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November 5, 2015updated 30 Aug 2016 11:39am

Software AG CTO: 100% cybersecurity obsession means never getting anything done

C-level briefing: Dr. Wolfram Jost says on the journey of digital transformation cars are killers but people still drive.

By Joao Lima

Disruption, digital and innovation. Three buzz words that are swiping entire industries. However too many executives get hung up on security and this could be hindering digital transformation efforts.

Even though security is important says Dr. Wolfram Jost CTO of German software maker Software AG, if businesses only focus on this aspect of digital transformation nothing will ever get done.

"With security, and the talks around it, you can kill all innovation.

"Security is important but if you put it as the ultimate goal, if you do not do anything before you have 100% security, then you will never get anything done, because you will never get that [100% security]."

Jost used cars as an example of how we could still be living in a 1000 BC world if the industry answered to all the security concerns cars triggered across the world when they first appeared.

"Imagine when the first car was built. People easily said that it was a very unsecure technology; that a lot of people would die driving cars; and that we should not develop any cars.

"Every new technology comes with security issues, but that does not mean you have to reprove it. Even today people are dying driving cars, but people do not say cars are an insecure technology anymore and we should stop using them."

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The CTO said that the public and businesses need to be aware that every innovation comes with two sides: a positive and a negative one.

"I am always discussing with customers that if the first thing you will talk about is security, then it is done [they will not be able to innovate], because you will go nowhere [just by focusing on security]."

However, Jost said that this does not mean we should not pay attention to security. He said that software needs to be made more secure as we go along.

When digitalising, Jost said businesses need to start with talking about their customers and customers’ journey, analysing where customers need them to be and assist them, and how companies can improve the touch points.

"You first have to innovate and then you have to talk about how you can make this innovation has secure as possible.

"You always have that kind of companies [that are afraid of being disruptive and with a backwards mind set]. But [digital transformation] is, for every company, the most important topic.

"I believe that there is no need to convince customers to change because I think they all know it and customers are not stupid. They know the world is changing, and that business models are also changing.

"Every company that has customers has to change the way how they interact based on digital technology. Maybe a government, which has not a real business, might say they do not need to change, but all companies who are fighting for money on the market, and all companies which are based on their service or product, they have to change how they interact with customers."

Luck also plays its role

Being successful is not just about being innovative or having the right security in place, it also comes down to luck.

Jost said: "Good results are always a combination of a lot of things: having the right people, product, strategy, and being convincing. It is not one element alone that makes a company successful. You always need some luck at a certain point."

Speaking of Software AG, he said that in the last three to four years the company has continuously developed a new consistent holistic strategy, clear message and clever positioning.

"The company’s strategy is not just about technology, it is a strategy of technology that drives business.

"Four years ago we did not have the digital platform in our mind, but we had a platform and we had other things, and then digital came on top, and that was the perfect umbrella to position that."

Paul Hughes, director of media relations at Software AG, said: "A lot of what we had in the past – data management, integration systems in the mid 90s, and so on – when combined today, are extremely relevant to digitalisation and that is a bit of luck."

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