Sigma Software Group, a Swedish and Ukrainian IT services firm serving a growing demand for ecommerce technology in Ukraine and neighboring Poland, is no stranger to handling market disruption.
With much of its IT staff in Ukraine, Sigma Software is capitalizing on a return to growth in Ukrainian ecommerce this year after a steep decline in 2022. The firm is experiencing an expansion of digital technology services to brand manufacturers and other companies involved in ecommerce, helping them deal with challenging data management needs and building customized online catalogs and storefronts.
“It’s like being on the crest of digitalization in a way — an innovation wave,” Vlad Khodzinskiy, vice president, said recently on an online video call. “One of the areas we’re very excited about is data because the amount of data produced every day is mind-blowing. For us, it creates a lot of opportunities to grow services and data platforms.”
And with new data systems, including support for product information management systems that serve as a core for online product catalogs and ecommerce platforms, Sigma Software is also experiencing increasing demand for ecommerce site development, he adds.
Despite the devastating effects of the war — Ukraine’s ecommerce volumes alone last year dropped by more than 12 times, to less than $300 million — Sigma Software says it has maintained steady technology projects. It cites projections from market research firm Statista that retail ecommerce in Ukraine will surge this year to about $2.6 billion, nearly the same level of 2020. (B2B ecommerce figures were not immediately available.)
Sigma Software does much of its digital technology work for brand manufacturers and is seeing demand for building custom ecommerce sites on Shopify and other software platforms, including headless commerce versions.
“We’re getting more involved in certain industries like health care and restaurant technology,” Khodzinskiy said.
Gearing up for an ecommerce surge
Sigma Software opened 17 offices last year, took on more than 50 new projects, and added 40 clients. Several of its new offices are in Ukraine, with another six opened across Poland, Bulgaria and Portugal; the rest are in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina.
“Overall, we witnessed 37% business growth in 2022, and we plan to grow 20-25% in 2023,” said Den Smyrnov, the IT services firm’s global communications manager.
Sigma Software’s ability to maintain staff and technology infrastructure amid an ongoing war is rooted in its experience handling major disruptions.
When COVID-19 shocked businesses in early 2020, Sigma quickly shifted its technology staff, much of it based in Ukraine, from stationary computers to laptops, letting them work from anywhere, at any time.
But by the time COVID hit, Sigma Software had already made significant adjustments to its operations years earlier, in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and war broke out that year in eastern Ukraine.
“As part of our business continuity plan, we started relocating our infrastructure into a data center in the Netherlands and migrating some of the resources to the cloud,” Khodzinskiy said. “We wanted to make sure that our IT infrastructure was resilient enough and did not depend on the physical availability of our offices.”
“These factors contributed greatly to our ability to sustain disruptions and be independent of physical locations, which turned out to be vital when the time of evacuation came,” he added.
Scoring a high Net Promoter Score
Sigma Software’s adjustments to its technology and staff operations enabled it to react quickly when Russian forces attacked Ukraine in early 2022.
“We’ve guaranteed the availability of our team, not just the infrastructure so that our company would be operational even if Ukraine could’ve been completely cut off from power,” Smyrnov said. “Within just two weeks after the full-scale war started, we were back to full capacity. No projects were suspended or postponed.”
“The tremendous dedication of our people helped us to deliver and release projects as scheduled, even during the hardest first weeks of the war,” Smyrnov said. “We’ve guaranteed the availability of the team itself, not just the infrastructure, meaning that our company would be operational even if Ukraine could’ve been completely cut off from power.”
“As evidence, in 2022, we recorded our highest Net Promoter Score ever of 65.”
Today, Sigma Software also maintains diesel generators with long-term fuel supply storage in all of its Ukrainian offices and back-up internet access channels, including Starlink, the satellite internet access service from SpaceX.
Serving an expanding market
Going forward, Sigma Software figures it will serve a growing demand for ecommerce and other technology projects in Ukraine and neighboring Poland, where many Ukrainian businesses have opened or expanded operations over the past year.
For example, Rozetka, Ukraine’s largest online marketplace, recently entered the Polish market, Smyrnov noted.
A big part of Sigma Software’s growth will be in online companies’ data management projects, Khodzinskiy said.
“We’re ready to help them to build their data preferences with our data engineers and Big Data Center of Excellence,” he said. “The way you manage and store data — if you don’t do it right, it can cost you a fortune.”
Extending services through social and charitable work
Sigma Software has also been actively supporting social projects, including:
- Star for Life Ukraine, launched in 2022 as a localized Ukrainian version of the international Star for Life charitable organization, teaches self-esteem and motivation among school children.
- Swedes for Ukraine, an online platform that Sigma designed and developed to match Swedes with Ukrainian refugee families looking for housing accommodations. The platform has connected refugees with more than 700 Swedes who have provided them with free temporary housing.
- A Ukrainian version of the Bezyl mental health support app, which Sigma helped design initially for U.S. military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; the Ukrainian version came out in May 2022.
- A chatbot for the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, developed as a tool designed to help Ukrainians displaced by the war get information about the homes they left behind. About 30 kilometers from the Russian border, Kharkiv is where Sigma Software originated as a business.
Paul Demery is a Digital Commerce 360 contributing editor covering B2B digital commerce technology and strategy. [email protected].
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