Data-Based Decisions Make the Difference

The exchange of data across system boundaries is the basis for continuous processes (end-to-end) and thus an important prerequisite for the digitization of processes. This also applies at the decision-making level, as Detecon Partner Björn Menden explains in an interview. He contributed to the study "Digital Efficiency - Digital Technologies as a Tool for Increased Efficiency and Cost Reduction" which Detecon published together with Lünendonk and T-Systems.

Detecon: With the "Digital Efficiency" approach, you are looking at the topic of digitisation from an efficiency perspective. But there have been waves of automation in the past. What is different about this approach and why is it gaining urgency in the current situation?

Björn Menden: Digitization offers a wealth of new opportunities. Until now, automation has gone hand in hand with standardisation. This approach is limited by the increasing complexity of processes. Digitization brings intelligence into play. Process mining, for example, provides a good basis for making truly data-based decisions. This allows a new quality in the control of processes and entire organizations. Data creates transparency and is available in real-time through the use of modern technologies.

The algorithms of Artificial Intelligence also offer new possibilities for processing this data. This gain in flexibility and speed has a direct impact on decision behavior - and this is where the big difference to earlier automation efforts lies. I am therefore convinced that data-based decisions within the framework of a digital efficiency approach strengthen not only efficiency but also the resilience of companies.

The Detecon Digital Efficiency Index shows differences in digitization and efficiency in the various industries. How do you assess the present study result in comparison with the results of the Index?

The results of the study support our expert assessment of the digital maturity level of the various industries. This is confirmed by the specific industry differences, but also by the heterogeneity of the characteristics in the various dimensions. In this respect, the superimposed results offer a good overview of the industries in which the focus is already on the consistent digitization of value chains.

One example is financial service providers, and here in particular banks, which are increasingly adopting their legacy systems and processes and repositioning themselves in a digitized form - and not only at the private customer interface with which we are all familiar. Technologically speaking, this is already a long way off, but strategically speaking they are often still looking for answers to the speed of innovation of the Fintechs.

The telecommunications industry, on the other hand, has already undergone major changes due to the pressure of digitization, even if the issue of legacy technologies is still present. The results of this study, along with other sources, are regularly incorporated into the Detecon Index in order to further expand the empirical basis.

The heart of digitalization is the generation and use of data. How do you introduce companies to a data-driven organization? Are there tools that support companies well on this path?

The path to a data-driven organization is quite complicated and cannot be implemented at the push of a button. The starting point is always the customer's current situation with regard to his tool landscape and thus the possibilities for generating and evaluating data - but also with regard to analytical skills and the prevailing culture in the company. In this respect there is no blueprint. And even the best tool can never be the solution but is always just one piece of the "puzzle of digitalization".

In order to be able to make consistently data-based decisions, you need complete organizational data, including information on cultural aspects, in addition to the transparency of process data. This data must be brought together and linked. And then a decision has to be made about what to achieve with the data and how to get there. The mindset is crucial here, but so are the competencies available within the company.

The relevance for the use of digital technologies is often seen, but their application is difficult. How do you get companies to implement them?

As we can see right now, the Corona pandemic is one of the most unprecedented drivers of digitalization! Many companies are now responding to it in order to remain competitive. But we also see that companies that are already proactively using digitization - for example, to improve customer interaction - are now benefiting from it in a special way. As a consultant, I can create a better understanding of digitization, structure the approach and support in selecting the right tools - but the willingness to go digital must come from the companies themselves. That is where the mindset and the skills and abilities on which a company builds are needed.

Is there a use case that can be used to demonstrate the benefits of a digital efficiency concept transparently and easily?

For example, we helped a European rail operator to digitize the processes involved in the maintenance of coaches and trains: from real-time communication between employees and tablets during inspection to intelligent algorithms that optimize planning and maintenance. Under the impression of Covid-19, the topic of process optimization shows that digitized supply chains have an enormous effect on the resilience of the value chain and that critical failures can be avoided or at least managed. We can clearly see this trend among the customers with whom we work in the field of process mining and optimization. Together with our colleagues at T-Systems, we have implemented successful use cases on logistics-intensive topics such as port management or trade fair logistics.