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Dr. Michael Durst - Interview with Bayern Innovativ

Dr. Michael Durst
Oct 11, 2017 1:44:00 PM

Bavaria as a leading innovation location! This is the vision of Bayern Innovativ. The in-house digital innovation platform (powered by ITONICS), has brought this goal one step closer. Dr. Michael Durst, founder and CEO of ITONICS, will answer questions from Dr. Kord Pannkoke about digitization, innovation and cooperation with Bayern Innovativ at the opening of the new innovation center in Nuremberg.

Mr. Durst, the name of your company is ITONICS. How did you come to this name and what stands behind it?

That's easy to explain. I stands for Innovation, T stands for Technology, O stands for Organization, N stands for Networking, the second I stands for Information Technology, C stands for Collaboration and S for Strategy. That is of course complete nonsense. We founded the company in Nuremberg in 2009, sat in the red bar and actually had everything together except a name and a business model. We have now found the business model after many years. We have noticed that everyone likes to drink Gin Tonic as their favourite drink and have tried to create a company name from the "Gin Tonic", which you can explain later. That's how it happened.

In your opinion, where does Germany stand when it comes to digitalization?

We work a lot with large companies from the automotive sector, from the machinery sector, also in the defense industry, but also from the food industry. What we see everywhere is that Germany has been very successful in the last 10-20 years, sometimes for quite some time depending on the industry, and that people like to rest on the successes of the past and assume that things will always go on like this. We often hear: "Digitization will not be so bad. Perhaps it won't be as widespread and deep as it is claimed today." Nobody knows about Airbnb - living in a flat with strangers - who wants that? Who does that? In comparison to other countries in which we also travel, we simply notice a certain behavior. I think there may be a problem with that. We still lack the open-mindedness to try out new things. I understand, of course, when people say: "What about data protection? What about my personal data? Does it have Facebook and Google? What do they do with it? I'd like to know that beforehand." On the other hand, we simply don't have the willingness to try things out, to experiment and afterwards to find out what will get me ahead and what might be interesting for the company I work for. How can we use the new technologies - and digitalisation offers a huge amount of opportunities - to achieve our goals?
 

And where exactly does your work start?

What we offer at ITONICS is a software solution to enable companies to bring their complete innovation management on one platform. This means: What trends will play a role in the future? Which technologies? How are these evaluated? How do they relate to each other? Which technologies enable new business models? Which trends are induced by customer needs that have changed in recent years or that will change? We network all this on one platform. We enable companies to create digitalization roadmaps, to operate trend and technology management on a single platform and to view the whole thing in an integrated way, even across companies. The project with Bayern Innovativ, for example, in which we try to create a space with the digital innovation platform in which SMEs from Bavaria can also cooperate with each other on certain topics. In recent years, we have seen more and more that companies can almost no longer innovate on their own. I always need a key technology that I cannot master completely. Maybe I need a patent that someone else has. Or I first need to know who has this patent. Who masters this technology? We try to bring that together on one platform and create the possibility for companies to work much better together and plan much better. That's the contribution we're trying to make.

What are the concrete advantages for you if you work together with Bayern Innovativ?

We currently work almost exclusively with large companies. We have a lot of customers from the automotive sector such as BMW and Audi, but also from the high-tech sector such as Cisco or INTEL. SMEs in particular would need these methods, which are hidden in the software, the framework and also the possibilities of networking and cooperation. The problem is that we do not have market access. Bayern Innovativ is of course fantastically networked, and has this enabler role in the Bavarian business network. You also bring science and research together with companies. As a startup, of course, we don't have access to this. The second is the question of costs. Of course, we are also interested in sales and EBIT. SMEs often say: "Before I use software that supports me in this, I prefer to do it in Excel and PowerPoint. That works quite well." I believe that Bayern Innovativ can be a super enabler here in order to make such highly developed methods and software solutions available to SMEs so that they can work with the same tools as large corporations. This is a very, very important asset.

One final question: How do you personally keep up with innovation and digitization?

We have a whole range of trend and technology scouts that we employ. Of course, we can never go into the depths of a cluster or network structure like the one we experience at Bayern Innovativ. We still go a lot to conferences. We talk a lot with our customers and find out where they are lacking or what they are doing and keep ourselves up-to-date. In our own industry, in the enterprise and cloud software sector, we track all possible sources. We also have a tool to track what thousands of online sources can track and to find out what's up to date, what's up and what trends we see. We then analyze them and develop our tools permanently. For us, as for everyone else, it is not easy, because the number of information sources is increasing, the speed is increasing. We also have to constantly update our software, further develop it, add new functions and we use our own tools and methods for this in the classic way and are very satisfied with them so far.
 
The video is only availabe in German.

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