CeBIT’s big slogan in 2016 was "d!conomy" – a new coinage combining the words “digital” and “economy”. The trade fair fully focused on digital transformation and its implications. Developer World is a new exhibition and conference format co-initiated by Yatta and Heise Media group in cooperation with CeBIT – and it proved an excellent platform for discussing ways to get businesses ready for the digital age. After its’ great success in 2015, Developer World took place for the second time in 2016 – and it by no means exclusively focused on software development this time. Instead it centered around one of the big questions of our time: How can businesses successfully drive and master their own digital transformation?
Augmented Reality, the Internet of Things, 3D Printing, cloud and data security. These were only a few of the topics discussed in diverse talks at this year’s Developer World. Digital technologies and media have long become part of their every-day work of many companies – but digital transformation neither begins nor ends with the adoption of new technologies. And it will continue gaining momentum.
In fact, the way business work sis changing fundamentally. Digital transformation opens up new business models – and destroys traditional ones. Such changes pose a challenge to many companies – because they involve much more than just switching technologies. They also affect organizational structures, processes, and consequently affect even corporate culture. Digital transformation has a global impact, on production and communication, in-house and customer relations, on infrastructure and in fact on everyone’s role within a company. In the wake of these changes, well-tried principles need to be rethought – and companies have to reinvent themselves on many different levels, sometimes from the bottom up.
Digital transformation is more than just software
According to a BITKOM study from December 2015, an overwhelming majority of companies in important industries agrees: 96 percent of companies in the automotive sector, banks, the media, the pharmaceutical industry, and tourism companies - all see digital transformation as a positive development. So the opportunities obviously outweigh the risks.
The digital age has its source from the possibilities offered by the rapid development of new technologies. 3D printers, cloud computing, robots and the Internet of Things - we may not yet know how exactly these and other technologies will change markets and the business world, but it’s safe to say that “d!conomy” offers new, fascinating opportunities. But how should we best leverage these opportunities?
A lot is being said about changing corporate culture, about the benefits of flat hierarchies and agile teams, about omni channel customer service and new roles, like the chief digital officer (CDO), and many of other measures for getting companies ready for the digital age. A lot of questions also focus on BigData: How can companies manage, evaluate and make use of the flood of information available?
The process of digital transformation involves a technical component – like IT strategy, digital infrastructure, and software systems – as well as the transformation of the organization itself. Surprisingly, so far enterprise IT often only plays a subsidiary role in the process. The reason may be that, instead of attributing the position of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) with creativity and potential for transformation, IT's core responsibilities have too long been reviled as being “just” a cost center. Mostly, the mission of “IT” still is to keep technology operating smoothly. This makes reimagining the role of IT rather difficult, because developing new concepts seems like the antithesis of the CIO’s core responsibilities. The situation is often similar in Research and Development, sometimes associated with the Chief Technical Officer (CTO).
To initiate strategic projects and to build a fresh IT team can be a much-needed signal in such a situation – and independent strategic planning with the right consultants at hand can become a good starting point for digital transformation. But an existing IT may still hide its own potential for transformation, so pre-defining all existing (software-) systems may not always be necessary or reasonable. Often, the more promising approach is to create synergies and to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
Transformation and change are both gradual. From the outside, the results of a successful digital strategy may look like abrupt changes, but in reality, most astounding changes have a history n – and the transformation was more likely an evolution than a revolution. To reinvent yourself doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. An integrating approach can uncover surprising strengths in in-house IT departments, which are worth expanding and refining.
In a nutshell, a strategy for digital transformation contains three key components: people, information, and technology. All three are inextricably linked. This is the reason why Developer World in the SCALE11 area at CeBIT is about much more than just software and new technologies – it’s about the possibilities of software development in the holistic context of digital transformation.
Smart minds and cross-disciplinary thinking create innovation
This year’s Developer World brought creative tech people and leading technology experts, start-up founders and established companies together – and sparked off an intense debate about digital transformation itself. This way, Developer World shed some light on the opportunities and risks of digital transformation and spurred on ideas on the big topics of the digital age.
Developer World is a place where expert knowledge and groundbreaking ideas meet in the smallest space. Cross-disciplinary dialogue reinforces the vision of software and IT as parts of the value-added chain – and thus as an essential factor for business success: You only know where to look for innovation if you have your finger at the pulse of the time. In the present and in the future.
CeBIT’s 2016 slogan “d!conomy” proves the weight of a creative dialogue across different disciplines. Software is the engine of digital transformation; data is its fuel – but its really driven by people. Creativity and the will to shape the future help join the key components of digital transformation together. People, information, technology. This in turn helps guide businesses through digital transformation and shapes their own transformational process at the same time - through technological knowhow, product management knowledge and creative entrepreneurial thinking.