CeBIT Targets Business-Model Transformation

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2005-03-09 Print this article Print

Opening the CeBIT show in Hannover, Germany, SAP founder Henning Kagermann says technology's ability to radically restructure business models is what will make IT fascinating again.

HANNOVER, Germany—"IT is exciting again!" That was the message SAP founder Henning Kagermann gave at the opening session at CeBIT on Wednesday evening. Whats making IT so sexy? Kagermann pointed to a radical change in how it is used. Instead of focusing on breakthrough products, technologys ability to radically restructure business models is what will make IT fascinating again, he said. "Business model innovations will replace product innovation," he said, as a new awareness develops of the "transformational and strategic importance of IT."
SAPs chairman pointed to three key ways in which information technology has become critical to the world.
First, IT has become ubiquitous, part of our daily lives even more than we know. And that makes a computer failure—such as what happened during the 2003 blackout in New York—an incredibly important event even to people who dont use computers. Second, scientific progress is impossible without computers. Advances in mathematics, physics and statistics just arent possible without computers. And finally, Kagermann said he sees business and IT as inseparable. "Our industry started out as a tool, but today it is a catalyst for supporting business globally." "The main benefit here today," he said, "is that access to the know-how is cast into software, and we call that best practices." And those benefits help companies beyond those in the developed world. "This will help Russian oil, Chinese steel and water works in Namibia" as well, he said. "Today, emerging companies are able to adopt tried and tested principles of business much faster, and are able to compete globally much more rapidly." Kagermann committed to refocusing SAP AG from creating tools to helping to transform corporate business models, and making it easy to experiment and refine those models as well. "In the future, customers will model their business processes rather than reprogramming them." He explained the concept with an automobile metaphor, likening it to fixing ones car without opening the hood. Click here to read about Skypes CEO taking on telcos at CeBIT. The other three speakers at the opening event each echoed that theme of renewed tech-sector excitement and globalization. Each pointed to the growth of exhibitors—larger now than three years ago. Hannovers mayor, Herbert Schmalstieg, provided specifics: 6,270 companies from 69 companies, as evidence that CeBIT and technology are on the rise again. Schmalstieg, the first speaker, kicked off the event with a look back at milestones that Germany is celebrating this year. "Sixty years ago saw the liberation of concentration camps, an end to dictatorship and fascism, and the start of the reconstruction." But thats not the only momentous anniversary. "Were also looking back on 15 years of reunification." Next Page: The impact of global instability.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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