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Exclusive interview with Dr. Rolf Hichert, part 3 of 3

By Ziga Milek • Last updated

This is the third video of a three-part interview series with Dr Rolf Hichert. This time you'll hear about the importance of software in the implementation of IBCS reporting standards in a company and what the future plans for IBCS are.

You can watch part 1 here and part 2 here.

Why software is an essential part of the implementation of IBCS

Andrej: Let's talk a bit more about software. I feel that the IBCS specification is very detailed. I think it's also your view that all the rules and details inside is not something that every analyst or report designer should learn. I think all those details should be solved by software companies. We should make it really simple for the user to produce IBCS compliant products, as you call them - the reports, dashboards. Do you think we are on the right track with Zebra BI?
Rolf: From what I've seen it's quite convincing. When did we first meet, 8 years ago? I would love for you to go through our certification process. It's 100% what we want and need, so you're invited to do this. I'm very sure you'll pass the certification. We cannot change the world, it's people like you. You offer the solution. We can only open people's minds and lead them in the right direction. But without people like you helping them to go this way, we have no chance. The IBCS concept, coupled with about 60-70 certified consultants, who do the actual projects, and certified software companies is the way to go. I feel that we're on the right track. Three years ago I thought this is maybe too complicated, but now it has some momentum. We have to go international. That's the reason we call it International Business Communication Standards. Today it's Europe, mostly German-speaking countries. Now there are companies from Australia, India, Israel, United States, Canada ... who are starting to use it. It's a start. People ask me "Is it possible to do this in China, Africa or the United States?" I think it's possible. The music notes are international. The electrical plans look the same from Tokyo to Toronto. Why not have the same concept for business communication?

Andrej: I remember 8 years ago in Zurich when we first met you were talking so passionately about how the business communication should be standardized, much like an ISO standard. Now that we are approaching the official release of the IBCS, do you feel like your mission is nearing its accomplishment?
Rolf: We have IFRS reporting standards, we have XBRL for the interface, but we have nothing so far for the visualization and semantic layers. I hope we can fill this gap with IBCS. I'm pretty confident at the moment.
I remember our discussion very well. My background is in mechanical engineering. There are standards for every screw, the gearbox, molds, I then move to the business world and saw that there are no standards. We have to go the same way. The musicians did it some 600 years ago. Also, in maps north is always up. It's practical.

Andrej: Do you have plans for after the official version of IBCS is released?
Rolf: Of course: version 2. Version 1 doesn't cover all aspects. There are some open questions, for examples how do different scales look like (thousands, millions ...). Or how do countries look like, how do products look like ... I think about 70% is fulfilled in version 1. Everybody is invited to make suggestions for version 2. One year later we will collect all the suggestions and the association will decide together which ones are useful and then we'll release version 2.

Andrej: We should invite the people to go to and take a look at the IBCS standards.
Rolf: Everybody can write suggestions; you don't have to be a member of the association. There is a lot of discussion going on right now. There's a circle of maybe 10-12 people who discuss it every week or almost every day. I hope we can attract more people to contribute.

Andrej: I'm sure they will. I see the IBCS went viral, so I'm sure it will be spreading more. Dr. Rolf Hichert, thank you for coming to Ljubljana and sharing all these insightful topics with our viewers. Hope to have you back in Ljubljana soon.
Rolf: Thank you, Andrej.

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