CAIRO: Executives have settled into the brand new headquarters in Katameya. All the legal paperwork has been filed. A new management structure and organizational Matrix have been instituted. Some cultural issues remain.
But that’s to be expected at Summit Holding, which has just finished an ambitious restructuring of its company to consolidate its operations in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and form a united front in the market.
Summit entered the Egyptian IT market five years ago, jointly managed by the Orascom IT Group and the Japanese Sumitomo, with five companies under its wing. After a review of the company’s subsidiaries, executives decided to merge Orascom Technology Solutions (OTS), International Integrated Solutions (IIS), and OpenSoft into one entity called Summit Technology Solutions.
Orascom Training and Technology and Qemmah, another other two subsidiaries, will not be merged.
The venture started in 2003, when executives at Orascom teamed up with Japanese businessmen from the firm Sumitomo, who were eager to broaden their exposure to the Middle East. Both sides were eager to launch a firm that could act as consultants for and providers of IT solutions.
What started as an idea quickly grew into a full-fledged company when the partnership launched Summit Holding, an umbrella firm managing five different companies.
“Sumitomo’s division relating to this joint venture, said CEO Yoshiaki Benino, “is specializing in the telecom field, not IT.
Benino said that Orascom’s expertise in both IT and telecom meant that the two sides brought complementary ideas to the table.
The two sides chose from 13 firms, choosing five that specialized in IT.
“Naguib [Sawiris] and Sumitomo agreed to concentrate on IT, said Benino.
Executives of Summit, which was owned 61 percent by Orascom and 39 percent by Sumitomo, quickly saw that many of the companies shared overlapping or complementary services.
“There was no common strategy, said Chairman Magda El-Sabee, referring to the five companies before they were placed under the summit umbrella. “In some cases, some of the companies were really competing with each other.
They all also operated out of different offices around Cairo.
Management postulated that by putting the company under one roof and streamlining operations, Summit could compete with anyone in the ICT sector.
“Actually, the idea was really from the start of the venture. We did not want to keep the structure as is, with independent companies – some of them are quite small compared to the others, El-Sabee said.
Ali Sakr, managing director of the newly formed OTS, has been tasked with pulling off the merger. This has meant dealing with everything from the physical move, to the streamlining process, to dealing with the cultural changes involved with bringing a diverse group of people together.
Sakr said that he and other executives looked at a number of merger models, before ultimately deciding on a matrix system through which the management set up three business units: enterprise business solutions, convergent networking, and infrastructure solutions.
The three merging companies then plugged their own people into those three divisions depending on their specialization.
Ernst and Young played the role of advisor throughout the process.
“The other companies, Sakr said referring to the three merging entities, “can easily slot into the different business units with their offerings.
The company now finds itself under one roof, when it made the big move to its new headquarters in September.
This January, executives finished the paperwork and the firm legally became one entity.
Some cultural issues do, however, persist. Many overlapping divisions, like finance divisions, were merged. Employees, El-Sabee said, have had to get used to working under more management and as part of a bigger team.
Most of these issues, which were to be expected, she said, have been resolved.
The company has found itself able to pursue a growth model despite the nearly year-old economic recession.
Summit hired 40 people in OTS alone last year and has added 20 new people to the firm this year.
El-Sabee’s vision for the company is simple: to be “the biggest IT provider.. We believe we are positioned to be a leading IT provider in the region.