Dr. August-Wilhelm Scheer is the founder and supervisory board chairman of IDS Scheer AG, one of the largest software and consulting companies in Germany. He is also president of the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications, and New Media (BITKOM); a member of many other organizations; and a passionate musician who has been known to reach for his saxophone during presentations. SAP.info recently spoke with Dr. Scheer at ARIS ProcessWorld on tour in Munich, Germany.
SAP.info: Dr. Scheer, as you near your 68th birthday, you’re a member of many supervisory boards and the winner of numerous accolades. You’ve achieved more or less everything one can imagine in life. Time to settle down, isn’t it?
Scheer: No way!
SAP.info: Why not?
Scheer: Dropping everything to do nothing just because you’re beyond a certain age – it doesn’t fit my philosophy. For me, life is and always has been a balancing act between work and relaxation.
SAP.info: What is your typical workday like?
Scheer: That depends completely on where I am at the moment. At 9 a.m., I usually have phone conferences with IDS Scheer, BITKOM, or imc AG. I travel a lot in Germany. My schedule is packed with public appearances, such as podium discussions that I’m invited to as an expert. For some more examples, I recently met with Annette Schavan, Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research; gave an interview to the German media network ZDF; and was invited to the convention of the Federation of German Industries. Not long ago, my band and I also played at the “Nacht der Demokratie” in Berlin.
SAP.info: Along with ERP software, music is your passion. How did your love for jazz develop?
Scheer: There’s something very polarizing about jazz: Either you love it or you don’t get it. Nobody just “likes” jazz. It’s the rhythm, the liveliness of the music that has always fascinated me. Jazz wants you to rise up, protest, start a revolution. My main influence has been Miles Davis, who lived through all of the significant movements in jazz music and reached the very top four times.
SAP.info: Over the years, you and IDS Scheer fought to become one of the top business software providers. For a time, you were even on the SAP Supervisory Board. What does SAP’s future look like to you?
Scheer: You know, I worked for SAP for a while – I’ve given advice long enough. SAP is dominant in the most important core applications in business software and will continue to play a huge role in the economy. The way the company’s work focuses so strongly on the customer is a major advantage. That said, SAP might have to venture into new fields in the years ahead, particularly with regard to cooperations. Software companies are going to be cooperating even more often also with hardware manufacturers and will have to get better at working together to harmonize their releases.
SAP.info: In the future, which areas of focus will good ERP software have to cover?
Scheer: Logistics and finances are still important, as is business intelligence. Software architecture will see major changes, however; processes are coming more and more to the forefront of people’s minds. As a result of software-oriented architecture (SOA), software will map increasingly small units. Cloud computing – that is, online programs available on demand – will require new networks and cooperations among individual manufacturers.
SAP.info: You were recently reappointed president of BITKOM. Whether on a Blackberry or iPhone, won’t mobile customer relationship management (CRM) be a future topic?
Scheer: Certainly, but it already has been for some time. Mobile CRM will continue to play a role, particularly in data entry and remote use.
SAP.info: With all of your positions and responsibilities, how do you relax after a hard day’s work?
Scheer: As I said, work and relaxation are like two sides of the same coin for me; you can’t really separate them that easily. When I’m in Florida, for example, I go jogging every morning between 6:30 and 7:30. Then I go to the beach for a while and watch the ocean. Good music, good food, and good friends I can talk to about anything are the best ways for me to get away.
SAP.info: Is there anyone you particularly enjoy spending time with, anyone who impresses you?
Scheer: Yes. One of them was Prof. Jacob from the University of Hamburg, under whom I obtained my habilitation. He had a very clear, structured way of thinking and could get straight to the core of even the most complicated things. I also love spending time with young people; sharing experiences with them is tremendously important.
SAP.info: Do you have any children?
Scheer: Yes, three.
SAP.info: So you can also share experiences with them…
Scheer: Yes, but my children have long since grown up and followed their own paths. And that’s a good thing; as a parent, you have to be able to let go. It’s a very important element of trust, one you need to be successful in leadership positions. I can’t delegate a responsibility unless I trust the employee. I consider education and supervision forms of positive support, like coaching. Privately and professionally, that’s the way I’ve always handled things.
Dr. August-Wilhelm Scheer, born on July 27, 1941 in Lübbecke, Germany, serves as supervisory board chairman at IDS Scheer AG and as president of BITKOM. He was the first in his family to study at a university, obtaining his PhD and habilitation in Hamburg and going on to found Saarland University’s Institute for Information Systems, whose research focuses on information and business-process management. In 1984, Dr. Scheer founded the software and consulting company IDS Scheer AG and developed the ARIS (Architecture of Integrated Information Systems) platform. He was also a member of the SAP Supervisory Board for a number of years. Music, meanwhile, is Dr. Scheer’s second passion. He performs regularly as a jazz saxophonist, and the August Wilhelm Scheer Foundation for Science and Art finances the professorship for jazz at the Saar University of Music.
On July 13, 2009, SAG Beteiligungs GmbH – a subsidiary of Software AG – announced its plans to acquire IDS Scheer AG. Supervisory board chairman Dr. Scheer and his representative, Alexander Pocsay, granted their consent. The merger is intended to create a new, globally active company dealing in business software and business-process optimization.