“Tirana has been developing quickly into a digital hub in the Balkans”
FIAA: Lufthansa Industry Solutions is a leading IT company in the Albanian market. Could you tell us about this company’s business worldwide and the decision to enter the Albanian market?
Mrs. Shkurta: Lufthansa Industry Solutions is a service provider for IT consulting and system integration. As a subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa Group, Lufthansa Industry Solutions supports its clients’ digital transformation. Its customer base includes companies both within and outside the Lufthansa Group, more than 200 companies in various lines of business. The company is based in Norderstedt, Germany and employs more than 2,100 members of staff at several branches in Germany, Switzerland, the USA and since April 2019 in Tirana, Albania.
The decision to enter the Albanian market was made after carefully examining various models of cooperation with AMD, a specifically established German Albanian start up. AMD was founded on March 2017 and from the very beginning was providing IT services for Lufthansa Industry Solutions as a nearshore partner. The quality of work performed by AMD convinced Lufthansa Industry Solutions to officially take over this service provider in 15 April 2019. This was key to company’s strategic growth in response to the rising demand for IT services in the German, Austrian, and Swiss market.
2020 was an unusual year, did you experience any difficulties during your operations? How did you cope with “The Smart Working Mode”?
As an IT consulting company, fully integrated with our mother company, we have always been ready to sustain remote work while keeping in mind safety measures for topics such as data protection, information security, which for a company like ours are paramount. Our agile working methodology allows our employees a lot of independence and flexibility in the way they organize their working time or space without affecting quality and standard of service delivery.
Certainly, the sustained long-term lockdown did not find us unprepared. Our new offices at Arena Center have been designed keeping in mind all the regulations for health and safety.
How is the company performing? Are there any plans for further extensions?
The IT industry is the fastest growing industry in the market nowadays. As an IT consulting company, part of one of the leading IT consulting companies in Germany, we are always up to date with the technological trends. After a difficult year 2020, we are back on track to a growing path. Currently we employee more than 200 IT consultants and the plan is to grow by at least 30% during 2022.
We value the cooperation with universities and academies specialized in software training as well as intense in-house training and mentorship offered not only by the team in Albania but also through our colleagues in Germany.
What are your impressions of the current business-operating environment in Albania? What challenges are you facing?
The overall business-operating environment in Albania is relatively stable. Setting up and operating an IT consulting business is relatively easy from a perspective of capital investment as well as fiscal and regulatory aspects. Albania, particularly Tirana has been developing quickly into a digital hub in the Balkans. Five years ago, there was only one IT company with more than 100 employees, right now there are at least five in this range. The right synergy between private sector, institutions of higher education, particularly private ones, and the government, as well as logistical aspects of the business such as office locations or IT Network infrastructure all contribute towards growth in this sector.
The more attractive the sector, the higher the interest of young people to study on this field.
Our focus is to offer IT services to our home market; therefore, we do not compete for customers in Albania, rather for resources. Companies similar to ours might consider investing in personnel development and training, which is the source towards sustainable business growth and avoid artificially distorting the job market.
Another big challenge is the choice that some of our employees make to leave the country in response to the increasing demand in the global market for IT services.
What improvements in your business-operating environment do you think are important for attracting more foreign investors in Albania?
In our business environment there is no direct improvement that is needed, other than at a more strategic level, to increase young professionals’ confidence that there will be a better future in Albania for them and for their children.