Software that’s available 24/7, scalable and easy to use by any target group. That’s what organisations expect from software providers nowadays. Sofico, a specialist in software for car leasing and mobility companies, realised it needed to take a quantum leap to remain the global leader in its industry. It needed expertise, flexibility and a human approach from AE.
There is no way around it: in today’s world, technology is the ticket to success. Sofico provides that ticket in its industry with Miles. International leasing companies, mobility providers and OEMs such as BMW, Daimler-Mercedes and Stellantis use Miles to manage their fleets and mobility solutions worldwide.
Sofico is very much a Belgian company. This leading provider of niche ERP software started its growth story in Ghent and now has more than 450 employees in eight offices and multiple hubs in cities including Sydney, Tokyo, London, Munich and Utrecht.
What was its challenge? How did it face this challenge together with AE?
And what is the outcome of this partnership?
A challenge to remain the global leader
Even an experienced digital player such as Sofico had a major challenge to address: the need to meet growing demand. Its ERP package ran on the customer’s three-tier infrastructure, a single monolithic block of code that was difficult to access by mobility users.
Customers wanted more flexibility, more scalability, higher speeds and far more possibilities. At the same time, they wanted a better user experience for fleet managers, drivers of lease cars and other players.
"We asked ourselves: how can we turn our software and technology into a new solution with these new possibilities?” states Sofico CTO and co-founder Piet Maes. “How can we make a difference by providing the best software architecture?”
“The digital transition to a cloud native platform required us to stay relevant while continuing to lead in our market,” continues Piet. "The market trend is also shifting from comprehensive monolithic packages to flexible ecosystems consisting of individual best-of-breed components that offer best-fit options for each sub-area. Organisations want the very best and want to be able to respond and adapt to events quickly and flexibly, so they can always offer the best solution to the end customer."
Identifying the benefits of AE immediately
The aim was to expand the existing solution via a cloud-native solution with microservices and container technology.
“We compared several parties and were immediately impressed by our first exploratory sessions with AE,” states Piet. "AE has experience and positions itself as the ideal guide in a technological transition. We also feel more comfortable with a partner who is approximately the same size as we are, leads the way in terms of knowledge, has people to make things happen, and focuses on innovation and the learning organisation. Going through such a transition is one thing, but we needed to get the whole organisation on board. AE also provides training sessions, offers guidance, and collaborates in a solution-oriented way."
"The AE team went well beyond simply giving advice. They were part of a united team with our Sofico engineers and developers, participated in the transition, and are still playing their part today. We also clicked immediately.
Piet Maes, Sofico CTO and co-founder
The result? A highly flexible platform
After an intense process, the Miles Microservices Platform (MMP) emerged as the foundation for a complete cloud-native architecture. The many options and add-on modules for personalisation or expansion enable each Sofico customer to create a unique and richer experience for their end customer.
Piet explains the innovations: "Our latest solution no longer makes the distinction between front office and back office. It also has all functions for every internal and external user available 24/7. It can handle unexpected peaks, is aligned with the existing IT landscape, can run on both a public and private cloud, and is extremely scalable."
"This makes it possible for the end customer's employees to choose a new company car in the app of their leasing company. They can also renew their lease contract, request a number plate or report an accident. As a result, the software can be optimised on an ongoing basis. Lease managers can use it to manage contracts and fleets, validate invoices, make payments and so on. At the same time, an organisation can easily scale up from 5,000 to 50,000 to 500,000 or even more cars or quickly roll out the solution in several countries."
A guarantee of future growth
How does this future-proof solution support the business strategy? The new platform will make it possible to achieve 15 to 20% annual growth in turnover and margin in the coming years. Sofico doubles in size roughly every five years. We are aware that hiring the right people is becoming increasingly difficult, so we have ensured that the new technology can also help us to overcome this challenge.
“In our future strategy, there is a shift between revenue from professional services performed by our people to more revenue from software,” Piet explains. "We are evolving from one solid unit to several small-scale software packages that can work fully independently in containers. We will also market some of these so-called point solutions as stand-alone SaaS solutions with more of a focus on standardisation and less on customisation. For example, we already have a car-sharing platform that can be used as a separate SaaS solution with a corresponding mobile app for various car-sharing schemes. We were also pleased that we could count on AE’s expertise for this development."
The AE Adapt and Enable approach
“Our collaboration with Sofico is a great example of AE’s ‘Adapt and Enable’ approach,” states AE Data & Integration Director Pieter Laroy. "But a project doesn't end once the platform has been built. It also needs to be possible to use the new technology successfully as part of new customer solutions. They then have to be successfully implemented for Sofico’s customers as well. That doesn't always happen without a hitch."
"We believe in partnership in good times and bad.
It is when things become difficult that you need to step up to the challenge and take action. That is what we did and what made Sofico such a happy customer."
Pieter Laroy, AE Data & Integration Director
"We believe in partnership in good times and bad. It is when things become difficult that you need to step up to the challenge and take action. That is what we did and what made Sofico such a happy customer. Their team realised that AE goes well beyond simply building a solution. They saw that it is all about people rallying together when things get tough."
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