Presenting recent books: “Digitization – Go, Go, Go!” by Andreas Weber
Data is the new fuel
Digitization is vital for the survival of companies. It’s also something that must be undertaken with a focus on people: the customers, the employees, and last but not least, the management. How do you do that? Andreas Weber presents the answer in his book “Digitalisierung – Machen! Machen! Machen!” [Digitization – Go, Go, Go!].
“One thing is certain: to wait for the future would mean death for a company.” Andreas Weber, Vice President Business Development at Evonik Technology & Infrastructure, starts his new book with this provocative forecast. It is a wake-up call and an inducement for companies to finally take action digitally. Why does Weber demand this so stridently? “Data is exerting a fascination globally,” he says, “and it offers every single company an opportunity: data makes it possible to listen to customers in a new, subtle, special way and to understand their conduct and actions.” Companies must finally learn to understand the digital revolution and its upheavals: “The progressive digitization of all processes, up to and including those facing the customer, is resulting in colossal changes in the value chain. In the past, interest has centered on production, but all of a sudden the focal point has switched to customers. From now on, the customers’ benefit, their experiences and their judgments will serve as the point of reference for all the following steps in the value chain. The Evonik manager explains in detail the extent to which digitization is changing all areas of a company. He also looks at the changing nature of customer communication. He believes it is a central task of a company to “collect, bring together, and evaluate” data from active and passive customer communication and “to get to know the customers together with their interests.” Based on this information, valid forecasts can then be made for the development of new products.
Imagination and enthusiasm
But unfortunately, the reality in many companies is still very different. Not all employees are involved in the digital process of change, Weber says. It is still viewed much too rationally, although that’s just where the manager’s imagination is needed. “Industry 4.0 is a highly creative process that needs three different things: enthusiasm, expertise, and the courage to succeed.” This new culture must be carried over to the company as a whole: “Every operational unit in a company, from the management right down to the part-time workers, shapes the process of digitization,” explains Weber. As soon as you open up the data silos in your company and allow your employees — who are a lot closer to the customer than you yourself — to observe, analyze and interpret the customer data, as soon as your data insights have to do not with standard issues but with the broad field of emotions, you will see your customers in a different light. You will recognize their individual facets. Train your employees, get them enthused about individual customers — not just about the flood of data.”
Become a digitization motivator
With his book, Weber is not addressing techies or digital natives but rather CEOs and managers who haven’t necessarily completed an IT degree. Every chapter ends with a concrete list of questions with which readers can immediately transfer the knowledge to their own company: “Discover the customer’s hidden internal drivers by asking: Where are they clicking? When? In what intensity? Which emotions do you recognize? What exactly do they criticize, what do they praise, and what conclusions can be drawn from this in order to optimize your value chain?” Weber suggests that managers should become digitization motivators. He himself knows from personal experience how difficult such processes of change can be: “Unfortunately, people cannot be quickly forced into accepting change or showing enthusiasm for it. A meeting will not suffice for that, and a target agreement doesn’t serve as a motivator for this issue.” When there is distrust within the workforce, a manager must honestly solicit trust, Weber says, by using the first instrument of “Management 4.0” and putting communication ahead of strategy. His motto for managers in the age of digitization is: “Don’t decide based on yesterday’s decisions but rather on the foundations of tomorrow’s usefulness.”
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer. Image: Sergey Nivens – AdobeStock
Dr. Andreas Weber, “Digitalisierung – Machen! Machen! Machen! – Wie Sie Ihre Wertschöpfung steigern und Ihr Unternehmen retten,” Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 2017, 34.99 euro
Dr. Andreas Weber is Vice President Business Development at Evonik Technology & Infrastructure and a keynote speaker who focuses on the topic of “data-driven services in the process industry.” He is also the author of numerous professional articles.