Interview: IDC expert Lynn Thorenz talks about the smart company and modern IT architecture in the digital age.
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Smart company: Everyone is a developer

A future-oriented IT architecture and employees who can create digital innovations independently – to IDC expert Lynn Thorenz, this is the essence of economic success in the digital era.
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Ms. Thorenz, is smart computing also a hot topic for IDC analysts?

Definitely. According to our forecasts, 30 percent of large cities globally, for example, will be developing a results-oriented smart city IoT platform strategy this year.

With the aim of?

For example, to connect devices, collect and manage data from different city domains and technology providers, quickly implement new solutions, and achieve a unified view of the city. We also expect that in two
years, 15 percent of major global civil protection organizations in cities and countries will use a combination of augmented and virtual reality solutions to better assess and respond to dangerous situations.

Do you expect this development in private companies as well?

Essentially, yes. Already last year, we argued that all companies must start to transition their working methods to digital innovation networks. This has not changed, and many are on the right track. However, for some it is already five to twelve.

What do you mean?

ALTERNATIVTEXT einsetzen (!)
Lynn Thorenz is Associate Vice President of Research & Consulting at IDC Germany and Switzerland. Her analyses are mainly focused on the so-called third platform (mobile computing, cloud services, big data, analytics, and social networks). Prior to joining IDC, Lynn Thorenz was a senior analyst and consultant with Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC).
Particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises, we still see ERP as the core application of the company, integrated into older infrastructures, but nobody dares to touch them. Such legacy systems, however, do not allow their IT to be upgraded holistically, as is necessary for digitization and the smart enterprise.

So, instead?

To become smart, companies need what we call a “DX platform”. DX stands for “Digital Experience,” a forward-looking IT architecture that enables products and services to be brought to market quickly, while simultaneously modernizing IT from the inside out. This platform is always oriented outwardly, data driven, and has open interfaces for application programming. Cloud services are a central enabler for this.

And there is no alternative?

Correct, because according to our forecasts, half of global added value will be digitized by 2021. Digitized services, working methods, and relationships will drive growth in all sectors. Companies that do not follow suit and continue to rely on their legacy IT are in for a rude awakening. The big cut is coming in ten years. At that point, digital transformation will have come a long way and those who are not properly positioned by then will only be able to operate in shrinking markets.

Why is that?

Cloud, networking, data analytics, artificial intelligence – these are just a few of the cornerstones of the smart world. However, these must be linked together on a wide variety of platforms and integrated deeply into the company so that they can exploit their full potential. In the old IT world, such challenges were solved with interfaces alone. But this will not be enough in the smart world. APIs do not replace the DX platform. What is needed is a platform strategy.

And the cornerstones you mentioned are sustainable enough that the investment is well worth it?

„According to our forecasts, half of global added value will be digitized by 2021.“
Lynn Thorenz, Associate Vice President Research & Consulting at IDC Deutschland & Schweiz
Absolutely: In just two years, 40 percent of all digital transformation initiatives will use one form or another of artificial intelligence. And by 2021, it will be used in 75 percent of commercial enterprise applications. Or look at smart services, for example: We believe that by 2020, a quarter of all field technicians and knowledge specialists will use augmented reality.

Do you expect a cross-company use of smart technologies?

Yes, we will experience more and more applications that can be created with little or no programming skills. In other words, an increasing number of employees without IT or other technical expertise will be able to develop programs and create digital innovations. As a result of this “low code, no code” principle, there will be a lot of developers without technical backgrounds. Everyone will have powerful tools at their fingertips they can use to purposefully create solutions to their problems. However, this will only happen if a company knows how to exploit this potential and provide its employees access to such tools. You have to create a culture where everyone is a developer.

Are you confident that this will work?

This trend will be unstoppable. Look at how naturally today’s seven-year-olds play with robotics that already exists in their Lego toys. Being smart is not a question of technology, it starts in the mind.

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