New Book: „Leitfaden für die Entwicklung von innovativen digitalen Services für die Industrie“

Using digitalization as a competitive advantage, developing profitable business models and smart services is what the book “Smart Services and Internet of Things: Business Models, Implementation and Best Practices” from Hanser Fachbuchverlag, edited by Arndt Borgmeier, Alexander Grohmann and Stefan F. Gross in December 2021, is all about.

This work provides concrete solutions and instructions for taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digital transformation, developing new business models, and establishing profitable services and benefits. Systematic procedures and checklists provide valuable support for implementation.

Dr. Stephan Verclas, business coach and consultant for digitalization and digital transformation at Digital Enabler GmbH, contributed the article “Leitfaden für die Entwicklung von innovativen digitalen Services für die Industrie” to this book. This describes the development of innovative digital services in the industrial environment in the form of a process model:  

  • Theses and forecasts on digitalization and digital transformation
  • Innovation methods for the development of digital services
  • Generating ideas – ideation
  • Evaluating ideas and
  • Validate ideas and describe solution ideas

To ensure that the guide is applied as closely as possible to practice, the steps in the procedure model are rounded off with practical examples and experiences.

If you wish, the author can send you an excerpt, just send an email to “verclas@digital-enabler.com”.

Together into the digital future – DerStandard 25.03.2021

Together into the digital future

“Wherever you currently stand, we will pick you up there and guide you into your digital future. Successfully implemented digitalization projects are our contribution to digital transformation.”

The experts at Digital Enabler GmbH are shaping the digital future together with their customers. With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, economically successful digital products, systems and business models are developed hand in hand with the customer. Successfully implemented digitalization and development projects with a focus on IoT (Internet of Things) are their contribution to the digital transformation.

Depending on the customer’s requirements, the digital enablers act as general contractors from brainstorming to support. Of course, they also advise on specific digitalization issues with relevant expertise and implement the solutions designed in this way.

The requirements of digital transformation already determine business success to a large extent. Products, services and processes, even in traditional industry, are increasingly being shaped by digital technologies and applications. The service portfolio of Digital Enabler includes both product development and multi-layered consulting for successful digitalization initiatives.

Together with the customer, strategies are developed and defined as to what the digital future of the company should look like. The initial focus here is not on technical digitalization, but always on digital value creation, because only this ensures competitiveness and future viability.

For some years now, construction machinery, construction processes and construction sites have been increasingly digitalized, which is known by the buzzwords Industry 4.0 or Digital Construction Site. A Digital Enabler project with the world market leader for cold asphalt milling machines shows how this can look in reality. In order to maintain one’s position on the market, it is no longer enough in the 21st century to simply manufacture high-quality machines.

Increasing demands on job site documentation require seamless, digitalized workflows right through to job site accounting. Digital Enabler has developed a comprehensive, digital system for this purpose with the world market leader for cold asphalt milling machines. “At the beginning of the cooperation, we jointly evaluated which strengths and competencies we could bring to the project ourselves and which we had to outsource. Our needs, but above all those of our customers, were immediately addressed. And most importantly, such professional cooperation is simply fun!” says the project manager of the world market leader for cold milling machines. Digital Enabler lived up to its name.

DerStandard – Zukunft, Arbeit & Wirtschaft on 25.03.2021

Visit Digital Enabler at the Digital Future Congress 2021

As a holistic partner for your consulting and implementation of digital products, solutions and services, we will be back at the Digital Future Congress 2021.

We look forward to your visit at our virtual booth or your participation via the livestream of the event.
Feel free to contact us for a personal meeting with our experts!

Digital Enabler is contributing to the congress program with the following session:

Lecture: “Do machines need social media?”
Speaker: Dr. Stephan Verclas, Digital Enabler GmbH

Today, it is no longer enough to defend your market leadership by simply producing a functioning machine.
It is also no longer enough if the machine is networked via IoT.
It’s about creating value for your own company, for customers and also for other market participants.
This requires non-linear, meshed value creation networks, digital services, or social media for machines.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Stage 5: Digitalization & Transformation

Are you interested in the presentation?  Then send us a short email

Dr. Stephan Verclas recruited for Business Consulting

Digital Enabler freut sich, das Team um ein prominentes Mitglied zu erweitern. Mit Dr. Stephan Verclas konnte ein Digital Enabler is pleased to add a prominent member to its team. With Dr. Stephan Verclas, an experienced business consultant and digitalization expert has been recruited for Business Consulting. Dr. Stephan Verclas has been in the IT and telecommunications industry for over 20 years and has headed the innovation department of T-Systems International GmbH for the last 10 years. As program manager for innovations, he has been responsible for countless digitalization projects and has conducted digitalization and innovation workshops for board members, decision-makers and experts.

