In an interview with the COMPUTER WORLD, Alfred Hiebl, Managing Director and co-owner of the MIC Group, 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 the coming year. […]
In your opinion, how will the corona crisis affect the IT industry, companies and our society in the coming year?
I think the corona crisis had an enormous strengthening and accelerating effect on many topics in the IT industry in the first place. In many areas, digitalization is progressing much faster than might otherwise have happened. To give just one small example: Before the crisis, it was a matter of course for our customers that workshops for larger implementation projects took place personally and on site. Today it is normal that projects are handled almost exclusively via online meetings. I would believe that on-site visits might become more again, but hardly get to the pre-corona extent anymore.
What were your professional and personal highlights in 2021?
The digitalization initiatives in our business area are back to pre-corona level. On the contrary, we are even experiencing a kind of catch-up effect. For us, 2021 was therefore a very challenging, but also a very successful year. We will grow much stronger than expected this year, we will achieve one of our best results and are looking very positively into next year.
Which topics do you think should be at the top of the agenda of IT managers in the coming year and why or which IT topics will play a particularly important role in 2022?
As the media has often highlighted recently, it is essential for multinational companies to get their global supply chains back on track and secure them after the crisis. Of course, the IT solutions must also be supported accordingly, e.g. for sourcing decisions, etc. At the same time, you must continue to reduce customs and trade compliance costs in order to be competitive, i.e. continue to invest in software (global trade management), IT infrastructure, automation, etc., among other things. Digitalization will therefore remain the central topic in our business area for the foreseeable future, with a predicted growth of 8 to 10 percent.
“In order to personally involve as many employees as possible and to inspire them for the topic of sustainability, we are a member of the Glacier community and train some employees to become Climate Rangers.“
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 concrete measures are you/is your company planning for 2022 and beyond?
With the global goal of max. 2 ° Celsius, preferably 1.5 ° Celsius warming from the Paris Agreement, there are now also clear commitments from the EU (minus 55 percent CO2 by 2030) and Austria (minus 55 percent by 2030, climate neutrality in 2040) on the table. In order to achieve this, we set up our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program last year, in which we look at the entire topic of sustainability, but in particular also define our CO2 targets, formulate and pursue measures. We want to measure our CO2 footprint cleanly and plan to achieve the reduction targets set well before 2030 or 2040.
In order to personally involve and inspire as many employees as possible, we are, among other things, a member of the Glacier community and train some employees to become Climate Rangers.
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.?
When we sent all our colleagues to the home office in the first lockdown within one day, we were admittedly a little nervous. But actually that worked great from day one. We currently have a permanent 60-to-40 regulation (40 percent home office), which we want to continue even after Corona. Now in lockdown, we have completely released Home Office again. We pay a flat-rate home office fee or also offer additional payment models for IT equipment and ergonomic equipment.
Due to our international locations, we already had geographically distributed teams before Corona, as well as with our now four locations in Austria (headquarters in Linz, Salzburg, Hagenberg, Vienna). We are currently building our new headquarters for 500 workplaces in Linz, which we are already fully designing for a hybrid working model. The building will also be built in a particularly sustainable way (ÖGNI Gold Standard).
“I think that the shortage of IT specialists will become even greater in the coming years. Applying for STEM courses, expanding training opportunities, teaching IT, etc. are certainly a must of the hour.“
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?
I think that the shortage of IT specialists will become even greater in the coming years. Most experts seem to agree that the current digitization trend will continue. The demographic development of the next few years is also foreseeable. In combination, it is difficult to see how the situation could improve in the short term.
To apply for STEM courses, to expand the training opportunities (e.g. as the Technical University currently planned in Upper Austria), IT teaching, etc. are certainly a must of the hour. In my opinion, however, such measures have a rather long-term effect, because additional graduates will come to the job market in a few years at the earliest. In the short term, it might be possible to accelerate the recruitment of IT specialists even more strongly and support the training of career changers in IT.
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.