The New Digital Age: opportunities and challenges in CEE

March 11, 2021 Czech Republic

For instance, consulting firms are a typical illustration of an environment where you need to innovate, simultaneously, being a certain size firm means it can take a long time to achieve.

Our advantage is that we are a medium-sized company, but our decision-making processes are flexible in both directions, internally and towards clients, thanks to the innovative approach of the owners and its management," says Dan Ledvinka from ASB Group.

When it comes to accounting or tax services, this is not an environment that initially evokes innovation and young talent, is it?
I understand what you mean, but it is quite the opposite. The average age across our company is somewhere between 34-35, I perceive it as an exemplary platform where experience, tradition and innovation meet on many levels. We provide consulting services to more than 800 clients whose business originates from 28 countries worldwide, which is the driving force for us to keep thinking about efficiency and process improvement since the clients originating from technologically developed countries expect this as a market standard.

What is the competitive environment in your industry like?
The environment of consulting firms, business services and shared service centres (SSC) is very dynamic and highly competitive. These dynamics are reflected, for example, in the integration of tech infrastructure or the recruitment of young talent. Traditional companies are trying to ride on the wave of innovation and concentrate a wide range of talent because new projects or solutions with a competitive advantage could be commercialized quite well.

What do companies as a client expect? Don’t they simply require professional services?
We aim to not only provide clients with high-quality services but also with a positive customer experience, speed and transparency. A few years ago, for example, innovation sounded like a cliché in traditional industries such as banking, finance, or insurance, I think we all remember that time. But today we see the impact, how these “worlds” have changed, as a consequence of tech disruption. Quite interestingly, the most disruptive solutions came from young people as a consumer of modern technologies or from very experienced managers who spent a couple of years within the corporations and saw an opportunity to innovate specific processes. Along the lines of these industries, in our consulting business, companies need to find the right balance and approach of its cooperation between the corporate-startup collaboration. I do not aspire to overall, however, the question is not whether to innovate, but how quickly. Thus, we try to rapidly analyse all possibilities and if this makes perfect sense to us and our clients, we continue further with sort of incorporation into our processes.

Most consulting firms talk about digitization, can you outline any specific experiences you’ve had?
Indeed, and it is becoming a more and more complex use-case, insomuch as our colleagues have done outstanding work in automating of our accounting services. An example from practice is the implemented DOCUX system, which simplifies the approval and decision-making process for our clients every day, and at the same time, we are also becoming a more environmentally friendly company thanks to this. Of course, we partially project innovations into company processes as well, marketing and business development take place to a large extent in the digital world today. Besides, we work very intensively on ensuring the maximum quality of the client onboarding processes across our offices in the CEE region.

Has the process of “purchasing” consulting services changed?
Certainly. Long before the current pandemic, we saw quite a great opportunity in technologies, therefore we were sufficiently disposed of for our internal processes within the company. Speaking of what I am in charge of with ASB, perhaps I can point out that the current way of interacting with potential clients changes during different stages, and definitely we must utilize the digital marketing and B2B lead generation process. The shift to digital and remote engagement has been embraced by decision-makers in all countries we are operating – the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. I hope, it is not likely going to fully replace the process of business meetings, events, and networking, anyway assuming the decision-makers requires professional services immediately, then almost the whole process of e-procurement could be undertaken virtually. However, I thought both B2B buyers and sellers now prefer the new digital reality in some sense.

How about the economic/financial conditions of your company in CEE?
In general, ASB Group has been growing stable last years in terms of revenue performance in all the countries we operate as well as in terms of market share, where the Czech Republic and Poland dominate. ASB already has a strong and stable position in Slovakia and last but not least, we concentrate our forces intensively on the development of our branch in Hungary. We are involved in most of the business negotiations in Budapest and having a diverse base of clients and business partners there. We are gradually expanding our local team in Budapest since we perceive the Hungarian market as a great opportunity, thus our effort is to further strengthen our position and market share. Besides, we are glad that several of the Czech companies expanding business activities into the Hungarian market, simultaneously approaching ASB to assist them. Based on the revenue, ASB Hungary Kft. is still right behind the other entities, however, we established our office there at the end of 2018, so that is an organic growth of the company.

Dan Ledvinka
Dan Ledvinka Group Business Development Director
ASB Group