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2017/12/04 Corporate News

Digitalisation: smart regions as growth motor

WILO SE welcomes industry leaders to the “#GoDigital2017” strategy summit

Berlin/Dortmund. Digitalisation and energy efficiency were the main topics at the two-day strategy summit “#GoDigital2017” held at the Berlin EUREF campus. High-ranking consultants from business and research presented their views on the advancing digitalisation in a total of 13 technical lectures and a panel discussion chaired by newsreader Judith Rakers. Oliver Hermes, CEO of WILO SE, had sent out the invitation for the exchange.

Digitalisation is both a challenge and an opportunity

Oliver Hermes greeted, amongst others, Dr Carsten Voigtländer, Chairman of the Board of the Vaillant Group, Dr Thomas Schlenker, Senior Vice President Global Engineering & Chief Digital Manager of Schüco International KG, Professor Volker Gruhn, founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Adesso AG, Professor Frank Piller of RWTH Aachen, Professor Manfred Spitzer, Medical Director of the Psychiatric University Clinic Ulm, Alanus von Radecki, Head of Urban Governance Innovation Fraunhofer IAO, and Carsten Cramer, Director of Sales, Marketing and Business Development at the Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, as speakers. Unanimous opinion: the digital transformation is both a challenge and opportunity in equal measure.

The strategic orientation is decisive

Digitalisation has lead to changes across the board in all sectors. Companies must react to these changes, especially with a view to strategic reorientation for the digital transformation: “The orientation of digitalisation strategies to meet market requirements and a stringent implementation of concrete projects will, in many sectors, decide whether you stay with the pack”, said Oliver Hermes in his introductory presentation. “Today, celebrated digital products and digital production processes in so-called smart factories will rapidly become the standard and thus hygiene factors. Moreover, the idea is to actually develop new sales processes and digital business models based on new technologies in order to get closer to the customer in the digital age.” Hermes sees great growth potential, for example, in networked urban population centres, also known as ‘smart urban areas’: “These are the future markets, in which the urban infrastructures and many spheres of life will be connected, both digitally and intelligently”, explained Oliver Hermes. “Today, already half of mankind lives in urban areas, with the tendency towards a rapid increase.” As digital pioneer of the pump industry, Wilo will also develop resource-efficient, smart solutions for these requirements.

Sustainable urban development in ‘smart urban areas’

Alanus von Radecki takes a similar stance to Oliver Hermes. He has been researching the topic of ‘smart cities’ for more than seven years at Fraunhofer. The innovation network Morgenstadt came about as part of this work. “The goal must be to decrease energy consumption and the use of resources in urban areas and increase the quality of life”, said von Radecki.

Digitalisation must generate benefits for the customer

“The digital transformation is not an end in itself and by no means a panacea”, said Carsten Voigtländer, Chairman of the Board of the Vaillant Group as food for thought. “Whoever starts thinking about the implementation of digitalisation must first consider what benefits there are to the customer”, according to Voigtländer. Thomas Schlenker from Schüco KG sees vast potential in his sector: “In matters of digitalisation maturity, the building sector is in second to last place”, explained Thomas Schlenker. He too presented an example that puts the emphasis on the merits of customer benefits: Schüco visualised and explained its own product benefits using virtual reality: “We even have the capability to simulate the virtual fitting, opening and closing of windows or, for example, show a helicopter flying past to simulate noise disturbance”, explained Schlenker in his presentation. To implement the visualisation, Schüco finances a team in New York including specialists from animation film studios. Subsequently, Oliver Hermes, Dr Carsten Voigtländer and Dr Thomas Schlenker discussed how start-ups can assist in making use of the opportunities of the digital transformation.

Innovation management instead of research and development

As a professor at the renowned RWTH Aachen, Frank Piller is involved with researching the conditions necessary in order to profit from the digital transformation: “A new form of innovation management is required to successfully utilise the digitalisation process and this will mean a cultural shift for the organisation”, explained Piller.

Risks and side effects of digitalisation

The psychologist Professor Manfred Spitzer warns of the drawbacks of digitalisation in his presentation: “Digitalisation will be of great use to us but we must take the risks and side effects seriously.” For example, databases and search engines do not offer us knowledge, just information. “In order for us to find our way, we must first obtain the necessary knowledge. We cannot do this by googling.” This means that in order to learn how to google something, the right way is not to google, but first obtain knowledge and competencies. Smartphones and tablets are only of limited help for this purpose and they are completely unsuitable for evening reading: “The blue portion in the screen illumination prevents the body from coming to rest and affects our biological clock.” The effects are medically perceptible: “Tiredness, circulation problems and not least high blood pressure”, explained Spitzer.

Relevant content for an authentic digital presence

The finale of the strategy summit was a talk given by Carsten Cramer, Director of Sales, Marketing and Business Development at the Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund: “For our fans the football experience is the focus, especially live in the stadium. We try to impart this unique experience via the relevant content also across digital channels.”

The strategy summit is intended to promote regular exchange

Host Oliver Hermes drew a positive conclusion from the two-day event: “We have had first-class speakers and numerous stimuli in the last two days”, said the Wilo CEO. “In the specialist lectures and panel discussions we have seen the great opportunities that could arise from the digital transformation.” But Mr Hermes also noted that there are still companies in the industry that have a lot of catching up to do in the area of digitalisation. “And for precisely this reason, I can promise you one thing: The strategy summit will be repeated in the style of ‘#GoDigital2017’, as a forum for exchange and information summit.”