Digital transformation – hackneyed buzzword or successful concept after all?

Digital transformation – hackneyed buzzword or successful concept after all?

Why does digitization have to be so hard? It’ s a question asked by many companies that – courtesy of the pandemic – find themselves grappling with this issue. Some managers have had to learn it the hard way: that an enterprise-wide transformation into a digital IT landscape does not solely involve the implementation of individual software tools, and they are now faced with the Herculean task of ensuring that they do not fail to catch up with the digital pioneers. Because these define the benchmark of the goals and can reap the rewards of their efforts, which are reflected in stable revenue growth.

But how does this large gap come about? Aren’t the software solutions the same for everyone? What is the reason that some companies achieve a top position and others, despite enormous investments, are still lagging behind?

A study by Red Hat and Harvard Business Review Analytics Services provides some clarity and reveals which challenges companies need to actively address in order to successfully implement a digital transformation. The priority here is clear: increasing productivity and efficiency, continuity and resilience are classic goals. Added to this are the agility of business processes and improvement of customer relationships, as well as the concrete use of the results from the systematic analyses. This means that everyone in the company is required to support and drive the changes that accompany a digital transformation. The study shows that this objective is a driver of successful digitization. It is worth noting that it is not just the size of the IT budget that shows an indirect link to success, but the right technologies coupled with expertise and an architecture that puts people at the forefront of the company’s considerations. In concrete terms, this means that employees make a decisive contribution to entering the digital world by accepting and using suitable tools. This also includes the cooperation of man and machine, which ideally works harmoniously and integrated across all departmental boundaries.

The fact that this ideal world is not reserved for large corporations is demonstrated by PROMATIS. Based just on the outskirts of the Black Forest, the medium-sized IT service provider operates internationally and is well known in the industry. Although PROMATIS, with 160 employees, is considered to be relatively small in size, innovation is firmly anchored in all areas of the organization. This can be seen in the creative IT development projects, which are developed in cooperation with leading universities and yet demonstrate a high level of practical relevance, so that customers benefit directly from the advantages. The focus is on a holistic view of business processes both for the implementation of complex software solutions at customers and in the internal approach. As an expert for Business Process Management solutions, PROMATIS applies the processes in its internal workflows on a daily basis. This is demonstrated, for example, in a seamless integration of sales and marketing tools for a standardized and yet personalized customer relationship. In doing so, the main tasks of each department are taken into account, unnecessary complexity is avoided, and transparency is achieved across departments. This digital process landscape is expanded to include the transfer of relevant company data (which originates from both the ERP and CRM systems) to the central planning tool. Here, the relevant information from all areas of the company is accumulated according to predefined KPIs and fed directly into the balanced scorecard so that strategic goals based on real-time data can be kept track of simply and easily.

Another tool that enormously facilitates the workflow of the project-driven PROMATIS is a special workforce tool that coordinates the resources in the international projects. The skills of the employees are recorded multilingually and systematically directly by the HR department and permanently expanded by the acquired qualifications. These can be acquired in the Learning Center – integrated into the digital corporate landscape – in a modular fashion in special training units according to requirements and qualifications. Project managers thus have a tool available online to select suitable experts according to the project tasks and to schedule them directly in the project tools, which in turn is beneficial for transparent communication with the customer during the course of the project. This holistic approach brings transparency to the processes, enables a focus on the core tasks and puts the strengths of each individual employee in the foreground of the considerations.

Open communication is actively practiced within the PROMATIS network, which includes not only the branches in Germany, but also the national companies in Austria, Switzerland and the USA, as well as other partner companies such as Horus. However, this openness is also reflected in an authentic presentation to the outside world, always taking into account the interests of the employees who are behind the company’s developments or actively driving them forward.

PROMATIS received the result of its efforts this year when it was named the number one digital pioneer among IT service providers by the F.A.Z Institute.

This achieved “gold medal” triggered a feeling of elation among all PROMATIS employees, especially since it is a reward for digital transformation efforts. In other words, it shows that a strategically designed digital transformation can succeed through the active, creative and committed cooperation of all those involved.

Author: Sabine Rudolf

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Digital evolution in times of VUCA

Digital evolution in times of VUCA

Agility, order of the hour

Covid-19 has been giving all of us a taste of the VUCA world: Exponentially rising case numbers, new and partly contradictory messages and behavior rules on a daily basis, radically reduced predictability. “Running on sight” is the name of the game. At the time this article is published, it is still unclear where this journey will lead us. That is why as a result of the Corona crisis, the VUCA paradigm is experiencing entirely new relevancy and is increasingly moving into the focus of attention. This begs the question of which strategy is advisable in times of volatility and complexity. It is precisely with digital evolution that companies can overcome these uncertainties.

Digital evolution versus disruption

Innovations and new developments are of course important, but we should not forget that experience is also a valuable asset in technology. Harvard professor Clayton Christensen is known as the inventor of the theory of disruptive innovation. According to Christensen, digital disruption describes a process in which an established technology or service is displaced by an innovation. Established companies however may quickly fail with this concept of a fresh start, as it means going back to zero and as a result brings with it an increased need for capital. Digital evolution, on the other hand, takes an approach that is executed with considerably less risk, and with its dynamism is no doubt an important driver of changes in the VUCA world.

