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On June 6, Scheer Network hosted a roundtable in Munich with Prof. August Wilhelm Scheer entitled “Digital transformation: What is the outcome for your company?” Scheer’s answer, briefly summarized: Platform thinking and the composable enterprise. Entrepreneurs need to have a strategic view of challenges and possible solutions and be able to distinguish short-term hype from important trends. For Scheer, everything in IT currently points to a trend from monolithic systems to platforms in order to enable a composable enterprise.

August Wilhelm Scheer has already experienced three waves of AI hype over the decades, all of which collapsed before such a technology can be realized today. And he has experienced and actively helped shape many IT developments in industry and business.

With the ARIS method for enterprise architecture and process management, he himself created an important building block that is still used internationally to make company processes the core of successful corporate management.

Prof. August Wilhelm Scheer 2023 at the Munich Management Colloquium. (Photo Sendler)

Monolithic systems with 1:1 interfaces such as this one at retailer Dodenhof, a Scheer customer, lead to such system landscapes before the transformation. (Photo Sendler)

And this is what the system landscape looks like in the same company with platform and APIs. (Photo Sendler)

From direct interfaces to API management

Last but not least, Scheer has been a close partner of SAP for a long time. He was involved in the ERP story, which only became a success when the central database became the basis for a monolithic system that actually allowed the same data to be used across departmental boundaries.

According to him, this monolithic architecture is no longer suitable today, and SAP is also moving away from it. Not only to be able to connect acquired software companies such as WalkMe more quickly and sensibly. In his view, the immense growth in data volumes with an unmanageable number of variants can only be processed and analyzed on the basis of platform architectures. This is why SAP is also moving in this direction.

Just as the organizational structure of companies is evolving from centralized architectures to a centrally managed platform of small, largely autonomous and flexible units. Here, as in his latest book “Composable Enterprise: agile, flexible, innovative” (Springer Vieweg), Scheer refers to a study by Gartner, which coined the term Composable Enterprise.

The IT architecture must do justice to this. He illustrated this with several examples from customers as well as the structure of Scheer Holding itself. Instead of countless 1:1 interfaces between individual applications, there is a clear trend in IT towards platforms on which all the different systems are only linked via their API (Application Programmable Interface) and exchange the data required in each case. The management of the API will take center stage in the future.

Scheer related this trend to all company processes, even if the customer examples mentioned and the company’s own activities mainly revolved around the processes of order management and company management.

Evidence: The market for Smart Automation platforms

One of the examples he mentioned was Rittal, where Scheer is involved as a partner in the successful implementation of the digital production platform ONCITE DPS from Rittal’s sister company German Edge Cloud (GEC).

The development not only of ONCITE DPS, but of the entire market of Linux-based automation platforms, as listed in the Smart Automation market overview together with the platform from GEC, can be taken as evidence of the trend identified by Scheer. Anyone who wants to be fast, flexible and innovative enough to master the current challenges in industry will not be able to ignore this trend towards open platforms.