It is an astonishing phenomenon: Germany only occupies regrettable midfield positions when it comes to digitalization . However, in discussions with company leaders or at meetings of associations it becomes clear that many of the leaders and managers are almost annoyed by the topic. A spokesperson for the association even apologizes for addressing the subject of digitalization at all. Of course, there is often not much fundamentally new knowledge about digitalization in general to gain in lectures and seminars when you have already attended numerous lectures, visited Silicon Valley, admire Israeli startups and experience Asian digital power. I even believe that in many cases the top level management has largely understood the topic – it is most certainly high time for that. read more
As a member of the Virtual Reality team here at fme I want to give you a bit of an insight today into the last three years of our project work. One of the most important facts is to let the client not only see but experience the product. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)are two key technologies to achieve this. Here is a short abstract of our project history
March – August 2015: The first Project with Oculus Rift DK2
In March 2015 we started a VR development project for one of our clients. Their wish was to show their products in the VR world. The end customer should be able to move around the product and even switch the product configuration while in Virtual Reality. We were using the DK2 and Unity to realize it. The main challenge was a stable rendering for both eyes. The frame rate (images per seconds) dropped significantly which is defined as lower than 60 frames per second. Thus, the user became VR sick. We solved this by removing unnecessary 3D Model details and integrating a better-balanced lighting system.
The term “digital transformation” as the great revolution is currently present in all media and must not be missing in any vision. But I often see the confusion surrounding this buzzword and would like to share my thoughts on it.
Digitization – Digital Transformation
First of all, I notice that the term “digitization” is often referred to as “digital transformation”. In my opinion, this should be clearly separated from each other.
I see digitisation as the transition from analogue to digital. This is, for example, the replacement of paper documents (holiday request, material requisition, travel expense report, scanned invoice) by forms/dialogues on the intranet. The advantages compared to conventional in-house mail with only one analogue copy are clear: faster processing on the computer without waiting times. And other new technologies and applications (e. g. mobile devices, sensors, networking and apps, frameworks, cloud storage…) ensure that more and more areas are opened up for digitization by computer science/IT.
Although this is a change (transformation) it does not mean a great revolution, but rather an expected steady growth, as it is to be followed e. g. also with progressive motorization and automation. With the usual procedures “look for qualified employees and regularly train them further; adapt the product range to the latest technology, remain innovative in your own core business” you will continue to do well… or should we use the subjunctive “would”?
An important point is the progressing digitization as a basic building block for the real “Digital Transformation”: the digital twins! The images of the analog business objects of the real world are now digitally and cross-linked available.
A striking technology for this is the emerging Internet of Things. In my opinion, this is still very experimental at the moment with funny gadgets or questionable pseudo products… But also the first steam engines, airplanes, computers and mobile phones were smiled at.
Undoubtedly and very attentively to observe is the immensely increasing generated connected data volume. Today, the technology is also available to record these data volumes as Big Data. In addition, the methods of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have been added to the processing and use of this data. These data volumes can thus be controlled.
With these new and simultaneously occurring aspects, all the necessary ingredients for a disruptive development full of force and speed come together, as if the three aspects would unite as single waves to form a tsunami-like “monster wave”.
And it is precisely this wave, which is rolling towards established companies, that must be taken into account!
This is because the processes, from customer requirements to product selection/purchase to service and support, are subject to constant change. With changing business models or completely new distribution channels, the importance of companies’ product know-how and the experience of employees towards a unique selling point can decrease. From my point of view, only these completely changed processes are the “digital transformation”.
Let’s get back to the paper documents mentioned above and their digitization in the Intranet/Internet. Is it possible to approve these documents automatically? Can an AI learn to handle the simple cases autonomously, send only complex cases to manual approvers for manual approval, and even discover hidden errors and irregularities using statistical means? I think so, yes. And only then do I see the processing transformed digitally.
And so, even established companies have to expect that their rigid sales/service routines will be replaced by completely different processes in the newly established competitors, that they will be overtaken by the competition, in a surprising way, so to speak, previously assumed to be unthinkable or unlawful. To put it vividly,”at excessive speed” or “on a forbidden track”… and that, in my opinion, is the real meaning of digital transformation: there are new players/competitors and the “cheat/trick” because they don’t adhere to the usual mechanisms and surprise everyone:
- … there is someone who runs the 100 meters at the World Cup with a short cut and wins – this is only unthinkable, not yet happened but not explicitly forbidden in the rules?
- …. or jumps under the crossbar and wins – there was something once? Right: Dick Fosbury 1968 at the Olympic Games in Mexico.
The competitors of the straddle style were unfortunately no longer satisfied with the tried and tested methods “sifting of the best talents, hiring the best trainers and organising the best training camps”.
The solution-invariant customer problem
The Fosbury-Flop has efficiency advantages, because the centre of gravity during the jump curve is always below the high jump batten to be crossed by the body. This corresponds to the “solution variants (customer) problem”.
