IT Organisation 2025

Interview with Andreas Strausfeld CEO @ BITMARCK
Kobaltblau Interview Bitmark

“A transformation can only succeed if everyone involved goes on the journey”

As a managed service provider in the statutory health insurance IT market, BITMARCK is driving digitalization in the industry and for its customers with innovative products, solutions and services. Thomas Heinevetter, Managing Director of kobaltblau Management Consultants GmbH, spoke with Andreas Strausfeld, Chairman of the BITMARCK Management Board, about the future of IT.

Where is IT and collaboration with the business headed?

Thomas Heinevetter: Where is IT and collaboration with the business headed?

Andreas Strausfeld: That depends very much on the sector. For an IT service provider in the healthcare sector like BITMARCK, product IT is and remains the focus. The German healthcare system is in the midst of transformation and digitalization. Completely new end-to-end services are being set up. And these applications do not stop at the health insurance company, as in previous years, but extend to the front end – i.e. to the insured person or patient. Specialized product teams are the key to success. They need to understand these processes, which are intended to serve patients and insured persons. And they must derive the necessities and the need for action from this – what solutions, services and products must look like. However, end-to-end also includes platforms and secure infrastructures, which are highly relevant for social and health data in our country.

Heinevetter: Does that apply to all areas of the company, including HR, Controlling and Finance?

Strausfeld: No, not identical. For me, shared services such as HR or purchasing should be considered and developed separately. Our product teams focus on our customer services.

Heinevetter: We are increasingly seeing a trend in the market and among our customers that IT expertise is also being built up in the specialist areas – also triggered by no- or low-code platforms. Does this help or hurt integration with the business?

Strausfeld: It is important that the business builds up its own IT expertise in order to be able to assess architectures or solutions and define requirements. The specialist departments must be equipped with the appropriate resources to make the right decisions in award procedures, contract negotiations or service design.

Heinevetter: Are platforms with no- or low-code functionalities in demand?

Strausfeld: There are not yet many requests, but there are a few. This is being considered to some extent, especially in BI or AI processes.

Heinevetter: Keyword BI or Power BI: This enables virtually all employees to generate evaluations themselves. What do you think?

Strausfeld: At this point, the costs and actual benefits for day-to-day business must be carefully considered. The health insurance companies mainly focus on advising and supporting customers.  Overloading employees with tools such as Power BI according to the watering can principle is therefore hardly expedient at present.

Heinevetter: Many companies are currently dealing with the topic of product orientation. How do you organize cross-functional product teams? What is the product? These are just a few of the many questions. Is product orientation also a major topic at BITMARCK?

Strausfeld: Product orientation must be viewed in two ways. Firstly: BITMARCK has stable business areas, product lines, services and IT systems. And the customers are z. B. integrated via advisory boards and user groups. We don’t have to compulsively change anything just for the sake of change. But also: the end-to-end concept means a shift in business. It is moving in the direction of B2B2C. If we take policyholders and their requirements into account, completely new products are created – and not just a new version of health insurance software. Rather, components are created that happen on smartphones or other platforms. This also gives rise to new requirements and quality assurance procedures.

Heinevetter: How important is strategic product management?

Strausfeld: Extremely important – this is best illustrated by current events in the German healthcare system. A lot is happening here at the moment: the electronic patient file, the electronic certificate of incapacity for work, the electronic prescription. All components must be integrated. This requires an instance that orchestrates and brings together the various services in order to generate real added value in care. Strategic product management can thus act as a superordinate layer that integrates and networks the products and assigns the corresponding implementation priorities.

Heinevetter: What is the ideal scope of product teams?

Strausfeld: At BITMARCK, it goes beyond the classic product owner. The reach extends as far as the insured persons or patients, service providers and employers. Consistent and integrative health insurance processes are required, the results of which ideally end up in a single customer mailbox and are settled via a single bank account – for example with supplementary insurance policies.

Heinevetter: When it comes to product orientation, many companies are planning to introduce the separation of disciplinary and technical management. Is this also a suitable model for BITMARCK?

Strausfeld: Our BITMARCK unit in Hamburg was the first to adopt this approach. There are product leads, i.e. product managers, and people leads, responsible for virtual teams for different service lines. This is not trivial. We must take our employees and customers with us on this journey and accompany them closely.

Heinevetter: What role does demand management play? Is this function still necessary or will it be replaced by the product owner?

Strausfeld: Demand management takes on a cross-product, coordinating role. Demand management is a control function that prevents duplicate developments, keeps an eye on economic aspects and also ensures that there is no competition between different product teams and product developments. It’s the big picture that counts: We can only be successful if we combine healthcare services, health insurance services and telematics services and do not compete with each other.

