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Making the most of digital opportunities

DigiTraIn 4.0 presents research results at its closing event

By Madlen Müller and Sven Rottner

Under the motto “Digitalized. Transformed. Indicated.”, the DigiTraIn 4.0 research project has been supporting small and medium-sized companies since 2017 as they transition to the digital world of work. Together with UniBw M, the university of Germany’s armed forces in Munich; the health insurer AOK Baden-Württemberg, and the RKW Bayern e. V. businesses’ association, the ESB Business School’s team developed test applications for six companies from different industries. Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research and the European Social Fund supported the project. The team has now presented the results of DigiTrain 4.0 to the public at a final online event.

Some 50 interested parties were given an insight into the research results at the event on November 13. Right at the start, Susanne Alwart, change consultant and member of the project advisory board, explained what most frequently leads to the failure of digital transformation in companies. The appropriate markets and innovations have long been available, she said, but far too often management lacks the necessary willingness to innovate. As a concrete example, she cited the automotive industry, which is noticeably lagging when it comes to e-mobility.

Quo vadis digitisation?

In order to address this imbalance in a targeted manner, Professor Arjan Kozica from the ESB Business School presented the project’s four instruments developed to support companies on their road to digitisation. Professor Kozica says the first thing a company needs to do is to understand what a digitised world of work could look like. Based on the digitization atlas, the company can more easily determine where it is in this process.

With the help of the digitization compass developed by DigiTraIn4.0, companies can define clear goals that they can put into practice using a sophisticated transformation agenda. Professor Kozica says this method has major advantages. “The model can be applied to companies across industries and adapted to accommodate specific differences. In this way, it supports almost all small and medium-sized companies as they gain a foothold in the digitalized world of work.”

Flexible and integrative

Frank Böhringer, who is DigiTraIn 4.0’s partner at AOK Baden-Württemberg, said the aim must be to involve all employees of a company in the digitization process. The AOK is currently testing new ways of working, such as self-organization, and mobile/ flexible arrangements for working times and locations. Employees are being given sufficient scope for creativity within the parameters of “experimentation spaces.”

Florentin von Kaufmann of the Munich fire brigade underscored just how flexible the instruments developed in the project are. The coronavirus pandemic has changed many procedures at the fire service. Digital solutions quickly became a big help. For example, working with DigiTraIn 4.0, the Munich fire brigade developed an app for coordinating announcements and a digital ordering system for materials in connection with Covid-19.

Good ideas and clear communication

In the concluding discussion, Thomas Sattelberger (MdB) once again reminded the audience that a digital working environment depends on smart people. He stressed that management has a big responsibility in this process and called for more creativity.

The other participants agreed with that assessment. Professor Kozica again emphasized the importance of a transparent approach, saying “Transformation to the digital world of work is a strategic task and should be addressed as such by decision-makers in the company.” He underlined that clear communication reduces uncertainty in the workforce and awakens interest in participating in a successful digital transformation.

The final presentation marked the successful end to the DigiTraIn 4.0 project. You can find further information and interesting material regarding the digital transformation process on the project website.