Wow! I’m honoured to be named one of the “Vordenker 2022″ by the initiative “Vordenker 2022 – Deutschlands klügste Köpfe” (in English, that translates to something akin to “Masterminds 2022 – Germany’s Wisest Minds”) by Germany’s largest business magazine “DUP UNTERNEHMER-Magazin” (a Handelsblatt Group joint venture) and “DIND – Deutsches Innovationsinstitut für Nachhaltigkeit und Digitalisierung”.
You can read the full interview (in German) on DUP online.
For those who don’t speak German, I’ve translated it below.
+ANDERSEN & ASSOCIATES helps companies with digital transformation and helps establish innovative thinking as a part of the company DNA. The founder Vidar Andersen explains why he doesn’t rely on investors, why he and the associates are all paranoid tech people, and how to permanently stay innovative in the market.
DUP UNTERNEHMER-Magazin: +ANDERSEN & ASSOCIATES helps companies with digital transformation. That probably means you hit a nerve in the market during the pandemic?
Vidar Andersen: Not really – at least at the beginning of the corona pandemic. We ourselves were able to offer all of our services and products online within a few weeks. But there was hardly any demand from our customers. Many companies, especially in Germany, could not even imagine receiving the same services via virtual channels online. Still others were prevented from doing so by internal hurdles, such as a lack of software licenses, restrictive security settings, data protection considerations or pending works council decisions. But today, many of our customers no longer want to do without the virtual online solutions. So – luckily – a lot has happened here in the past two years.
How do you convince your customers of your service?
Andersen: When we realized at the beginning of the pandemic that very few customers were well positioned digitally, a lot of time and energy went into education and training. We showed them how to work well together digitally. This effort paid off. Whether it is our programs or services, many are still primarily preferred virtually. This is an enormous advantage, especially for companies that are running programs or projects that last several weeks and whose teams are spread across different locations. In principle, every new customer relationship is preceded by intensive research in order to understand the market conditions and requirements of the respective industry and company to be able to offer suitable programs or solutions – analogue and digital.
How do your customers react to these disruptive change proposals?
Andersen: First of all, our work can only be fruitful if we know exactly what our customers’ goals and needs are. In general, however, they appreciate the uncomplicated and team-oriented cooperation with us and that we give honest feedback. If I’m not convinced of something, I’ll say so, even if the customers might not want to hear it at first. In addition, it is very important to talk to each other and to question yourself and your performance again and again. We conduct feedback discussions with our customers before, during and after a program or project has been completed. We continuously evaluate whether our products, programs and services need to be updated, supplemented or replaced.
How do you ensure that +Andersen & Associates itself is not overtaken by the digital advances in the world?
Andersen: We are all “paranoid” tech enthusiasts. And we are concerned that one day we will no longer be up to date and that we will no longer be able to understand and master future technologies. This paranoia is also reflected in the work culture: For example, there is always a running concern that the competitors could offer something better or that the methodologies and tools that we are successfully using today could suddenly become obsolete in the future. Our recipe against this is that we remain paranoid (and we only work with entrepreneurs and founders who share our paranoia). Research on the topics of tech, tools, methodologies and competition is very much a part of our day-to-day business in order to remain competitive. This applies to +Andersen as well as to our customers.
What advantage do you have over your competitors?
Andersen: As a small private company with no external investors, we enjoy the privilege of defining our growth goals ourselves. We also have the patience to reach them. The most important thing for us has always been to have satisfied customers – that is our very simple recipe for success. Classic growth measures such as more staff or the takeover of other companies are of secondary importance. In addition, we are extremely flexible and scalable in terms of skills and human resources. Our associates model enables our customers to put together a perfect à la carte team from a wide variety of fields for a wide variety of digitization and innovation challenges.
In which business area do you still have weaknesses?
Andersen: Working more with external partners per program or project and less with permanent employees may be seen as a possible weakness, especially by potential investors or potential acquirers. But to me, the pandemic has proven that this business model is very anti-fragile.