“The further digitalization progresses, the easier it will be for companies to overcome the crisis”

"The further digitalization progresses, the easier it will be for companies to overcome the crisis"

 

In an interview with the COMPUTER world, Michael Wüstemeier, Managing Director of Proalpha Software Austria, describes what we can take with us from 2021 for the future, explains how the corona crisis and new work are affecting us and outlines the most important IT trends for this year. […]

What lessons can be learned from 2021 in general and from the corona crisis in particular for the future?
The corona crisis has once again shown how important digital transformation is for companies. After all, the more advanced digitization was, the easier it was for companies to overcome the crisis. In addition, she also clearly showed us how much is possible from the home office. Many of our consulting services, which were carried out on site before Corona, can now also be done remotely. Of course, this flexible working has advantages and disadvantages. Whereas consultants used to have one to two clients a day, today they may have eight. This makes some days more stressful despite less travel time.

In your opinion, how will the corona crisis affect the IT industry, companies and our society this year?
Many companies – especially in the IT industry – will have to adapt to the fact that home office will become an integral part of professional life. Those who do not automatically grant their employees this option in the future will have leniency behind other more flexible companies.

Of course, not everything will always remain remote, because the interpersonal is important and necessary. But there will be a hybrid form: a mixture of on-site appointments and remote meetings. The challenge for the next few years will be to ensure that there are fewer contacts in the office itself. The use of coworking spaces and incubators will increase here. Companies will have to come up with new attractive office concepts here in order to attract employees from the home office back to the office. After all, if everyone works only in the home office, companies become easily interchangeable.

What were your professional and personal highlights in 2021?
A professional highlight is certainly the fact that we were able to make PROALPHA in Austria even stronger this year and have grown even further. Due to the pandemic, many have now jumped on the bandwagon of digitization. For example, we were able to achieve a growth of 35% in the software sector compared to the previous year.

Personally, I am still happy about the highlight from 2020: my four-legged running partner, a Magyar Viszla, continues to be loyal to me.

“Many companies – especially in the IT industry – will have to adapt to the fact that home office will become an integral part of professional life. Those who do not automatically grant their employees this option in the future will have leniency behind other more flexible companies.“

Michael Wüstemeier

Which topics do you think should be at the top of the agenda of IT managers this year and why or which IT topics will play a particularly important role in 2022?
A well-known but sometimes the most important topic is digitization: Companies must ensure seamless end-to-end processes and a consistent integration of all relevant systems. Here, the topic of process mining is also gaining even more importance, because even processes that have already been digitized always have room for improvement.

Trends such as sustainability and cybersecurity, which were already relevant in 2021, will also accompany us next year. Likewise, the topic of AI and its use in the field of ERP software. Above all, the possible use of speech recognition in the ERP system is an important aspect that we are already working on.

The last two years have been marked by the pandemic and accelerated digitization and brought us hybrid working models. After the pandemic, the next – bigger – crisis, the climate crisis, has to be dealt with. How do you think companies need to change in terms of sustainability? What specific measures are you/is your company planning for 2022 and beyond?
With the help of digitization, a big step can be taken towards climate neutrality. This puts the focus on enterprise applications such as ERP, MES and TMS systems. The ERP system serves as a single source of truth to determine the CO2 balance and to initiate appropriate measures for reduction. Here we are expanding our functionalities to support our customers in complying with international standards with regard to CO2 neutrality.

At Proalpha, we support the purchase of electric vehicles in consulting. This offer is constantly being expanded and at some locations their own charging stations are also being built.

How well is your company or how well are Austrian companies generally positioned for new work – i.e. distributed teams, home office, hybrid working models, etc.?
At Proalpha, we are very well positioned for New Work – this is one of the advantages of a software company. This has never been a problem for us, as we have been offering home office options for years. Of course, this has intensified during the pandemic. Nevertheless, we managed to carry out complete projects with our customers for months – from the first kick-off to the close-out. Even if that meant that we were guided through the production by GoPro or mobile phone camera in order to get to know the exact working methods.

Do you think that the tense situation regarding the shortage of IT specialists will improve in the coming years? What can be done in this area?
No, in my opinion, the situation will even get worse in some areas. That is why we are constantly working on designing our software in such a way that it can also be introduced with fewer resources. On the one hand, we achieve this with the help of templates and proALPHA best practices, which we combine into entire process maps for different industries. On the other hand, we also use automation to reduce the workload. These include topics such as RPA and AI, which can be used for decision-making.

This article is part of a series of interviews for which the COMPUTER WORLD interviewed around 50 top managers from the IT industry. You can read more interviews in the next few weeks on computerwelt.at.

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