Profile of Dr. Stephan Verclas:

Executive Manager with profound experience in

  • Development of innovative digitalization solutions for customers using agile methods (SCRUM, Design Thinking)
  • Establishment and operation of the Innovation Center Munich as an operating and development platform for innovations as well as a sales platform for customer workshops
  • Program and project management of IT projects
  • Innovation and digitalization consultant on C-Level
  • Set-up and operation of an Innovation Data Center for IT operations (according to ITIL, DevOps) of innovation prototypes, pilots and Proof of Concepts (PoC)

Generalist and management consultant with

  • many years of experience as a senior executive with hands-on mentality
  • extremely broad and at the same time deep technical know-how
  • cross-industry business and process competence
  • the ability to assess things from a strategic, sales and production point of view
  • a lot of passion for new things and change
  • digitalization, innovation, development, process optimization, idea generation

Management expert and evangelist in current technologies like

  • Industry 4.0 and IoT (Internet of Things)
  • blockchain
  • AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality) and mixed reality
  • 5G, Nb-IoT and Edge Computing
  • Mobile, security and cloud

Digital Enabler at Digital Future Congress in Munic

As a holistic partner for your consulting and implementation of digital solutions and ecosystems, we are represented at one of the first congress events in Munich.

We look forward to your visit in Munich or your virtual participation via the livestream of the event. Feel free to contact us for a personal meeting with our experts!

Digital Enabler is helping to shape the congress program with the following sessions:

Lecture “IoT & Digitalization – it doesn’t work that way. 
Challenges & criteria of successful ecosystems
Thursday, September 17 11:40 – 12:00, Stage 5

Round Table “How does the napkin get into the cloud?”
From an idea to a successful digital product: A good idea usually fits on a napkin. Join participants and our experts to discuss how to successfully turn the idea into a digital product for your customers.
Thursday, September 17 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Room F


Round Table “Digital innovation and long-term success – a question of organization”.
How do you anchor the great digital product in your organization and make it successful? Exchange ideas with other participants and discuss with our experts with many years of practical experience.
Thursday, September 17, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Room F

Please reserve your secured place for the Round Tables directly with us in advance! (limited number of participants)

The topics interest you, but you cannot attend the event? Please contact us. We will be happy to discuss these topics with you again afterwards and present the results and findings to you.

We look forward to seeing you and to many exciting discussions.

Your Digital Enablers

Ecosystem as a guarantee of success

From Sebastian Pforr and Alexander Grohmann.

30% of global GDP will be generated by ecosystems as early as 2025, according to a McKinsey study. This assessment is underlined by a cross-industry study by Accenture in Germany: 85% of the 1,251 CEOs surveyed believe that current business models will be obsolete in the next 5 years.

According to the CEOs, ecosystems are the drivers of this development. Ecosystems, their structure and participation in them will – according to both studies – essentially determine the future success of companies in digitalization. And this applies across all industries.

What is commonplace for many organisms in their natural ecosystems consequently offers enormous growth opportunities for companies: What is important in the successful use of ecosystems and how can SMEs simply profit from them?

ECOSYSTEMS AND DIGITALIZATION

In the ecological sense, ecosystems describe the community of different organisms. The functional aspect is decisive in them. This emphasizes the interaction, i.e. the exchange of material and energy flows, in significant and diverse sets of relationships. And this ecological circumstance, which is so commonplace, means a necessary rethinking for companies: just as for organisms, only the data, information and resources (material and energy flows) that ensure their existence and growth are important for companies. Organisms are accustomed to a much more diverse set of relationships that arise spontaneously, ensure the necessary inflows and outflows, or generate entirely new combinations. Companies are not. To date, they have preferred to align their value creation with products and services and to optimize them. Linear value creation is the keyword here. And in Germany, we are particularly good at it (1). Other forms of organization are less important, or to put it more casually: Never change a running system.

DIGITALIZATION MAKES EVERYTHING NEW NOW?

No, not completely, but a lot: digitalization changes access to data, information and their processing – and thus the economic requirements and rules for success (2). This is the technological peculiarity of digitalization, and it is both an opportunity and a challenge. Why? What was previously often accessible in analog form is increasingly becoming available digitally. The Internet has laid the infrastructural foundations for the exchange of data and information, and the Internet of Things (IoT) describes the physical and virtual networking of a large number of devices (smart devices) within it. As a result, company, industry and country boundaries are less likely to be barriers to market entry – they are becoming blurred. Customers produce more and more traceable data and can be reached more quickly and in a more targeted manner. In short, markets are becoming more dynamic, competition more intense and potential growth opportunities greater. So what can SMEs do?

