21 April 2023

Simac bridges the gap between IT and OT

In July 2022, Simac ICT Belgium's Professional Services business unit expanded with an additional service on Internet of Things. This immediately took off. "We are one of the few companies that really knows how to bridge the gap between IT and OT," says director Bart Vermeersch.

The year 2022 was definitely a good year for Simac Professional Services. It achieved record turnover, with an increase in EBIT of no less than 50%. That increase can still be attributed, in particular, to the two existing services: Professional Services and Project Based Staffing.

"We didn't just start doing more with the same clients. We have entered many new clients on a project basis. In Professional Services, we are permanently with a client, at very diverse functions. That has evolved as planned. The big growth is in Project Based Staffing: there is an incredible need for our skills and knowledge on a project basis. That has taken another flight in the past year."

Bart Vermeersch - General director Professional Services

New shoot: IoTech

Vermeersch had long observed a growing need among customers for a party that can make the connection between IT and OT. From Project Based Staffing, the company already acted on this. But in order to propagate more strongly that Simac is the appropriate party in this, it started its own division, which focuses exclusively on bridging these two disciplines.

"They are two completely different worlds, in which two completely different languages are spoken. IT is relatively quiet, with a focus on solutions and services. But in that OT, the hardware-oriented operation ... so much happens there. There is so bizarrely dynamic there. Every device these days does have its own IP address. There is a need for a party that brings both worlds together."

As an example, he mentions the assignment in the chemical industry in the USA: "Through data analysis, we looked at how to eliminate reiterations. We managed to optimise 1% of the process from this focus. This results in savings of at least 1.5 million euros on an annual basis. At relative low cost too. Meanwhile, we are repeating that process for all the factories of this customer. There is huge potential. For customers and for us as Simac."

'There is a need for more Simac'

The clever thing about the growth, both in focus and turnover, is that Simac Professional Services managed to achieve it with a relatively small team of indirect employees: 7.4 FTE at the end of 2022. They facilitated a total of just under 120 employees, working full-time or on a project basis with clients.

Whereas finding new people is no easy task for many companies in this day and age, Simac Professional Services fared well in 2022: "We have our own recruitment department, fully dedicated to us and specialised in IT and OT. When we post a vacancy, we want it filled within a month. If that doesn't work, we withdraw it. But so far, we have succeeded every time."

Yet therein lies another important challenge: that the company does not make too much of a mess. That's not easy, admits Bart Vermeersch, when you see the potential there is: "There is still a huge amount of profit to be made in optimising operations. We understand the link to IT. Whether it concerns networking, security, placing sensors, analysing data ... So there is so much knowledge and innovative decisiveness within the Simac organisation, especially in IT ... there is a very clear and very acute need for this in operations!"

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