The Business Year

Ivon Ramalho

PORTUGAL - Telecoms & IT

Ivon Ramalho

CEO, Izertis Portugal

Bio

Ivon Ramalho is CEO of Izertis.

TBY talks to Ivon Ramalho, CEO of Izertis Portugal, about international operations, cybersecurity, and plans for the coming year.

Given that you have projects in 50 countries, what is the importance of Portugal to Izertis?

Izertis is an Iberian group with projects in 50 countries. The group was born 25 years ago in Spain, and it makes sense to establish an office in Portugal to cover the Iberian region as work headquarters, as well as to support and expand our activities in Africa in the Portuguese-speaking territories. Portugal is the platform used by the company to expand internationally.

How do you enable the “digital metamorphosis” of your clients?

Everyone talks about the digital transformation, but not many talk about it as a metamorphosis. Business and the way we work today is changing forever and is much deeper, so metamorphosis sounds like a more appropriate term. We wanted to replicate and build up in Portugal the capacities and way of approaching projects that we have done successfully in Spain. We have an Iberian portfolio that we are offering to the world, and then we build our teams according to the projects. Portugal is the hub for Iberia for certain areas, while Spain is the hub for other areas. The goal is an Iberian vision of our operation.

What are the leading segments and business units underpinning and supporting your growth?

For us, business software include the well-known ERP solutions, CRM, asset management, the supply chain, and so on. They are the standard software built by the large software producers in the world. We represent SAP, IBM, and some of the biggest global players in software development, and we build up our teams locally, we educate and prepare them to serve customers, we support in projects to go live, upgrade, handle maintenance, or whatever else we need to do for software solutions. That is the main business unit in Portugal, and we serve the entire group.

How much are you investing in cybersecurity currently?

Cybersecurity is one of our most relevant areas to find new business, new projects, or new customers. Every CTO, CIO, and CEO today is absolutely focused on cybersecurity. Most recently in Portugal, we have seen an increasing number of cyber attacks, even against large companies. Every company in Portugal today is looking for security plans and how to become safer. We are approaching many companies with projects that we have already executed in other regions for other customers and have received a great response. It is a hot topic in management priorities.

How do you shape your competitive advantages and remain one step ahead of the increasing competition?

We benefit from a complete and disruptive portfolio. The solutions, the way we approach customers, and the experiences that we bring to customers are all extremely innovative and disruptive. We are leaving many competitors behind, because they are all not able to do that. We advise customers and tell them we have the know-how to execute projects successfully, on time, and on budget, including some demanding projects.

What is the company’s internationalization strategy, and where do you see opportunities coming from to consolidate your presence beyond the Portuguese borders?

We are looking at the Portuguese speaking territories, and Cape Verde is one of the first countries where we are growing a business. We have been launching and supporting projects that were financed by the World Bank in Cape Verde. We developed a platform for COVID-19 control and management that was part of an international tender. We presented a proposal, won the tender, and executed the project successfully on time and on budget. In addition, we are currently pushing for projects in the education area for Cape Verde involving a new era of education processes and systems. We are supporting the Cape Verde government, which is extremely interested in blockchain projects. It wants to be one of the hubs in the Africa region for blockchain. It has a program, Cape Verde Digital, to transform the country into a digital society. Other than Africa, we are also carrying out some activities in the Middle East from Portugal in Egypt.

What is the main priority on your agenda for this year?

Izertis is working to be one of the fifth-biggest IT companies in Portugal. Our growth has been significant, year after year. We want this growth to be both organic and through acquisitions as well. We have to grow more than the country, we have to expand our operations to the world and not only be based in Portugal.

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