VIADA improves effectiveness with Red Hat partner training
VIADA is one of Germany’s leading IT service providers and a Red Hat partner. In 2019, we learned how the company is using Red Hat® Online Partner Enablement Network (OPEN) to help its customers solve complex IT challenges. Two years later, we caught up with VIADA CEO, Daniel Braunsdorf.
Question: A lot has happened since we last spoke. How is business?
Braunsdorf: It’s good, we have no reason to complain. Of course, COVID-19 has impacted all our lives, but I don’t think the IT industry has been impacted in the same way as hospitality or tourism.
In terms of our customers, I’d say there have been two very different responses from businesses due to the changes brought by COVID-19. One side understands the need to move quickly, that digital transformation will open new ways of working and attract new types of revenue. And they’re ready to go. Then there are more cautious customers, uncertain of what will happen next due to the pandemic and reluctant to make a business-related decision.
Question: As a consultant, a business that wants to work with its customers, how has the increase in remote working changed the way you interact with your customers?
Braunsdorf: Remote working is a challenge. It is always good to sit around a table and discuss issues with the customer, but I’d say the IT industry was better prepared than most for this new reality. We were already set up for remote project management and progress reports. I think what COVID has shown us is that it’s not always necessary to fly an engineer from Dortmund to Munich for three days, and that many tasks can be done perfectly well off-site.
If anything, the last 18 months has strengthened relations between ourselves and our best customers. We somehow feel closer, more engaged – there is an even greater sense of trust. The challenge is winning new business and forming relationships with new customers. There are no trade fairs or conferences or live events. These occasions can be important first steps.
Question: How have you created new business opportunities?
Braunsdorf: Often by starting small. Take on one small project, find a common goal, engage on a daily basis, and gain the customer’s trust in our technical expertise. If you can deliver high-class, high-value consulting with a really strong technical output, then more opportunities will come. We find it’s important to check if your culture fits with the customer, if you’re able to speak the same language. If it does, good things will happen. If not, you can walk away.
Question: Are customers coming to you with new requirements? Have their expectations changed?
Braunsdorf: No, not really. The projects tend to be the same, and have the same themes – for example, agility or automation. What’s changed is the pressure. Customers recognize the importance of the project, and that it needs to be delivered successfully. Again, that helps us. Customers value a trusted partner.
Question: Some businesses have complained of a skills shortage, or difficulties in recruiting. How has this impacted your business?
Braunsdorf: We’re doing okay. We’ve changed our recruitment process and we’ve had a lot of success with our employee referral program. All the early interviews are now done via video, but then we insist on meeting face to face.
Our emphasis is now on the onboarding process. When people are spending more time working remotely, it’s important the recruits understand the culture of the business and that they develop the right attitude. We value openness and communication skills.
Obviously, I believe VIADA is a great place to work, and that we’ve worked hard to create the right culture. It’s important we maintain that as work styles develop.
Question: How has the engagement with Red Hat changed since we last spoke?
Braunsdorf: Red Hat remains a fundamental part of our enablement and training strategy. We continue to rely on Red Hat OPEN—all new hires are required to use it, and the continued training of our existing team depends on it.
What I think has changed is that we are now a lot more precise in how we use Red Hat OPEN. We know we have access to any topic we require—whether Red Hat OpenShift®, Red Hat JBoss® Enterprise Application Platform, Red Hat Fuse, or Red Hat Ansible® Automation Platform—and that the access is flexible. We now know more about where to find information, how long it may take, and any additional materials that would complement the learning. We want employees to find the information they need to address specific project requirements.
The personal development of the team is a priority for me. We have regular project update meetings, and we require colleagues to set aside time for skills training in support of their projects. We want to be open about this, not prescriptive. We will recommend a learning path, but if an individual has a better suggestion, we want to hear it. Learning must be a dynamic process.
VIADA is a strategic partner of international companies for individual business-critical software projects. VIADA starts every project with the aim to provide our customers excellent quality at the best price-performance ratio.