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Global Expertise in a Local Context

C Stories by Wouter Goedkoop

For nearly thirty years, companies have relied on EPAM's knowledge and expertise for software engineering, product design and, increasingly, to support their digital transformation. Unique are, among other things, the strong customer and result orientation and the availability of talent from all over the world for local projects.

“Our customers are very loyal,” says senior director business development Egbert Hendriks. SAP and Liberty Global, the parent company of VodafoneZiggo, are examples of companies EPAM Systems has been working for many years. In the 1990s, SAP was one of the first customers and has remained so. “We have been helping them build their best software products for 26 years and implement these products for various customers worldwide,” said Wouter Goedkoop, senior director of digital engagement. “Then followed several other international platform companies that we helped with their software products and online services. Based on that expertise, we help companies from various industries with their transformation.”

This example clearly shows where the roots of EPAM lie. “Software engineering is in our DNA,” says Hendriks. “We like to focus on making beautiful, valuable applications, really from the technical point of view.”

Today, the proposition is very broad and covers the entire spectrum of digitization, with a focus on implementation. “Customers know where to find us for business consultancy, digital marketing, UX design and customer journeys up to the hard IT side. Thanks to our DNA, we are much more technical than marketing agencies.”

Companies that have set a strategic course and know in broad outlines which direction is the right one, call in EPAM to realize this in practice. “We understand the strategy and the exercise that preceded it and translate it into what will really happen in the next five years.” Project examples are an app with a loyalty program for VodafoneZiggo, and strengthening Bacardi as a consumer brand.

Rapid growth

Loyalty is also reflected in the fact that customers often come through other means, for example if someone goes to work elsewhere and then knocks on EPAM's door on behalf of the new employer, sometimes even more than once, as Hendriks recently experienced. Goedkoop: “In this way, we have succeeded in growing 20 to 30% in recent years, in terms of turnover and number of employees.” Part of the growth is the result of acquisitions. For example, digital marketing agency Emakina and data consultant Just-BI have been part of EPAM since last year. Thanks in part to these acquisitions, the number of employees in the Benelux increased to more than nine hundred. Worldwide there are now almost 60,000.

Bakermat is the United States, where the company, founded in 1993, is listed on the stock exchange. EPAM has offices in more than forty countries, of which EPAM Netherlands has been one of the fastest growing hubs since 2013. The ambition is to be an international hub for a global culture, diversity and knowledge sharing. Goedkoop: “That is why it plays a crucial role in our growth plans, especially when it comes to growing our experience, engineering and data capabilities.”

Acquisitions such as those of Emakina and Just-BI add value to the whole, he continues. “We choose companies that, like us, have an entrepreneurial culture and a strong focus on craftsmanship. Almost everyone has deep expertise in a subject.”

Global network

The investment in its own platforms and organizational structure, which allows it to operate at scale and break down traditional silos, makes EPAM unique. Colleagues can easily contact experts in other countries to answer customer questions, says Hendriks. This can be because of the expertise in a certain industry, such as retail, or because of the substantive expertise. “I have online real-time insight into the knowledge and skills of all employees worldwide, including their availability. Thanks to our system, an expert in Python can be found in no time.” Goedkoop sees colleagues exchange experiences with each other and thus further sharpen their knowledge. “This is how value creation networks are created.”

Customers know that thanks to the global structure, they always receive support from the best experts on projects. Colleagues who know the culture in the client's country provide the local embedding and context for the projects. It improves implementation. He notes that this fits in perfectly with the strong customer-result orientation that characterizes EPAM, a factor that also contributes to loyalty. “We put ourselves in the shoes of our customer. We deliver a product that they can pay us on; this goes much further than secondment or concluding an SLA. We also do projects based on performance and thus share the risk and the success. That is one of the unique aspects of EPAM.”

Originally published on Cstories.nl in Dutch.