Hand-in-hand Featured

7:00pm EDT February 28, 2007

Whether they work for a multibillion-dollar corporation or a small organization, employees need to keep their technology skills sharp.

To ensure his employees do so, Chetan Bhuta, founder, president and CEO of Dublin-based Digitek Software Inc., continuously upgrades their skills.

“Challenge and opportunity work hand-in-hand,” Bhuta says. “If you don’t keep up with the environment and the technology needs, somebody else will.”

Digitek provides customized IT systems, software solutions and professional services and recently won a university contract, beating out 45 much-larger vendors. The company employs 100 people in the United States and offshore, and sales increased 35 percent from 2003 to 2005, from $7.3 million to $9.9 million.

Smart Business spoke with Bhuta about how he stays ahead of the pack.

Q: How can other CEOs grow their company the way you’ve grown yours?

Know exactly what you’re looking for, know your business and your industry and know the market that you want to go after. Know your customer, what services you’re going to offer and how you’re going to provide that. What is the differentiation your services can have versus your competitors’?

It also requires an in-depth understanding of the market dynamics: What kind of services are people looking for, and what are they willing to pay? It’s whether you can provide a high-quality service within that price bandwidth, and be able to offer that focus and quality service.

[That] not only helps us obtain new customers, but also helps us retain those customers for a long period of time.

It’s easier to retain the customer than to try and find a new customer, provided you can do a quality service. Quite a few of our customers have been a customer from the day when we started doing business.

We were able to provide a quality service at a reasonable price and change some of our services and our functions as their business needs changed.

Q: How did you establish your growth strategy?

It’s twofold: One is word of mouth. A customer provides a good reference.

They understand exactly what we are capable of doing, so they tell other potential clients, ‘This is what they have done for us, and this is what they can do for you.’

The second part of the growth strategy is looking at where the opportunities are in our industry. For example, we have recently built a new product for the insurance services sector. They are so happy with the quality and service that we offer, they wrote an article in their industry journal about how good we are.

Now it’s easier to go out and find a new customer, and show it to them. In fact, we got a couple calls from industry competitors, reading that article and saying, ‘We are interested in talking to you about this product and these services.’

Q: How do you motivate employees to help grow your company?

We start by making sure that they are incentivized enough in terms of project referral and employee referral. We make sure that they get all the best benefits that the company can offer, provide them incentive to learn new technologies and keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities that are coming up.

We make sure that, with every step, they understand the responsibility as well as the challenges that lie ahead. Prepare them for it as well as compensate them for it.

Q: How do you communicate that message to them?

We sit down and talk to them, give them the foresight of what is coming in the pipeline and what technologies we need to prepare for in the next three years.

Q: How can discussing those topics with your employees benefit your company?

One, they keep their eyes and ears open for those opportunities and challenges arriving. Two, they give very constructive and useful feedback to us, and we can utilize it in planning and preparing ourselves. And the third important aspect is that it builds a team environment so that people can use the resources that they’ve found to help each other grow.

Q: What advice would you share with other CEOs of fast-growing companies?

Focus on what your customer wants, listen to the market and to what your employees are telling you. Look for opportunities which other people might consider too big.

The bigger the opportunity, it’s difficult, but it’s not impossible.

HOW TO REACH: Digitek Software Inc., (614) 764-8875 or www.digiteksoftware.com