Netcompany CEO invests in talent and shared customer risk

Chief executive and founder of Netcompany, André Rogaczewski, says it's time to share the digital transformation risk.


"We don't sell resources. We sell very complex projects that require the customer to make some severe decisions," says André Rogaczewski, chief executive and founder of Netcompany. In 2021 the firm reported revenue growth of 27.9%. Like the heathers and grasses that line the weather-beaten Danish coastline, Netcompany's results demonstrate a technology business that grows strongly in the face of challenging conditions. Those challenges are not so much the market condition, we live in an age of demand for digital change, but the scope of project Netcompany takes on. 

Rogaczewski explains to IDG Connect that a deep belief in technology, technologists, sharing risk, and facing big challenges enable the Copenhagen headquartered firm to invest and grow.

Netcompany gained notice during the pandemic for its successful deployment of Covid-19 passport apps in Denmark and Scotland, whilst other vendors and nations struggled.

The rate of pandemic led digitisation, and now the major investment programmes in Europe will require vendors, enterprises and governments to tackle big structural problems with technology and to share the risk. "We are telling organisations and government departments that the animal in the basement has to be killed and that you need to put in new systems, which will cost €30million," he says. Rogaczewski doesn't skirt from the scale of the challenge, but he firmly believes that the technologies and processes that have dominated organisations for the last two to three decades cannot be adapted to deal with issues such as ageing demographics, climate change and the possibility of another pandemic.

Rogaczewski says the vendor and the customer must share the risk to deliver large-scale change. "You don't change anything unless you take a chance," he says. "Organisations must own their own technology resources and destiny. Technology is the internal organs of an organisation," he says. To enable risk-sharing, Netcompany has developed IP sharing and customer ownership models.

Taking on the big system integrators

The 2021 increase in revenue also saw the headcount increase as a result of the acquisition of IntraSoft in Luxembourg which followed the 2019 acquisition of QDelft in the Netherlands.  Netcompany also formed a joint venture with Copenhagen Airport to develop a digital airport platform in 2021. "Not all IT firms are growing as fast and doing the society and business critical work that we are doing," Rogaczewski says with a hint of pride when asked about the results.

Netcompany was recently selected, along with 12 others, to be part of the digital capability for health framework in the UK by the Crown Commercial Services, a national government procurement body and NHS Digital, the national technology arm of the health service. This nationwide deal will see Netcompany alongside systems integrator (SI) giants Capita, Cognizant, IBM and Accenture. The programme will see Netcompany and SIs providing the NHS, which has had to contend with Europe's highest Covid-19 death rate, with an agile approach to developing new digital and data management services.

"You want to meet the tier one firms in bids. We are mid-sized, high-end, but we are not tier one, but we are getting there. But, we have to keep the company lean and young," he says. A number of CIOs and CTOs are beginning to question the role and validity of the traditional systems integrators, and Rogaczewski believes now is the moment to seize market share from them. "Tier one SIs are burdened by legacy, age and customs. Only 3% of these firms are IT people; the rest are managers. It should be the other way around. We don't need talkers; we need walkers." He says Netcompany is 95% technologists and five percent non-client staff.

"Tier one and two SIs put in the systems that were necessary at that time; after all, how could you do tax, exports and finance without an ERP (enterprise resource planning), but now they don't seem to be able to do a lot of development. They have shifted into the maintenance of their systems." 

A constant flow of young technologists is Rogaczewski's strategy for preventing Netcompany from becoming outdated. And not just a flow of technologists, as someone that grew up writing code on a Sinclair ZX81, Rogaczewski believes technologists have the skills to be communicators and leaders, which many organisations stifle. "Most IT people are ordinary and great people; they want a meaningful job, and they want to make a difference to society. They are not geeks in the basement eating pizza, creating the next Google.

"When someone joins our academy, they get the chance to go to Denmark and our other countries, and you will be given the chance to excel at what you do. And being a technologist doesn't mean that you can't lead or communicate; that is an old fashioned way of looking at things," he says of how today's technologists have the skills to be at the helm of major projects or businesses. 

Netcompany centres across Europe are, therefore, technology development houses, not just a sales office. The CEO says across Europe, attracting talent is a challenge. "The IT business is really heating up, and you have to step back and invest in the young."

European lead

"It will be a greener, more digital and more resilient Europe", the EU said in announcing the NextGenerationEU plan, putting digital central to economic recovery and sustainability following the pandemic. NextGenerationEU will see €806 billion invested into the member states' economies. Rogaczewski says this is an opportunity to use technology to put the economy back together again and remodel the role of technology partnerships with enterprises and government bodies.

Across the continent, Rogaczewski sees higher levels of collaboration. "Europeans are meeting regularly to share experiences. We are trying to bring customers together so that the intellectual property (IP) of one country is taken to another so that we stop duplication."

Although not part of the European Union political body, Rogaczewski sees the UK as part of the renewed digital focus across the continent of Europe. "I never really understood why European IT firms are sceptical about investing in the UK; for me, it was an easy decision. The UK is the biggest IT market in Europe with some large enterprises and public sector organisations that really need digitising." To that end, Netcompany has a presence in the capital London as well as Leeds. 

Covid & apps

Rogaczewski was surprised to find himself in the pages of major newspapers following his remarks on the Covid-19 apps. Netcompany delivered Covid passport apps for both the Danish and Scottish governments. "People say doing these Apps put Netcompany on the map, but it was not an easy decision to make. It was a bold move, and I like bold moves," he says.

In March 2021, Rogaczewski said the Covid apps should not last forever. One year on, the CEO still holds the same view and says that developing the Danish and Scottish apps with privacy by design demonstrated that a technology firm can deliver a solution to a world problem without using it as an opportunity for a data land grab. Founded in 2000, the next challenge for Netcompany is to hold onto its millennial culture whilst growing.