How digital is the green industry?
An interview with Dr Johannes B. Berentzen (Dr. Wieselhuber & Partner GmbH)
Hardly any other development in recent years has confronted companies with such major challenges as digitalisation. The technical progress in this area is often so fast that many have a hard time keeping up. Business processes and activities are continuously changing. At the same time, new prospects and opportunities are constantly cropping up as far as market and customers are concerned.
We talked about this with Dr Johannes Berentzen. Dr Berentzen is a member of the executive board of the Munich-based management consulting company Dr. Wieselhuber & Partner as well as a management coach and a green industry expert. At spoga+gafa in September 2018, he spoke about global trends at the Garden Café Forum and also participated in the Taspo Talk panel discussion on digitalisation. Dr Berentzen has also already confirmed his participation for the spoga+gafa 2019 lecture series.
Dr Berentzen, one could get the impression that the green industry has a harder time with digitalisation than others. Is this actually the case or is it a misconception?
Dr Berentzen: You can’t make such a general statement. In the green industry, there are digital pioneers on both the retailer and manufacturer side. It’s true though that many companies are still not dealing with the consequences of digitalisation for their business. Similar to food retail, the green industry is still subject to less pressure and threat from online business compared to books, electronics or fashion. However, it’s only a matter of time before the green industry gets to that point, too. It therefore makes a lot of sense to deal with these issues seriously right away.
You recommend that companies create a roadmap for their digital transformation. What does such a map look like and what advantages does it offer?
Dr Berentzen: A roadmap for digital transformation looks completely different for every company because it’s always tailored to the individual customer requirements. The data model for the company is then derived from this. Many market participants are still too caught up in “inside-out” thinking, or the internal perspective: What do we do? What do we offer? How do we do it? It would be better to have a strong “outside-in” orientation, a customer’s perspective: What does the customer want from us at the various stages of the customer journey? What do customers expect from us? What are their needs? Why should they even come to our store instead of easy ordering with a tablet without leaving their comfy couch? And the next question is: How can this customer journey with its requirements be mapped correctly in the company based on a suitable data model? What customer types are there? Which processes and systems will I need in the future? And which internal and external data do I use?
The answers are the basis for the roadmap, which then bundles individual initiatives for digitalisation and puts them in a logical order. It describes a vision and the journey there in meaningful stages. As a result, the often sketchy plan to go digital becomes more tangible and concrete. The various milestones of such a roadmap can then be used to create an implementation scheme that also shows the external support required and necessary investments, e.g. in the IT infrastructure.
Many companies are unsure about which digital services they should actually be offering their customers on the shop floor or online. What advice do you have for them? How do you know which technical possibilities make sense for which company?
Dr Berentzen: There is no general answer to this question. One way is to look at what works in other industries as well as in other countries and what is embraced enthusiastically by customers. Customer centricity should be the guiding principle here. It is often a fine line between real customer value and expensive “bells and whistles”. For example, a virtual exhibition for garden furniture on video screens already makes a lot of sense today instead of having several hundred pieces of actual furniture in the store. For virtual or augmented reality garden planning, however, we are not there yet and the technology is still too expensive and not fully mature. The fact is that digital solutions in the store will increase and prices will go down in the long run. At least the question of profitability should be clarified before a launch – this sounds trivial, but it is by no means a given.
In addition to the visible digital services for the customer, the possible applications of internal processes should also be checked, such as automated irrigation, and the nutrient and daylight supply for living plants. When it comes to projects, we always view digitalisation holistically and very customer specific – there simply is no such thing as an off-the-rack product. However, one should not be afraid of the digital changes, but rather see them first of all as an opportunity. So tackle them with courage!
More Information: wieselhuber.de