Companies will increasingly deal with the possibilities of networked working!
In a survey conducted in March this year, the German Association for the Digital Economy (BVDW) found that around 60 percent of the employees surveyed would like to work in their home office during the current Covid-19 crisis. In 2018, only 3.8 percent of employees worked exclusively in their home office.
In an interview with RFID & Wireless IoT Global, Stefan Hoppe, President and CEO of the OPC Foundation, evaluates the impact of the corona pandemic on the working world and on the productive processes of the OPC Foundation.
What does the corona crisis mean for the working world, Mr. Hoppe?
The corona crisis has many tragic and serious influences. One topic, however, is definitely positive and is currently taking place on a completely different level: Working from the home office. In the wake of the pandemic, numerous companies and associations have quickly realized that infrastructures must be established immediately to create the necessary conditions for decentralized and networked work.
Does this mean that implementing home offices is very straightforward?
No, I don't think so. For small companies, networking is something completely new. We're living in 2020 and we're talking about IT and digitalization in all areas - but not about networked working from home. Hence the 'positive' assessment of this aspect of the current situation: Corona is accelerating digitalization.
Why is IT still a major challenge for many companies in 2020?
Many companies, especially large ones, are used to the continuous integration of new IT and the changes in work processes that sometimes go hand in hand with it. However, small companies in particular do not have an optimal command of this area. Such large changes are rather unusual in this environment. It is alarming to see how far away many brokers, architects, but also authorities are from remote IT topics.
What is your personal opinion?
I think that social interaction will change through home office. We are at home with our families and friends for longer periods of time and can organize our work more flexibly than in rigid schedules. At home at our desk there is less noise. Creativity is increased and the more flexible design releases new energies. However, working successfully in the home office means: good planning and structuring of daily routines. The working world and the private world must be strictly separated.
Will the work of the OPC Foundation be disturbed under the current conditions?
No, we are used to working with internationally active people from different continents we all work together in web conferences. Of course, like working in the home office itself, this requires exact planning. If this is observed, the work runs smoothly. All current Companion Specifications are worked out and further developed by the working groups via web conferences.
Does the corona crisis have direct, negative influences on the OPC Foundation?
I don't see any austerity measures by industrial companies with regard to the Foundation at the moment. We continue to grow steadily. In my view, it is still because companies that decide to become members now are clearly focusing on the many significant benefits of OPC UA. Within the more than 750 members there are five different categories – and I strongly expect all sustaining members to stay. This sends a strong and positive signal to the world, not only to the Foundation but also to the OPC UA technology.
What is your assessment of the economic situation?
The automation market in particular is growing steadily. Even if the slump this year is even more severe than currently forecast, the figures will definitely catch up in the following quarters. Technologies and solutions for networking, automation and digitalization remain strong markets. People all over the world want to have clean water or energy or buy consumer goods – this desire will lead to more and more automation.