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Bertelsmann Hosts its First ‘IT Summit’

150 IT managers from 15 countries recently attended the first Bertelsmann IT Summit at Bertelsmann Unter den Linden 1, Berlin on the invitation of Tom Linckens, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Bertelsmann. Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe opened the event, saying: “To successfully implement our strategy of transformation and growth, we need technological expertise and strong IT. They are important sparring partners for the management at a time when IT is becoming more and more important as a competitive factor.”

Thomas Rabe, Tom LinckensTom Linckens, Group CIO of Bertelsmann since November 2014, agreed with Rabe that the first IT Summit marks a new chapter in the Group’s IT history. “We want to take this opportunity to establish an IT community at Bertelsmann that is in permanent contact with each other, exchanges knowledge about current issues and makes a contribution to selected topics,” said the CIO. Despite, or perhaps because of, his more than 20 years of professional experience, he said he recognizes the enormity of his task of managing change in the Group’s IT landscape with around 7,000 IT employees around the world, while also preserving the strengths of a decentralized organization. “It’s important that we start an intensive dialog now, so that we can provide optimal support for business processes at company, divisional and Group level going forward,” said Linckens, adding that the necessary expertise and experience is already available and only needs to be coordinated.

During the afternoon of Day 1, representatives of each IT organization demonstrated the impressive projects the divisions are currently implementing, based on 16 selected examples. But above all, they highlighted to the participants how similar many of the challenges are – and what great potential exists for their own businesses to benefit from other units’ existing experience, skills and solutions.

“Many businesses are in fact dealing with very similar challenges,” said Linckens. For example, he said that many are focusing on how to put to use the enormous amounts of data they already have, an insight that was also described as fundamental in the two presentations by external experts. Andrew McAfee, author of the highly acclaimed book “The Second Machine Age,” pointed out how massive the technological developments are that are changing our world. “These are the biggest changes since the industrial revolution,” he said. McAfee is Associate Director of the Center for Digital Business at the MIT Sloan School for Management, and is ranked among the 50 most influential people in the technology sector.

But the two-day IT Summit didn’t just revolve around insights about one’s own status quo and the future challenges of the market; in fact, the meeting attended by 150 IT managers explicitly set out to discuss specific initiatives from the “IT Roadmap” that will be the focus of cross-divisional collaboration. “Our task now is to put into practice at the companies what we have begun here in Berlin,” concluded Tom Linckens. “Embrace your new role as a member of the Bertelsmann IT community, shape the change in your company and your division, and help make sure Bertelsmann as a whole continues to be successful going forward.” Linckens pledged the active support of his Corporate IT team for this and announced the next IT Summit for the first half of 2017. (benet)

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