‘Developing the digital supply chain is a requisite core competency of every company’
The role and importance of the digital supply chain were the topic of the 29th Business Breakfast at foryouandyourcustomers. ‘The fact is that this topic is still much neglected in many organisations. But it’s an extremely important piece of the puzzle for long-term business success and the implementation of a successful multichannel strategy,’ Christian Leeger, senior consultant PIM/MDM at foryouandyourcustomers said. Reason enough for foryouandyourcustomers to give this topic a broad framework in theory and practice.
What does the Tower of Babel have to do with Stefan Berner’s information model? What does this have to do with the layer model from foryouandyourcustomers? What do both of these have to do with a digital supply chain? The sometimes surprised yet intrigued looks on the faces of the around 20 attendees of the Business Breakfast hosted by foryouandyourcustomers in Oerlikon brought precisely this question to the forefront.
‘In the past and during the implementation of numerous projects, we have witnessed it first hand: the focus of many companies continues to be on the physical product. They are primarily proficient in purchasing, production and distribution’.
‘They have really quite a lot to do with each other,’ Jeannine Vythoulkas-Arnold, senior MDM project manager at foryouandyourcustomers clarified a little later. ‘Both models are fundamental aspects of a digital supply chain that are relevant for success, as we were able to learn today.’
The layer model as a success factor
‘We’ve seen it up-close in the past and in the implementation of countless projects: many companies are still focused on the physical product. They master purchasing, production and distribution as a priority,’ said Stephan Mueller, member of the Executive Board of foryouandyourcustomers, in his talk. ‘But what about digital processes? Here, especially, we still see enormous unexploited potential for many organisations to manage their customers better with necessary and desired data and information.’
Using specific examples, the PIM/MDM expert illustrated why the digital product is so hugely important and where many companies can improve here. To do this, he referred to the layer model from foryouandyourcustomers and showed attendees that business success is not just about procuring the right systems and software tools, but much more about systematically penetrating through all layers of data right through to the company’s customers.
Stephan Mueller speaking on the merits of the layer model
For Stefan Berner, Diso AG, the Tower of Babel was the eye-catcher at the start of his talk and at the same time a good example of how misunderstandings lead to problems and ultimately to project failure. A lack of communication or poor communication between the information user and the data administrator is, according to the Swiss data modelling expert, a ‘fundamental weakness in a great number of organisations when it comes to implementing a successful digital supply chain strategy’. Stefan Berner showed how his information model could be used to solve these problems and bring companies a myriad of benefits from correctly modelling their own business model. ‘The information model is the DNA of a company. Only when you understand this code do you also understand your business as an organisation.’
‘A change process in which the entire company is involved’
An in-depth look at the layer model in practice and its specific application followed the insight into the theoretical methodology of approaching the digital supply chain sustainably: for three years Luca Bongulielmi and his team at the maxon motor group worked on their vision ‘consistently and at all levels’. They aimed to offer the customer a configurable product with all variants and all product information in the online shop and then deliver this product as quickly as possible – to offer a smooth supply chain that the customer could access 24/7.
In his talk, he shared with his audience the experiences gained from the planning, implementation and operation, the opportunities that arose and the error tolerance required. Looking back on his mammoth project, he said: ‘Optimising a digital supply chain is not a technological project, but rather a change project. Implementation hinges on involving the entire company in this process, consulting experts at all levels and achieving success through transparency and speed.’
Luca Bongulielmi and his team worked on the new online shop solution for three years.
‘Sharpening communication with the customer’
The event concluded with a talk on the interplay of customer and product data by CRM consultant Hans Albrecht Bartels from foryouandyourcustomers. The talk focused on the following question: ‘How does a company incorporate all of the points that the customer essentially expects from the products in the products and their descriptions?’ According to Alli Bartels, the key lies in the product data. The data plays an important role in how product performance is communicated. Not only that, the attributes can be classified and serve as an aid to assessing customer needs. If you identify these, then it is easy to base the product performance and how it is communicated around customer needs and gain satisfied customers in the process. Alli Bartels showed how customer attributes are used to classify customers. Relevant product offers and segment-specific performance descriptions can then be derived using this as a basis. As Alli Bartels sees it, the key is the consistent development and use of suitable attributes in the product database.
‘If you have control of your data and, above all, the product attributes, you have the chance to drive a clear product policy from which both your company and your customers benefit in equal measure,’
In short: ‘If you have control of your data and, above all, the product attributes, you have the chance to drive a clear product policy from which both your company and your customers benefit in equal measure,’ said Bartels.
Four speakers from the fields of business and consultancy included the topic of the digital supply chain in their talks. Each talk and each subcategory of the talks was already very illuminating in themselves. ‘The event was fantastic. When I go to these types of things, I expect talks with substance and not just buzzwords being thrown at me,’ said one guest after just the first presentation. ‘Here we’re getting information and advice that we can all take back to our companies and use with confidence.’ Another attendee added: ‘The digital supply chain is a very complex topic and especially the models presented here have shown how we can break down the complexity into different levels and structure the information – for the success of all.’
The participants were clearly pleased with the programme
‘The speakers not only showed the importance of the digital value creation chain but also gave guests tools in the form of models and methods for implementation – and that was exactly our objective,’ Christian Leeger from foryouandyourcustomers happily exclaimed at the end of the event.