Over the past 12 months, we’ve been really lucky to talk to some of the tech industry’s foremost leaders in digital transformation and changing the way we work. This week, we’re proud to add another name to that list, sitting down to interview Online Partner Sweden CEO Fredrik Linnander in our home city of Dublin. Watch the full interview in the video above, and as ever, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe!
Getting our interview off to a running start, we take some time to chat about Fredrik’s professional background before he established himself at Online Partner Sweden. He explains that he has worked with computers for a long time, stretching all the way back to “the early days”. He has paired this life pursuit with a commitment to entrepreneurship, running a variety of businesses for the best part of two decades. “For the last two years, however, I’ve been focussed on one thing,” says Fredrik, “and that’s running a Google business”.
Being Cool in the Digital Era
Across all of this time, what it means to be ‘cool’ has transformed. Whilst Fredrik sees a future in tech and development for his children, they see themselves as future YouTubers. “My son even asked me to set up Twitch streaming for his video games,” he laughs, “but I asked him, ‘why’? After all, nobody is watching!”. Indeed, according to the Online Partner Sweden CEO, the days of aspiring to be astronauts and rockstars are dwindling.
Like many successful entrepreneurs, Fredrik stumbled upon the world of business by accident. “I wanted a dream car – a Chevrolet Corvette. I worked, I saved, I asked my parents and brother for a loan. I tried this car and it was just amazing, with a V8 engine. I was losing roughly 2000 dollars, so I had to rethink my finances and plan for it. In the meantime, someone else came and bought the car,” he remembers, recalling a gut-punching disappointment in missing that once-in-a-lifetime chance.
With all of that money now resting in a pot, Fredrik took some of his father’s advice in looking towards setting up a company – or at least by investing in private medical insurance. “I opened my first company in 2000, just before the height of the financial crash. We were doing consultation for SMB customers, dealing with pretty much anything connected to electricity!”
A Revolution in IT
This is a valuable learning period for Fredrik. Having had no seniors or gurus to turn to for advice, the fledgling businessman often had to rely on his own expertise and judgement. “It also taught me when to realise where your own knowledge is limited. It means being able to step back and ask if there are any other ways we can offer a solution to a problem. My idea originally was that I should know everything about IT. Now, every manufacturer has a different operating system,” he adds. Indeed, Fintan remarks that in today’s digital marketplace, it’s impossible to know everything – and therefore essential to forge partnerships with like-minded companies.
Fredrik’s journey towards setting up a Google business began when he was around 30 years old, after spending a Saturday night fixing up a broken Microsoft Exchange Server. “All of my friends were out partying and I was stuck inside this noisy server room. I just thought – enough – I can’t do this anymore. My life can’t be spent fixing stuff that is inherently broken. I started looking at alternatives, especially around the provision of services – backup as a service and antivirus as a service, for example.”
Fredrik eventually came to realise that Google offered effective solutions to all of these questions. With this assumption, he abandoned all other tools and solutions, educating himself on everything related to Google. Of course, this soon developed into Google Apps, with many developments occurring since his early days back in 2008. “With Microsoft, it simply will break. You will literally sit and wait for those customers to call with a problem, and there will, of course, be about 10 different departments required to sort it out. The customer then pays you to save the day,” he explains. Fintan notes that this revolution in IT and Google solutions saw professionals like Fredrik transform “from break-fixers to solution architects”.
From Break-Fixers to Solution Architects
This transformation in IT forced many professionals to reassess what they were offering to their customers. In an industry with significantly less repairs and break-fixes, companies like Fredrik’s instead had to focus on the value of the solution they were offering. “Google has become more and more stable, giving even more value to the customer. We have to reinvent ourselves regularly to keep abreast of these changes,” he shares.
For Fredrik, the main challenge behind being a Google business and a Google Partner is that people still default to Microsoft. He explains that this is often because they aren’t aware of any alternatives, and when you do scratch the surface, you rarely find a happy Microsoft customer. “When I meet with IT managers or CEOs, I ask them if they really need Microsoft Excel. If they really don’t need that, do they need the whole Office package? Do they really, therefore, need the operating software? It just keeps growing and rolling; it’s like an iceberg. Then I tell the customer they can get rid of the iceberg by making the decision to change direction. Then you can start looking at things from a different perspective”. Fintan adds that when you do have that group of people within an organisation who understand these issues, breaking down that iceberg is a much simpler task.
The Online Partner Sweden CEO highlights that if you want to stay relevant into the future, then you must think about how things ‘could’ be done: “I heard a story a few years back of a cost-saving initiative in an Italian municipality. They were switching to Open Office, and all their employees were saying that switching was impossible. The alternative was that they had to fire three employees. The question was put to them – make the switch, or lose three of your colleagues. Needless to say, the decision was made very quickly.”
Fintan emphasises this paradigm shift, where we are increasingly seeing an uptake of software as a surface (SaaS). Fredrik adds that we are now able to form business models that didn’t previously exist, offering services which we couldn’t have imagined not long ago. “Just like bikes or scooters, you can have a service deliverable that really suits each customer much better. The future is software,” explains Fredrik.
Indeed, the presence of these technologies is leading to the dawn of the digital native – something we touched upon in a recent blog. Whilst some children have been surrounded by technology (in the case of Fintan’s children being “the sons of a nerd”), many states are investing in the necessary infrastructure to ensure this is the case, with coding now forming an essential element of Sweden’s national curriculum. And, whilst few schools have yet to roll this initiative out fully, current educational tech trends are leading us there regardless.
More About Damson Cloud
Fintan and the team at Damson Cloud would like to send a massive thank-you to Fredrik Linnander for taking time out of his schedule to share his insights. Followers of Damson Cloud can access the full interview via the Damson Cloud blog, alongside interviews with industry-leading experts from Happeo, Cobry, C-Learning, Huddly and more. Check it out!
As a longstanding member of the Google Cloud Partner program, Damson Cloud specialise in bringing people and ideas together through new ways of working. We champion change management and digital transformation using some of the internet’s most trusted solutions, including Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Happeo and Jamboard. To find out more about our services, check out our library of tutorial videos or our blog.