EFFICIENCY IS SMART – NEW VALUE CREATION IS BETTER

Whichever company now optimizes its products and services with the data and information obtained, as before, is acting in an economically rational and smart way. Smart, industrial IoT solutions that enable condition monitoring, preventive and predictive maintenance are frequently and rightly cited at this point. Digitalization has already achieved a great deal here. With blockchain applications and distributed ledger technologies (DLT), there is much more to come: in automated and secure form, right up to the Internet of Value, i.e. the transfer of values via the Internet (3). 
Increasing efficiency is one side of the coin of economic reason, the other is value creation. In digitalization, this takes up the necessary paradigm shift described above. To achieve this, companies must increasingly rethink their strategy, starting not from the product and the service, but from the customer and the application there. Because that’s where the benefits come from. Only in this way can value-creating ecosystems become visible and be cultivated:

  • In contrast to linear value creation, an ecosystem starts strategically with the customer and his user journey. All touchpoints at which benefits are created for the customer are relevant. In this perspective, it is about nothing less than all products and services that are important for the customer and the associated players. Where does a benefit arise for the customer, where are there currently problems, and which interactions that create added value do not yet exist?
  • Is it comprehensible which data, information and resources are created in this network, which are necessary to generate benefits and how they can be used to create added value for the customer?
  • Digital ecosystems are customer-oriented networks that make data, information and resource flows visible. These flows are used to create new value via new business models. It is therefore a question of network-based value creation and the value creation flows there.
  • Business models must be developed in line with this, allowing all ecosystem partners to participate in the success. A shared vision, shared values and a shared model to which everyone contributes is necessary. Only in this way – as with organisms – can everyone benefit from diverse sets of relationships.
  • Digital ecosystems are nothing less than that: a future opportunity for all players. Not without reason is it often said in this context: competitors become partners. Another paradigm shift.
  • To summarize: Value creation must be rethought.

How can SMEs benefit quickly and skillfully from ecosystems?
Medium-sized companies need a clear digital strategy that starts with a target picture:

  1. Representation of the customer journey. Important: Do not think in terms of your own product, but in terms of the sum of all the customer’s applications.
  2. Present the ecosystem with touchpoints for generating added value and identify relevant business cases for the customer and your own company.
  3. Develop business models that promise success for all ecosystem partners. Analyze and select models including associated partner integration.
  4. Development and implementation of associated operation models: GAP analyses of the status quo, roadmaps for competence and application development, etc.
  5. Shaping the future! Gladly with the Digital Enablers.

References:

(1) Cf. Christoph Keese, who has already described this impressively in his Spiegel bestseller “Silicon Germany. How we are creating the digital transformation.
(2) Cf. for example Yeung, A., Ulrich, D. (2019): Reinventing The Organization. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press. 
(3) Cf. for example Sandner, P., Tumaskjan, A., Welpe, I. (2019): Der Blockchain Faktor. Wie die Blockchain unsere Gesellschaft verändern wird. Norderstedt: BoD – Books on Demand.

Narrowband IoT in practice. Advantages. Challenges. Security. Current assessments from more than 12 years of IoT technology experience.

Narrowband IoT in practice. Advantages. Challenges. Security.

Current assessments from more than 12 years of IoT technology experience.

Features.

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT or LTE Cat-NB1), according to the advertising claim, is a communication technology that will change the world. Indeed, NB-IoT attracts with many interesting features:

  • Minimal energy consumption of the radio operation (among others by special energy saving modes like “PSM”, “LP TAU”, “eDRX”)
  • Low cost modules (medium term between 2€ and 5€)
  • Low cost operation
  • Managed operation of the network (by provider)
  • Possibility to agree on service levels regarding availability of the network
  • Very good coverage due to high penetration even in buildings

Applications.

So far, however, we estimate that few products have been rolled out, as NB-IoT has only been available in the field since (mid/end) 2018. As a result, there is currently only limited support available from standard products (e.g., IoT platforms) in production quality.

NB-IoT is very well suited for simpler IoT applications where latency and bandwidth requirements are low but low cost, indoor use and energy consumption (battery operation for several years) criteria are important.

Network coverage in Europe is now available almost nationwide. However, there are individual providers or regions that are not primarily rolling out NB-IoT, but have opted for (the incompatible technology) LTE CAT-M1 (such as NL (KPN), Scandinavia, and in part also Spain).

