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Certification as a tool for ICT companies to access new markets and clients

Company-level certificates are not just a piece of paper to be framed and hanged on the office wall. Certificates can lead to new clients and markets, and result in an average of 20% increase in sales, as a number of companies have projected.  Certificates can also help companies plan on how to grow in an optimized way. However, many small to medium size companies in North Macedonia often have difficulties obtaining the certification—either because of lack of finance or the absence of an ecosystem that can support from the start to finish of the certification process. IME offers SMEs from the three target sectors the chance to acquire company-level certifications. This is done through the Pay-for-Performance (P4P) instrument, through which IME co-funds the certification and guidance expenses up to a certain amount, through a catalogue of endorsed certification consultants and bodies.


Cultivating trilateral collaboration for a single goal  

Hoyo Tech, a fast-growing local IT company that helps individuals and businesses to connect their homes and offices with sensors and other data exchange technology, approached IME to participate in the P4P instrument. Dealing with (sensitive) data as part of their products and services, information security certificates are a precondition set by Hoyo Tech’s (potential) clients. Through MASIT, Macedonian ICT Chamber of Commerce, Hoyo Tech learned of IME’s support in certification.

For some time, we were working in the Swiss market but now we are starting cooperation with a company from the Netherlands. We needed to meet the ISO/IEC 27001 information security standard to fulfil the new clients’ requirements. Many clients ask for this certificate.” says Dashmir Istrefi, company co-founder and owner. “We browsed through IME’s P4P online catalogue, and we found the most suitable certification body”, Dashmir adds.

However, Hoyo Tech realized that obtaining the certificate is not a short and straightforward route. They sought expert advise to guide them through the multi-layered and months-long process. “We are a small company and if we did the process ourselves, it would have taken us a whole year to finish,” Dashmir adds. Hoyo Tech, again with the help of IME’s P4P catalogue, found a suitable business development service provider to lead them to the final certification stage. This company was- Evrosimovski Consulting.

Evrosimovski Consulting offers technical support to companies that undergo the process of implementing ISO standards. Evrosimoski ensured that the whole process is set up much more efficiently and smoothly for Hoyo Tech. However, due to the pandemic, everything had to happen online.

“The remote audit with Hoyo Tech served as a pilot of our online services, and its success encouraged us to start offering this service to other clients in our Skopje and Belgrade offices. After 14 years of offline in-person work, we have now transferred our work almost completely online.” says Mihajlo Evrosimovski, director of Evrosimovski Consulting. They have invested in equipment and online platforms and set up wide-ranging online services. So far, they added two more clients from both Serbia and North Macedonia going through online technical assistance for certification, and are now doing a first online feasibility study for a foreign investor looking to enter the Macedonian market.

After completing all the prep work, Hoyo Tech were ready for the final stage. The certification was done by T-CERT SISTEM, an exclusive representative office for one of the leading certification bodies worldwide – TÜV NORD CERT. Compared with this time last year, T-CERT account for a 30% increase in interest among ICT companies to apply for market-demanded certification of their products or services. This has also resulted in T-CERT SISTEM’s overall sales growth.

“Since we joined as one of IME’s endorsed Pay-for-Performance program partners, we have noticed a surge in the number of companies approaching us for a ‘seal of quality’.” says Zorica Smilevska of T-CERT SISTEM. “This is especially evident for the ICT sector – as remote audit is possible for them.”

Benefits for the certified companies  & Developing a business services ecosystem 

With the new certificate, Hoyo Tech is now able to meet the information security standards of their existing and new clients from the Swiss and Dutch market, as well as potentially expand to other export markets. Hoyo Tech, however, have also become more competitive on the domestic market. Within just a few months after acquiring the certificate, they won the tender of the Macedonian Railways Public Enterprise, where the ISO/IEC 27001 information security standard was a prerequisite for bidding. Hoyo Tech is now responsible for developing an information system software for train timetable management and reporting. This is opening new job positions within the small tech company and is enabling them to expand their portfolio and accelerate company’s growth.

Overall, by making the certification process more affordable and systematically supported for small to medium-sized tech companies, IME is helping spur demand, which, in turn, raises the quality of the services offered. This support helps create an ecosystem with higher demand and supply for certification services, better-prepared business support service providers, and increased awareness of the importance of certification among tech companies.


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