Perfect information management match through common vision
How will a big IT house and a start-up growth company weld together after an acquisition? Mikko Vesin, Atea's Chief Information Officer, and Tim Wallin, former CEO of Gambit, share who is learning from whom - and what.
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At the beginning of April, Atea acquired Gambit Labs Ab Oy, a growth company in Vaasa focused on development of digital services. The idea is to create an entity for the rapidly growing market of information management that serves companies developing information-driven business in all their needs. Atea's Chief Information Officer of Information Management, Mikko Vesin and Tim Wallin, Gambit's former CEO and one of the founders, now Lead Strategist, grabbed a morning coffee together to reflect on how to succeed.
Should your customers be worried or happy about the acquisition? And what should organizations know about information management today?
Mikko Vesin: “We have previously partly competed about the same customers. Now our customers can get both of us. It means a wider offer and more diverse know-how. We have already seen how the customers benefit when our offering as a partner grows.”
Tim Wallin: “Our customers complement each other well. Atea has served in particular public administration, such as welfare areas and municipalities. Our customer base, in turn, focuses on industry. Some of our clients do not represent typical digitizing organizations, but want to be pioneers in their respective fields. They therefore invest in digital services and create added value for their customers through information management.”
Mikko Vesin: “The amount of data is continuously growing and nowadays we also know how to make more use of it. Today, one cannot talk about information management without mentioning corona. The pandemic forced many companies to completely rethink their services, to automate operations at a faster pace than they might have planned for and to start understanding their own business and customers even better. How do you for example serve customers who no longer come to the physical shops? Digitalization is changing business, and companies need a sparring partner for new solutions.”
Tim Wallin: ”It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that data management is just applications and data. After all, everything actually comes down to people. We are the link between people and IT. Our experts understand the added value that digitalisation can bring to business. First you need a broader business understanding of digital services, then you can start leveraging data or making new applications and integrations.”
Mikko Vesin: ”Exactly. Effective data management allows organizations to make better decisions and to get a stronger grip on business through data. Our job is to enable the agile utilization, movement and quality of data in the background.”
What is the background to the acquisition? Who charmed whom?
Mikko Vesin: “In our strategical work, we have thought about how to grow with our customers’ needs. We have developed our business so that we can help organizations holistically with the change brought by digitalization. Information management and knowledge management play a big role in that.
Our goal is to increase the turnover of our information-driven services tenfold by 2024. It requires both organic and non-organic growth and increase of new know-how. That is why we have been looking for companies that fit our strategy. Gambit has been a very prominent company and we knew what they could do. When we got to know each other better, we realized that they have an amazing crew with great potential.”
Tim Wallin: ”Over the years, we have received many offers. With Atea, we realized that it is not just about money, but also about a shared vision. Atea sees information management as a growing business area where they need an experienced partner. Atea's desire to learn appealed to us.”
Mikko Vesin: “The deal was not just about know-how or customers, but about people and the entire culture. We weren’t buying only customers or cases, but the whole package.
In our information management services, we emphasize four areas: application development, analytics, integrations and automation. We already had analytics, automation and integration teams, which Gambit will further strengthen. Their application development expertise brought us something completely new. ”
Tim Wallin: “We were directly working with three of Atea’s four focus areas. You could say we were the perfect match.”
When a big and international IT house buys a growth company, there is certainly a fear of loss of the start-up spirit and agility. How did the Gambiteers react to the acquisition?
Tim Wallin: ”When the deal was announced in April, it was a big surprise for the whole crew. As Atea is a listed company, it was not even possible to tell our employees in advance. When we were able to tell them more in detail why the deal was made and what opportunities it opens up, the shock quickly subsided. It was replaced by rational questions about what the change means in practice.
It's important for our team to maintain our own corporate culture and strong start-up spirit. I have reminded people that they are the ones creating the company culture, and that it doesn’t come from the top down. We are of course now together reflecting on how to get to know each other and create common ways of working. We want to move forward calmly and thoughtfully, even though, people of course would be happy to hear what is happening in the future right away.”
Mikko Vesin: ”Although there are almost 8,000 Atea employees in the Nordic and Baltic countries, we are not a big player in information management in Finland – we are rather a start-up within a large company. That is why it has been easy for us to form a common mindset on how to build the future together.
Our strength is that we operate locally, in 15 locations in Finland. The acquisition further reinforces this operating model. In the future, the Vaasa office will grow even more, and so will also many of our other offices.”
Tim Wallin: ”In total, there are now more than 70 of us, which means that our team is still not very big. With good leadership, we can maintain the right attitude, responsibility and freedom.”
Mikko Vesin: ”When two companies build a future together, there are many things that need to be considered at different levels. Some of them are practical and technical, such as getting different credentials to the Gambiteers. Others comprehend operational adaptation and renewal.”
Tim Wallin: ”Our Gambiteers will have more diverse career opportunities compared to before. For example, a whole new field is now opening up for those who want more responsibility as Team Leaders. And working in other parts of the Nordic countries may be possible in the future.”
Mikko Vesin: ”Finding experts is a real challenge right now. Gambit joining us creates completely new tasks and areas of responsibility at Atea. We want to be an attractive alternative when experts consider interesting employers with good development possibilities.”
What do you see in the crystal ball?
Tim Wallin: ”Together, we want to increase the number of both customers and staff. But for now, the most important thing is to get to know each other and learn to work together.”
Mikko Vesin: ”That's the joint mission. Our goal is to become an even stronger partner for our customers in digitalization. As our expertise increases, we can assist Finnish companies and public administration even better. ”
Tim Wallin: ”I think this will be great. It's hard to fail with this team!”
The article can be found in Finnish here.