Digital trends for the industry 2020

From business modelling to self-service portal: These digital trends should not be missed

Trends Industrie 2020

The industry is considered to be somewhat cumbersome in terms of digital innovation. Yet these companies in particular are hiding great potential - as the trends for 2020 show. I have selected my four highlights for the new year here. I've also included tips and examples from the field.

Digital Industry Trend 1: Self-service portals

For companies in the B2C sector, extensive customer portals have been the norm for some years now. Now the industry is following suit. I currently see many companies investing in this area. There are two main business reasons for this:

  • Companies reduce their costs. After the initial investment, digital processes save personnel costs.
  • Self-service portals generate new sales. On the one hand, the portals are available around the clock, unlike human employees. On the other hand, the portals function as a single point of contact, which enables more efficient sales and marketing activities. New services can also be integrated into the portal.

My practical tip for self-service portals

In this digital trend, it is particularly important to draw up a detailed technical concept in advance that takes into account the required interfaces and systems. This is the only way to ensure that new, functional and non-functional requirements are mapped by the new solutions in combination with the often complex existing architectures.

My example from Merkle cases.

Last year we created a personalised portal for the materials manufacturer Covestro: the Covestro Solution Center. Every customer finds the right information there. The product pages are precisely tailored to the knowledge and special needs of the different user groups. Invitations to specialist events are also based on the respective preferences.

Anhand von Kundeninterviews hat Namics sechs Personas und ihre individuellen Customer Journeys identifiziert.

Digital industry trend 2: Business innovation & business modelling

So far, industrial companies have concentrated on two main areas in their strategic development:

  • Optimization of the customer journey of the core business
  • Higher degree of maturity of existing processes and products

A third variant is Business Innovation & Business Modelling. Here the aim is to create new business areas that are not necessarily close to the company's previous core business. 

It is particularly important to offer the performance of own products as a service (XaaS) – for example, to market vehicles as a sharing model. New technical possibilities such as the Internet of Things or data analytics provide the basis for this.

Quelle: AMAG Clyde Website

My Merkle example of business modelling.

Merkle supported the AMAG Group, one of the leading mobiltity providers in Switzerland, in the implementation of the new Clyde subscription model: Together with AMAG, our experts developed an online platform that focuses on the user and at the same time does justice to the special sales system. Various tools and technologies are used for this purpose. The Salesforce Sales & Service Cloud serves as the basis for CRM. Zuora is used as the subscription engine.

Three practical tips for business modelling

  1. Pay attention to interdisciplinarity. Rigid structures and rigid processes are the enemy of every innovation. Therefore: Free yourself from silos (and yes: this also includes mental ones). It is best to put together a team with stakeholders from different areas - for example, from management, UX/UI and technology. This way, creative ideas are generated and you are simultaneously informed about the boundaries of the respective areas.

  2. Be pragmatic and concrete. Of course, you will be honoured if you want a comprehensive solution for everything right away. However, this is not conducive to achieving your goals. Therefore, you and your team should rather work on a clearly defined, manageable task. You should also focus on simple solutions instead of reinventing the wheel.
  3. Keep an eye on the market. Especially in the concept phase, there is the danger of losing sight of the market entry. With the go-to-market approach, an MVP allows you to test early on how your innovation fits the market. The insights gained are valuable for the further development of your product or service.

Digital Industry Trend 3: Service-oriented architecture and micro-services

One for all: This used to be the guideline for software solutions. In the meantime, the paradigm has changed. The all-embracing, maintenance-intensive system has had its day. Instead, software engineers rely on fragmented solutions based on a modular system. 

In concrete terms, this looks like this: A company puts together individually combinable modules for a customer portal. It chooses the micro-service of an Australian provider for checking the syntax of mail addresses. A micro-service from a German agency is used for the dispatch.  A further module from a third party provider encrypts the data. For the CMS of one of our customers, about 200 micro-services were used. 

All these modules work independently of each other. They can be exchanged easily without affecting the functionality of the entire system. A clear advantage compared to the previous, cumbersome systems.

Although this development has been going on for some time, micro-services and service-oriented architecture are only now becoming established on the corporate side.

Three practical tips for Micro-Services & SOA

  1. Take your time. Invest time above all in the conception phase. This is worthwhile in any case. A half-baked concept will make itself felt sooner or later.
  2. Think holistically. Involve all involved departments from the very beginning. In this way you can recognize dependencies at an early stage. After all, the skilful interaction of the various levels is a central success factor. 
  3. Consider your industry. Depending on the industrial sector, the system must meet different requirements. The required micro-services also depend on this.

Digital Industry Trend 4: Clouds

The more complex an online application, the higher the technological requirements. Today, the company's own infrastructure is usually no longer sufficient. Cloud services provide a cost-effective and high-performance solution.

In recent years, customers and companies have often had concerns about security. In the meantime, however, even the heavily regulated financial sector is now relying on technology. That speaks for the seriousness of the providers.

Industrial companies that want to use cloud-based services need appropriate experts. After all, simply migrating old systems to cloud technology works poorly and at the very least does not bring any benefits for your company. That's why it's best to consistently gear new concepts to the cloud.