Germany's Digital Pioneer 2022
Interview with Dr. Frank Schönthaler, CEO
Dear Frank, congratulations on the special award from the F.A.Z. Institute! PROMATIS took first place in the IT service provider category as part of the study “Germany’s Digital Pioneers 2022”. The respective industry winner receives 100 points and thus sets the benchmark for all other examined companies within the industry. In the course of this top ranking, we have prepared a few questions for you:
What are the challenges German companies are facing with regard to digitalization?
What the appeals of politicians and business leaders have failed to do over many years, the mutually reinforcing crises of our time have easily managed to do: a megatrend has grown out of the will to digitalize, giving digital technologies access to every conceivable area of society and the economy. This applies not only to Germany, but also to Europe and the entire world. The prerequisites for this, however, have to be met: The existence of a comprehensive, reliable, secure and high-performance digital infrastructure. Digitalization as a core competence in school, academic and company training is particularly important. But the availability of skilled workers for the design, development and operation of digital business solutions is also a fundamental building block. In this context, quality is at the forefront, and with regard to the interdisciplinary workforce, it has long been a question not only of technology, IT and business administration specialists, but also of social science and humanistic disciplines. In the course of globalization, a multilingual and multicultural workforce is also required. And last but not least, agility in the form of the ability to change, speed in strategic, tactical and operational terms is an essential factor for companies.
Which areas of the company do you think are the frontrunners, and which areas still need to catch up in terms of digitalization?
A look at our customer base shows that a lot is currently being invested particularly in the customer journey. Whereas in the past this meant only support processes, especially the customer experience (marketing, sales, and service) is now becoming more important. In addition, we are currently fine-tuning the employee journeys in our markets. Especially companies with core business processes that are based on recruiting and talent management rely on large-scale human capital management solutions. Another exciting area that has already seen a lot of digitalization is enterprise performance management (planning, forecasting, monitoring, analysis). However, I see the digitalization of the supply chain as THE top issue par excellence. After all, supply bottlenecks and trade barriers (sanctions) have shown us (in terms of maximally volatile supply chains) how vital it is to have predictable processes that serve to safeguard the existence of companies. Those who cannot react quickly in these times and plan various scenarios – also with regard to compliance guidelines – will find it difficult to survive in the market.
What does digitalization mean from an ethical point of view?
Nowadays, ethical aspects always come up in the context of digitalization. Due to my volunteer work as president of the board of trustees at the Integrata Foundation for the Humane Use of Information Technology, this topic is an important aspect for PROMATIS; not as an end in itself, but with the claim to provide our customers with future-proof solutions at all times. Consequently, innovation or digital innovation (artificial intelligence, dealing with blockchain and IoT) is one of our key priorities in this context. In addition, “more quality of life through IT” is also important to us, especially with regard to developments in artificial intelligence. This automatically puts the topic of “ethics and AI” on our agenda. An additional motive is that we want to provide the PROMATIS workforce and our digitalization experts with interesting, future-proof jobs at the forefront of innovation.
The study showed that a medium-sized company like PROMATIS is also ahead of the other major IT service providers. What does that imply?
I would like to invoke the term “hidden champion”. As a medium-sized company, it is certainly easier to lace together the strategy mix that is digitalization-innovation-employer attractiveness-profitability, and implement it quickly and sustainably. Particularly when it comes to innovation, but also when it comes to presenting our attractiveness as an employer, we benefit from a close cooperation with the universities near our sites, with KIT and the University of Muenster at the forefront – for example through joint research projects, practical training activities for students, talent recruiting, and working student programs.
Sometimes, however, what it takes is size. That’s why we successfully and happily work together with large partners such as Oracle, Deloitte, Accenture, EY or KPMG – on a national and international level. This gives us the flexibility to combine forces quickly and in a targeted manner, as well as agile performance processes that allow us to build cross-company value chains.