Heinevetter: Will BITMARCK develop into a data-driven organization?

Strausfeld: I have been focusing on the topic of “data-driven” and the importance of data for new product strategies of statutory health insurers for years. For some time now, there have been approaches that go beyond rigid reporting and analysis procedures. From BITMARCK’s point of view, we need to get to grips with platforms and data – that is the business of the future. But: In the German healthcare system, the handling of data is subject to very high requirements. And users are naturally reluctant to hand over their health data. The first task here is to raise awareness of what exactly we do and what the benefits are for health insurance companies and policyholders.

Heinevetter: Can this behavior be changed?

Strausfeld: The insured persons or patients must recognize the benefits: If, in return, they receive better advice and new care models for their particular life situation, if medicine is able to use large amounts of data to derive diagnoses at an early stage, develop therapies and improve care overall. The data is crucial for this.

Heinevetter: Are there any specific data science initiatives?

Strausfeld: Two years ago, we at BITMARCK launched the Data.Science.Factory, a special organizational unit that is completely data-driven. The basis is currently still exclusively the data that our company has available. There is still a lot of potential.

Heinevetter: Does this organization also take care of data management?

Strausfeld: We haven’t got that far yet. The aspects of data strategy, data security, data compliance and data architecture are largely the responsibility of the respective units and the respective specialist processes. Currently the data is busy.Science.Factory with data use cases in order to gain more information from the data that is available.

Heinevetter: So Chief Data Officers are not yet an issue?

Strausfeld: For the Data.Science.Factory is an important topic – in contrast to data lakes and mining for more information. Instead, the Factory is driving forward its own data science strategy within the company in an iterative process. Project experience is incorporated, as are the views of customers, which are discussed and reflected upon in a separate event format. The strategic framework is particularly important here. The analytical utilization of data holds great potential benefits. While digitalization strategies can be found everywhere, the topic of data science is not always understood as an independent strategic field.

Heinevetter: With product and data orientation and the growing symbiosis between business and IT, you are addressing three complex topics. What makes a transformation successful for you?

Strausfeld: A transformation can only succeed if everyone involved goes on the journey. For example, it would be extremely difficult if BITMARCK were to be transformed – but the customer and shareholder base were to be left behind. Acceptance means support, also in monetary terms. Transformation not only means rethinking, but also costs money, time and resources. Everyone has to pull together. This requires support from management as well as transparency and communication.

Heinevetter: Can pilot projects help with this?

Strausfeld: Pilot projects are important tools and offer valuable mechanisms – after all, you can’t simply flip the transformation switch in an organization. However, successful pilot projects must then be put into practice in the company in a timely manner. The previous approach of introducing them in stages or only in certain units does not work. This leads to imbalances in the overall organization and to distortions.

Heinevetter: Last but not least: What are BITMARCK’s top 3 fields of action in the medium and long term?

Strausfeld: Point 1: The ongoing transformation is highly relevant because the business is changing permanently. The integration of insured persons and patients – i.e. end-to-end – poses new challenges. Meeting the expectations of policyholders for fast, short-notice solutions, solution developments and service developments requires a different set-up, different processes, different mindsets and a different attitude.

Point 2: The focus on our core business must be increased. Unique selling points are important. We must not get bogged down with things that are not part of our core business. This also includes IT infrastructures. They can also be supplied by system houses that are specialists in this field.

And point 3 is linked to this: Skill, culture and resource development. Resources must be focused on what makes the company and its customers more successful. This means concentrating on the essentials instead of the broadest possible positioning. We must use our resources to optimize telematics services, healthcare services, integration and networking.

Andreas Strausfeld

Andreas Strausfeld has been Chairman of the BITMARCK Management Board since 2014. Prior to this, he had been Managing Director at BITMARCK Holding GmbH since 2008 and at BITMARCK Vertriebs- und Projekt GmbH since 2010. He also held the same position at BITMARCK Software GmbH until May 31, 2016. Before joining BITMARCK, the graduate in business informatics held various management positions at DAK – Unternehmen – Leben: From 2005 to 2008 as Chief Information Officer (CIO) and member of the management board, from 2002 to 2005 as IT security officer and representative of the head of the IT services division and from 1999 to 2001 as head of the control department. Andreas Strausfeld has been named “CIO of the Year” three times by the magazines CIO and Computerwoche: In 2008 in the “Large Companies” category, in 2015 in the “Medium-Sized Companies” category and since 2021 he has been one of the top CIOs in the public sector.

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