From machinery manufacturer to service provider – Interview Podcast with Dr. Ulrich Hermann
In a recent Future Biz interview podcast, Dr. Herrmann, CDO of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, explains how his company started its digital revolution and retraces the steps that led to creation of the Heidelberg Digital Unit.
It all started with a simple observation: until recently, the one and only business objective of practically all machinery manufacturers, including Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, was to sell machines. This resulted in a series of short term interactions with customers that ended once the product had been delivered and paid for. Of course, a few sales might be made after the initial one, but these were bound to be simple iterations of the same process. With the advent of the digital age which profoundly transformed every aspect of business and society, this model was bound to fail.
In the new digital economy, the focus has shifted away from “sales” to “relationship management”. Now, manufacturers are striving to better understand and serve their customers at every touch point along the so-called customer journey, from the initial contact to the signature of the deal and beyond. Now, their objective is no longer to sell one individual product after the next, but to generate sustainable revenue growth for all parties involved.
“To enter the digital economy, we had to make substantial changes to our IT environment” explains Dr. Herrmann. “Until then, our IT infrastructure was centered mostly on internal value creation – from order intake to service parts inventory – not on customer relationship. We needed to digitize and automate all interactions with customers: this meant, for instance, giving them the possibility to order consumables and parts through an eCommerce platform; or offering them a digital cockpit for all their production and business data, etc.”
“Because in our digital age, everything is moving so fast, it was clear from the start that we could not afford the long development cycles that are traditional in R&D departments. We needed our digital team to act like an agile startup company, and work in sprints to deliver results faster. This is why we created the HDU“.