Challenges.

As always, the benefits are offset by various challenges in the application of NB-IoT. The main points to be mentioned are:

  1. Challenge of network coverage for international rollout
  • International roaming between providers is not yet available (NB-IoT roaming has been specified, but contracts between providers have not yet been negotiated)
  • Short-term “workarounds” for the (temporary) situation would be to
    • Use of different SIM cards from different providers (is probably not a real alternative in practice with regard to logistics processes…)
    • Some providers offer “internal” roaming with their international subsidiaries (Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone)
  1. Challenge of protocols / reliability / data transmission

First of all, they prefaced that different basic modes of operation can be used in NB-IoT. These are:

  • Non-IP mode: Quasi UDP/IP without IP routing: Disadvantage: Only one destination/source server address is possible (no routing of packets) – This means that usually only one application is possible.
  • IP mode: UDP based protocols (recommendation of the providers)
  • IP mode: TCP would be technically possible in theory, but does not work well in practice due to high latencies (which lead to retransmits of packets) and higher complexity and protocol overhead and is not recommended.

This now gives rise to the following challenges:

  • The (recommended) basic transmission protocols do not have a security mechanism at the connection level, and the individual packets are also limited in length (e.g., approx. 1500 bytes for UDP).
  • standard protocols (such as MQTT-SN, CoAP) cannot be used depending on the requirements of the applications
  • Communication protocols (based on the basic variants mentioned above) must be specially designed and implemented depending on requirements
  • Sending data to devices is not possible out-of-the-box, as there is no standing data “connection” – to enable this, special concepts have to be implemented
  • Latencies in transmission are typically in the range of a few seconds, but can also be up to 30 seconds
  1. Challenge Security
  • The security of the data transmission on the air link is ensured (by the provider).
  • However, the basic standard protocols do not provide security at the transport layer, so the transport between the provider and the cloud application must be protected. Site-2-Site VPN in combination with Private APN or UDP DTLS can be used as measures).
  • The integrated software of the (relatively new) NB-IoT modules is still very buggy in some cases and requires (self-invented) workarounds in many places

Conclusion

This summary is a current snapshot based on our many years of experience in IoT product development. In summary, on the technical side, the promises are realized if one is willing (if the requirements make it necessary) to invest in the development in the area of “productization” (e.g., robustness of transmission) of a project.

In the commercial sector, the promised target costs are not yet being met by the suppliers, be they module manufacturers or providers. An international rollout of products also needs to be carefully considered at present, as the lack of cross-provider roaming represents a significant challenge for OEMs.

Do you have questions, need support in this area or are you looking for a one-stop store for your (IoT) product development? We are happy to be there for you.

The best ideas fit on a napkin – and then? From the idea to the product.

The dilemma of product development.

From the point of view of the inventor (m/ w/ d) it is actually quite simple: He has the idea, usually it fits on a napkin, the developer implements the idea. But reality looks different and usually reveals an inevitable conflict: For the inventor, many details are unimportant, the developer cannot develop anything without clarifying them. From the developer’s point of view, the situation is similarly tricky: A new napkin every day, everything always has to be very quick and uncomplicated, preferably an MVP immediately and out to the customers. But often budget, time and content do not fit together at all.

To solve this dilemma, we need an environment and an approach in which ideas blossom on their way into technology and don’t wither away. By blossoming, we mean that the essence of the invention is reflected concisely in the project, that what is necessary can be distinguished from what is not necessary in the solution, and that the goals are achieved in terms of cost, time, etc. Who can do this? For this purpose, let us consider the task of the inventor and the developer and try a negative definition: it is not the task of the inventor to describe all details and it is not the task of the developer to invent details.

This insight suggests that there is a need for a role, which – according to our experience – is mostly missing in companies. A role, responsible for the detailed definition of the solution (product). A role that is committed to both inventor and developer – a link, so to speak, between creativity and the laws of nature. However, there is no profession that can be learned for this role, and thus the very competencies of this activity that are critical to success for the transfer of the idea to the product are often not available.

Possible solutions for successful product development.

