Digitisation: "A completely new flow of information”. Image source: Kontantin Hermann - Fotolia
4. Sep 2019 | Markets & Companies
Digitisation: “A completely new flow of information”
Digitisation presents a huge opportunity but it comes with many challenges. Mike Bach, CEO of Prisma, explains what digital solutions entail for the coatings industry and what mistakes companies should avoid en route to a more digital business.
When a coatings manufacturer asks you to improve his business through the use of digital solutions, what are the first steps you take?
Mike Bach: We seek dialogue with the responsible drivers behind the demand for digitisation within the company. We ask for the "why” in order to establish what the real motivation is. We encourage the company to create a full-time position of "CDO” or Chief Digitisation Officer. The position must be located within IT and the organisation and have appropriate decision-making authority. We make the company aware that the digital transformation cannot be carried out with traditional IT systems but requires a completely new perspective and a new consideration of the infrastructure. Last but not least, we point out that digital transformation necessarily means abandoning "departmental isolation” and viewing all data streams in and around the company as having corporate value. This, of course, also requires that the employees be involved and made the most important stakeholders and contributors to the transformation. With all these aspects in mind, we develop the "digitisation” roadmap together – but this roadmap is not finite! The digital transformation must be anchored as a continuous, evolutionary process, both within the company and within corporate thinking.
There are a lot of software solutions out there that can help coatings manufacturers with their daily business. What are the key features that coatings companies should look for?
Bach: An open, comprehensive database is the key to everything. The data are the decisive factor! And not just your own data, but all the data that flows in and around the company. This includes, e.g., weather data, transport data, site data, and so on. A software system can be set up on top of this, which can connect, manage and evaluate these data streams. The following points need to be considered:
Access and the system must be easy, and fun. Networkability, open interfaces and 100 % cooperation between the system partners. (There are still software providers that refuse point blank to supply interfaces to other providers.) Device connection, and more precisely: access to the system with HoloLens (augmented reality), mobile data recording, networked sensors and machines....
What are the typical mistakes a coating company should avoid when moving towards a more digital business?
Bach: Digitisation is never complete. It has to be established within the corporate culture and you can’t just implement it on the side. For, the process of digitisation is not simply an app or cloud or a fancy gadget; digitisation is a completely new appreciation of the flow of information and the platforms on which stakeholders meet (as in the case of Air B&B, Uber,...). Simply introducing an ERP/SAP system alone is not sufficient to effect continuous digitisation within the company.
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