Acquisition turns local firm into a global services player

28 May 2009

Texan billionaire Ross Perot’s IT services firm, Perot Systems, last year acquired Irish software company Original Solutions for an undisclosed sum. John Collins is the founder of Original Solutions.

Is it a good thing that home-grown technology firms are being bought by overseas players?

In our case, it was a pre-meditated strategy. We decided that the ability to go beyond advising and delivering bespoke software to providing long-term managed services was a step in the right direction.

Perot Systems represents what risk-averse companies want to see. The Irish market was saturated with non-differentiated service providers. We took the opportunity to marry a local consultancy with a global provider, without diluting our raison d’être.

In the market we are in, there are a lot of pure-play bigger providers coming in and setting up shop on the basis of what they are doing in other countries, but we can still grow our Irish business by being an Irish company.

How do Irish-based IT providers differentiate themselves?

The ability to deliver a demonstrable return on investment is key in the current environment.

Because of the way technology has been going, we have found a greater awareness and appreciation of IT amongst business people.

When looking at efficiencies, service levels are vital, as is the ability to align the value of IT with a company’s business needs.

A project we worked on with AIB was not so much aimed at reducing costs, but about making things easier and more predictable to make the bank more agile and responsive.

But are businesses still spending on IT due to the economic recession?

Because businesses are cutting back, they are looking to technology to fill the gaps of people they’ve lost.

But, rather than focusing on a cost reduction on IT, they are looking at the competitive advantage that IT can offer.

The predominant view amongst businesses is ‘how do I get greater efficiencies without rebuilding my IT systems?’

How has Original Solutions developed since it was acquired by Perot Systems?

The acquisition has enabled us to engage in local relationships with broader capabilities and win business we wouldn’t have pursued before.

We have also been able to grow our headcount over the past six months by 15pc, mainly around applications management. We are now at around 120 people. We’ve also struck new relationships where clients wanted to make changes in response to market demands.

The test of the deal being a success has been the return on investment Perot Systems has gotten from it.

Our mission is to also provide a near-shore capability from Ireland into the UK.

Ireland’s ability to provide near-shore capabilities to mainland Europe appears to have grown lately, would you agree?

Irish near-shore providers have an innate ability to lateralise what’s being asked and needed of them and provide a better solution.

This means that when targeting the European market, Irish managed- services providers often demonstrate the ability to go beyond the spec.

I see near-shore outsourcing emerging as an important component of the Irish services economy, where Irish providers can partner with a global provider.

Whether you’re an indigenous company or a multinational subsidiary, you can grow from Ireland.

By John Kennedy