From our many years of project experience, we can offer the following approaches to solving the dilemma of the missing “building blocks” of successful product development:

  • Layers of requirements: In software development, we get away from “the requirements” or “the specifications”. Rather, it is about the conscious establishment of levels of requirements, for example, so-called business requirements or technical requirements. The trick is that different roles are responsible for different levels of requirements. The inventor could define the business requirements, whereupon the developer defines the technical requirements. Important here: The requirements serve the idea and the environment, not vice versa.
  • Establish a solution architect. No house without an architect. No product without a solution architect. It could be the solution architect who structurally defines all levels of requirements and merges them into the overall construct.
  • Introduction of requirements proxies. Not every inventor knows in detail how to formulate requirements or has the necessary time to formulate requirements. The bottlenecks of these persons can be eliminated by so-called proxies, which take over the actual doing. This makes it easier and more efficient to generate content (business requirements) from “creative” workshops, which is then available to the next level.
  • Transparent procedure. The use of reliable and appropriate tools for project management and requirements engineering is essential (see our webinar on this topic).

Bei all dem ist wichtig, zu validieren und zu verifizieren. Requirements sind dafür der bevorzugte Ausgangspunkt, um dIn all of this, it is important to validate and verify. Requirements are the preferred starting point for this, in order to mirror them again and again with the original idea. Because in the end, the only thing that counts is whether the solution does what was originally intended and whether the solution does it correctly!

Do you have questions, need support in this area or are you looking for a one-stop-shop for your product development? We are happy to be there for you.

By the way: we will also be available for a virtual discussion with our experts at the DIGITAL FUTUREcongress virtual from May 26 – 28, 2020. Ticktes for this are available on the corresponding homepage or directly from us at grohmann@digital-enabler.com.

IoT – connection via WLAN. Tempting BUT with consequences. An incomplete checklist.

An incomplete checklist.

Connecting connectivity products via WLAN is en vogue. The temptation to do so is great, because this type of connection is free and widely available. And this type of connection is also easier to handle technically, thanks to good support from out-of-the-box solutions.

However, as is so often the case, overly simple solutions are deceptive, because we know from our IoT development projects the underestimated consequences of this path. The following topics are therefore intended to provide you with information on possible pitfalls of the supposedly simple and cost-effective connection of your connective product:

WIFI on site 

  • Is there access to the WLAN where the connective products are used?
    In practice, this only makes sense if the operator of the WLAN is also the person responsible for operating the connective product.
  • How is continuity of access to the WLAN ensured over time (configuration, policies, contracts,…)?

WIFI on the product

  • How does the WIFI connection work on the product itself? Is there, for example, a user interface on the product?
  • Who configures the WLAN connection? Are these e.g. end users of the product or (service) experts of your company?
  • How does the necessary feedback about the successful connection or the correct configuration of the WIFI connection come about?

Availability of the digital service

  • How is the availability of the WLAN ensured in order to guarantee the digital service (which is enabled with the connectivity product)?

Conclusion

Underestimating the cost of the “technical” solution. These management costs in the field can quickly exceed the transmission costs saved.

WIFI ist dann eine interessante Alternative zu Mobilfunk oder anderen gemanagten Netzwerken, wenn zwei WIFI is an interesting alternative to cellular or other managed networks when two conditions are met:

  • First, if the device operation responsibility lies in the same organization as the operation of the WLAN infrastructure. At the very least, there should be an explicit usage and management agreement between the parties involved.
  • And second, if the IoT asset can provide simple and reliable configurability (including feedback) of the WLAN connection.

By the way: If in-building localization of the product is relevant, WLAN offers an advantage over other technologies – it can be used wonderfully for this purpose.

Do you have questions, need support in this area or are you looking for a one-stop store for your (IoT) product development? We are happy to be there for you.

Visit Digital Enabler at smart remote service 2019

As a holistic solution partner for you and your smart service realizations, we are represented at this year’s smart remote service in Berlin.

Come by and discuss and conceptualize with us during the following sessions:

Icebreaker – Sunday, September 29, 7 to 9 pm:

Design areas of successful remote service realizations

  • Business models and marketing of successful remote services
  • Structure and process organization of remote services
  • The secrets of managing remote services

Challenge Your Peers – Monday, September 30 4:40 p.m. to 5:40 p.m:

Fact sheet on the successful implementation of Smart Remote Services.

  • Your technology can do more! A THINKING WAY to recognize and leverage this potential.
  • MISCONCEPTION: unexpected effects and consequences.
  • Key factor SERVICE-thinking.
  • Thin along. Designing projects successfully.
  • Solution Think tank: Engage the right partners.

All this and more from 29.09 – 01.10.2019 at the Hotel Palace in Berlin.

The topics interest you, but you cannot attend the event? Please contact us. We will be happy to discuss these topics with you again afterwards and present the results and findings to you.

We look forward to seeing you and to many exciting discussions.

Your Digital Enablers