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HTEC Features: Niklas Johnsson

The ongoing rapid expansion of HTEC Group has been taking place in two directions: internally, through the substantial expansion of the company’s personnel capacities, and externally through initiatives to establish a presence in strategically relevant geographical territories. 

One of the first geographical areas identified as a potential HTEC stronghold is Scandinavia with its opulence of forward-minded businesses operating across a wide range of industries in which HTEC possesses strong expertise and experience. The person entrusted with this initiative is Niklas Johnsson

A career in tech

A veteran of Sweden’s business landscape, Niklas has gained a quarter-century of experience in business development working in some of the largest Swedish companies and collaborating with a number of global tech powerhouses. 

“All my professional life, I have been working in business development with a focus on how technology creates new possibilities. I’ve worked for large tech firms, management consulting firms as well as start-ups, I also ran my own small consulting firm. The company profiles are very diverse, but the interest in tech has been there all the time.”

Niklas’ work experience has given him a broader perspective that extends beyond the immediate benefits of the businesses he had worked with and onto the business ecosystem as a whole.

“There have been ups and downs, but new technology has been driving transformation at a rapid pace ever since the late 1990s.  I got the chance to work for Invest Sweden (a Swedish government agency promoting business and investment opportunities in Sweden to foreign companies, now Business Sweden — author’s note) supporting the world’s best tech companies in establishing R&D activities in Sweden. This gave me an opportunity to do two things: work with the best companies all around the world but also do something really good for Sweden and the Swedish tech sector. It started as a half-year project, and I stayed on for 18 years. In the end, I became responsible for all inward investments in the tech sector.”

Epicenter of growth

Niklas proudly points out how Sweden has been one of the European frontrunners in technological innovation but also emphasizes the major priority shift taking place in recent years. 

“At the beginning of my work with Invest Sweden, it was a lot about getting the big tech companies like Google, Samsung, or Intel to come here and do R&D so that Sweden would have a chance to be actively involved with the most relevant new and emerging technologies. It could be anything from the electrification of cars to computer games, cloud technologies, IP-based telephony — all of those things.”

Being a country at the forefront of the innovative wave requires a substantial pool of technological talent to support the overall ecosystem. Over the years, Niklas’ focus has shifted away from not only attracting big companies and investors, but towards identifying and attracting the right type of technological enablers.

“The technological demands in Swedish industry are huge and cannot be met by graduates coming out of technical universities. The Swedish IT and Telecom Association estimates that in 2021 there will be a lack of digital talent amounting to 70,0000 people. Right now, there is a massive digital transformation going on, and it affects every business. No companies can avoid that, because there are competitors and startups challenging their business model in every industry segment. There is an enormous demand for both technical and business competencies, which is a great opportunity for a company like HTEC.”

A perfect match

For the past several years, Niklas’ work was increasingly focused on finding the best technology providers from all over the world and bringing them to Sweden. This search is what first introduced him to HTEC

“With the global political developments of recent years, Scandinavian companies looking to maintain a sustainable business are focused more on European technology providers. They feel (and I agree) that, currently, it is increasingly risky to rely on tech providers outside of Europe, due to political uncertainty and instability. If you’re going to look for talent in Europe, the area where HTEC’s development centers are located is the prime target, as it has a critical mass of talent, the combination of experience, education, and European way of working — I would say that this geographical area is currently underused in Scandinavia. And if you’re looking at that region, HTEC should be your premier choice. It is one of the fastest-growing tech providers in Europe with one of the most impressive customer lists. HTEC is in a position where it has broadened its portfolio and expertise in a way that addresses a number of critical areas in Scandinavia. The company has a very high degree of technological sophistication, broad domain expertise, as well as the know-how on how to implement technology and innovation to drive growth.” 

Now in the role of HTEC’s Business Development Manager for the Nordic region, Niklas is genuinely excited about the opportunity to introduce HTEC’s expertise in digital transformation to Scandinavian businesses. 

“In Scandinavia, we have an extraordinary amount of big internationally known companies, many more than we should have with our small population — H&M, Maersk, IKEA, Vestas, Aker, Spotify, Volvo, and other names you know well. At the same time, we have a really big number of startups and scale-ups that have been successful. Those two together create a very interesting mix in the marketplace, where the big companies understand that they really need to do something. It is impossible for them to do it alone and in many cases, there is limited time. That is where you need a trusted partner like HTEC.” 

HTEC has been on Niklas’ radar for a long time, and he believes that the recent developments both on the Scandinavian markets and within the company have made the two entities a perfect match. 

“The key challenge for technology suppliers is finding and keeping talent. What I like about HTEC is that the company is truly focused on finding and nurturing the right technological talents while operating in geographical areas with a very strong educational backbone and the expertise that can give this market something that is lacking. That is one of the things that made me jump at the opportunity to work with HTEC.” 

While Niklas is quick to identify many different avenues of opportunity for partnerships with Scandinavian businesses, he is also fully aware that we are starting from scratch in this market. 

“We are fairly unknown in the Nordic but we have done a number of very high-quality projects with great companies, but we are not in anyone’s immediate focus. I kind of like that, and I would like us to embrace that opportunity to be someone who’s new, who can do things in a different way and take some calculated risks. Many big companies understand the need for digital transformation but need a partner to make it happen. HTEC has the right expertise to enable transformation, as well as an approach to work that we like to define as ‘startup speed and enterprise delivery’, and if we can go in and share both the risks and the reward, there is a great opportunity here.”

Niklas emphasizes that there’s still plenty of legwork left in order to establish a foothold in Scandinavia, but he sees a clear path towards this objective.

“We are expanding in the Nordics — setting up an office in Norway and working towards setting up a local technical office in Sweden for on-site support and project management. We are growing very fast around Europe, Nordics included. We are at the start of the expansion process, but I strongly believe that establishing a strong presence with many active partnerships in the Nordics is not a question, but only a matter of time and timing.”