Developing a solution that reduces the need for consultants, while being a consultant, may seem like a stupid choice. However, that's exactly the road Johan Barrebo, founder and CEO at IS Tools, chose to take.
– We've now managed to establish ourselves in Europe and I see great opportunities to claim market shares also in other countries, he says.
IS Tools is today a company with customers both within Sweden and abroad. The business idea is an IT platform where IT applications can be created without having to commit time and money to undergo programming, with all the risks that involves. The customers can build complex processes and create structure all on their own. They can also easily control what information individual users can reach.
– We've always been true to the idea that the customer self-services some of their IT and we help them do it. That way, the customer doesn't become dependent on a slow-moving organization. You avoid creating countless specifications and assignments just to wait for months to see any results. Our customers have direct influence, explains Johan Barrebo, founder and CEO at IS Tools, and continues:
– Our customers develop their own systems with their own staff or external consultants. We believe that the customer knows their company and their needs the best. And we're always there to help if needed.
IS Tools was founded in 2003. Up until then, Johan had run a company that developed IT systems for companies within the Swedish base industry sector. The systems were the centerpoint in a web of processes and financial systems and gathered the data that gave the customers the right information and results.
– We quickly realized that the systems we built had to be rebuilt time and again. There were always new requirements due to changes to the business processes or due to new functionality being required. Of course that was great from a consulting point of view, but I couldn't let go of the thought to make the system more flexible so that changes could be made more effectively, says Johan.
At the start of the new century, lots of companies increased their use of IT services. In parallell, society developed much faster which in turn increased the demand for easy to adapt IT systems. This was at the same time the IT bubble burst. Johan was losing customer assignments but had about ten employees.
– That's when we decided to take a leap and invest. We had an idea we believed in and over the course of a couple of years we created the foundation for the platform we have today, he reflects.Perfect solution for flexibility
In conjunction with the global 3G rollout picking up pace, IS Tools had a request for a new system that would support the expansion work.
– We were exactly at the right place with our new platform and had both luck and good timing. While working with the development of the system we realized that we wouldn't be able to effectively deliver our product being a consultant company so we founded IS Tools as a product company, Johan explains.
The 3G rollout was a fortunate undertaking. IS Tools landed a world leader in tele communications as their customer. The customer replaced about 50 old IT systems with the new and flexible one from IS Tools, a solution that could be customized to the rules and requirements of each country where work had to be performed.
– Over the years we've considered addressing different industry branches, but now we're mainly focusing on the mobile and fiber network expansion. It's ever-changing, covers huge geographical areas, and there's always a need to steer and control access to the different parts of the system. That fits our product very well, says Johan.The IT system of the future
Johan concludes that there's a trend in companies realizing the benefits of a flexible and adaptable IT system.
– Ten years ago a lot of money was invested in a single financial system. Today the companies know that these systems turn out to be very rigid and hard to adapt. But this change takes time. These systems are enormous investments and won't be easily replaced. On the other hand, more and more heavily specialized mobile apps pop up. They're often very good at doing what they're built for, but can rarely be expanded to cover additional customer needs. Sometimes they turn into the perfect complements to our platform which is more broad.
The challenge ahead for IS Tools lies in making companies understand how flexible the solution really is.
– We're a small company with a solution for large customers. Sometimes it's hard to fight against the bigger dragons, but on the other hand it's exactly the way one of our customers described it: we're too small to afford being ignorant. That's a strength on its own, says Johan.