Origin and challenge of the VUCA world

With the collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s, the acronym VUCA acquired its first meaning. Composed of the terms volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, it very accurately described the state of the multilateral world that had emerged with the end of the Cold War (see [BeL14, MKK16]). A consideration of volatile and uncertain times of crisis (Fig. 1) further points to the highly explosive potential of future crises. Questions about the disruptive digitization, refugee crises, the worsening of the energy crisis, the rising climate catastrophe, as well as the consequences of BREXIT and the advancing deglobalization are of major concern to people in their living and working environments.

This inevitably leads to...

Read the full article in the DOAG Business News 02/2021 (article in German).

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The ‘new normal’ of customer relationships

The ‘new normal’ of customer relationships

That the corona pandemic has immensely accelerated digitization is a fact known in every nook and corner these days. Processes, working methods and approaches that were laughed off as visionary utopias of the future a year ago are now deeply anchored in our everyday lives and secure the continued existence of our economy. But the wheel of digital advancement does not stand still and keeps demanding further innovations. Because one thing is clear – the world the way we knew it before this insidious virus will never exist the same way again. Too deeply have the measures affected the firmly established processes and triggered a digitization tsunami, which has also brought positive aspects to light.

One area that presents companies with an extreme challenge during this crisis is that of customer relationships. Traditional, successful and intimate – and sorely missed after 12 months of isolation – is interpersonal contact. Oh, how we long for a plain meeting room, cup of coffee in hand and dry box cookies within reach, to discuss the small and large issues of the business world with our familiar counterparts. But mourning past times is of no help, so let’s look ahead and examine the versatile alternatives to personal contacts that are now showing us a new and perhaps more attractive and adapted customer relationship management.

A CRM system is the technological heart that supports a company’s interactions with its customers. If the function of one of the vital arteries is impaired, the entire organism can be restored with the help of a bypass. This means that bridges are being built in existing systems, i.e. additional connections that create further opportunities in new and existing structures. These cross-connections harness the advantages of established mechanisms and combine them with new lifelines. This means expanding existing relationships with customers to include new channels, and thereby maintaining a healthy and functional system. The new normal of customer experience becomes a maxim in the use of specialized areas along the customer journey. This sounds complicated, costly and resource-intensive at first, but is it really? Are there solutions that accompany or actively support this digital journey?

Advancing digitization is coupled with an increase in data volumes, and especially when dealing with prospects and customers this is extremely important. After all, intelligent analysis, also when combined with data from back-office systems, can generate information for an individualized approach that is specifically interesting for the addressee. Although this does not completely replace the exchange of information in a personal conversation, it does convey a far more comprehensive picture of the partner’s wishes, problems and requirements. This analytical part of a CRM system can be intensified even further by using artificial intelligence (AI). AI has the ability to automatically recognize future behavioral structures from vast amounts of data and consequently provide decision support for strategic goal definitions. The results lead to an individual and situation-specific approach throughout the entire customer journey. This increase in efficiency along the process chain translates into a reduction of acquisition costs, while at the same time intensifying the customer relationship and thus increasing sales in the long term.

For the support of existing customers, interlocking the back office systems in a way that is anchored in the operative CRM is of enormous advantage. The information the company has about the customer is comprehensive – from lead generation to services, the customer-specific tasks and business transactions in sales, marketing and service are supported. The central element is a holistic and consistent supply of information that integrates and synchronizes all customer touchpoints. Knowledge is power – this applies both to the customer relationship itself and, in a special way, to customer development. After all, information transparency promotes upselling, which is still the most beautiful form of sales work.

Looking beyond the horizon of a CRM that traditionally focuses on the customer-related areas of marketing, sales and service opens up additional opportunities for intensifying customer relationships. Collaborative CRM incorporates other company divisions as well as partners, suppliers and service providers into the processes, and thus sets new standards for optimized and comprehensive customer care along the entire value chain. Intelligent tools combined with innovative technologies network interactions across company boundaries in real time. Using different communication channels, the customer is provided with the desired and supplementary information immediately, which leads to a sustained increase in customer retention. These measures result in an optimization of process costs, media use and process speed – an aspect that in the area of customer relationship management is now more in demand than ever.

Customer relationship is vaulted into a higher dimension with digitization. The requirements have changed – no, better – have increased in scope and complexity. Technical solutions for dealing with these issues are available, however, for a company the difficulty lies in choosing the right one from the multitude of tools that meets the requirements of today as well as of tomorrow, as well as of the day after tomorrow. But this is not all: The pulse of the CRM system can be felt in all areas of the company, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker. This means that detailed knowledge is required not only in the customer relationship, but in the extended fields of relationship management, so that ultimately, profitable processes and structures can be used effectively. The new normal of customer relationships is already more normal than new.

Author: Sabine Rudolf

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