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Learning by Doing Digitally
Kadir Dindar, CEO Siemens Digital Logistics
Do we still need offices? Are business trips necessary? I’ve witnessed a profound change of heart in my recent conversations with customers and business partners. As we all adopt new ways of working amid the coronavirus outbreak, we’re discovering: “This actually works!” In many cases, it actually works better than ever before. Instead of sitting in traffic, we’re working on our projects. Meetings actually stay within the allotted time. The pandemic is becoming a game-changer. And working from home is accelerating our acceptance of digital technology. Stay-at-home orders? We’ll meet in the cloud! After just a few weeks, we were working normally in our virtual spaces – and just as efficiently as in our pre-pandemic business environments.
Easily transcending time, space, and self-isolation
Who could’ve imagined this? The debate over whether and how the digital revolution can succeed, the reluctance to embrace an issue long fraught with skepticism in the logistics industry – all this has given way to “learning by doing” in the digital sphere. We’re simply doing it, because there’s no other way. No one right now is feeling the pain of a long-overdue process of change. No one in these unusual times can afford to continue endless debates. The digital revolution is happening here and now – basta!
The global pandemic has forced our hand and catapulted us into real-time mode. Even those who were still on the fence now recognize the new reality – a reality much richer than the vague foreboding they felt before. The crisis has shown businesses how modern IT solutions help their teams easily overcome the limitations of time, space, and stay-at-home orders.
Digital technology has become our saving grace in a crisis. It provides the infrastructure for our economy and for an industry that the public has suddenly recognized as essential. Germany’s “Council of Logistics Experts,” drawing on a recent survey, believes that the digital transformation of the logistics industry will accelerate after the crisis. But most respondents planned to take a break from pushing ahead with such efforts in the current situation, the Council reports.
Putting aside doubts
Take a break? After the crisis? I would like to encourage my fellow logistics professionals to seize the valuable momentum that is helping us through the current situation and apply it to the digitization of logistics processes – and to put aside the pre-programmed doubts that have held up innovation in the past. Because when you get right down to it, collaborating in the supply chain with existing IT solutions is just as easy as collaborating on projects using Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Asana.
Three reasons why now is the perfect time to push forward full throttle with digital logistics:
1. Everything is already in place
Digital supply chain management solutions and services already have a long and successful track record – and are now ready to go with the click of a mouse. This includes cloud-based platforms and tools for integrating service partners, managing orders, and achieving end-to-end visibility of supply chain processes. State-of-the-art APIs make it quick and easy to integrate existing systems.
2. There’s zero risk
Logistics lives from constantly recurring, comparable processes and scenarios. We’ve studied this in thousands of projects and used our insights to develop software and consulting tools that fit any scenario. The “digital twin” consulting tool that we use at Siemens Digital Logistics makes it possible to fully simulate logistical concepts based on actual conditions and real-time data – while taking into account all conceivable contributing factors. This eliminates the risk of long implementation phases and expensive learning curves.
3. Ecosystems ensure growth
Standalone solutions leave you standing alone. They make it harder for you to adapt your logistics networks to new customers and new challenges. Today’s ecosystems provide the IT infrastructure for dynamic, flexible growth in all directions. They offer innovative IT solutions that are continually evolving. They make it possible to utilize and share data, make more informed decisions, and streamline processes.
Germany’s KfW development bank believes that the coronavirus crisis will unleash a digital boom in the small and medium-sized business sector. “Corona is forcing smaller companies to up their game,” the banking giant observes. I wouldn’t see this as something forced. I see it as an opportunity to set aside skepticism and finally implement long-deferred digital upgrades.