The successful enablement of the digital transformation is turning into a holistic, comprehensive and sustained challenge.
“We must get out of our comfort zone to enable the digitization process,” emphasizes advisor Heiko Henkes.
He also seems to be somewhat skeptical: “But when you look at the provider scene, we have found that there are only a few that implement this approach of a complete business transformation and can then make it available to users.
He continues:”Only few IT providers are able to manage a continuous digitization process with regard to Big Data, IoT, Security, Mobile, etc. Moreover, they must also offer advisory services and change management, including the relevant range of products and solutions.”
But the participants of the discussion round agree that this wide range of products and services can also be achieved with partners. The digitization process creates large global ecosystems, allowing specialists to offer niche solutions.
Therefore the individual, as part of the business and IT processes, is at the center of the digital transformation. This human-centric approach for IT and business is also the main focus of the Fujitsu Forum 2016 in Munich. And the professor from Hamburg also states: „Of course we need another big step forward in the development of the business processes.”
The important end-to-end approach is mentioned several times during the discussion round.
But Professor Böhmann does not find it easy to determine or define the digital transformation. “At first glance, these terms always sound so familiar,” he explains, “because it is not the first time that we hear of the importance of thinking through business processes end-to-end. But in this case, it is really so, and it is not a process from administrator to administrator, but rather definitely from end customer to end customer without interruption and a break in media – and of course automated.”
Anytime a process tracking tool is used, people may suspect that the process is not good enough yet. One is interested in the end result, and what happens in-between is not considered as relevant. But the digital transformation does not work that way.
Traditional patterns of thinking must be scrutinized. “What is needed today is a good and deep understanding of what customers want and need, so that business processes can be revised and made more efficient,” explains Tilo Boehmann, who knows, based on numerous studies and research work, that there are new methods for this aspect: “Either one is willing to undertake a real customer journey, or one turns to deep design thinking,” demands the professor.
And he warns that there is no such thing as complete planning security, even if the new methods such as design thinking are used correctly. In the end, starting these processes requires agility – an aspect that has been repeatedly mentioned in the discussion round.
“The planning process then becomes a learning process, which takes place continuously. In a study we conducted we thought long and hard about a term for this transformation process, and at the end we arrived at the concept of data-driven agility,” reports Tilo Boehmann from his research practice.
He then adds: “That seems to be important, as in the future we will be required to work quickly not just in terms of development but also in terms of delivery and implementation. The key is to learn from real customer behavior. In the end, that is the basic model of any digital innovation, namely that we no longer just plan but let ourselves be measured, that we learn and observe whether the customer is really using our product.”
Facing the Reality Check
Enablement is also a reality check for the digital transformation: You can observe and orient your actions to reality. You can learn from customer behavior. Will the customer really use it? “This demonstrated use is worth more than any hierarchy,” concludes Professor Boehmann.
At the same time, advisor Henkes also sees pitfalls and obstacles: “This can also get dangerous because many companies are not yet at the stage where they can store the enormous amount of personal data securely and in a structured form. The mission today is to establish a 1:1 customer approach.
Usually, there is not enough courage and time to draw the required conclusions to influence the modern customer through the main stations of opinion formation during the course of the digital customer journey and to convert the value process from push to pull. This is where the disruption is buried.”
In his capacity as an IT provider, Rolf Werner asks: “This is the challenge: Are we as IT providers able to speak to our B customer about his C customers in terms of B-to-B-to-C?“ In terms of the aforementioned global end-to-end processes of the digital supply chain, an examination of Business-to-Business-to-Consumer of course takes on special significance.
The head of Fujitsu asks himself: Do we have this knowledge in-house? “In the case of public clients, we have the knowledge about these continuous B2B2C processes. The same applies to manufacturing, machine building and the retail segment, where we are a leader,” says Rolf Werner in reference to the company‘s strengths.
