What active listening has to do with digital transformation

Digitalisation and industry 4.0 | innovation | Smart factory | "When you speak, you only repeat what you already know. "If you listen, you may learn something new." This wisdom comes from none other than the Dalai Lama - and he's right! Nowadays, active listening is not only a sought-after soft skill, but also the basis for good cooperation. For this reason, our colleagues in materials trading sit down together with their customers to develop digital solutions - and talk about wishes and requirements for Apps & IoT solutions.

In close consultation with the customer, intelligent tools are created in the digital garage of thyssenkrupp Materials Services in Munich and in cooperation with appfactory – the company’s development partner – which create real added value.

One example is the easy supply app. Through active communication with customers, the easy supply app was developed for use in material warehouses to provide support – tailored to customer requirements. Thanks to the app, our customers can now reorder materials at the touch of a button – very “easy” via smartphone!

“App “solutly simple handling – which saves time

The credo of the developers: Materials as a Service. After all, why should apps only simplify the private everyday life? We all use apps – for entertainment, to read the news or to do sports. With the easy supply app, this simplicity is also finding its way into materials trading. Our customers can download the application from the App Store on their smartphones and order materials simply by scanning a QR code.

Thanks to the easy supply app, customers of materials trader thyssenkrupp Materials Services can now reorder materials at the touch of a button – very “easy” via smartphone!

The idea for the app was born in an open discussion with the customer and picks up where the telephone or fax machine was previously used. What used to take several minutes is now done in a few seconds.

“Our customers asked us to develop a mobile solution,” says Andreas Kellermann, Head of Digital Transformation and Performance at thyssenkrupp Schulte in Munich. “With the easy supply app we have now created another milestone for smart interaction with our customers, making their everyday work more convenient. This allows them to concentrate fully on their core business.” In addition, customers can use thyssenkrupp product labels to label materials in their own processes.

Digital transformation: The app as part of the big picture

Ilse Henne, CTO of thyssenkrupp Materials Services, knows how important new innovative and effective solutions are: “We have to evolve because our customers evolve. What drives us is the changing needs of our customers.”

In the digital transformation of the business unit, thyssenkrupp is therefore working along the entire value chain. As Germany’s leading materials trader, thyssenkrupp Materials Services offers its customers individual and barrier-free access to its product range. Key to this service is that it is provided via various channels. Applications such as the easy supply App therefore complement the existing range of customer portals, EDI interfaces, online shops and personal service.

In the digital transformation of the business, thyssenkrupp is working along the entire value chain.

For customers, these solutions are a gain in time and flexibility. But also internally, the digital transformation and working with applications like the easy supply App has many advantages: the digital applications accelerate processes and make workflows more efficient.

From idea to marketability

The development of intelligent solutions is therefore also of great importance internally. In order to continuously drive forward the digital transformation at thyssekrupp, the Group therefore set up the Digital Transformation Office and its own appfactory in the Essen headquarters several years ago. Both units are intended to coordinate the development of mobile solutions across business units and create synergies.

“We oversee all steps up to the start of live operations and beyond,” says Daniel Schorzmann, who manages the internal app factory. Any thyssenkrupp employee who has an idea for an app can contact the team and is supported in the implementation. The App Factory helps to plan the project in an agile way and refine the concept. The digital experts also oversee the development of the software and take care of the necessary tests. “We offer the agile all-inclusive package,” summarizes Schorzmann. The result is a finished application that can be used on a classic PC as well as on a tablet or smartphone.

The easy supply app for thyssenkrupp Materials Services was also developed together with experts from the thyssenkrupp appfactory in Essen. In an iterative exchange with the respective business units, the digital experts bring the solution to market maturity and hand it over to the customer ready-to-use. This naturally includes putting the solution through its paces in day-to-day business.

The easy supply app has now successfully passed this test and has been used at several locations since October 2018.

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