Gero Decker
2016, Germany
This computer scientist's software makes companies more transparent: Finally, even with complicated processes, the left hand knows what the right hand is doing

Gero Decker could have had a comfortable life: Upon obtaining his doctorate from the Hasso-Plattner-Institut in Potsdam (Germany), he received several job offers and worked for a while at the consulting firm McKinsey. But Decker wanted to work independently. In his doctoral thesis, he addressed process management, a long standing niche topic. For example, at the beginning of the millennium when fast DSL connections emerged, many providers came under pressure. Customer service accepted all new service requests and promised quick delivery timelines, but the technical departments could not keep up. In such cases, process management is applied to help better match the individual steps required in order to provide the DSL customers with realistic information as to when they can expect to receive their connection. Many companies hired experts to address this, but only temporarily; they disappeared again once the work had been done. Decker and his colleagues wanted to deliver a more sustainable solution. Inspired by online social networks and communication platforms, they developed software that enables employees to help shape ongoing processes. "Even non-IT experts can configure our system according to their needs," Decker says. And Signavio - which more or less means "to lead the way" - was born.

Shortly after founding the company in 2009 the start-up signed the AOK health insurance company as a large client. Signavio stepped in to aid the Internet and telephone services provider 1 & 1 as the rush for DSL connections began. Today, Signavio sells its software to more than 900 clients worldwide - including public authorities, insurance companies, banks, publishers and members of the manufacturing industry.

Decker's latest product goes one step further: The so-called Decision Manager helps employees and managers in decision-making processes. The auditors at KPMG feed legislative changes and new tax policies into the tool. Afterwards, the Signavio software can guide the consultants through the financial jungle.

The concept seems to be working. Within just a few years, their workforce increased to about 100 employees. At the end of 2015, the IT investor Summit Partners announced they would invest $31 million in the company. Currently, he does not often get to see his three-and-a-half year old and nine-month-old sons, and his hobby of sailing has to wait. But when he is at home, he enjoys the time spent with his family to the fullest: "I will have much commuting to do, but much to look forward for the future."

Text in German from its original source: MIT Technology Review German edition