IBM opened a new Security Operations Center in the Polish city of Wroclaw on Thursday. The news marks yet another addition to Big Blue's resources in the country and, according to the company, comes amid the trend towards the outsourcing of more advanced services.
The new Wroclaw location, one of 10 such centres worldwide, offers security services based on its X-Force Protection System managed security suite. By the end of the year, IBM expects to employ 70 IT specialists in the centre who will be monitoring client systems.
IBM has expanded rapidly this year in Poland. Earlier this month, the company opened new offices in Poznan and Krakow, having already cut the ribbon on premises Wroclaw and Katowice in March.
Anna Sienko, country general manager for Poland and the Baltics, told Central European processing that the Wroclaw opening is the result of a trend to more complex services being outsourced.
"In the beginning, Poland started with offering simple BPO [business processing outsourcing] functions and call centres," she says. "I think lower-level services can be found in other countries for a lower price. Also, the experience available on the Polish labour market is growing, meaning people are more on the lookout for more advanced jobs."
It's also seen a shift in the nature of IBM's clientele - traditionally the company has catered to Fortune 500 customers and governments. "Services like these are too expensive for SMBs to maintain themselves," says Marisa Viveros, vice president for cybersecurity innovation at IBM, adding that IBM is now also catering to the small business sector with its security services.
According to Viveros, the main issue in setting up security centres like this one lies in knowledge and education. Higher education technology courses do not specifically cater to IT security, she says. "For example, we see that network security skills and cryptography are on a high level in universities, but work needs to be done on data management, secure software development and policies."
General IT knowledge in Central Europe is at least on par with fully mature markets, however, Viveros adds.
IBM's expansion in Poland contrasts with reports further west. Unconfirmed reports earlier this year in Germany and this week the Netherlands speak of pending staff cuts there. The company did not comment on these stories, but does distance itself from any suggestions of transferring labour to 'cheaper' countries.
Sienko stresses that the availability of a well-educated workforce factors more heavily than wage costs for IBM. "I haven't had a cost discussion in over two years," she says.
Any wage differences between Poland and Western Europe have also not resulted in the huge drain of talent initially feared. "When the labour market in Germany was opened for Poles, there was the fear that people would rather skip across the border to work there. But we've had zero issues with that," Sienko says.
The pace of IBM's expansion in Poland also comes as the result of projects undertaken because of the Euro 2012 football tournament, as well as Polish attempts to develop e-government, she adds.
The Polish economy, unlike most European countries, is still growing rapidly. "That means the IT industry is growing, and the majority of our clients here that have headquarters in other countries are doing extremely well in Poland," Sienko notes.