Industry Giants discover the IT location Saxony-Anhalt

IBM’s belief in Magdeburg as a business location is unequivocal. Gregor Pillen – manager of Worldwide Business Service, IBM’s management consultancy branch – offers particularly high praise for the close proximity to institutions of higher learning and technically-oriented universities of applied science as well as for the centrality of the location with regards to transport: ‘We want to offer our national and international clients high-value IT services, “Made in Germany”, and we believe Magdeburg offers the ideal conditions to do so’, he said when the IT service centre opened this past June. Thus the capital of Saxony-Anhalt is transformed into the central European gateway for the world’s largest American-based information technology enterprise. In the near future, about 300 highly qualified specialists will be employed at the Magdeburg location, developing and servicing IT applications, as well as providing consultation and systems integration for customers around the world. A priority has been set on providing flexible solutions for Big Data, Cloud and mobile business technologies. University graduates ‘on-site’ comprise a talent pool that serve as a career springboard at the same time.

T-Systems – a subsidiary of the Deutsche Telekom – is also betting on the scientific and transport infrastructure. After completion of its new data centre in Biere near Magdeburg (the first stage of construction is the middle of 2014), the server park of a 34,200 square metres of Gross Floor Area of IT will belong to the largest data centres in Europe. Together with an already existing Magdeburg-based T-Systems data centre, the new structure will form a so-called TwinCore Data Centre. The concept would ensure a high level of system stability for corporate clients, especially for those using cloud-based applications, since all programmes and data stored are secured in parallel, explained Klaus Poensgen, north-eastern regional director for T-Systems. This latest large investment extends and protects the Telekom location in Magdeburg in the long term.

Information technology and telecommunications ceased to be a mere ‘niche industry’ in Saxony-Anhalt long ago. More than 500 enterprises occupy about 13,500 employees. Predominantly medium-sized companies, 79 per cent are software developers and IT service providers, 14 per cent telecommunication services, and the remaining ones produce hardware or consumer electronics. In the past seven years the number of the employees has increased by 39 per cent, despite the financial and economic crises. Current annual revenues amount to more than €1.6bn. ‘All our IT enterprises have international connections since IT operates globally’, underlines Dirk Bartens, chairman of the IT and Multimedia Industry Association of Saxony-Anhalt.

The growth potential is based above all on the rising influence of the IT business as a cross section industry that makes key processes in economy and management more simple, more efficient and cheaper. For example, GISA in Halle (Saale) is occupied with providing optimal commercial processes. Twenty years ago the enterprise was spun off from a regional energy provider and then developed into the largest independent IT service provider in Central Germany with about 580 employees. 2012 was the company’s most successful year to date. GISA offers process and IT consultation, development and implementation of innovative IT solutions as well as outsourcing of complete commercial processes or entire IT structures. Its customers are mostly businesses from the energy sector as well as public sector clients, such as the Munich-based Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Bayern (Bavarian Association of SHI Physicians), who were added in 2012.

The takeover and assistance of the complete office IT environment of Gas AG (VNG) Leipzig and of its natural gas logistics subsidiary ONTRAS was one of the largest GISA projects to date. Within the scope of the project, the IT systems of VNG and ONTRAS were technically and organizationally detached from these companies and were integrated into the structures of the GISA.

IT and telecommunication services related to e-government are offered by TSA Public Services in Magdeburg, another business active in a market featuring high demand. As a manufacturer-independent service provider, TSA develops web-based solutions for public sector clients, local municipalities, states and the federal government. Its activities focus on IT applications for advanced and sophisticated administrative tasks and procedures, such as content and knowledge management, as well as for standardisation initiatives.

Regiocom has emerged as one of the largest service providers of IT and commercial processes to the German energy industry. Software solutions and SAP applications employed by Regiocom provide support for accounting, a change of providers or regulation management in the electricity and gas market. Managing Director Klemens Gutmann says: ‘A company that wants to operate competitively, must be able to steer operational processes quickly and efficiently. Modern software applications must be in the position to withstand to rising cost pressures and optimisation needs.” Regiocom has been a certificated commercial process service provider for SAP since 2009 making them a pioneer in the energy sector. Regiocom service centres across Germany, Austria and Bulgaria support energy providers and their customers throughout Europe.

As a ‘partner of medium-sized companies’, integral systemtechnik Magdeburg (isM) has 22 employees specialised in the development of software for the optimal control of production processes. Inventory accounting, material flow control or machine control systems for machine and plant construction are just a few examples. These types of medium-sized enterprises exist throughout the state of Saxony-Anhalt. Customers from across Germany and Europe are ‘discovering’ these companies more and more.

Ute Semkat