Do you think companies are willing to invest in IT right now? Is the market starting to come around?
Kerstin Geiger: Yes, to both these questions. In 2009, a lot of companies focused primarily on securing their ongoing operations; flat cost structures helped keep the lights on. Now many are looking to invest again, although the degree does vary from industry to industry. Automotive and mechanical engineering took a beating last year, but health care got through the worst of it fairly well. In general, companies are willing to invest if investments create sustainable value or increase their efficiency, such as by reducing warehouse stocks. A multinational electronics and plant construction group, for example, recently used SAP solutions to cut its customer response times in half.
Which industries do you see as the most dynamic?
Banks, retail, and the public sector are under the most pressure to invest. People in these fields are starting to think about things differently – the home-grown software many companies still use is starting to reach its technical limits. Demand for standard solutions is growing significantly because investing in a consistent IT architecture that takes less time and effort to run pays off quickly.
What are some of the current trends in specific industries?
Business models are increasingly transcending individual industries because many companies keep adding links to their value chains. There are plenty of examples – mechanical engineers that rent out their products, gas stations that also serve as supermarkets. These days, car loans are usually provided by the manufacturer. This means that companies are facing the need to quickly acquire competencies outside their primary business – which, in turn, stimulates demand for flexible IT platforms capable of supporting the core processes of a wide array of industries.
Free download: The current article of SAP SPECTRUM Issue 3 | 2010.