The corona pandemic poses enormous challenges for many companies around the world. Dominik Duchon, CSO at LucaNet, provides a glimpse into how LucaNet is dealing with the corona crisis, what opportunities he sees in the crisis, and how LucaNet employees are coping while working from home.
How the corona crisis has been influencing work at LucaNet
Hello Dominik! How is it going? Where are you right now?
I am at home in Munich. I’ve taken over my son’s room at the moment! I am doing well so far. I am a far stretch from being bored here! Of course, the situation itself is somewhat stressful.
We have now all experienced our first weeks from working at home. How has the experience been for you?
I don’t think I’ve ever been on the phone as much as I have been these last weeks! I am generally on the phone very often and do coordinate things this way a lot, but these last few weeks have, of course, been a little more extreme. I was in contact with all of our subsidiaries and colleagues at our German bases, not to mention with my executive board colleagues Oliver Schmitz and Rolf-Jürgen Moll. So, you could say that the lines were running hot!
What do you feel the mood is like at LucaNet?
In all honesty, I am more than impressed as to how positive the mood is. How the situation is being dealt with, how there seems to be a sense of coming together. A real sense of – now’s the time! A lot of new creative ideas have come out of the woodwork, like our (virtual) Kudos pinboard or new social events. There are now virtual coffee breaks. Some colleagues have even joined up for virtual cocktail meetups! I think it’s great and it all really impresses me.
The advantages of a digital business model
Our employees and customers would, of course, like to know where we currently stand as a company and what we should be prepared for. Can you give us your take in this regard?
I think it should first of all be said how glad we are to have a business model like we do. We are able to reproduce our complete value chain in digital form and are not dependent on any deliveries from other countries or on supply chains that have been interrupted by the crisis. In addition, we have strong pillars of recurring revenue from our maintenance, hosting, and SaaS activities and can look back on many successful years on the business front.
But of course, LucaNet is not spared from the economic uncertainty. It is omnipresent and when companies have to postpone investment decisions, we invariably feel the ramifications. That is why we have to assess on a weekly—or even daily—basis how we need to tackle this situation. And to remain flexible in the process. But we are certain that we will get through this situation and continue to be there for our customers with the quality they are used to.
LucaNet has nine foreign subsidiaries. What is the mood and situation like for them?
The mood (and situation) is varied. Our Chinese colleagues, who were the very first to be affected, are just starting to get back to work again. They have returned to the office now and are positively optimistic that business will really take off again from April onwards. This whole situation has also affected many small and medium-sized companies in China. This being said, however, our target group mainly consists of larger companies and they are still doing pretty well, all things considered. A small dose of cautious optimism is therefore not entirely misplaced!
In Singapore, the situation is completely different. By the looks if it, the country has coped with the situation very well. However, there is an entry and exit ban there, so our colleagues cannot do business in Malaysia, where they are usually very busy. But within Singapore, work has kept to its relatively normal pace.
France, Spain, the UK, and the USA, however, are currently at somewhat of a standstill. At all of these subsidiaries, the projects that have been started can actually be completed remotely quite well, but investment decisions are not being made in this current climate. In Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, things are shaping up a little better at the moment. March was indeed a good month, but there is, of course, a sense of uncertainty.
Overall, fewer requests for demonstrations are coming in and, like I said, investment decisions are currently being postponed. So, we’re happy when small glimmers of hope do come our way. For example, when companies make decisions earlier than planned because they simply have the time to do so now – as was the case in France just recently. Or companies that choose LucaNet precisely because of a crisis like this because they want to have reliable in-house financial software that provides them with valid data in these uncertain times.
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Opportunities in the corona crisis
Does the corona crisis also present any opportunities for LucaNet?
Yes, definitely. First of all, many things haven given me reason for optimism. We have a strong team, everyone sticks together, and we can rely on one another. Everyone is accepting this challenge and is trying to make the best out of a bad situation and work productively. You can really feel the LucaNet spirit. The reactions we experience in the executive board are also great. We’re experiencing a great sense of solidarity.
I also firmly believe that the current situation is an opportunity for us as a company. We can use this time put our minds even more intensively to tasks that have arisen as a result of our rapid organizational development and our internationalization over the last 5 years. This means, for example, smoothing out our processes, bringing a semblance of order to our tools, rethinking support structures for customers and partners, developing new training formats, expanding our knowledge management, tidying up our CRM, or developing new communication strategies. On top of all that, we continue to always work flat out to further develop our products.
I am convinced that we really will emerge from the crisis with a strengthened ball game and may end up pulling it all off better than some of our competitors. And this is simply due to the incredibly good cohesion within the teams and throughout the whole company. This shows how valuable a good corporate culture based on trust and appreciation is. As such, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all LucaNet employees for all their resilience!
Do you have any tips for working from home? How do you manage to keep your spirits up and stay productive at the same time?
It is very important to keep moving, not to just sit at your desk or on the couch without end. I go for a walk or do push-ups every so often when I start to feel restless and notice that I need a little balance.
Our former supervisory board member Christoph Freichel once told me that he rewards himself with one small token each day. Be it a good glass of wine, a nice book you buy, or some tasty treat to eat. That is, to consciously reward yourself every day with some small token of some kind. I think it's a nice approach and I'm trying to make myself more aware of that in these circumstances as well.
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