In January 2022, FNT saw a significant change at the top of the company: FNT’s long-time CEO and founder, Nikolaus Albrecht, retired from operational management. His successor, Carsten Wreth, was previously responsible for the user experience area as CIO of several international companies. He has already identified areas for improvement and initiated various processes to further develop the steadily growing company. We sat down with Carsten to talk about his experience and his plans for FNT.
Andreas Thieme: As one can tell by listening to you speak, you are a native of northern Germany. How did someone like you end up in the Ostalb?
Carsten Wreth: Over the years, I interacted with many different dialects and personalities. After working for a large corporation with several hundred thousand employees in Paris, I made a conscious decision to work for a mid-sized company in a tranquil, scenically beautiful region like the Ostalb. The proximity to colleagues is much greater here, which I enjoy very much. And everyone has closer ties to the location. It’s more personal. My motto when I started at FNT was therefore: leave an anonymous group in favor of a family atmosphere. I like not only talking about deadlines and work statuses, but also getting to know the employees.
Andreas Thieme: Does that also have an effect on decision-making processes and timeframes?
Carsten Wreth: Yes, we can make decisions much faster at FNT than elsewhere. And not from the top down. You just have to ask a few questions and then the teams come up with the right ideas on their own. After I joined, we set up a hundred-day program to work out as a team where we could improve, for example in service, in the software feature set and in communication. This was not just about ideas. The teams also worked out measures, potential and costs. That worked out great and is much easier to do in a company like FNT than in a larger corporation.
Andreas Thieme: CIO magazine once called you the “man in the middle at Telefonica/O2.” Where would you place yourself now as CEO at FNT?
Carsten Wreth: Although I am no longer CIO, I still see my role as a mediator and communicator between customers and technology. Customer experience is more or less in my blood. At FNT, it’s also about how our solutions are received by our customers, how they help them. In B2B business, this is certainly a bit more demanding, because you’re sitting in front of real professionals and talking about very complex issues. But here, too, it is important to build the right bridges between technology and customer requirements.
Andreas Thieme: And what does that look like in concrete terms at FNT?
Carsten Wreth: At FNT, we have a very broad and very satisfied customer base overall. I say that quite openly: You don’t often find customer satisfaction like that. But of course I’m not here now to rest on my laurels. Rather, I want to find out what our customers need in order to become even better and grow together. The high level of customer satisfaction shows that we are already doing many things very well. Now we have to see where there is still potential in our portfolio that we can use for new products and even better service.
Andreas Thieme: Where do you see the greatest market opportunities?
Carsten Wreth: In the DACH region, we already have a relatively broad presence in most sectors. We are steadily expanding our business in Europe, the USA and Asia, so I would say these regions have high market potential for FNT. Many of our customers operate internationally and have branches and plants in several European countries. So, it makes sense to follow them into these markets. This is not particularly difficult, because the technical requirements for operating infrastructures are almost identical in all countries.
Andreas Thieme: As things stand today, FNT tends to address enterprise customers, i.e. very large companies. Some operate their IT documentation in their own data center, while others pursue a cloud-first strategy. Where will FNT position itself?
Carsten Wreth: We have seen and served this trend for some time. Today, software solutions are not only in demand as on-premise variants for the company’s own data center, but also as modular SaaS solutions in the cloud. We have already adapted our software strategy accordingly and offer numerous modular software-as-a-service solutions. Of course, this type of software use is also interesting for smaller and medium-sized companies because the initial investment is rather low. They can install the first modules themselves without us having to be on site as a software provider. Our customers should – that is our goal – see the first results after only 90 minutes and be able to recognize the value of the software for their business. In addition, it is important for us to show that we can accompany and support our customers individually as they grow and their requirements increase.
Andreas Thieme: There is some movement in the DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) market right now. What is FNT’s strategy here?
Carsten Wreth: In contrast to some other providers, we still see a lot of potential in the DCIM area. There is also a clear tendency here to combine and administer on- and off-premise installations in a hybrid fashion. And we can map this excellently. I would go so far as to say that we can do it better than any other provider. For us, this market offers many growth opportunities, and we will definitely continue to expand it.
Andreas Thieme: What other market areas are developing strongly right now, such as IoT and 5G?
Carsten Wreth: The development in the area of fiber optic networks is very interesting. In recent years, many companies, including smaller ones, have emerged that build and operate their own networks and have a high demand for documentation of their network structure and cables.
However, we definitely want to maintain the breadth of our range of functions, because this is a clear added value for our customers. Customers must be sure that in FNT they have a partner with whom their infrastructures can grow steadily, regardless of the area.
Andreas Thieme: What about the size of the workforce? Will FNT continue to grow in that area as well?
Carsten Wreth: We are indeed planning to increase headcount, partly because the company’s growth requires it. However, not everyone has to move to the Ostalb. Employees have the flexibility to work remotely from a home office. This will remain the case even after the pandemic and will enable us to recruit talented employees nationwide.
We take great care to fully integrate remote workers into our culture. For example, we have a boarding house for when employees travel to the region. I lived there for many weeks when I first started, it was very enjoyable. Colleagues sometimes sit together in the evenings and enjoy each other’s company. For me, this is the best way for a new employee to start to feel like they are part of the team.