Mr. Ermer, what are your goals at IMG?
Ermer: The strategic goals at IMG are set and have proven themselves sustainable in the past two years. We understand ourselves as a comprehensive service provider that consults with and supports international, midsize clients. We’re staying with our concern with business engineering. We develop global business models for our customers, and we advise them how to bring their services or products to market and what their corresponding processes should look like. We then package the processes into an IT design and implement the design as the third and last step.
Against this background, my focus in the coming years will be to continue to develop our global presence, especially in the United States and in Asia. Our primary target group – upscale midsize companies – must also deal with globalization and sees itself confronting processes that are becoming more and more complex. With our comprehensive approach, we reduce complexity for our clients with monolithic solutions. That’s why we have specialists for the solution and specialists for local conditions.
In terms of content, it’s important that we bring the best of two worlds together. One world includes strong, industry-specific knowledge of processes, naturally along with our relationship with the University of St. Gallen. The other world involves in-depth knowledge of IT and a focus on SAP. Our industry focus lies in the technical industries: mechanical engineering and construction, the process industry, and in the area of retail systems. The latter is linked to the rollout and support of SAP Dealer Business Management.
What do you see on the agenda in the coming year for the IT industry?
Ermer: Outsourcing will certainly be a topic. In my view, the trend toward services as an engine for growth will continue to become stronger. Among innovation topics, mobility will continue to be high on the list. (Radio frequency identification) RFID must also be mentioned in this context. The technology has passed the hype phase and has experienced some disappointments, but companies are now increasingly ready to deal with it. In terms of SAP, the new analytical functions and projects like Mendocino, developed in cooperation with Microsoft, are very exciting for me.
How do you rate CeBIT?
Ermer: CeBIT is an indicator of business activity and the maturity of specific technology or trends. The fair is also especially well suited to making connections and recruiting employees. I expect a good number of visitors to CeBIT as I did last year. The low points of 2003 and 2004 were certainly caused by economic weakness and efforts by companies to save money. After the hype years of 2002 and 2003, the pendulum swung in the other, negative direction – a completely normal reaction.
In Germany, you are the system vendor for the new SAP product, SAP Dealer Business Management. How do you rate the market?
Ermer: With SAP Dealer Business Management, we want to gain a new market. Particularly in the automobile industry, we are seeing a process of consolidation. Federations or groups of dealers are forming, and they face a series of challenges. After all, consolidation also involves integration so that dealers need a mature, adjustable business platform to map their processes for new vehicle sales, the repair shop, or communication with manufacturers and customers. In the context of SAP Dealer Business Management, we have profited from our early work with SAP. We have special knowledge and specialists available for competent support of our clients.
The topic has proven itself to be important internationally. We’re getting the first inquiries from Asia and the United States. The reasons for the inquiries are interesting. In Europe, they involve deregulation as a result of European Union (EU) law that removed a dealer’s connection to a specific manufacturer. The drivers in the United States and in Asia are purely economic. In Asia, dealers want an IT platform that enables growth. In the United States, dealers want to optimize their integration with OEMs.