“We are the catalyzer for our customers”

Bernd Appel is the Managing Director of Lufthansa Industry Solutions. In this interview he talks about the influence of digitalization on IT consultancy work and about his agenda for the next few years.

Mr. Appel, Lufthansa Industry Solutions works with a range of different customers from a variety of industries. How do you see the market and what is currently the greatest challenge?

Digitalization is currently an issue for all of our customers equally and therefore for us too. Ultimately, the digital transformation is first and foremost a technological issue. Take Moore’s law, according to which the number of transistors doubles roughly every 18 months. This technological progression is the basis of the digital transformation. The same goes for communication performance, where 5G will soon follow LTE. Data storage will become increasingly intelligent in the future too. These developments are giving rise to more and more technological opportunities that companies should harness – or decide against for good reason.

What do you see as your specific task?

We make these new technologies understandable and practicable for our customers. We help them to become more efficient and to develop new business models. Mere knowledge of the technology and its limits is not enough. We also have to understand our customers’ business and processes. This is why we at Lufthansa Industry Solutions, with our 1,200 staff members, concentrate on certain industries.

It’s our goal to understand the individual business processes of our customers. This is the only way that we are able to advise them in a goal-oriented way – and that is the service that we aim to provide.

Bernd Appel, Managing Director of Lufthansa Industry Solutions

Is this combination of technologies and industries one of the unique selling points of Lufthansa Industry Solutions?

Yes. We have deliberately created this focus in order to understand the individual business processes of our customers and not just scratch at the surface. This is the only way that we are able to advise them in a goal-oriented way – and that is the service that we aim to provide. We can’t think for our customers, we can only help them to think. We are their catalyzers and support them in everything they do, but we do not make decisions for them. This is our approach and this understanding is essential for us as a consulting firm.

Your still fairly young company has its origins in aviation. Does this play a role?

Our customers perceive the name Lufthansa as something positive. Lufthansa stands for quality and reliability, which means that we as a subsidiary have good DNA. We profit from this as a young IT consulting company that has only existed as an independent company for around one-and-a-half years. These are valuable characteristics that we as consultants need to take especially to heart.

We have to be even faster, even more alert, even more agile – not just in our projects, but as a company too.

Bernd Appel - Managing Director bei LHIND
Bernd Appel
Managing Director of Lufthansa Industry Solutions

What areas of your work have changed as a result of digitalization?

Digitalization increasingly requires small, agile projects. A large, international SAP roll-out is now more of the exception than the rule. Customers don't need a lot of IT consultants anymore – they need the right IT consultants, because their industries are also changing more and more quickly due to the influence of digital transformation. Added to this is the enormous significance of new technologies. All of this has changed our work considerably. We have to be even faster, even more alert, even more agile – not just in our projects, but as a company too.

Is this your agenda for the next few years?

Yes, definitely. We have to become even faster than we are today at organizing, at carrying out our internal processes and at making decisions. We are managing our growth parallel to these developments. Of course, it's great that we’re expanding, because it lets us bring a lot of new ideas and new expertise into the company. But we have to keep an eye on both the market and the way that it is changing as well as the way that we are changing. This makes our new business areas all the more important. These small units constitute the backbone of our company. We consolidate our business areas into business units, but retain flat hierarchies in order to stay agile. We can’t give up the grail of free enterprise, the drive to venture something.

What path do you want the company to take?

We want to continue our growth strategy with our focus topics: big data, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things, IT security, SAP services and consulting, mobile solutions and collaboration platforms. We often utilize these technologies and methods in our own projects. There is an awful lot to do in the next few years in terms of the Internet of Things alone, as it's still in its infancy at the moment. And the need for IT security continues to increase with every project in the field of big data or IoT - we are already noticing this in our customers’ demands. We plan to step up our commitment in this regard.