The changes taking place in the economy are largely IT driven. Both this and what is genuinely new in the digital transformation were discussed on the occasion of the company’s 25th anniversary with Karsten Renz, CEO and co-founder of the group and Gregor Wolf, COO of the parent company, for the latest edition of ecminside.

Let’s turn back the clock for a moment: It is 1991. OPTIMAL SYSTEMS is founded in April. This is the year when the European Union decides to introduce a single currency, Deutsche Bahn joins the high speed age with the ICE train, and the German Parliament decides to move from Bonn to Berlin.  Microsoft ends its collaboration with IBM and lays the foundations for the further development of Windows. Computer screens are often still monochrome, computers with 4MB of RAM are superbly equipped, and the Internet has just been invented – it is the birth of the digital transformation. 25 years later, information technologies largely define our lives and daily activities. Digitization is on everyone’s lips.

While the terms “digitization” and “digital transformation” have become buzzwords in the last two years, all software manufacturers, consultants, and service providers claim to be experts in it. That this is what they claim to have been doing for years. And OPTIMAL SYSTEMS is no exception. But how much of this is true?

Karsten Renz: The notion of “think digital, go digital” was behind the very first developments and projects that led to the formation of the company. Be it the digitization of space images of the first D1 mission with astronaut Reinhard Furrer, the digital provision of assembly instructions for Unimogs, or one of the first point-of-sale applications for cars. They were all geared to digitization. Later came the first hospital archive systems, on which we developed our standard document management software, and this then became one of the first German ECM suites.

Gregor Wolf: “Think digital” is in the DNA of OPTIMAL SYSTEMS. We can prove this when we claim to have been the drivers of the digital transformation for 25 years. We’re digital natives, without a doubt, even if we’re not 16 anymore. We have both – along with pretty much all our colleagues – spent our entire careers in IT. Our experience means that we have a different perspective on the digital transformation compared to a businessman who only started to think about accessing information when he got his first smartphone.

Is it a mistake, then, to speak of “transformation”? What constitutes the digital transformation?

How did an idea become a leading company? What lies ahead?

Read the whole interview, a conversation with the first generation of digital natives!