Saab’s wholly owned consultancy Combitech has customers in a wide range of industries, from aerospace and defence to banking and finance. “This breadth ensures that the business areas are constantly cross-fertilised,” says Marie Bredberg, CEO of Combitech. (Bredberg has led the company since its beginning, in 2006, but will be taking on a new role next year in the management team of Saab’s new business area Industrial Products and Services.)
“A method that was developed for one sector may be useful in a completely different one.
Sometimes the military side takes precedence in the development, sometimes the civilian one. Whichever is the case, it means that we are constantly developing our expertise.” The reason that Combitech focuses on breadth and depth among its 1,400-plus employees in Sweden, Norway and Finland is that more and more customers want to work with fewer suppliers.
“Customers no longer want to sign contracts with 15 to 20 different suppliers,” says Bredberg. “If you cannot offer breadth, there is no place for you in the major procurements. Customers want to excel at their core operations and leave flexibility and cutting-edge expertise to us.”
- Marie Bredberg, CEO of Combitech
Combitech also assists with expertise within narrow fields. The ability to add competencies to different projects is one of the company’s greatest strengths. “Instead of the customer building up its own organisation in different projects, we can work as a sort of lung containing resources and skills that expands and contracts according to requirements,” says Bredberg. As customer requirements have changed, the company’s business model has gradually evolved to be able to take on more integrated assignments.
“Customers have been asking for new solutions that we can now provide,” says Bredberg. “An example of one such turnkey assignment is the new service for safe operational monitoring [see above]. It may also be a matter of developing an entire product, from A to Z, without owning it afterwards.”
In a consultancy, it is the expertise of the employees that is the most important asset; Combitech nurtures this aspect. The Learning Lab concept for skills development comprises training, methods and networks that are available to employees. “We also provide external training in all areas in which we operate, using our own consultants as tutors,” says Bredberg. “It is a good opportunity for us to meet both current and future customers.”
Sweden is currently Combitech’s largest market, but the company also has subsidiaries in Norway and Finland. The aim is to continue to grow in the Nordic market, both organically and through acquisitions.
“We already have a strong position today, but we can see great potential for growth in the civilian sector in particular,” Bredberg says. “In Norway the focus is on risk management in the oil and gas industry and banking and finance, whereas Finland is geared towards integration and communication on the defence side.”
Combitech currently has a turnover of SEK 1.6 billion. About 40 per cent of its turnover consists of sales to Saab, with the rest going to external customers. “The fact that Combitech is a subsidiary of Saab contributes to our strong feeling of confidence,” explains Bredberg. “Saab is our largest customer, but we have so much more to offer. I would like more people to become aware of our breadth.”