Interview with Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, Chair of the Danish IT Industry Association (ITB).

ITB wants Denmark in the global IT driving seat

Interview with Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, Chair of the Danish IT Industry Association (ITB).

The Danish IT Industry Association (ITB) can see both obvious opportunities and pitfalls for IT consultants in Denmark in 2015. Here, ITB's chair describes what the focus should be on and which projects will come to dominate the market.

With around 300 members, the Danish IT Industry Association (ITB) is Denmark's largest independent trade association for IT and telecom companies, comprising both large and small companies, as well as global players and local start-ups. Besides political lobbying to achieve better conditions for the Danish IT industry, ITB also has a good sense of new developments in the Danish market in 2015. ConsultantNews therefore asked ITB's Chair, Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, to describe 2015 in headlines and also to offer her tips and advice for Danish IT consultants.

Crisis learning

How has the Danish IT industry got through the crisis years? And HAVE we actually got through?

"The IT industry is one of the industries that suffered least during the crisis, since IT is always part of the solution, not the problem. Obviously, the brake was pulled on large projects, which is still the case today. Yet otherwise I actually think the crisis has had the positive effect that large companies have taken a moment to ask themselves: Are we doing this right, in IT terms? Are we giving priority to what really matters to us, and that creates value?" says Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl.

"Another lesson we have learned from the crisis is to focus more on dedicated technology. Increasingly, IT is required to 'just work' on demand, without solutions needing years of adjustment, so they are quickly ready for use. The large companies were prepared for the crisis, with effective processes and systems. In contrast, smaller Danish companies were lagging far behind, technologically, and were poorly prepared for growth in Denmark and abroad. The Cloud has proved to be a big asset to small and medium-sized enterprises, because Cloud solutions do not require so much start-up capital, and they can be put into operation quickly. Cloud, and also app technology, are pushing development in the right direction, as this helps SMEs to invest more in new solutions. This will be needed, if they are to keep up with the increasing internationalisation of the market."

Good framework conditions

What is your political focus on, in 2015?
"It's important that there is a political understanding of the need to create good framework conditions for Danish technology companies. The typical challenge they face is capital, so that they can grow out of Europe with their solutions. Yet the high payroll costs in Denmark are braking this development. The politicians could, perhaps, create a start-up scheme for small companies, to defer taxation for a certain number of years if they re-invest their profits in jobs and development, so they have time to win market shares, including abroad," says Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl.

"Today we have a very creative IT environment in Denmark, yet due to the salary costs, for every time you hire two new employees, you are diluting your own profit that you could re-invest in your company. To expand into Europe, you need to have capital. It would really be a shame if we are unable to exploit this growth potential in Denmark. The alternative is that the companies are bought up or move their development to other countries, which means that we will still lose this income. Good framework conditions are vital for an expanding IT industry."

Ticks all the boxes for a leading position

Which areas are currently developing the most?
"The consultant market is undergoing massive upheavals. Large areas of the consultant industry have been accustomed to delivering a lot of technical on-premise services. A large part of this business has now moved to India, or quite simply vanished into thin air. This is why it is so important to create more business-oriented consultant profiles. It would be of enormous benefit to Denmark if we could manage to combine commercial college, for example, with process and technology expertise.

We could then teach tomorrow's businessmen and women how to create better, and new, ways of doing business. Just look at the taxi industry and the new applications from Über and the Danish Drivr. If we do not come up with new business models in this country, others will do it elsewhere!"

"Culturally, Denmark ticks all the boxes to be really good at developing super-good combination education programmes, where technological knowledge is part of the programme. We have a long history as a trading nation, we think on our feet, are not too much in awe of authority and generally produce a lot of creative graduates from our advanced higher education programmes. If we can make the most of this position, we can create some incredibly astute consultants – both in Denmark and abroad," says Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl.

Lack of cyberpolice

Which types of projects will consultants be engaged with in 2015?
"First and foremost business-oriented projects, in contrast to the more technically-oriented projects that they have been accustomed to working on. There are also still many companies and organisations that are moving from an on-premise strategy to a Cloud strategy, so there will continue to be many tasks of that type in 2015. I also think that we will come to see more IT operations optimisation projects. As some IT is moved to India, for example, there will a greater need to review service processes. I think we will see many service management services emerging," says Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl. "IT security will also be a really major issue in 2015 and for many years to come. Companies, politicians and public institutions have woken up to the fact that data is as precious as gold. Used in the right way, data enables us to know things we had no idea we could know. This leads to a need to consider the issue of privacy. We quite simply need new frames of reference in cyberspace. How should cyberpolice operate – and where? They cannot patrol the streets like in the real world.

We need to come up with new, agile, adjustable legislation and get it implemented in cyberspace. In the real world, we have legislated our way out of problems, over many, many years. But the cyberworld is so new that we haven't set things up properly yet. There will be an enormous need for people who know something about IT security," Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl concludes.

Good advice

"If I were to offer one piece of advice to Danish IT consultants, it would be: look outwards," says Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl. "Instead of staring yourselves blind at Denmark, look out into the world to see which trends dominate the market. Think five years ahead and start upgrading your skills now."