The merger between LEKAB and 21st century Mobile is in full swing. Pekka Ollila, CEO of LEKAB, talks about the ongoing integration between two like-minded companies and how the work is progressing.
Tell us about the ongoing merger of LEKAB and 21st?
– Both LEKAB and 21st have long experience in Business Messaging, which makes the merger a little easier – our employees already speak the same language. At the same time, the two companies' focus has been a little different, which I see as a strength. We must now combine our diverse experiences and competencies into a joint offering so that the market and our customers can see and understand the benefits. It is our customers who will benefit from the merger.
And how is the integration progressing?
– Integration does not only apply to products and services. It is also essential to take care of the staff so that everyone gets to know each other, starts working as one company, and utilises the skills and experience that our employees have. We have already begun to analyse and plan how to integrate the companies and safely migrate products and services to create a more complete offering.
– To better meet the future needs of our customers in business messaging, it is vital to develop in line with our customers' needs. The merger strengthens us and our ability to invest in future solutions in business messaging.
What is top of your agenda?
– On top of my agenda is for sure to create an increased clarity in our joint offer. It is also crucial to understand what resources we need in order to succeed in the future. What gaps do we have in terms of skills? What abilities do we need more of, and how do we find talented coworkers?
– Business messaging, in various forms, has become even more important for our customers, and the entire market is growing. More and more companies and their end customers, independent of business sector, want to communicate via different channels, and the mobile is central. Instead of visiting a physical store or calling customer service, consumers of today want to handle simple things via their smartphone – via SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, or other so-called OTT channels.
Companies want to communicate with their customers through rich messaging and make it easy and efficient for their customers, i.e. provide a better digital customer experience in various mobile channels. Still, it is complex, and many companies need help to take advantage of the next generation of messaging including for example WhatsApp, Rich SMS and RCS, and we have an essential role to play here.
– The business needs may vary for different companies, even within the same industry, but the basic requirements are the same. We have over 25 years of experience of integrating smart messaging into companies' operations, business applications and processes. With the merger, we can offer even better solutions to meet the future needs of our customers and at the same time increase clarity in our offering and the associated benefits such as increased efficiency, customer satisfaction, ROI, etc.
When will customers and partners notice the merger?
– The most important thing for us is that our customers do not notice the merger at all. That is a big focus for us. We must therefore ensure that existing customers do not see any difference in our service levels and deliveries. At the same time, we can offer more from day 1, i.e. LEKAB's solutions and services to 21st's customers and vice versa.
– If we look ahead a little, we will be able to increase the pace of developing our products and solutions. Together, we already have a larger development team, and we will also continue to recruit new personnel, which will result in new interesting solutions in the future.
– We want to sharpen and secure the future of our products and services so that we can grow with our existing customers while at the same time pursuing new business in sectors in which we are strong.
How would you describe the corporate culture of the two companies? Do you get along well?
– Yes, we do! We are all passionate about mobile communication and creating business value for customers through Smart Messaging. We want to continue to create customer value together by improving communication with our solutions.
– We provide messaging api:s for mobile communication, ready-made applications and tools, and tailor messaging solutions, including integration and automation, so that our customers can communicate with both customers and employees smartly, in the recipient's preferred channel.
We want to take communication to the next level through personalisation and interactivity, increasing engagement, conversion, loyalty, and ROI.
– Like us, it is fun and motivating to have more employees on board who have worked and thought intensively about Business Messaging over the years. Employees, who have spent a lot of time building smart messaging solutions for customers. Now, it's time to investigate how we can reach more customers in the Nordic region together.
How do you see the future customer offer?
– Our customers have different needs. Enterprise customers can automate their SMS communication and SMS-marketing by using and integrating our messaging APIs into existing business systems such as CRM, Marketing Automation and e-commerce platforms.
We are also experts and advisors. We want to close the gaps where existing systems do not support messaging by automating processes and data.
– With rich formats such as Rich SMS, RCS, and OTT (Whatsapp & Viber etc.), companies can communicate and chat with customers without worrying about the brand experience. We want to help our customers to take the step from sending regular notifications to starting conversations in the recipient's favorite channel. Customer loyalty and creating communication on the recipient's premises with smart data processing have never been more important.
How will you combine the teams?
– Post-Covid, we are all used to collaborating with digital tools such as Teams, so it's not an obstacle not sharing the same roof, but of course, to get to know each other and build corporate culture, it's essential to meet IRL.
– In October, we will move to a new office, and before that, there will be several joint events and activities. Successful companies have one thing in common – a solid corporate culture, which we will shape together.
What are you most looking forward to?
– Combining the best of both companies into a new company. Our staff is highly experienced and has a genuine interest in wanting to help our customers communicate more efficiently with modern technology and smart solutions. The merger improves our ability to offer solutions that streamline communication with customers and employees.
– Since smartphones is our main communication tool nowadays, companies are increasingly discovering how SMS is opened and read while other communication methods fail to engage recipients.
– We want to enable the digital customer experiences of the future through communication and interactivity in all mobile channels and ensure business continuity – i.e. facilitate companies' daily operations by offering smart messaging solutions for disruptions, incidents and staffing.