When Monika Lulay arrived at GFT 19 years ago, she was nervous. IT stocks had just collapsed on the stock market (experts were talking about the dot-com bubble burst), and things were not going well for the Stuttgart IT provider. As COO, Lulay and his boss, company founder Ulrich Dietz, once turned the midsize company upside down. They changed processes, reduced dependence on Deutsche Bank, with which GFT was then making half of its turnover, and looked for new areas of activity. Today GFT is in excellent shape, has already raised twice its forecasts for this year, now expects a turnover of 550 million euros (after 443 the previous year) and a profit before tax of 36 million euros.
Dietz, still the largest owner of the listed company, has stepped down as head of the board, and his confidant Lulay has led the group as CEO since 2017, along with CFO Jochen Ruetz and four other directors. regional. The company has over 7,000 employees and is very international. 95 percent of people work outside of Germany and 90 percent of sales are made abroad. Most of GFT’s employees are in Brazil, now Lulay is expanding more and more to Asia: during the pandemic, when it was impossible to travel, his people set up a branch in Vietnam and are already generating more than ten million euros of turnover in the Region.
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It’s not just programming, says Marika Lulay, it’s “deep-deep tech”.
(Photo: Michael Dannenmann / GFT)
GFT is what we call a very integrated group: half of the employees work for clients in other countries, cross-border. “We’re hair-to-toe IT service providers,” Lulay says, “and we’ve got everything you can imagine in our program. “Cloud, artificial intelligence, blockchain, the whole program:” Deep-deep tech. ” And the computer scientist knows exactly what it is: “I used to program myself. Now a new subject has developed: Green Coding. The motivation for this: climate protection.
“There is not much we can do in our industry. – Truly not?
One might ask: climate protection in a software house without factories, what is it supposed to be? Electric cars in the fleet, more safety when traveling, resource-efficient building management, and what else? And yes, says Lulay, this is how the first discussions took place within the board of directors: “There is not much we can do in our industry. She also expressed this view at a global digital meeting of all employees. A colleague from Madrid protested with the message: Dear people, it’s actually quite simple, we just have to start exactly where our business is located. In other words: The software that GFT programs for its customers must be programmed to save energy, and the employee also had a name for that: Green Coding.
The company may have patented it, but that’s not Lulay’s thing: they don’t want to exclude others, but rather include them, which is why their employees have openly put the concept online now. sophisticated as a white paper this spring. With the result that more and more customers and even non-customers are interested in it.
So what can you do differently if you pay attention to software power consumption? Lulay gives examples: By default, the software is programmed so that the terminals regularly poll the database to see if any updates are available. This might happen on a regular basis every minute or hour, although the database is only updated once a day. Or: the website always loads high resolution images – but is it really necessary for the specific application? Things like this consume a lot of electricity, unnecessary.
These are trivial questions, Lulay says, but overall, across all the many apps with many users, questions that have a big impact. If you want to get better results here, you have to work at all levels, processes have to be changed at all levels, programmers and software architects have to be educated.
“It reminds me of my beginnings,” says Lulay, now 58 years old. “When we still had eight kilobytes of main memory and not tons of bytes, which we can program uselessly with, like we do today. Back to the early days of computing, when we had to cope with scarce resources. ” Back then, those scarce resources were computer speed and storage space; today it is energy consumption.
Since the spring, GFT has been voluntarily offering training to its workforce – and has been overwhelmed by the onslaught, including among customers. Lulay is happy about it, not wanting to put it all into a new business idea that can be profitably sold to customers. “For me, it’s not a product, it’s an attitude.” Green coding isn’t a consultancy gimmick, it’s literally invented by people who do the job every day. “Companies like ours that produce incredible amounts of software have an obligation,” says Lulay. “We are offering our customers the new climate-friendly software development and we hope they will benefit from it.”
Another question is whether clients don’t have to access it at some point. The demands of the policy in the form of the EU’s Green Deal for climate-friendly businesses at all levels are becoming more and more concrete, and the topic is also at the top of the list for investors. Lulay says: “A few years ago, climate protection hardly played a role in my discussions with our owners, today it is still part of it.