Digitization—“Take the Hardest Step First”
The likes of Siemens, John Deere, and Harley Davidson are adopting digitization strategies. And yet many organizations remain hesitant. This is understandable considering every transformation is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all solution—and that creates uncertainty among companies. However, according to Nils Herzberg, an SAP expert on the Internet of Things (IoT), the most successful projects do share certain similarities.
The atmosphere this afternoon is electric. And it has nothing to do with the heat. Around 300 SME managers and IT experts are gathered at the NTT DATA Business Solutions World conference in Bielefeld, Germany—and all eyes are on the keynote stage. Some of the participants look surprised, some are nodding in agreement, and others appear curious. Why? Because they have just heard how many digital business models are already in play. There had always seemed to be a lack of such models, so this has come as news to many.
Nils Herzberg, Global Head of IoT Go-to-Market Strategy at SAP SE, has taken to the stage to share examples of successful digital transformation projects. He highlights Hagleitner. Previously a provider of hand soap and hand towel dispensers, the company is now a “washroom operator”, guaranteeing cleanliness. He goes on to explain why KAESER now offers compressed air as a service instead of selling the compressors themselves. And how the Port of Hamburg leverages the IoT to optimize its land use. He also describes how Roche Diagnostics is able to recognize, without examination, patients that are at high risk of developing diabetes. The organization can then warn them before symptoms start to show. This, thanks to data analysis.
Innovation Made Simple
Herzberg stresses that there is a unique business case behind every successful IoT strategy. Enterprises rarely see digitization as a mere money-saving strategy. Mostly, it is a matter of remaining competitive through agility and innovation. The greatest challenge is to unite operational technology with modern IT. “Manual data input and in-memory analysis are not easy to combine,” says Herzberg. “After all, you wouldn’t connect a footpath to a freeway.”
No matter how a company’s IoT strategy may look, it should be founded on a platform that works in real time and integrates all applications. Like the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, for instance. Indeed, digitization requires an environment that can prepare IoT data for every back-end system—and not just a select few. It should also facilitate the quick development of new applications. “Don’t wait until standard applications are available for your individual challenges,” advises Herzberg. In fact, as part of its IoT Application Services, SAP offers tools that allow the user to develop solutions without the need for coding.
Such a solution could transmit live sensor data to a plant technician, for example. This way, he or she can begin machine maintenance fully prepared and knowing exactly where the fault is—a simple benefit that pays dividends across the board. It reduces costs as well as increasing first-call resolution rate and therefore customer satisfaction.
As Herzberg’s speech draws to a close, there seems to be one question on everyone’s lips: “How do I begin my digital transformation project?” The SAP expert anticipates the query: “Take the hardest step first.” By doing so, decision-makers get the process off to a strong start and can call on the support of fellow company stakeholders when necessary. Because one thing should be clear to everyone: “No digital transformation is a three-month project.”
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