or making sure figures add up on multiple accounts, and compliance with stock exchange reporting, VAT, customs and income tax rules, to name a few.

Dave Keijzer, Trintech's European sales director, and Marcin Miller, Cube's sales and product director, talk to Steve Canty.

Tell us a little about Trintech's background.

Dave Keijzer: Trintech began in 1987 with electronic banking software. A U.S. acquisition in the early '90s brought us ReconNET, our main tool. We've grown from around 40 customers in the U.S. to 600 worldwide. We now focus exclusively on reconciliation and compliance.

You came to the Netherlands in 2005. When did you come to Poland?

DK: Coming to Poland was more a matter of luck than strategy. We were presenting ReconNET to Telekomunikacja Polska in November 2006. They recommended Cube and we were introduced in July 2007. We worked hard with Cube as Telekomunikacja Polska was keen to start the first phase of implementation. We were very impressed with Cube and eager to do more business in Poland.

What are Cube's areas of expertise?

Marcin Miller: Cube specializes in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Business Intelligence, Business Productivity and Back Office solutions for large and medium-sized companies, whatever the industry. Telekomunikacja Polska needed reconciliations and we soon saw that this area has a lot of potential. ReconNET is the only tool on the market designed to handle a variety of different reconciliations and is only available in Poland through us.

What does Cube offer Trintech?

DK: Negotiating the Telekomunikacja Polska contract with Cube demonstrated the difficulty of operating in Poland without a local presence. So what we want from Cube is the Polish language and local knowledge, especially about how procurement works here. Cube staff are also well trained in our tools and have even adapted them to support Polish.

Does Cube have to knock on doors or do you find people coming to you?

MM: Both. Most large and medium companies already have an ERP system so that can be a hard sell. But reconciliations are something new. People are interested once they see what the software can do, especially since it doesn't require any further development.

How strong is the competition in Poland?

MM: It all depends on the sector. ERP competition is fierce and encompasses everything from mega corporations to small companies. The competition for business intelligence and business productivity is somewhat less but still considerable. However, we are Trintech's only representative here and we intend to perform at a level that will keep it that way.

DK: Reconciliation is not difficult. The problem is the volume of transactions. A human being can only do so much in a given time so the only answer is more people. Large corporations are familiar with this problem so their own in-house software is one competitor. This is typically confined to one type of reconciliation whereas our tool can handle more than 200. There are a couple of reconciliation tools like ours on the market but they're all in the United States. What little I find in Europe has been developed by small, local players. Some are very good technically, but very localized and focused on one industry. The third type of competitor is the large ERP vendor like SAP or Oracle. Their approach is simply to program an application into the ERP and come up with a tailor-made solution. So companies need to weigh up a good, tailor-made solution against a product which has been on the market for more than 20 years.

How many people do you employ, what sort of market share do you have, and where do you want to go?

DK: Analysts like Gartner and Forrester rank us number one from both a technical and industry perspective. I have to be careful here because some of our competitors are very strong, even stronger than us, in one industry. But we are the largest generic player and cover all industries. Our sales were around $900 million last year with profits of some $600 million. Where do we want to go? We want the market as soon as possible. We're planning to grow at least 25 percent annually. We've managed this so far and have been growing especially rapidly in Europe. My division has grown from 140 people to 240 people in two-and-a-half years. In Europe we've grown from two people to 50.

MM: We're facing an even bigger challenge because we're aiming for revenue of zl.100 million in three years. This time last year we only had one employee. We now have around 90. My answer to where we want to go is the same as Dave's.

What are the pluses and minuses of doing business in Poland?

DK: Apart from not speaking Polish, there are only pluses. Decision makers here are very sharp, well educated, and proficient in English. Cube has been handling negotiations for us from day one and will continue to do so now there is a distributorship in place. Polish people are also very polite in listening to you and in trying to understand the benefits a solution can bring.

MM: Negotiations are sometimes very lengthy. It can take six months to conclude an agreement. It would be great if we could speed this up.

I would like to contrast our approach with what usually happens. People often believe there is a business case for implementing, say, an ERP system, but they seldom have the figures to back this up. Now, even though ReconNET is much cheaper than any ERP or business intelligence system, we prepare a business case based on sample data from the client. We measure how much faster we can perform the reconciliation, and how many more errors and compliance problems we can find. The decision to proceed with the project can then be made on the basis of projected savings.

DK: We're a CEO dashboard of sorts. We mainly sell tools to ensure that GL accounts are correct, that the numbers add up and the processes follow regulations.
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