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CEOs @ CeBIT #1: Karl-Heinz Streibich, Software AG

Top managers from the world’s leading digital enterprises share their views on the future of digital business. What will tomorrow’s world – a world of zero limits or barriers – look like? To begin our interview series, we spoke with the CEO of Software AG, Karl-Heinz Streibich.

06 Feb. 2017
CEO Streibich Software AG
Karl-Heinz Streibich, CEO Software AG

Mr. Streibich: You’ve been the CEO of Software AG for almost 14 years. Much has changed in the world of IT during this time. What do you think has been the biggest change?

The ongoing process of digitalization represents the fastest and most comprehensive wave of change in the IT industry. Digital transformation is affecting all companies, all business divisions, all sectors of industry. And it is robbing many management teams of their sleep, particularly in traditional, established enterprises. At the same time it offers enormous opportunities and is the driving power in digital hotspots, from Silicon Valley to Bangalore. You can be among the winners in the digital universe, but to do that, you need a willingness to build software expertise as well as the courage to do so now.

In today’s fast-paced digital business climate, what new opportunities can CeBIT open up?

CeBIT is the world’s biggest IT exhibition and has been shining a spotlight on digitalization for years. For example, in 2015, the official slogan for the event was "d!conomy". For decision-makers from the digital industry as well as from politics and government, it is one of the key annual highlights. It offers enormous opportunities to view the latest developments up close as well as to generate new leads and expand everyone’s own networks and ecosystems.

The slogan of CeBIT 2017 is "d!conomy – no limits". What does "no limits" mean to you, personally?

Digitalization has a potential which is still unfathomable. Many of the companies we are supporting on the road to digitalization are delighted about all the things they can do once digitalization has taken hold. At our stand we will be showing a number of examples which illustrate the "limitlessness" of digital transformation. Our slogan – "Unleash Your Vision!" – takes the CeBIT slogan even a step further.

Where do you see the biggest risks for digitalization? And what should companies do to prepare for those risks?

The biggest risk is to just sit back and do nothing. We software manufacturers have been dealing with this topic for many years now. Software can be used to map out new business models and connect the digital with the physical world. Traditional, established enterprises need to be aware of this. The task in the future is to bolster your software competence and technical expertise. The path is clear and the milestones are well-known. The only thing that needs to happen now is to implement it. There is no alternative to digitalization. Digitalization is not merely a trend – it is a paradigm shift.

"The task in the future is to bolster your software competence and technical expertise. The path is clear and the milestones are well-known."

Software AG is exhibiting this year at CeBIT in Hall 4, stand no. 11. What can visitors expect to see there?

This year we will be focusing on a key theme that will be revolutionizing entire industries – the Internet of Things. At our stand we will demonstrate how IoT software solutions can change entire sectors of industry. Together with our innovation partners at Bosch, we will be showcasing our joint IoT solutions for Industry 4.0 – in keeping with the motto of “made in digital Germany”. Here, we are not concerned so much with the outcomes, but rather with the path our customers have taken to turn their visions into reality. The watchword in all these cases is “co-innovation”. Our message is that even traditional, conventional companies can be among the winners in the digital universe.