Johannes Biermann, President of aicas GmbH, Germany on how the firm offers software solutions to provide security, modularity, and portability to reach the edge, without overextending your business. Here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Johannes Biermann: We are fine, thank you for asking. As with many things in life, the corona pandemic shows us that we need to put things into perspective. When I look at the past year, it seems we all learned something about the value of relationships that carry us through such turmoil. Family, friends, the workplace, my external network. Simply speaking: build trust and partnerships at every level to support you and others in tough times. Care for each other.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded aicas.
Johannes Biermann: Prior to my role at aicas, I worked for more than 25 years in leadership roles at both Hewlett Packard in California, USA, and Germany, as well as at Siemens AG in Munich, Germany. My tenure included a wide range of strategic and operational roles, leading product and marketing management teams in addition to functional areas in customer advocacy and sales operations as well as management consulting.
I have been with aicas for three years now. I had started to come in contact with the company through people in Karlsruhe combined with engagements at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise in the area of IoT and embedded software solutions. A fantastic business, in the market since 2001, renowned blue-chip customers such as Siemens, Boeing or FCA (now Stellantis). I saw the company’s potential and the opportunity to take aicas forward at scale and build on its strong capabilities to drive even more success globally.
How does aicas innovate?
Johannes Biermann: The digital world is changing fast at the moment, with Corona functioning as an accelerator for the digital transformation. IoT, AI, and edge computing are THE drivers of innovation in the software sector because, without the corresponding solutions, software management and data processing cannot take place in real-time, safely, and on-demand. Imagine going at 100mph on the highway and suddenly the brakes on your car block due to a delay caused by a system update. This is where aicas comes in: we develop innovative technologies which solve the problems around digital product development in the areas of automotive, aviation, industry, consumer electronics, or medical. Always close to the market, always close to the pulse of the digital challenges of tomorrow.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Johannes Biermann: We have customers from industries hit hard by the coronavirus, such as automotive or aviation, which posed some temporary challenges as for many others in the second and frankly quarter of 2020. Switched to a full mode of navigating by line-of-sight with good results: no shortened work hours for us, no attrition in our customer base. We are standing firm. Uncertainty is still high, but we are pretty much operating at pre-pandemic levels since Q3 again, acquiring new deals going into 2021. And most important: we continued to invest heavily in our products. We have exciting new offerings ready to launch come May – our 20th company anniversary. Plus we are investing in our global marketing and business development as well to push forward.
Did you have to make, difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Johannes Biermann: Fortunately, the crisis did not hit us to a degree that would have forced us to lay off employees. In fact, we did everything we could to protect our employee base, also expand home office offerings. Of course, we acted conservatively in terms of hiring, but continue to look for great talent ongoing.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Johannes Biermann: Of course, like many others, we significantly upgraded our online and digital marketing. Towards the end of last year, and still today, we have seen an increased demand regarding customers and projects. We are heavily honing our digital marketing skills, are actively participating in the “new normal” virtual industry conferences and are present in social media platforms. It works based on leads generated and the positive response we are getting from analysts and partner firms approaching us.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Johannes Biermann: We managed well on our own in 2020. That said: when you have an ambitious plan to scale up further, I do feel that we will connect with additional investors to make that happen.
Your final thoughts?
Johannes Biermann: We have talked about Corona. The global pandemic with all its gloomy aspects has kept us in suspense for a year now. At the same time, we see many innovations coming along at a speed that would have been hard to imagine before. In the field of digitization especially, a lot of exciting things are emerging, when we think of education, work or IoT in industry, consumer electronics, etc. It feels like Corona is just accelerated innovations and a lot of that is digital and software-defined where I expect aicas to be able to make a big difference.
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