The IT infrastructure of a globally active organisation, such as MANN+HUMMEL, today has precious little in common with the data processing that was the norm well into the 1980s. Thanks to the internet and globalisation, this sector and the role of an IT manager has been totally rewritten.

Almost 50 years ago to the day, my predecessor Mr Heinz-Dieter Lang was tasked with setting up an information technology department at MANN+HUMMEL – a task that he set about with great personal dedication and success. As I read through the recollections of the company’s very first IT manager, I couldn’t help but smile: back then, no one could have known just how quickly information technology would change and how the world would change with it – as it is still doing now. Today we are standing on the precipice of a (working) world in which everything is interconnected. And we are already experiencing increasing digitisation across the board: the effects of this can be felt in our private lives, with smartphones and tablet PCs, smart refrigerators and digital electricity meters. But our working lives are also being fundamentally changed by digitisation, something that affects the workplace of each and every one of us. Our employees in the Production department today could barely imagine working without forklift guidance systems and touchscreens, or supply our production lines with materials ‘just in time’.

IoT

Worldwide processes and infrastructures

IT at MANN+HUMMEL ranges from process support for our locations, to application management – i.e. determining which software programs we roll out worldwide – through to infrastructure services, in order to provide the best support possible for MANN+HUMMEL in the global marketplace. In this way, we establish an infrastructure, applications and processes, that enable our employees to work in a globally networked way and are available as standard at all locations. In the past, it was all about “local IT for local needs” but today our task is worldwide standardisation and harmonisation. Working with integrated IT processes and platforms requires those involved to think and act both in a global and local context, almost automatically. Each piece of software shares an interface with the next process step, for instance from development to production, from production to a program which supports customer relationship management. Anyone who uses these tools must consider the next step.

One thing is certain: IT will continue to develop new solutions in increasingly short intervals. And perhaps in a few decades’ time one of my successors will read this piece and smile, too, at how much the world has changed since.