Digitization should make business and private life easier. Today, with the amount of data and information the world is dealing with, the complexity of technology will grow exponentially. Therefore, IT is often perceived as a burden rather than a relief. This should change for the better again.
Ralf Russ, Managing Director, and Senior Partner at Centracon AG, is on a mission to bring improvement in business processes through digital transformation. Centracon AG desires to build the counterbalance to increasing complexity and information overflow and establish Smart Working in companies. As Simplicity and understanding, the real needs of users are the keys, and technology is the enabler. Hence technology should not replace human beings but rather assist people. IT and human beings should work in coexistence or a good synergy.
Define Own Success
Success can’t be defined in a single definition. It has multiple aspects for everyone. Ralf believes that there are several definitions of success for different people. These definitions also depend on different perspectives, like being a private person, a business leader, or a consultant. In most cases, Ralf finds growth and moving forward as a success. He opines, “If I learn something new every day and if I’m able to apply it in my professional or private life, that’s personal success. The same is true for companies. If they are flexible and able to adapt quickly to changing environments, they tend to be more successful as well.” He further adds, “As a consultant, there is a very simple success measure if the client pays the bill every month with a satisfied smile on his or her face that’s a success.”
After finishing university, Ralf started his career with Andersen consulting, aka Accenture. In the early 1990s, he recognized that information technology is changing the world. The speed of change even then was so fast and increased over the past years. Since then, Ralf never took his eye off on the technology and services industry. According to him, “I’m inspired by many people who have built the new digital world like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, but I’m also inspired by the new generation that moves technology forward with great ideas and new business models.”
Leading a company to success is never an easy task and many times alone job. For some leaders and entrepreneurs, money and power is the source of motivation. But Ralf personally sees when one is leading a company, there is a chance of learning something new every day and that’s what motivates and satisfies him most.
Explore New while Facing Roadblocks
While running an organization, a leader faces multiple challenges, and every challenge is exceptional compare to another one. Ralf differentiates content-driven or technical challenges and political challenges. He prefers challenges that are solvable with logic, smart ideas, or hard work. He sees that political challenges are irrational, and therefore he mostly tries to avoid them. He adds that except for political challenges, all other roadblocks can be resolved by good teamwork and a high degree of service orientation. He holds consulting experience in the technology area what people and management are often afraid of with believing that they can’t control, or they don’t understand well. He says, “My take on that challenge is that the more you invest in upfront education and marketing, the fewer problems occur afterward. A journey is never straightforward, and failure is part of each journey. At least if you explore new grounds.”
Helping Companies to Achieve Digital Optimization
Centracon AG is specialized in Smart Working. The company creates (together with and for our clients) digital workplaces that make daily work easier, more effective, and more fun. This includes the definition of solid and modern IT architectures to run and deploy Digital Workplaces. Building Digital Workplaces based on virtual or cloud architectures is the main root of Centracon, and the company is in the market for 30 years. On top of that, the core focus is digitizing work processes and collaboration. The team says, “We apply technologies like workflow, artificial intelligence, automation, and collaboration to design workable solutions for digital work environments.” The organization provides support to companies and IT departments to transform them for the digital world. This includes planning of projects and measures. Also, the team helps the clients in decision making and the realization and optimization of IT projects and operations.
Innovation is the Key
Ralf states innovation is the vital element in Centracon AG’s services. The team is passionate about taking new approaches or trying things differently. At Centracon, the team developed a visual picture of the Digital Workplace in 2006. The vision was that IT and business seamlessly can work together to develop a smart IT environment. After years of dedication, that picture has now changed into reality and many companies have adopted agile development approaches that involve cross-functional teams right from the beginning to rollout and adoption.
For the organization’s client, the team often develops digital strategies and roadmaps that have been created with a vision for 3-5 years ahead. So, it becomes essential to include innovative topics and visionary ideas early and perceive how they will evolve. He asserts, “Innovation is, therefore, part of our daily business. One of our favorite quotes in Centracon is ‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them (Albert Einstein).”
A Team Player
Ralf prefers to experience things himself before he proposes them to clients or his people. He considers, “I have been lucky to learn IT from bottom up. I programmed myself small applications and also worked in a client warehouse as an interim warehouse manager very early in my career.” He considers it a great experience.
According to him, the biggest recognition for him when clients see him as part of their team and his own team sees him as a coach rather than a boss.
As a Leader
In Centracon, Ralf is responsible for sales and finance that nicely covers both sides of the P&L. At the office, his routine mostly contains time with clients, operational tasks, and some strategy and planning. It is part of Centracon’s DNA that even senior partners spend a lot of time with clients and contribute their entire experience to develop smart solutions. He says, “I’d define myself as a developer. I love to develop new and innovative things and ideas.”
Be Ready to Get Expandable
The management of the organization plans to grow Centracon AG significantly to enrich the world with Smart Working. Ralf’s goal is always to make myself expendable. He tries to make new approaches if his work is handled by someone else. Even he is having years of experience, still it took him almost 30 years to bring balance between personal and professional life. He opines, “My wife claims that she has been a single parent for many years, and I admit she’s right. Curiosity keeps me motivated, and I try to spark curiosity with employees as well.”
He states, “One thing is sure the people and employees that follow me will do my job better than me. Aspiring business leaders, make yourself expendable.”