Present on several markets in the area with software solutions for asset inventory and stocktaking for which it has as clients multinational companies from the banking, oil & gas and utilities fields, Optima Group is running an innovative project based on machine learning and big data technology together with Babeș-Bolyai University. We learned details from Gabriel Chiva, Managing Partner of the company.
How is the market of smart inventory solutions?
We are talking about an area that is mandatory by law for any company, but also necessary - any organization must have a real-time image of all its assets, from acquisition to scrapping. So, the potential of this market is huge, both in the area of development of solutions and in the area of services. We are at the point where we are making the transition from paper and pencil to a smart, automated way of inventory that brings net benefits – reduction of budgets, effort, time, solving complexities, paperless. We have noticed the trends over time and we can talk about 60-70% more efficiency measured in time invested, budgets and people involved. We are the main players in this market niche, but our estimate is that the market for outsourced digital inventory solutions and services is at 20% access on the Romanian market, and the adoption gap compared to other territories is huge. In countries like Poland, the physical inventory component for both stocktaking and asset inventories is 80% outsourced, so there is room for growth.
What were the most important projects this year?
I would mention, first of all, the completion of the first stage of implementation of the asset management and inventory project at OMV Petrom, a very challenging and complex project that opens up new perspectives for us in the coming period. It is a project that involves a lot of technology and human resources and will also continue next year. Then, I would like to mention the research project that we are implementing together with Babeș-Bolyai University, an initiative through European funds, amounting over 7 million RON. We are developing through machine learning and big data technologies a platform for predicting the evolution of some business indicators in commercial processes. For a technology company, working with new technologies, in the field of artificial intelligence, is really interesting and I can say that the AI team at the university is one of the best in Romania. Also, in the area of asset management software products and services, the period is active, having projects with very large organizations from all fields of activity, such as the ten main banks, global retail players such as Mega Image, from utilities, such as Apa Nova, and from other fields of activity. Moreover, we cover, through stand-alone solutions, about 80% of this digital asset inventory solutions market.
What business estimates do you have for the end of this year?
We predict that we will reach a turnover of 20 million RON at the end of the year. Basically, it will be an increase from 2.7 million EUR in 2021 to 4 million EUR in 2022. We have had a sustained pace of growth in recent years, and the estimate is that we will maintain it in the coming period. On both lines of business - the development of our own software solutions and inventory services - the trend is upward, and for several months we have signed contracts for the next year as well, amounting 3 million EUR. The only major challenge and limitation, at the same time, is the human resource, the possibility of expanding the team. It is well known that we are in a field of employees, and we carry out our activity in the most dynamic poles of the industry - Bucharest and Cluj. Although the permanent team is small, 50 people, we have projects where we need to quickly hire dozens or hundreds of collaborators, and then we feel the difficulty of finding the right people. Think that for the asset inventory and stocktaking services business line we work with over 500 collaborators with national coverage and are in the process of expanding the team to be able to support the projects we have planned.
What are the goals for 2023?
We aim to maintain the annual rate of growth and, together with the development of the business, the increase the team to maintain the scaling also from the perspective of the human factor. We aim to increase the activity by 50% and the team by 20%. Because we have rollout on multinational company clients, we desire to expand international projects, which, at the moment, represent approximately 10-12% of the business. The plan is to address to more foreign markets. We are considering for development in foreign markets also the possibility of acquiring a company that fits our needs in these markets. Looking a little further, we are aiming for internationalization by 2024 for our asset management solution, which already has maturity and proven efficiency. I think that what we have achieved with this as a customized product for the specifics of the oil & gas market, for instance, is unique. We aim to move from the asset management software solution built for large companies to the small & medium company market, which involves a much larger number of implementations and the transformation of the solution into a parameterizable product in the cloud, which will allow a much faster scaling of this solution.
What are the advantages of Optima solutions compared to other products available on the market?
On the market of inventory services and solutions, we managed, through the results, to attract the main players from all fields, although, at one point, the global leader in the field was also active on the local market. It mattered a lot that we had the support and availability to be close to the customers even after the implementations and that we always build solutions customized to the needs of the customers. I was talking, for example, about our solution for the utility market, a product that is unique in the market. The leading position in the stand-alone digital asset management solutions market, with a market share of around 80%, has helped us build a mature solution with extensive functionality, through which we aim to grow the client portfolio with a minimum of 50% each year and which we wish to outsource. The exposure we had with some of our solutions on other markets in the area, such as Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria or Moldavia, is also important. As multinational partner companies implement software solutions with us in Romania, we have the opportunity to rollout our solutions in other European countries as well. And the reason for continuity is obviously given by the results we achieve together.