We live in a tough market. And it is not getting any easier. Cultural differences in business practices, globalization, changing customer demographics, rapid technological development and budget austerity are all playing their part in making life more difficult for the small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), despite the fact this is the very sector from which much of our innovation stems. It is interesting, therefore, to see encouragement in the continued dogged – and successful – performance of Portuguese communications specialist EID, whose Commercial Director, Eduardo Prata, recently spent some time answering MON questions.
Established in the 1980s, EID was acquired by Cohort plc in 2015 and is the only non UK-based component of the highly successful technology group. The Cohort influence might be seen in part in some of Mr Prata’s comments regarding growth and change – though the self-sufficient and internally motivated nature of the company should also not be discounted.
“Our company is focused since its inception in naval and land military communications and, as we are a medium-sized company, we need to be more innovative and flexible than the large companies dealing in the same business. This attitude of innovation comes from the inception of the company which, from its start in the 1980s included a strong team of young and motivated electronics, communications and software engineers.
EID’s research and development effort corresponds to around 10% of turnover. Two of our larger ongoing projects currently include, in the naval domain, the development of a new generation of our Integrated Communications Control System (ICCS) which, besides being a fully IP-based system is highly focused on security issues in order to meet the expectations of the more demanding navies around the world; and in the land sector, our new NGVA-compliant vehicular intercom system, the ICC-401. This is also a fully IP-based system, with ring topology and is a follow-on to our previous successful intercom products, the ICC-201 (which will be gradually replaced by the ICC-401) and the cost-effective ICC-251. Another programme we are dealing with is the ‘soldier system’ concept.
Our current workforce is around 150 people, more than half that figure being engineers. Our average annual turnover over the past five years is around €20 million, of which 70% is exported. We currently have customers in nearly 20 countries and are making efforts to increase that figure. One way to achieve that is our presence in the major international military exhibitions, where we show our products and systems working effectively. We are also widening our network of agents as well as approaching – and in some cases already dealing with – systems integrators in some countries in which we propose and integrate our systems or sub-systems in large-scale projects. We have a significant presence in Europe, in the Middle East and North Africa and particularly in the ASEAN region, where we have an office in Jakarta. We are also evaluating new business opportunities in regions new to us.
Our growth strategy is mainly evolutionary but in some specific aspects we also bring a revolutionary flavor to the mix. This market and the way to approach it is changing fast as customers are becoming better informed and technically apt, thus requiring a higher level of competence from our sales force and project management.
EID solutions as a whole are different and distinguishable from most of our competitors in the following aspects: a high desire and capability to customize solutions for the customers, which requires a high degree of flexibility; also nearly 40 years’ experience in the company’s core technologies and competence; proximity to the end user – initially in several NATO counties but now far more global – has also been important. Finally and perhaps most importantly, the quality and reliability of EID products is recognized by the vast majority of our customers and partners.”
MON: Thank you for such a concise and comprehensive view of EID. We shall continue to watch progress with great interest.
Eduardo Prata is Commercial Director for EID in Charneca de Caparica, near Lisbon, responsible for the company’s growing sales and marketing activities. (Photo: EID)