Outlook 2021: “Be Optimistic and Believe That This Year Will be Better”

Dmitry Doshaniy, General Manager at NNTC, speaks about the challenges faced in 2020 and the opportunities to look forward to, in 2021

2020: what year was it for the industry and your company?
The technology industry has felt much better than others, but the growth here depends on a company’s area of operation and whether its products are focused on online or offline experience.

Online communication services, messengers, and platforms have won much extra audience as a result of self-isolation and business events going online, which is the case for both B2C and B2B sectors. For example, we at NNTC also felt the need to enhance online communication with our audience. Thus, we held webinars for customers and partners, which was a great and rewarding experience for our team.

On the contrary, the demand for offline solutions decreased: sales of access control, building management and, in general, all infrastructure solutions that were in demand by office-type companies have suffered a lot during the lockdown. Companies specializing in such solutions continued selling them, but the demand dropped dramatically.

For NNTC, 2020 brought both good and bad news – after all, it’s life. As for good news, we quickly established remote communication with all our customers and continued working on and completing projects. We had to move some initiatives, in particular, ideas for Expo 2020, which will now take place in 2021.

Did 2020 bring you some unique opportunities?
Yes, it was the first time that we have completely moved to online interaction with customers and prospects. By the way, it’s even easier for tech companies to sell online. If, for example, you sell software a customer doesn’t need to “touch and feel”, all you need to do is provide a demo version or deliver an online presentation, and then close the deal through Zoom. This was not possible before and has only recently turned into common business practice, and we believe these changes also bring us business development opportunities.

Technologically, some of our business areas have experienced significant growth, in particular, video analytics: automated social distance monitoring and temperature measurement. Before COVID-19, they were not in such demand, while the pandemic brought a whole stack of tasks computer vision can solve. I think many solutions will remain relevant in 2021 and even in the longer run.

Please name the two most acute challenges your company has faced in 2020.
The first one was customer shock. The first several months when our customers adapted to the new business conditions were the most difficult for us. The second was financial difficulties. I am sure many companies have faced similar problems this year.

Please share your 2020 achievements.
The most significant achievement is that our company “grows” from year to year, whatever the circumstances – if we put it in financial terms. And, speaking simply, our team overcame all the difficulties of the pandemic with flying colors, acquired new competencies, tried new roles, and became even stronger and more united. 2020 has been a good year to cultivate morale and find new ideas and approaches for business development. Moreover, our specialists had such good practice in implementing ideas that they have reached a brand-new level of product development speed.

What are your expectations for next year?
I try to be optimistic and believe that the next year will be better than in 2020. Also, in 2021 we’ll face a very intense deferred demand, as after any crisis. After the pandemic, people will be even more eager to live a better life, traveling, meeting with peers in their offices, shopping, entertaining, and completing professional projects.

During the lockdown, society has become more technologically advanced: even the most stagnant skeptics appreciated the importance of technology and learned how to use its benefits. This interest will continue after people return to the offices. We are happy with that since NNTC sells its solutions to people who are not afraid of technology and strive to use it for good.

In your opinion, which technologies will be the most popular next year?
The biggest shift that happened in 2020 was the mass transition of organizations to a hybrid mode, meaning that people will be working remotely much more. This is why in the coming years, various tools for effective collaboration and remote team management will be in great demand.

In addition, we will see growing investments in healthcare and infectious disease control solutions, both organizational and technological. Indeed, this year, Apple and Google have developed an API to track contacts with virus carriers. NNTC also already offers a solution for manufacturing and construction sites that detects social distancing violations and helps identify contacts with infected people, so that affected person can be promptly sent to quarantine and receive medical treatment. Indeed, technologies save people’s lives.

Do you think regional markets can offer new niches for NNTC?
The region saw a very eventful year, and not only due to the pandemic. The political relations between Israel and Arab Emirates have been actively improving lately, which will definitely help the business sector in both countries and open up new opportunities.

The Gulf economy was hit hard by the decreased passenger traffic, both tourists and business persons. As a result, the UAE government came up with a range of solutions and development options, such as allowing foreigners to be full owners of local companies without restrictions– a major step towards economic prosperity.

What will be the focus areas for NNTC in 2021?
There will be no drastic changes. We will remain focused on emerging technologies and keep identifying business tasks that can be effectively and creatively solved using innovative technologies. At the same time, we are going to place an even greater focus on the cost-effectiveness and economic feasibility of each development effort. Indeed, despite positive trends, I believe in, I don’t expect the economy to come out of recession in 2021. Our customers are going to be very careful with their budgets and therefore we need to work out the most effective and beneficial proposal. Only the most efficient projects will survive, so we can’t afford to sit back and relax next year.

Which milestones have you set for 2021?
First, we are now actively reviewing our solution portfolios taking into account the company activities completed in 2020. Our strategy now involves fewer products and more active product development.

Second, the fact that online business meetings have become a new normal can unlock new development opportunities and boost our geographic expansion.

What would you like to do differently in 2021 compared to 2020?
It is time to adopt a more balanced and less opportunistic business approach. The year 2020 has shown that we need to carefully calculate and consider response time in advance. When demand arises for a certain type of development, the temptation is to meet this demand as soon as possible using R&D resources. However, we need to look beyond and carefully consider the next steps to avoid wasting precious time and resources in pursuit of such demand. We need to be preparing for the post-crisis time right now and think long-term rather than short-term.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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