No employees, expensive energy, hacker attacks: it used to be easier to run a company. In a conversation with journalists Süddeutsche Zeitung three business leaders share how they are dealing with the crisis, why digital technology is part of the solution, and why a change in attitude can sometimes help.
Joachim Schreiner, Salesforce.
Joachim Schreiner is getting more and more desperate. He simply can’t find enough workers for his own, fast-growing company, or for the many service providers who end up building his company’s software for clients. Schreiner is the head of Germany’s Salesforce, one of the leading business software providers, and believes the industry’s labor shortage is partly self-inflicted. He worries that IT professions often still require a degree. “However, their car is serviced by mechatronics technicians with a high school diploma, who often have more IT knowledge than students fresh out of university.
Such encrustations irritate Schreiner, who says his company is constantly changing and adapting in a way that lacks entrenched processes and, most importantly, entrenched thinking. “I’m still wearing my sneakers,” he says, alluding to the stereotype of a new startup founder. He always asks when you set up new processes, “are you doing it the way you did it ten years ago?” His answer should be clear.
In general, it cannot be as easy as possible for the software provider itself. An entrepreneur must always ask himself: “What is the best innovation for the customer in question?” For a manager, innovation is the key to almost everything anyway. “Yes, we have a crisis,” he says, “but technology has always helped us.”
Despite all the crises and changes, does the boss really have to come across as a cheerful panda to impress his team? Better not, says Schreiner, “it’s easy to turn into a shock bear and people ask, ‘What did he smoke?’ He prefers to solve problems aggressively. Although some things don’t necessarily have to be seen as a problem. For example, Mr. Schreiner sees European data protection rules, which are often seen as a barrier to innovation, as an opportunity. After all, there are many people in the world for whom data protection is very important, just like Europeans. In this way, regulation could become an advantage for the global market.
Markus Haas, CEO of Telefónica Germany
digitization, of course, it is a process that does not happen in isolation in one country or one region of the world. Nevertheless: with a few exceptions, the big platforms like Google, Meta, Tencent, Alibaba or Amazon are not from Europe or even from Germany. But from the USA and China. But does it have to stay that way? No, I think Markus Haas. The lawyer manages the German business of the Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica. “Building a platform has never been easier,” he says. By this he means primarily the technical side that his company takes care of. Network development is going well.
Haas sees possibilities primarily in the metauniverse, this still-nebulous promise of a future where the real and virtual worlds will blend in both the private and work spheres. It’s the “next big thing,” he says, so companies can, for example, run training courses more effectively and efficiently than before. However, it is important that this new world of communication remains transparent to consumers, especially when it comes to their data and what can and cannot be done with it. In addition, European values must be preserved, for example when it comes to hate speech. Here, Haas sounds a lot like fellow manager Schreiner.
Telefónica, like most companies in this country, is concerned about the energy crisis. For example, the people of Munich are considering how to turn off the networks at night so that communication is still possible, but not all frequencies are exposed to the same full capacity. “This could save up to 25 percent of electricity consumption,” says Haas.
Saving is also a problem for many users. But where this hasn’t had an impact – at least until now – is in digital end devices like smartphones. According to Haas, the trend is toward more expensive branded devices with large screens and longer battery life. “It’s also better for sustainability” because appliances are no longer…