What are the main needs of your clients today, and how does your company add value?
MOHAMED BENBOUBKER Every company is talking about digital transformation. Everyone wants to transform themselves, but they do not know where to start. Few companies are able to design, develop, produce, and launch something in the digital business, such as smart cities. But what do people think of smart digital services? Everyone talks about public services but are citizens aware that there are public services for his or her happiness? This is where we come in. We say let's stop talking about strategy and let's start acting. We are on the pragmatic side of things.
How would you evaluate the impact of the ELITE program on your business?
RABII TOUHAMI It was positive. We are a small business with institutional shareholders at the corporate level, which means that we have a corporate governance structure that far exceeds our size. The ELITE program made us operate as though we were listed on the stock exchange. We will also settle in Casablanca Finance City by the end of 2020. Today, there are no borders digitally speaking, so we also have to conform to international standards. ELITE allowed us to reach these standards in terms of governance, management, and processes. Notably, we are among the few companies in Morocco that have a Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) certification.
What is your evaluation of the efforts being made to digitalize Morocco?
MB The problem is that we want to import ready-made projects created by major international players. We have to be braver. What we have proposed is a local ecosystem. We need project managers at a client's site and continuous innovation. We need empiricism. We need to learn how to do things frugally. As we learn, we will figure out how to adapt things to our financial capacity. We need to develop an ecosystems of developers, innovators, local business models, mobile payment applications, and so on. From there, we will create innovations adapted to the economic needs of Morocco. As a result, we will be able to create our own innovations. RT On the digitalization side, there has been much progress in recent years. Today, we can apply for an identity document or a passport through an online portal. Soon, people will be able to go to the post office and ask for help in accessing government digital services or ordering a product online to be delivered by mail. This will help break down the barriers among the population that is unwilling to embrace digitalization. Overall, Morocco has made great progress. Now, we must guide people because there is always resistance to change.
What is the start-up ecosystem in Moroccolike?
MB The market must identify and qualify good start-ups from bad ones. I am in a network called Réseau Maroc Entreprendre, where we mentor start-ups. Some 87% of our start-ups are successful because we manage them in a realistic and pragmatic way. Even though access to capital is difficult, it does not mean we will stop innovating. We need training, education, risk-taking, soft skills, financial market, and mentors. If we know the rules of the game, we know what to do to create Moroccan technology companies like Hightech Payment Systems (HPS).
How can one remain innovative in a market that is constantly evolving?
RT We have been in business for more than 40 years. Today, we still question ourselves every day, as we have to try to come up with new ideas and solutions. We have set up GEMADEC Innovation, an incubator for start-ups. It allows us to attract a certain number of start-ups with interesting positions, know-how, and skills. It is vital that we can take advantage of it, as this gives us more agility. I had an engineer who was going to leave because he wanted to start his own project; instead of increasing his salary to keep him, I invested in his idea and made it a part of our ecosystem. We have to change every day, or else we will be left behind.
What are your goals for 2020?
MB We have created a second company called Ackordéon. Its idea is to sell talent instead of services. 2020 will be about creating centers of competence for my major clients. RT We have a project called Biometry to Africa, whose objective is to bring our biometric know-how to all countries in West and Central Africa. This will become a major activity for GEMADEC in the near future.