Reach­ing the Peak

7 Peaks was named af­ter the moun­tains that sur­round Ber­gen, the birth­place of the com­pany’s three Nor­we­gian founders.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - S NAPSHOTS - CHEYENNE HOLLIS

These days, the com­pany is hop­ing to reach the busi­ness moun­tain­top by re­think­ing out­sourced tech ser­vices.

Founded in 2014, 7 Peaks re­cently cel­e­brated its fifth an­niver­sary. The in­ter­na­tional soft­ware and de­sign agency pro­vide end-to-end ser­vices to en­ter­prise clients in Nor­way and Thai­land and counts some ma­jor com­pa­nies, such as Te­lenor, among its sat­is­fied customers. How­ever, the com­pany’s suc­cess seems im­prob­a­ble when Mr Jostein Ak­snes, 7 Peaks CEO, re­flects on com­ing to Thai­land.

“When I was first sent to Thai­land as an ex­pat in 2010, I wasn’t keen on com­ing out here. When the com­pany I was work­ing for wanted me to move back three and a half years later, I didn’t want to leave,” Mr Ak­snes re­calls. “It was around that time my for­mer uni­ver­sity class­mate from Ber­gen, Mr Roy Ivar More, came to Bangkok. We ended up start­ing 7 Peaks Soft­ware as a pro­duc­tion com­pany.”

Mr Moe would be­come 7 Peaks’

Chief Tech­nol­ogy Of­fi­cer join­ing with Mr Ak­snes and Mr Leiv Fas­mer who man­aged the Nor­we­gian en­tity Ap­phuset. The trio started 7 Peaks with the goal of serving Nor­we­gian en­ter­prise clients with high-qual­ity, cost-ef­fi­cient out­sourced soft­ware de­vel­op­ment from their of­fice in Bangkok.

From there, 7 Peaks ex­panded its ser­vices to­wards UI/UX de­sign, an area where de­mand has been grow­ing rapidly, by bring­ing Mr An­drew Watts on­board as Head of De­sign. In the same year, the com­pany in­creased its of­fer­ings even fur­ther and now pro­vides web de­vel­op­ment ser­vices, cloud so­lu­tions and qual­ity as­sur­ance in ad­di­tion to na­tive mobile ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment ser­vices.

The com­pany’s pri­mary busi­ness focus is on pro­vid­ing ded­i­cated de­vel­op­ment teams to lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional clients. 7 Peaks can also de­liver turnkey projects to en­ter­prise clients that im­prove in­ter­nal busi­ness pro­cesses across all sec­tors, in­clud­ing bank­ing, in­sur­ance, oil and gas and re­tail.

“We aim to solve real busi­ness prob­lems that can im­prove a com­pany’s pro­cesses and ef­fi­ciency. In or­der to do this, we usu­ally start with a dis­cov­ery process,” Mr Ak­snes ex­plains. “This ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion lets us bet­ter un­der­stand the is­sues a busi­ness is fac­ing and quickly iden­tify pain points. We then col­lab­o­rate with them on how best to build a cus­tomised soft­ware so­lu­tion.”

In or­der to find and solve the clients’ is­sues and de­mands, 7 Peaks pro­vides busi­nesses with per­son­alised teams cre­ated with the spe­cific re­quire­ments and goals of the com­pany in mind. The soft­ware agency takes into ac­count several as­pects, such as tech­ni­cal and non-tech­ni­cal pro­file and cur­rent in-house ca­pa­bil­i­ties and avail­abil­ity, to en­sure the right fit.

Mr Ak­snes notes that a com­pany lack­ing in-house skills, staff ca­pac­ity or even of­fice space to host its own de­vel­op­ment team no longer has to worry about fall­ing be­hind. They can instead work with 7 Peaks to gain a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage that’s also cost ef­fec­tive.

“We look at our­selves as a long-term part­ner instead of a ven­dor, which allows us to build a close re­la­tion­ship with our

clients. We can help and con­sult ac­tively dur­ing the en­gage­ment. Our goal is to de­liver the best pos­si­ble so­lu­tion where ev­ery­one is happy with the re­sult. This is some­thing we are pas­sion­ate about,” Mr Ak­snes ex­plains.

From Ber­gen to Bangkok

From the snow-cov­ered moun­tains of Ber­gen to the sky­scrapers of Bangkok, the two lo­ca­tions could not be more dif­fer­ent. And while 7 Peaks has found suc­cess with its ser­vices in both mar­kets, the dif­fer­ences have meant the com­pany had to adapt.

