Successful partnerships are a mutual investment: Creatim’s story
Creatim is a small team of about 20 people, operating out of Slovenia. The e-commerce market here is a few years behind the more advanced European countries. When we embarked on our e-commerce solutions journey almost two decades ago, such things were considered “nice to have,” but far from the mainstream business models.
Creatim’s relationship with IBM began in 2010, when IBM came to us looking for a local partner to support a large Slovenian retailer’s transformation to online business. IBM didn’t really know Creatim at that time; we had a certain reputation but we hadn’t worked together before. IBM needed a partner because they didn’t have the local skills that their client was looking for.
Frankly, we weren’t ready for that kind of large engagement. We had been building websites for a number of years but the kind of complex e-commerce solution they were looking for was new to us. But Creatim was prepared to develop our capability in collaboration with IBM. And this is where I see the real value in IBM’s partner program—IBM saw the potential in our business and our position in the market and was prepared to take a chance on Creatim.
It’s a chicken and egg situation, really. You can’t start a business without a strong reference and you can’t get a reference without a great solution. IBM cut through that complication and at the end we had both client and reference. I won’t pretend everything went completely smoothly; it was a learning experience for IBM as well as us. But in the end, the solution was there. And because it was successful, IBM next invited us to work with them on an e-grocery project in Israel. For us, that was our first taste of international business.
Slovenia is quite a small country, especially when it comes to B2C e-commerce. But we are an agile country with a strong export economy and a large and growing B2B sector. As we have developed our specialism in the B2B space, hand-in-hand with IBM, so we have grown into an international solution provider. We are currently three years into a major engagement with a Dutch B2B food supplier.
What I like about IBM is no matter how large the corporation is, we can always find people who are agile and supportive and willing to work with us. When we started, IBM didn’t have the kind of local e-commerce support in Slovenia who could help us. That, for IBM, wasn’t a problem. I was able to engage quickly and easily with IBMers in the UK, Spain and elsewhere, and at every level of the business. The willingness to work with us was extremely impressive and that level of flexibility continues. I know that no matter what activity we are trying to support here in Slovenia, IBM will give us that support—be it meeting new clients, supporting and presenting at events, or whatever.
Much of what we do is about educating the market. To survive and thrive in the post-Amazon retail world, you need a flexible e-commerce solution that enables you to offer added-value services tailored to your business and the kind of customers you serve.
As we move into the advanced analytics space we find that for many of our clients, a more general solution like Google Analytics is enough for now, just as a simple online storefront was back in the early 2000s. But we have established an international reputation as a provider of solutions which enable clients to really compete in an online world, thanks to our relationship with IBM. So, as we transform their understanding of what advanced analytics can do, they know that we can help take their analytics capabilities to the next level.
And with IBM by our side, we know we can deliver.