Skaylink-CEO Heinrich Zetlmayer: “Size matters!”
channelpartner.de: The four IT service providers and cloud service providers (CSPs) – Beck et al., Binary, the direkt gruppe and infoWAN including its subsidiary DrVis Software – have been working closely and successfully together for several years. 2021 rose Investor Waterland one, now all companies merge to “Skaylink”. Why this step towards a common brand and how far has the integration progressed?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: All four companies have grown very successfully under their founders for more than 20 years, were about the same size and complemented each other excellently. We’ve built a completely new structure over the past six months, a new company founded, parallel to day-to-day business, and today all four partners are organizationally fully integrated into the new company.
This created a diverse culture. This is different from simply buying another company, because then the culture of a company always prevails, which leads to the loss of employees who cannot be found there. At Skaylink we have created our own integrative culture together.
It was clear to everyone involved that everyone can only offer part of what customers need for a holistic digital transformation. And for customers, it is always more time-consuming and complex to work with four different partners than with a single partner company that covers all topics from a single source. And that’s exactly what Skaylink now offers.
The entry of Waterland Private Equity as a strong, strategic partner acted like a catalyst for this strategy.
channelpartner.de: Which core competencies is Skaylink now bundling under one roof?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: In this unique constellation, we combine partner skills for AWS and Microsoft with software development, managed services and project business; We are characterized by an extreme strength in the area of public cloud, but that too – thanks binary – is rounded off by its own, private data center.
channelpartner.de: Operating your own data center is time-consuming. In your opinion, why is it still advantageous to be a host yourself in addition to partnering with the public cloud giants?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: Because it is important for customers to have a partner who knows the data center operation from personal experience and who knows exactly how this operation works. We know all worlds: Cloud-native, pure managed services and classic on-premise business!
Most medium-sized companies have a mixture of on-premise and public cloud and have to cope with it. It is precisely this experience with competencies from all worlds that we bring with us and we have the necessary critical size to serve all of this end-to-end with 24×7 services for medium-sized companies. At the same time, however, we remain on an equal footing with medium-sized customers. However, DAX companies also value our size and innovative strength!
channelpartner.de: Skaylink is represented with a total of 450 employees at eight locations in Germany as well as offices in Brazil and Romania. Are there any plans for further regional expansion?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: Medium-sized champions on the customer side are mostly active worldwide. We have to reflect that, also with a view to America, the Middle East and Asia. We already serve the American countries from our own location in Brazil. This business is growing noticeably.
We are not yet represented in Asia; here we work with a local partner if necessary. Asia is one of our future projects.
However, the top priority now was to implement the integration of the companies and to get everything up and running in a new constellation.
channelpartner.de: Waterland is also involved in other partner conglomerates – for example the netgo-group. Are there long-term mergers planned here, for example from Skaylink and the netgo group?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: No. Skaylink is a separate and independent company with its own understanding of the cloud and digital transformation. The scope of certification and the depth of expertise for the cloud offerings from AWS and Microsoft of our team is enormous. And our focus is on the combination of cloud, project business, software development and managed services. This is what sets us apart from other Waterland holdings.
Technologically, IT is moving at increasing speed, which is both a challenge and a motivation for us. Our ambition is to support medium-sized CIOs in operating and developing their hybrid IT landscape.
channelpartner.de: We are currently observing a large number of vertical initiatives on the user side. Will you specialize in your services in certain industries?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: The merger to form Skaylink gave us the opportunity for the first time to create a critical mass for certain sectors, for example for industry, the public sector, consumer and the finance and insurance sector. We train that further.
However, I will continue to hold the technology flag up in the future! Because the individual services have increased in importance.
channelpartner.de: In what way?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: The value chains of the individual industries are extremely specific and complex today. Setting exactly the right point there is a real challenge. The implementation is the problem, and I have to master the technology: I need good project managers, good software developers and cloud technology. I also have to be very familiar with the regulatory environment.
That is why most of our employees are located in special, very high-tech service circles. Our change and adoption team is always very technology-oriented.
We create the greatest value through proximity to technology, and the merger enables us to set and scale industry priorities. Because: size matters!
channelpartner.de: There has always been consolidation in the IT service provider market. However, it has been remarkable for almost two years now that it is no longer just large houses that are buying up smaller ones, but rather that medium-sized service providers are joining forces – Skaylink is an example of this. How does Skaylink intend to position itself and grow in this market in the future?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: Medium-sized players like us are emerging on the market, with their own special dynamics. We focused on cloud topics because IT is extremely dynamic and because you have to know what customers will need in two to three years. We are unique in this size in the German market and with a focus on medium-sized companies.
We want to grow strongly in the next five years – inorganically and organically – and in Waterland we have a good partner for this.
channelpartner.de: What kind of companies are you interested in?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: There are a few things that come into question for us, provided the company enriches our core topic of cloud and digital transformation. It’s a matter of priorities. A takeover candidate would have to strengthen our existing strengths or add to topics that we do not yet fully cover. We have our own M&A department (Mergers & Acquisitions) for this.
channelpartner.de: What role do candidates with know-how in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) play in these considerations?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: We are already active in the area of AI, but AI currently has little customer relevance and plays a role there primarily in the evaluation of data, in the area of machine learning and automation. Most companies are currently struggling with data consolidation.
In the next three to four years, the cloud, data integration, data security and digital business models will be particularly relevant. Because the IT budgets are not skyrocketing in spite of all digitization efforts, which is why CIOs tend to concentrate on directly business-relevant.
channelpartner.de: How do you create an environment for innovation at Skaylink?
Heinrich Zetlmayer: We recently founded our Skaylink Lab and the Skaylink Academy. The Academy promotes continuous internal and external training, the lab creates space for tests, the development of prototypes and top use cases. Because paper is patient, tangible examples are always better!