“One key dif­fer­ence be­tween Thai­land and Nor­way or other west­ern coun­tries is where they are at from a tech­no­log­i­cal stand­point. A lot of firms in Thai­land are now go­ing through digital trans­for­ma­tions, where cloud providers are an im­por­tant piece of the so­lu­tion. Phys­i­cal, on-premises ap­pli­ca­tions ver­sus cloud ap­pli­ca­tions is still a real de­bate for busi­nesses in Asia, while in the west more com­pa­nies are more used to and com­fort­able with build­ing cloud so­lu­tions. This is an area we can re­ally help lo­cal busi­nesses in Asia with,” Mr Ak­snes states.

“Most soft­ware projects in South­east Asia are run in an old fash­ion way based on wa­ter­fall method­ol­ogy. We find our­selves need­ing to con­vince here of the ben­e­fits run­ning soft­ware projects in a lean and ag­ile way with rapid de­ploy­ment and shorter it­er­a­tions,” Mr Ak­snes ex­plains. “A lot of clients in Thai­land and Asia want ag­ile de­vel­op­ment, but their or­gan­i­sa­tions are usu­ally not ready for it. This cre­ates a lack of un­der­stand­ing about ag­ile be­tween the ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment and work­ing teams.”

7 Peaks takes pride in of­fer­ing high­qual­ity ser­vices and is al­ways work­ing hard to im­prove their pro­cesses to en­sure the qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency of their ser­vices.

But this is some­thing po­ten­tial clients don’t al­ways see. Mr Ak­snes notes you start off with this type of trust in Nor­way, but in Thai­land you start with no trust and have to build it up. Ul­ti­mately, the qual­ity of 7 Peaks has been recog­nised by firms in Thai­land and this has played a key role in the com­pany’s growth.

Scal­ing up

Af­ter find­ing suc­cess with Nor­we­gian clients, 7 Peaks Soft­ware gained a foothold in Thai­land by es­tab­lish­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion with lead­ing man­age­ment con­sult­ing com­pa­nies that would bring the com­pany several big en­ter­prise projects.

“The ex­pan­sion of 7 Peaks in Thai­land came mostly from re­peat busi­ness and re­fer­rals along with in­bound re­quests. Work­ing with big man­age­ment con­sult­ing com­pa­nies al­lowed us to work with large, pub­licly traded clients in Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia in ad­di­tion to Thai­land,” Mr Ak­snes says.

The or­ganic growth of 7 Peaks meant the firm needed a team ca­pa­ble of han­dling the ex­tra work. Proper strate­gies, ad­di­tional ex­po­sure and the scal­ing up of a lo­cal, Thai team with skilled de­sign­ers and project man­agers were just a few items the firm had to ad­dress.

“Build­ing our team was a very im­por­tant part of this. But it was not easy. Find­ing and re­tain­ing tal­ent is a chal­lenge. You can’t just hire peo­ple.

You have to build a cul­ture where peo­ple want to come to work ev­ery day,” Mr Ak­snes de­tails. “It was necessary to cre­ate a foun­da­tion that could help us scale up. It was only then that we could grow the busi­ness.”

With a solid in­fra­struc­ture in place, 7 Peaks has been able to take on even big­ger, more com­plex projects. For ex­am­ple, the firm re­cently com­pleted a project for a ma­jor oil and gas com­pany that wasn’t fea­si­ble in the past. Mr Ak­snes adds the com­pany fin­ished a suc­cess­ful project for Te­lenor as well where a prod­uct was de­liv­ered and de­ployed in 13 coun­tries.

“In our first three years, we worked ex­clu­sively with Nor­we­gian clients. How­ever, we have scaled that up. We now speak more than 15 lan­guages and have em­ploy­ees from around the world which allows us to serve a very di­verse clien­tele,” Mr Ak­snes points out.

But Nor­way re­mains an im­por­tant part of the com­pany’s busi­ness and the same own­ers of 7 Peaks are run­ning one of the lead­ing soft­ware de­vel­op­ment agen­cies in Scan­di­navia, Ap­phuset.

“We pro­vide the best of both lo­cal de­vel­op­ment as well as out­source de­vel­op­ment for our Scan­di­na­vian clients. This means hav­ing lo­cal UX de­sign­ers, project man­agers, soft­ware ar­chi­tects and key ac­count man­agers that work closely with the clients lo­cally while car­ry­ing out pro­duc­tion work at 7 Peaks in Bangkok,” Mr Ak­snes re­ports.

He con­tin­ues, “The lo­cal team in Ber­gen pro­vides a per­sonal touch for the com­pany’s out­sourced ser­vices in Nor­way which allows us to pro­vide clients there with a model we have found to work very well.”

The as­cent to the top is a long jour­ney and Mr Ak­snes un­der­stands 7 Peaks is still scal­ing up. It is all part of the com­pany’s de­sire to take 7 Peaks to the next level.



Above left: 7 Peaks CEO and Founder Jostein Ak­snes with part­ner Roy Ivar Moe. Above: 7 Peaks has built an in­ter­na­tional team ca­pa­ble of work­ing with clients from any­where.

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