The focus should always be on the customer
Ms. Fiedler, in your opinion, what is the significance of the digital transformation in German SMEs?
Andrea Fiedler: According to current studies, 71 percent of medium-sized companies assume that the digital transformation will change their market position. In fact, all companies are directly or indirectly affected by it.
Andrea Fiedler: Digitization can bring about change in three ways: Companies can create a new customer experience, for example through expanded services. Another motivation for digitization is to leverage cost-cutting potential. And thirdly, it is possible to develop completely new business models. But this is not the only change in the market position. Even if a company ignores digitization, there will be consequences - just not good ones. Ultimately, digitalization has consequences for all companies.
Has the corona pandemic accelerated the digital transformation?
Andrea Fiedler: That is undoubtedly the case. Normally, such a fundamental change in a company triggers extensive planning processes that can take months or years. Due to the pandemic, you just had to get started and find solutions at very short notice.
Did this ad hoc change work well?
Andrea Fiedler: Most companies do. Companies that had not yet discovered the topic of digitization for themselves at the beginning of last year, however, had major problems implementing the topic of "New Work" and the associated changes at the required speed. However, the majority had already taken fundamental steps. The challenge was then often to flip the switch without extensive test phases. Corona made sure that you took the plunge into the deep end. The German middle class is already much closer to the topic than many assume. That is why the term “digital transformation” has long been too general and falls short.
In what way?
Andrea Fiedler: Everyone already knows that they have to do something. Which basic possibilities there are can usually be seen very well in the competition. Now is the time for companies to take a deeper dive and consider: Which advantages can I use individually for my company? What do I have to change specifically for this? And which technological modules do I need for this?
But that's where it gets complicated. There are a vast number of possibilities. How do companies find out which technology can free up the most energy?
Andrea Fiedler: That is actually the first big hurdle. It is difficult if not impossible for companies to keep an eye on the rapidly developing technological possibilities. Anyone who approaches the topic without a well-founded plan runs the risk of getting lost in the details and producing patchwork. All measures must therefore be embedded in a holistic digitization strategy.
What is the procedure for developing a suitable strategy?
Andrea Fiedler: The KUMAVISION digitization team works according to Microsoft's four-stage Catalyst method. Accordingly, we create a digitization strategy in four phases: Inspire, Design, Empower and Achieve.
Can you explain that a little more?
Andrea Fiedler: The Inspire phase is there to open the mindset for digital transformation. Make a wish-what is expressly wanted. Here it is crucial that the employees see themselves as part of the upcoming transformation process. Because it is they who see every day in their workplace what is still necessary for the company to grow and prosper. In order to provide some orientation in this phase, KUMAVISION developed the 360 ° view.
What is behind it?
Andrea Fiedler: In a workshop format, we guide everyone involved to consider the opportunities and challenges they see for their company - from a wide variety of perspectives: from the perspective of customers, suppliers, competition, legal requirements, technical processes and regarding the products and services that the company offers. When all these perspectives are captured and brought together, not only a holistic picture of the company arises, but also a kind of idealized future perspective.
And when the phase of making a wish is over ...
Andrea Fiedler: ... then the order in which the various topics can be addressed must be defined. Because after the inspire phase there is a mass of good suggestions that cannot all be implemented, but rather have to be prioritized. What quickly brings high added value to the company? What can be easily implemented, which topics are more complex? This creates a list of sensible and target-oriented measures. In the design phase, we then ask ourselves what is required on the IT side in order to implement these projects and draw up a digital development plan. In the empower phase, things get specific: we run through the main processes with prototypes and check whether everything can be implemented as planned. In the Achieve phase, the individual implementation projects are finally managed and controlled in a superordinate framework project.
What is particularly important in this process?
Andrea Fiedler: Absolute openness is important, because input is what counts for good advisory services. If there isn't enough information, even the best advisor can miss the mark. Ultimately, it is like this: The greatest potential for the company can be leveraged where the worst is wrong.
What else is important when it comes to good advice?
Andrea Fiedler: First of all, that you even make use of it. Companies shouldn't shy away from this. Because it is simply not possible to build up the know-how required for the digital transformation yourself in the company.
What else is important?
Andrea Fiedler: Competence. Even a consultant cannot know everything. That is why the KUMAVISION digitization team consists not only of consultants with many years of experience in process and change management, but also of experts for individual digitization disciplines such as IoT, AI or low-code applications. In addition, the experiences of our colleagues from other disciplines serve as practical guidelines. Another thing that is very important to me: As a consultant, you shouldn't sit in the ivory tower of theoretical knowledge, you also have to keep an eye on practical implementation. I have to meet customers on an equal footing and be able to explain complicated issues in easily understandable language.
What would you recommend to companies facing the challenge of developing a digitization roadmap that suits them?
Andrea Fiedler: Do not see digitization as a question of the right tool, but approach digitization holistically. Also important: the customer should always be the focus of all measures.