And if not, there are advisors, analysts and research and development. Werner emphasizes: “At the end of the day, it is always about collaboration in the sense that software is a dialogue and that agility is also communication. We can only be a part of the whole – regardless of the actual size of a company, we are always a part of a complete solution. But sometimes it is difficult to understand that the whole is made up of many parts and that our partners and even much larger companies can only be a part of an integrated digital transformation.”
Innovation instead of Sales
This also requires some humility because the business of providers such as Fujitsu and SAP depends not just on having great developers, sending them out and making interesting speeches at the customer for placing a product, solution and hosting, but also on working together with all participants to develop an ecosystem.
“That of course is an entirely new approach,” says Rolf Werner and adds: “Before, you went to the customer and told him of a solution that you wanted to sell. Today, we have a totally different approach because the old models do not work anymore.”
Fujitsu manager Michael Straub once again offers a clear definition: “Think of the customers of your customer, precisely this B2B2C idea.”
Today, this works with use cases in terms of a co-innovation and proofs of concept. The customer must also contribute his creativity and experience. “We then use existing technologies such as SAP Hana or S/4 to develop these use cases,” adds Straub based on his work at Fujitsu.
It is a bottom-up approach: It is all about data and agility – which is very different from the approach that was used just a couple of years ago. “We need a partner who develops innovations with us,” adds Gerhard Goettert and elaborates: “You can say openly that many companies do not always have the required competence for the digital transformation. Which can be explained because the speed that we are currently faced with is much too fast.”
B2B2C using an end-to-end review means that the degree of digitization is rising. “It is clear that IT partners cannot simply say that they have the solutions for a particular scenario. Because that would mean that the providers know the locations in the company in which additional automation would create meaningful added value,” is how Goettert describes the new provider-user relationship.
Change of Culture
There are new roles in the enablement of the digital transformation, which must be filled.The alignment between business and IT must be designed. For the purpose of the digital transformation, the collaboration between the functional divisions and IT must be raised to an entirely new level.
“And in this way we arrive at the culture in the company,” underlines Tank & Rast CIO Gerhard Goettert. “Once I know what needs to change in my company in terms of business processes, I need partners who help me to create a technology-based and viable IT environment.”
In the digital age, IT companies must contribute such a willingness to cooperate. And in this area, the providers (including SAP) enjoy a good position. Maybe at times too fast, says CIO Goettert, but Fujitsu and SAP are providing some orientation in this context.
“You should not expect SAP and other providers to arrive with finished solutions. One has to be become involved and contribute,” warns Göttert and explains his own viewpoint: “We cannot just consume but must jointly develop the digital transformation in co-innovation projects – sometimes with SAP and sometimes with SAP partners such as Fujitsu.
The future does not come as quickly as many people want – it is a process. As an analogy, it does not help if 20 people are running towards the front – just to speed up the process – while 3000 people are standing in the back and watching.”
Room for Error
The new digitization process must also make room for a culture of failure. “Before, a project was not really allowed to fail in the face of long project periods, big project budgets and many project participants,” says Goettert about the past.
Today, it is expected that failed digital initiatives will give rise to new know-how. And never is a solution that seems unusable at first glance discarded in all aspects. This culture of change must be developed, according to CIO Goettert.
It is almost impossible to advance the digital transformation using the old processes – and certainly not at the required speed. “Therefore we need user friendliness. It cannot be that someone has to subject his employees to weeks of training for each new innovation. What is needed are usability and user experience.
And precisely this culture of failure,” demands Gerhard Goettert from the discussion round.
This culture of failure is also extremely important for enabling the digital transformation, according to Professor Tilo Boehmann: “Not so much a planned failure in the sense that I develop and test two prototypes, with the knowledge that one will not survive the process.
He concludes: “Rather, this process is about the agile and rapid development of solutions, testing what may work, and what finally is suited to drive forward the digital transformation. We must create this culture and think about the infrastructure that is required for that purpose.
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