This is exactly the view you as a company must have of customer problems. In other words, check your products, services and solutions in the digital environment to see whether similar (previously unthinkable) advantages in business processes can be made visible and usable in the future by networking, IoT, Big Data and KI/ML.
For example, are you a manufacturer of measuring instruments? Your customers don’t really want to buy or own any measuring devices. They only need them to check their production facilities and the quality of the manufactured products. Another process (for an exemplary simple case) could be to use the motion/vibration sensor of a mobile phone to record the resonances/oscillations of the production plant. The digitization would be accomplished and they would have the “digital twin” of the required data. These could now be compared with large quantities of known characteristic curves of intact and faulty plants (e. g. in the cloud at a service provider) of an AI. This would have involved a change from the acquisition/ownership of products to the results service.
There are similar ideas among the major automobile manufacturers who are pursuing a move away from the “owning a vehicle” model towards “mobility solutions”. It is only such changes of processes and business processes that I would like to call “digital transformation”.
Your Digital Transformation
Finally, I would like to point out the need for action in view of the possible disruptive developments. Examples such as Uber and AirBnB have shown that it is not enough to keep ahead of well-known competitors. You have to face completely new competitors and offers that can appear very fast, surprising and dominating.
Test your digital maturity level, make a workshop on new ideas/procedures and their implementation with your IT. Be ready for your own digital transformation and feel prepared for the new approaches of your competitors. We will be happy to support you!
Who hasn’t already made the painful experience of how bad communication has led to additional costs and reduced the quality of a project at the same time? We don’t want that to happen at all and therefore most project leaders today are very aware of the importance of communication within their project.
To help keeping your communication straightforward in a migration project, let’s have a closer look at the mapping specification as a crucial document in migration projects.
Last week I attended the Tech-Conference of Amazon Web Services – AWS re:Invent 2017 in Las Vegas. It lasted five days, a period of time that is not always easy to take off from your daily work. Following are the most important pieces of content from my perspective in 7-10 min for reading.
* 10 Seconds Management Spoiler *
Serverless, Machine Learning, the Machine Learning Camera DeepLens, Alexa for Business and Kube as a managed service are the main highlights of this year’s re:Invent. By extending and making existing and established services such as EC2, S3, Glacier or DynamoDB more flexible, AWS helps customers to map many requirements directly in the managed service and reduce the need for workaround implementations. It will be fascinating and at times frightening, what will be possible in the future due to the combination of these powerful services.
Some weeks ago we were invited to host one event of a networking event series called “Schnack & Schnittchen” (Sandwich-Talks) organized by the Junior Entrepreneurs Organization in Brunswick (Wirtschaftsjunioren Braunschweig). The Wirtschaftsjunioren Brunswick are part of the national association ‘ Wirtschaftsjunioren Deutschland’ and the international association ‘JCI’, in which young entrepreneurs and (young) executives network, train and engage themselves.”Digitialization” was the topic for that event and we gave an insight to the attendees in how we understand the Digital Transformation (DT) and how we help our clients to get a grip at the upcoming challenges. read more
On Monday, the 23rd of October 2017, 20 bachelor students of Business Informatics at the Technical University of Braunschweig had the opportunity to get to know fme AG during an excursion day.
Our CEO Dirk Bode opened the event with some information about fme’s history and explained the importance of digital transformation. In addition, we were able to show the students the career opportunities and give them an insight into some of the projects and topics of our business units.
Digitization is changing the world in a sustainable way. New digital technologies are entering the market at an ever-increasing rate, enabling a variety of new business models. Netflix and Co. have eliminated the video libraries, Uber puts the taxi industry under pressure, the hotel industry feels the breath of Airbnb breathing down its neck and the car industry is more afraid of Tesla, Google, Apple and others than of the usual and well-known competitors.
In my last blog post, ‘Digital Transformation Is About More than Just IT,’ I wrote about a fortunate trend, whereby more and more companies are taking a more holistic approach to the digital transformation. We know that IT alone is not the solution to the challenges posed by the digital transformation. More and more companies are slowly realizing that the digital transformation affects not only the IT department but also all other areas of the company.
But training courses and consulting services that are currently being offered give a different impression. Discussions revolving around the digital transformation primarily address the challenges in today’s business world, and terms such as ‘agility’ and ‘new business models’ crop up as the important key terms. Well-known companies that were once successful are mentioned as examples of organizations that did not manage to get on the right path towards digitalization. The training courses and consulting services then frequently put forward new IT procedures and technologies – such as cloud computing, microservices, DevOps, and big data – as solutions to the challenges of our time. However, IT departments are often not trusted to successfully introduce such modern solutions.
Hmmhm, let’s think about it. Maybe for the driver’s licence? Or was it the ITIL exam four years ago? Or the Scrum Master test?
Yet, we’re learning every day – especially in times of digitalization where dynamic changes in our work environment are a daily occurrence and regular software updates, new policies and processes recurrently change our operational procedures. These circumstances make it necessary to combine modern forms of learning and to integrate them in our work life – one concept of how this could look like is the 70:20:10 model. read more