Darren Roos, CEO, IFS
In an interview with Business Reporter, IFS CEO Darren Roos discussed the challenges businesses face as they weather a dizzying level of technology, market and trade policy changes.
The trends discussed, centring on digitisation, have significant implications for his company and the industrial, manufacturing and service businesses they serve in the market. International trade, for instance, has become more volatile as governments in several regions transition from free trade to more restrictive trade regimes.
“With trade wars and Brexit, [our customers] have a tremendous amount of [economic] uncertainty,” Roos said. He added that they “do not know what is coming next. So, you need good systems and insight into your supply chain and who your customers are. You need to understand exactly what is happening in your business, your customers and your assets so you can deal with whatever change comes.”
Wider technology trends are also pushing IFS customers into new and uncharted waters.
“Artificial intelligence is affecting our personal lives and businesses,” Roos said. He added that AI forces executives to create new ethical constructs regarding the role of technology versus people in the workplace.
“They must ask, how are my employees affected? How can I maintain my current level of employment? While the technology is not currently mature, how are they going to use it to enhance the work of their existing employees,” he said. “Our job is to stay very focused on how they can derive value. Can AI help their employees make fewer errors, or drive incremental revenue?”
As companies prepare for and implement transformational technologies, such as AI and the internet of things (IoT), firms such as IFS stand to grow substantially. Analyst group IDC, in its FutureScape report, says that by 2022, 60 percent or roughly $7 trillion of global GDP will be delivered digitally.
This, according to Roos, suggests that while technological change done properly will drive value, it should involve a sensible approach to implementation to ensure an ongoing return and maintain customer loyalty.
“Yes, it will be very expensive,” Roos said. “A lot of this money will be spent on technologies that are not mature yet, such as blockchain or augmented reality. They will go through perpetual proofs of value that will not necessarily yield benefit to the customer in anything near the short term or medium term.”
Still, while IFS’s in-house product experts keep abreast of emerging trends, the focus is on harnessing value from technology that is readily available to reap immediate gains.
It is this commitment that has allowed IFS to enjoy financial growth in 2018 that was three times the industry average, based on estimates by Gartner.