With a degree in computer science and engineering tucked under his arm, Allan Zander doesn’t shy away from anything labelled “mission critical,” whether that’s working in 9/11 telephone networks or in air traffic control.
In 2008, his expertise helped earn him the role of CEO at DataKinetics. Headquartered in the Kanata North tech park, DataKinetics powers nearly a billion mission-critical transactions for the world’s largest banking, insurance, credit card, brokerage houses and retail organizations each day.
To put this into perspective, Zander says that whenever anyone uses their bank card to pay for a product or gets a paycheque deposited automatically, there’s a good chance it’s DataKinetics “doing that here, from the heart of Ottawa, and we continue to grow and innovate based on that technology.”
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When Zander first joined the DataKinetics team, the company already had seven of the world’s 10 largest banks as its customers. “It really was a dream opportunity,” he says.
Recently, the company celebrated its 45th anniversary. “Not too many companies get to say that they’re 45 years old — let alone a software company, let alone an Ottawa-based software company,” Zander says.
The world has changed significantly since 1977, when DataKinetics opened its doors. For starters, there are far more transactions happening every second around the world and there is an expectation that they happen almost instantaneously.
“The number of things that we need to check for — fraud, validity, whatever else — are also growing exponentially,” Zander says.
But DataKinetics was up for the challenge; over the past decade, it has tripled its revenue, growing its global market share through partnerships with companies like IBM.
“I would love to tell you we were this overnight success, but we have our lumps,” Zander says. He admits that he made some “investing mistakes” in the past, but that the team makes a point of learning from mistakes.
“I honestly believe that’s a huge part of why DataKinetics has lasted for 45 years and why we have one of the greatest work environments in Ottawa,” he says. The proof is in the pudding: for over five years, the company hasn’t had anyone quit.
On top of serving most of the world’s Fortune 500 companies, DataKinetics serves the community, too, having raised more than $500,000 for United Way Ottawa over the years.
Looking ahead, the company will continue to strengthen its relationship with IBM. “I definitely see us finding ways of developing future products and technologies together, beyond what we’re already doing,” Zander says.
DataKinetics also makes small investments in startups, at times incubating companies internally.
“We’re very much on the lookout for other opportunities that make sense for DataKinetics to make some investments in, to maybe build future companies in Ottawa that are going to last 45 years or longer as well,” Zander says.
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