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“The fields of action critical to success are organization and leadership.”

Experte:    Tayfun Kaymakci   |   05/28/2024   |   Teilen auf in

Mr. Kaymakci, at the INDUSTRIAL FUTURE DAY (IFD) in April, over 200 experts from industry discussed how entrepreneurial value creation can be made digital, resilient, and sustainable. What interests or overlaps in topics were particularly important to the guests? 

TK: One common denominator was certainly the ongoing intense debate about the digital transformation of companies. It was noticeable that many are still looking for a way to harmonize strategic objectives and operational implementation. Some companies are already implementing exemplary use cases in their plants or even in ecosystems with customers and suppliers – at the same time, there is often a need to catch up in terms of a consistent digital strategy and a clear vision.

However, a targeted focus is crucial in order to successfully shape the necessary changes in the organization. The best practice presentations focusing on “digitalization and circular economy” showed, for example, that digital and ecological transformation pursue similar goals and lead to new business models and significant cost savings. Both topics should therefore be linked, especially as the use of digital tools is now indispensable for resource-conserving and efficient management.


Why is there a need to catch up at a strategic level?

TK: The reasons for this are complex and mostly related to the company's internal structures. Two aspects can be observed again and again: Firstly, the multitude of different perspectives and interests that need to be reconciled. This slows down the process of formulating a clear strategy with specific fields of action, particularly in larger companies. In addition, a heterogeneous IT landscape often makes it difficult to set up data-based processes. But this is an important prerequisite for a sustainable digital strategy.

Secondly, many companies focus on tackling the “low hanging fruits” with digital technologies, such as short-term increases in efficiency and cost optimization. This is correct, but a holistic view of digitalization is also required to derive the right measures for the future.


Which in turn requires know-how and time ...

TK: That's right, that's another aspect that became clear at our event: there is hardly any time left for German industry. The speakers at the IFD were exemplary in showing the extent, to which individual companies in Germany are already doing very well and very quickly. For example, they are no longer over-engineering every detail, but are developing digital solutions themselves in an experimental and pragmatic way – or building up an ecosystem of partners to spread the burden of transformation across several shoulders.

In global competition, however, there is still a lot of “room for improvement” for German industry to be more competitive and not fall behind. After all, digitalization is not just a production issue. It affects the entire value chain with customers, suppliers, and partners. And the fact that customers increasingly expect fast, digital workflows was also confirmed by some of the experiences from the keynotes and workshop sessions.

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Are there still opportunities to increase the pace of digitalization? 

TK: Definitely. Especially as there is experience from successful transformations in the past, such as the establishment of lean management in industry. There are parallels here: around 30 years ago, many companies also started lean initiatives with a focus on methods and without a comprehensive strategy. And then as now, organization and leadership are the fields of action that are critical to success to ensure a sustainable transformation.

Managers therefore need the right mindset and the right tools to accompany the change, qualify employees and empower the organization – to gain speed or to focus on specific topics and goals. This need for leadership skills is obvious and was also a focus of our digital leadership workshops at the IFD.


Please give us a best-practice example of digital leadership from the INDUSTRIAL FUTURE DAY that provides good points of reference. 

TK: How digital leadership can be implemented operationally in production was illustrated in BOSCH's presentation, which focused on the daily digital management routines at the Blaichach plant location. There, a standardized management process sustainably solves challenges in day-to-day business. And this is supporting the plant with automated processes for obtaining information. Furthermore, tandems of process engineers and data scientists are formed there. These tandems combine data analytics expertise with in-depth process knowledge. In this way, they accelerate the identification and implementation of potential use cases for machine learning on site. This shows how important an interdisciplinary approach and cross-functional teams are.

Managers can support this process by creating the right framework and bringing together the necessary experts. Agile leadership is the keyword here – it is about setting up self-organized teams and creating flexible decision-making structures that increase the speed of implementation.

Digital leadership should pursue an interdisciplinary approach.

Is there also an example of how companies can overcome transformation hurdles and gain speed with technological solution providers? 

TK: Yes, there were some very interesting insights from Norbert Weichele on the AI-based optimization of production planning at Zentis. The company works together with the solution provider OMMM, which specializes in AI-based operations management software for optimal planning solutions in real time. As an add-on for any existing ERP system, the company offers AI-based planning modules for demand, sales, inventory, and production planning.

OMMM was also represented at the INDUSTRIAL FUTURE DAY trade exhibition along with many other solution providers from our partner network. We were thus able to make the end-to-end architecture of our ecosystem accessible to the participants. The exhibitors presented a very impressive portfolio of Industry 4.0 technologies, particularly for fields of application such as product development, supply chain management, maintenance, and the Future Factory.


How can the challenges of digitalization and sustainability be solved through employee training? What aspects should companies address here? 

TK: First of all, it is important to increase awareness and willingness to change among managers. In many companies, managers themselves are still looking for their own personal “transformation path” and need the right training to successfully support the change process.

If a coordinated target image and approach exists at plant and department manager level, the required skills can be defined. In the next step, the skills are prioritized, and the target group-related qualification requirements are systematically identified. This then forms the basis for implementing the training measures that will bring direct added value to the company, for example in the form of improved management, faster implementation, or more efficient working methods. 

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Anna Reitinger

Anna Reitinger

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