Covid-19 has exposed backlogs in digitalization across all industries. What priorities have companies set in terms of digitalization and what challenges do they face?
Ulrich Kleipaß: Covid-19 accelerated the demand for technological solutions and also provoked a major shift of digitalization efforts from establishing new business fields beyond the core value chain to focusing efforts on core business processes. More specifically, we currently see companies increasingly using digital solutions in order to make their core business processes more efficient and robust. Specific challenges for many companies exist in modernizing IT structures, which often still include many silo processes.
Which major technological trends support this development?
Ulrich Kleipaß: The major technological trends are artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing. Artificial intelligence is somewhat of a slow-moving trend. AI has tremendous potential to render processes more efficient and create huge savings through automation, prediction and personalization, yet it is still hard for companies to identify good use cases for AI. While industry-specific use cases for AI will likely take some more time to be identified and implemented, we expect to see more industry-agnostic AI tools being rolled out soon – for example, call center automation through voice-enabled chatbots. For cloud computing, we're currently seeing a major shift from on-premise to hybrid to full cloud solutions.
What role will digital platforms play going forward?
Ulrich Kleipaß: There will be an increasing trend towards digital platforms, even in conservative and complex industries. In
healthcare , for example, Covid-19 has significantly shortened the timeline to build and offer platform solutions to patients, doctors and insurers as the demand from all sides increased during the pandemic, particularly for telemedicine. In contrast to price comparison websites or search engines, we expect no "winner takes it all" platform in more complex industries where processes are longer, more complex and include more stakeholders. Instead, we expect various platforms for different use cases. Taking the healthcare example, we expect that there will be separate platforms for appointments, telemedicine, diagnostics and so on.
From the perspective of PE firms, how can the commercial potential of technology companies be evaluated?
Ulrich Kleipaß: There are various factors to be considered when evaluating the commercial potential of technology companies. These include a review of the fast-growing market, customer trends and competitive dynamics. Additionally, the uniqueness and scalability of a particular technology solution and its technological backbone need to be scrutinized. In this context, Roland Berger can draw upon the extensive resources of our global Digital practice.