At EASY WORLD 2017, the Innovation Lounge was introduced as a forum for the digital transformation of businesses. How does that even work? What needs to be considered? Why a digital agenda? Thomas Cziesla and Gottfried Oster of the EASY strategy consulting branch “beyond” discussed these questions, among others, with many visitors of Innovation Lounge. What else was on the agenda?
Hello Thomas, hello Gottfried. How would you sum up your Innovation Lounge experience?
Thomas: The conversations emphasized the importance of this topic. It concerns practically everyone, and not just a month or a year from now, but at this very moment. The path to digital transformation is obviously an issue with many enterprises. Therefore, we would have liked just a little more feedback in the Lounge.
Gottfried (laughs): Well, we got that all right, regarding our ocher-colored shoes…
What about your shoes?
Thomas: Everybody envied us because of our comfortable footwear. Our sneakers do not signify a form of protest against the EASY WORLD dress code, and certainly not an appeal to go back to sneaker administration…
Thomas: Our sneakers symbolize current megatrends – in this case, so to speak, the possibilities offered by custom products within mass production – through 3D printing, for example. We decided spontaneously to design our own shoes, and deliberately picked the color of our beyond presence.
So you are able to think on your feet. Were there any central discussion points in the Innovation Lounge?
Thomas: First and foremost, the Innovation Lounge constituted an offer – an invitation to enter a dialog with us, and have a discussion. There are tons of surveys around the topic of digitization. If you stack them all, then three quarters of all businesses will have a digital agenda by the end of 2017.
Does that coincide with your impressions?
Thomas: Naturally, our dialog partners had their own strategies and ideas regarding the future. The change that is going on became quite evident. But there is so much more to it. It’s not only about your own product portfolio, but also about changes in society and in the conduct of staff when dealing with customers. There are more obstacles in digital transformation that relate to structures and the resulting behavior of employees, and to the increasing pace of transformation.
Therefore, the way we see it, all personnel and all decisions need a basis and an operational framework. That’s what we call a digital agenda. It needs to be clearly formulated, and all employees must be aware of it.
What was the key question?
Thomas: That was definitely, “How can I embed projects in a strategy?” In other words: of course, projects will still be realized where the need for action is greatest – but quite frequently, they will not be embedded in a digital agenda. To name a concrete example: How can I create an environment where I see more than one single HR process (e.g., an on-boarding process) at a time? How do I position my enterprise in such a way that it becomes generally easier to adapt and optimize HR processes – by building in automatisms and making them more accessible for my employees?
You use a chart to illustrate the process of digital transformation?
Gottfried: Yes, it’s the visualization of the digital agenda. Although it is very complex, it shows quite clearly how a traditional business can master the transformation into a digitally connected enterprise. One essential prerequisite is the identification of the company’s status quo (beginner, explorer, … ?). It serves to determine precisely how the digital transformation needs to be approached, taking into account current trends and the company culture.
Is it even possible to provide a clear answer, then?
Gottfried: Yes, we think so. Besides the speed at which new challenges are being thrown our way, the most important driving forces are flexibility and agility that allow us to deal with them. We believe that the EASY Cloud Platform fits these requirement to a T. It has the potential to link complex company structures and react flexibly to fast process changes.
So why did you call your presence “beyond”?
Gottfried: We were thinking of “going above and beyond”. This seems to describe the topic, and our role, very well. Thomas just named an example from the HR sector. To achieve a successful digital transformation, it isn’t enough to look at just one individual action. You have to go beyond the obvious, take a step back and look at the big picture. beyond takes on the company strategy and its goals. We use the digital agenda as an operational framework for the digital transformation. And this is where EASY provides powerful solutions.
What is your strongest lingering impression of the Innovation Lounge?
Gottfried: All the visitors who came to see us showed great interest in the topic. This confirmed for us that the issue is extremely relevant. We were pleased and felt appreciated in our endeavor to develop future-proof approaches together with businesses. However, this also means that one has to stay flexible in order to keep up with the increasing pace. Therefore, we extend this invitation: make use of our offer so that you can not only experience digitization, but actively shape it for your company.