Recently I have recorded an episode for The Digital Mittelstand podcast, where I talked about digitalization examples and use-cases relevant for Mittelstand (SMEs), as per our experiences with our clients.
As a prerequisite, if you want to learn why mittelstand is important especially for Germany, you can watch the related episode here.
I have chosen 3 main use-cases, where we see in our clients most. Here is the summary of the use cases and the questions that my concrete examples answer.
- Eliminating Paperwork: How a simple process like the meeting minutes process can save significant time for your company?
- Eliminating Manual Work: How by a simple integration, your company can eliminate cumbersome manual efforts?
- Predictive Analysis and Enhancing User Experience: How AI can help you to increase your customer satisfaction and solve problems even before they happen?
What you can do on paper, can be done digitally!
First things first, even though doing things digitally instead of doing them on paper might sound obvious but as per our experience, that aspect is taken for granted. However, this might be the case even in big corporations. We still see a lot of printouts, signatures, scans (this also creates another problem – digital trash, which I will talk about later), etc. I don’t object if you like to work with real pen and paper. But the question is, do you keep it in a transparent and monitorable way?
Nevertheless, let’s get back to eliminating paperwork. Needless to say, running your processes digitally eliminates errors, increases transparency, and saves time (a lot of time)! For example; take a typical meeting. Someone will (hopefully digitally) take notes, and share the meeting minutes by email. Thus multiple versions of the document will be created, as attendees download the same document and save the document locally. On top of that, e-mails are not the best way for tracking assigned tasks in the meeting.
For one of our clients, we have designed a meeting process, which allows the teams to create tasks while taking the meeting notes. The responsible can also assign the tasks at the same time. The assignees can view the tasks they are assigned to, task deadline, and related information instantly.
Then the managers can track the status of the tasks easily. This was possible with a tool combination of Low-Code BPM Tool E-Flow and GDPR Compliant Information Security Management System (ISMS) Nextcloud.
2.Eliminating Manual Work:
Think about you have documented your processes, for the sake of this blog post digitally, and might want to invest some time, reviewing your processes. As you would do in a process discovery, investigating process steps one by one and discussing with relevant stakeholders, especially the hands-on employees who actually do the real work.
This in turn allows you to see, which tasks are executed manually, which of them are repetitive, which tasks can be eliminated and which can be automated. As I always say, first optimize, then automize. Here I am not talking about the technology yet. Yes, process automation suites or RPA tools are capable of such automation. But it comes later on.
I have experienced a case, where a Tier 2 automotive supplier in Germany, receives the production order from the automotive company, however, their systems were not designed to retrieve the data digitally. Therefore, they had to print out the order, manually transfer it to their ERP system. They have dedicated 2 employees for this task, one to execute the data entry and the second one to control the entered values. Sounds crazy, isn’t it?
By integrating an automated interface, where can read and write data from legacy systems, we were able to eliminate the manual work as well as the potential errors. And those 2 dedicated employees could spend their time for more meaningful work. Needless to say, the benefits of such automation both time and cost-wise are huge.
3. Predictive Analysis and Enhancing User Experience:
Last but not least, predictive analysis and enhancing customer experience can be achieved by digitalization. A small touch on sales and after-sales processes can create a big difference. By the way, I made a whole episode about Digital Product Development for Mittelstand with Sarah Berger from Die Biberei. I highly recommend watching.
What is predictive analysis? In the easiest words, it starts with an analysis of historical data, identification of trends, and projecting these trends into future estimations. Long story short, it is the prediction of the future outcome, based on historical values.
A predictive analysis system can easily learn from what you have been already doing and predict what possible shortcomings let’s say to your production, maintenance, or logistics. This is mainly possible with technologies like Process Mining and Artificial Intelligence.
I will give you a use-case from my personal work experience even before I have founded 360 Digital Transformation. I was responsible for maintenance works, after a couple of years we have developed our own maintenance software, which can predict future occasions based on historical values.
For example, when an AC-Unit started to consume more electricity and/or more spare parts than usual, the system predicts the potential problem before it happens. That could be a worn belt, causing the problem. Which as a technical manager, saved significant time and a fair amount of stress. As our clients’ problems were solved even before the problem actually happens.
I hope you enjoyed the first blog post of 360 Digital Transformation Blog. In this post, we talked about three use-cases about eliminating paperwork, eliminating manual work and predictive analysis, and enhancing user experience.
Can Adiguzel is the founder of 360 Digital Transformation and host of The Digital Mittelstand podcast. He is in Digital Transformation projects for more than 8 years. He is passionate about Digital Transformation for Mittelstand and helps Mittelstand to overcome their Digital Transformation challenges by optimizing and automating processes.