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Bernd Böker

"Reliability and service quality are critical to our business. We have had very good experiences with Host Europe in both areas. That's what counts for me as an entrepreneur."

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Bernd Böker – Medien31 GmbH

Bernd Böker, managing director of Medien31 GmbH, came into contact with computers late thanks to his school's computer science lessons. He hasn’t looked back since. After graduating in electrical engineering, he initially worked on research projects in the field of computer networks and distributed systems at the Regional Computer Centre for Lower Saxony. At first, he was involved in operating the German node of the Internet 1996 World Exposition. A challenge, since the networks at that time could not yet withstand high loads and the contents had to be distributed decentrally on servers. This was followed by the connection of the Lower Saxony administrative network to the Internet in cooperation with the Lower Saxony IT Centre - a premiere with high security requirements; firewall technologies were used for the first time. Then Böker arrived in Hameln. Here, he helped a series of local newspapers go digital, and the digitisation of other local organisations followed.
Since 2014 you have been managing director of Medien31 GmbH. What exactly do you do and which business areas are served?

Our most important field of business is and remains the support of our publishing group in the ongoing process of digitisation. We advise them on the development and implementation of new products for the digital market. In addition, we support the selection and integration of third-party products. Particular importance is attached to the interfaces between the products, for which our own solutions often have to be created. What cannot be purchased, we develop ourselves. We also offer our software solutions to other publishing houses. And thanks to our many contacts with customers in the region, we have also been able to make a name for ourselves as an agency for internet services. From the creation of websites to hosting and the provision of e-mail accounts, we offer many services in this area.

That's a big remit. How big is your team and what skills does it represent?

Our team is much smaller than you might think. We also have experts, especially in the areas of text and image creation, who we involve in our projects if required. This enables us to harness a wide range of specialist skills, from software developers to media designers, journalists, photographers and consultants for strategic implementation.

Is digitisation permeating all areas now?

Digitisation is our daily business, so yes. Inbound call centres are being replaced by online service centers and online shops are replacing stationary retail outlets. We support our customers in these processes, but repeatedly experience that our customers underestimate the cost of successfully switching to digital business models. This is where we provide support in an advisory capacity.

"It would not be possible to satisfy such a large number of customers with such a small team as we are without the competence and services of Host Europe.”

Are there any hot topics amongst your customers at the moment?

Data security is currently a major issue. As soon as we process personal data, we are asked for the location of our servers. This was far less pronounced before. We are still unable to provide sufficient answers to many questions about data security, such as the provision of all personal data of a user or the reliable and legally secure deletion of all personal data of a user upon request. We will still face challenges here.

Not only does digital transformation offer great potential, it also presents companies with major challenges. 
What is the best way to deal with these challenges based on your experience?

Many customers are overwhelmed by the unexpected difficulties they face that they are unfamiliar with from their traditional day-to-day business. Sometimes a writing from a lawyer's office with a warning letter is enough. We then always treat our clients with great prudence and calm, in order to take the initial excitement away, and then guide them step by step through the necessary processes. The introduction of the DSGVO, for example, has caused a great deal of excitement this year. Despite good preparation, many of our customers were so insecure that they temporarily took their websites offline. We respected this decision and advised our customers that they should be able to put their websites back into operation as quickly as possible.

How and when did your collaboration with Host Europe come about? What was the decisive factor?

In the first three years, we built and operated the technical infrastructure ourselves. At that time, the requirements for reliability had not yet been met. There was a backup of the data, but neither a backup of the servers or a backup of the internet connection. In addition, the administrative effort for updating the servers grew steadily. After just a few years, we therefore decided to purchase hosting services as a service. We have been with Host Europe since 2001, initially only with the domain service offering. Later, we gradually moved all our hosting projects to Host Europe. Even then, the decision was a major marketing advantage for us, because since then, we have been able to advertise that our customers' projects have a triple redundant internet connection. This is a huge advantage compared to our 2 Mbit/s connection. The relocation of the projects to Host Europe was a very long process that took several years.

And what are your plans for the future?

Our goal is to be the first contact in the region for all questions concerning marketing and communication. If a company is looking for solutions for corporate communication or marketing, we want our name to be mentioned first.
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