Digitalization is one of the current catchwords par excellence. It is talked about, written and sometimes operated, but it is seldom understood. Software is regarded by managers as a substitute for people and there are editors who write sentences like «What is commonly called “digitalization”, i. e. the replacement of human work by machines and computer programs, … ». You go to Silicon Valley and see how the people there work, but realize what is happening right now, that’s what few people do. It has been written more than once before, but I live with the hope that constant drops of water will cause the stone to become hollow and present it with my words.
It is indeed commonplace that digitization is a pure automation of processes that have been performed by humans up to now. If I replace the human being with software, I digitize a process. This statement is not wrong at first, but it is not the only thing that makes sense. Digitisation must serve to offer customers and users advantages that they have not received anywhere at present. And all this with maximum flexibility, in a minimum of time. If you don’t succeed in doing so, but only increase your profits through lower staffing levels, your company will not be able to survive. If the first competitor has a better product than you, and that in a similar price structure, the margin doesn’t help you any more.
Digitalization means: Innovation instead of increasing efficiency
Due to the Internet and the accompanying social media networks, there is an unprecedented networking density of actors. The result is increased spontaneous activities. They are rocking up and it is no longer possible to predict how things will develop in the long term. It is not a matter of producing cheaply on stockpiles, but of satisfying the wishes of our customers at short notice. If you can’t do that, it’s easy to move it. Things that are announced today will be available in lots of remnant sales tomorrow.
A wonderful statement on the behaviour of people in networks was already made on 5 July 2010 by the Prof. Dr. Peter Kruse, who unfortunately passed away, at the German Bundestag’s enquiry. In the meantime several years have passed and …
Yes, nothing happens. (3:33 Min. Only available in german)
Examples in B2C
Do you manufacture products that are unique and could offer your customers a higher added value? Well, I’d love to be able to get my clothes made to measure without spending a fortune on it. My wife would be happy if she would fit into the shoes she likes without any problems. Every time I am annoyed to have to try and see if things fit me and look good. A high degree of individualization is possible, especially for clothing, because how many people really fit optimally into standard confectionery? Adidas has already proven that an individual running shoe can be produced by 3D printing.
Or a fitted kitchen. The kitchen studio was awarded the contract with us at that time, which was able to fulfil our wishes exactly. Without compromises and without noticeable price differences. At that time, it was made possible by our own cabinetmaker’s workshop. Nowadays, I expect that I will receive custom-fit cabinets directly from the manufacturer. Lot size 1 may be considered realistic. Every bet that it doesn’t take long before you can order furniture with individual dimensions without being more expensive than standard goods. And of course in the normal price segment. The first one who manages to do so is welcome to contact us. There are places in our house that have been waiting for years for suitable furniture.
Apart from the fact that there are plenty of clothes and furniture here, it would also be great if you could always demand the computing power you need. Right now, you have to be prepared for the maximum. However, this may only be used to 5 percent of its term or even less. Have they done it yet? Okay, but on what terms? I think there is still room for improvement in terms of services and prices.
Are you a manufacturer of components, for example industrial fans? It may be that the degree of customization of your product is not as high as with other products. However, if you can determine that a ventilation system will fail and take countermeasures in good time before the customer suffers damage, you can offer significantly higher added value. Keyword: predictive maintenance.
Or you can go one step further and offer them as a pure service package.
Or there are framework agreements with your customers and you give them the opportunity to manage them online at any time, as they too have to act quickly on the market. And he won’t stay with suppliers who slow him down for long.
Ask your customers what they want. Think about how you can implement the customer’s wishes and test out which additional feature creates a small but fine lead that makes your company the “digital leader”.
No matter whether it’s production, trade or service. Every area will be affected and every automation of processes must first of all be used to serve customers better and faster than is currently the case. In order to manage this and to adapt processes to ongoing, individual changes, well-trained employees are necessary and a detachment from static and static solutions is necessary.
Of course, digitalization also requires tools that are rather static. ERP, CRM or Accounting Software are pure collections of functions that are requested by the processes. The optimal processes for your company are not a standard feature and should flow smoothly, without interruption. The process-supporting solution must be able to access these functions at the required time, i. e. it must be able to integrate them. This is the decisive challenge that will give your customers (and employees) the greatest possible benefit so that they feel understood by you.
First comes the question “What can I do to inspire my customers?” and then you choose the tool that supports this, continuously changing requirements, maximum. Static solutions will no longer help you in the future, as long-term planning becomes obsolete.
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