New Discussion Series: “Let’s Talk About …,” featuring Wolfgang Munz. dataglobal’s CEO and founder talks about his idea of digitalization, revolutionary refrigerators and his drive.
Mr. Munz, do you have many files on your shelves?
Oh, yes, lots. I have been self-employed for many years, and my business files are all shelved in accordance with applicable retention policies. I once even rented two containers from a logistics company to store my files.
Have you ever had to look for important documents but could not find them anywhere?
There were some long searches in ship containers at the harbor in Heilbronn, where the files were stored. Fortunately, not being able to locate a document has not happened to us yet.
You have been saying for a long time how important it is for companies to digitize relevant documents. During the coronavirus lockdown, many employees worked from home. But the company still had to function. In other words: Everyone had to have access to data without being in the office. Do you feel validated by the new situation presented by the pandemic?
Yes, the new reality due to the coronavirus has sped up the need to enable remote work. I think this is irreversible. We, too, have expanded our system for our organization, such as enabling mobile travel expense reporting, automated invoice processing, contract management, and electronic employee records. Our development team has long been working in a way that allows them to advance a product together from Hamburg and from Romania at the same time. This now also applies to all our accounting and all our sales activities. All our information and data is available electronically, and anyone with access rights can access them from anywhere, be it from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone
In Germany, many people are talking about digitization. But few of them can actually explain what this means, even those companies that aim to become more digital but shy away from implementing measures because they are unable to determine the expense. Is this also changing right now?
I hope so for the German economy, especially for medium-sized German enterprises. Because digitized processes are faster, easier, more accurate, and more secure. When you are working with electronic delivery slips, or when you can take pictures of your travel expense receipts and submit them using your phone, the entire process runs more smoothly. But you have to respect the fact that people have different levels of expertise and experience. You have to include those who have worked mostly with paper their entire lives.
There seems to be a great worry that digitization will lead to a huge loss of jobs. But those defending digitization counter that its goal is to automate processes and simplify work.
That’s exactly the point. There is no reason for this worry. If you look at the chaos around coronavirus tests in Bavaria, with handwritten data being faxed to government offices where case workers had to decipher those hieroglyphs, you would have more reason to be afraid of the analog world. In Asia, everything has been digital for a long time, including contactless payments at the bakery and for parking, or digital coronavirus guest registration via an app in the restaurant industry. You can call this a gimmick, but it just makes a lot of things easier and more secure.
Easy and secure―is that a mission statement for you and dataglobal’s products?
You could say that. We recently received a patent for a digital signature process we developed―mobile signature and approval―and the same applies here: The process is simple and―most importantly―it’s secure. This will help us develop products that open up entirely new possibilities for our customers.
You travel to Tegernsee twice a year to fast. During that time, you consider your goals for the following months. What motivates you?
I constantly do research because I like to follow revolutionary approaches. I’d like to give you a simple example of how leaps in technology have made everyone’s lives much more comfortable: Long ago, people used handsaws to extract ice blocks from lakes in winter so they could cool their foods in the summer. Then, factories were built for ice production, and then the first refrigerator entered the market. I am always on the lookout for leaps of this kind, of course anything that affect our “products,” i.e., information, data, and business processes. Our industry has seen innovation leaps of a similar magnitude. From the traditional file to mobile, searchable, sharable information―that is truly revolutionary. When I think about new products, I am motivated by one thought: I want to be of value to our customers.
This interview was conducted by journalist and author Benjamin Schieler.