To celebrate our 25th anniversary we interviewed our CEO, Bernd Seeburger
An EDI veteran’s vision for success “From the garage to the boardroom” | Looking back over 25 years
SEEBURGER has been successfully providing B2B integration solutions for 25 years, and as the founder of the company, you are seen as an EDI veteran. How do you explain the company’s success?
“An EDI veteran – I take that as a huge compliment. We certainly do have a long and eventful history, during which we’ve grown from a small one-man operation to a globally expanding B2B integration specialist and solutions provider.
It all started in 1986, with the launch of an MS-DOS solution called ELKE on a PC with a 10-megabite hard drive. Back then, it was common to give products women’s names, so we called ours ELKE, which stood for Elektronische Kommunikations Einrichtung (Electronic Communication Equipment). That program formed the foundation for every development since. To this day, we still have a number of customers still using WinELKE, our first Windows solution.
From those humble beginnings, we’ve grown to more than 8,500 customers and this is something we’re very proud of. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for the trust they have placed in us over many years of successful collaboration.
Today, SEEBURGER is known all over the world for business integration, linking companies of every type. We’re constantly refining and developing our B2B integration expertise and this is why we are now in a position to offer a full suite of solutions for all integration requirements and business processes. Our Business Integration Suite is something unique, offering companies of all sizes a single integration platform for all their B2B scenarios, covering all media and processes and meeting all industry standards. The key for us is to provide everything from one single source and on one single platform. In my view, none of our competitors provide such a comprehensive offering. So it’s hardly surprising we’re so highly rated by leading IT analysts.
Plus, SEEBURGER is one of the few software companies that have stayed independent and owner-managed. Our strategy is not geared towards creating value for our shareholders in the short term, but rather towards providing our customers with the best possible solution in the long-term – something they value highly.”
How do you see the trading partner integration field developing?
“To understand why EDI is widely used by so many businesses, we have to look back to the 80s. Back then, the emphasis was on finding a quicker transfer method than postal service and on eliminating data errors (so that no manual processing of the order would be required), with an emphasis on reducing stock levels. The automotive industry, for example, successfully achieved this objective. For major manufacturers and retail companies, the emphasis was on integrating their many suppliers.
Even today, this remains the principal motivation behind the electronic exchange of data. But increasingly, I’m also seeing users moving towards fully integrating their suppliers’ suppliers across the entire supply chain, and mapping more and more of the processes involved in business collaboration electronically. The next phase will be to enable collaboration to take place within a cloud solution in the form of an any-to-any relationship, requiring just two or three clicks of the mouse.
Looking further into the future, I can envision a time when users will be able to integrate new business partners into the supply chain with just a single click of the mouse.
Another big topic that’s relevant both now and in the future is process security and traceability in order to achieve full compliance, even for unstructured data. To provide this, we will be expanding our data hub until all the existing company guidelines (for example regarding who is allowed to transfer what data) are observed and logged, even for ad hoc data transfers that currently take place via FTP servers.”
More and more B2B business processes are being carried out on mobile devices. What impact is this having on EDI?
“Mobile applications are finding their way into the field of business partner integration. There is a trend towards using mobile devices for approval and monitoring functions. We support this trend, and have begun to integrate mobile terminals into our applications.”
How do you see SEEBURGER developing in the future? What goals would you like to achieve? Are there any new products or services in the pipeline?
“SEEBURGER will continue its strategy of focusing on providing comprehensive business process integration services. Our wide-ranging product portfolio and long years of expertise in this industry will enable us to offer our customers the best possible solutions long into the future. Our products have proved popular in the market, and as such we have been able to expand our global presence strongly over the past number of years.
For us, 2011 has been a year marked by global growth and cloud solutions, and we have focused strategically on issues like outsourcing, cloud computing and managed file transfer. In the field of outsourcing, managed services and cloud services alone, we have achieved high growth rates over the past few years and we anticipate further considerable growth over the years to come.
We will also be offering more solutions for SAP and for other ERP systems, thereby guaranteeing truly comprehensive processing for cross-company business transactions and relevant end-to-end monitoring.”