Digitalization is nothing new. We have already embraced a number of leaps in technology and IT innovations, and these steps forward have profoundly altered our society and the world of business. The current shift, however, is moving at a greater speed and is more pervasive than ever before. The decision-making process is becoming increasingly rapid, which in turn increases the demand for real-time analyses and short-term prognoses, and also puts the spotlight on the highly automated interpretation of big data. Rapid analysis “during match play” rather than “after match play” is what will make the difference.
At Hirschmann Automotive, we are also in the midst of a digital transformation, which includes comprehensive networking of all of our areas of business. On the manufacturing level, for example, this means creating a “smart factory” – a process in which the product itself and the manufacturing facilities communicate with one another with help from intelligent information technologies, allowing for more efficient and more flexible implementation.
The prerequisites for the smart factory are powerful IT tools and IT specialists with extensive training. By building up our business intelligence department, we are paving the way for the handling of extremely large amounts of data, also called big data, and eventually for automated predictive and prescriptive analytics.
As part of this shift toward digital corporate management, we want to shift our management concept from reactive-analytic to proactive-predictive. Every employee in the company should have direct access to the data he or she needs and be able to analyze that data on their own using the tools described above. This will also change the role of the financial department. For the controller, this means losing their status as the central data collector and evaluator. Instead, they will act increasingly like a business partner for the operative departments, ensuring that the management model remains consistent, driving and challenging others, offering detailed communication, and establishing fact-based transparency along the value chain, all within a network of virtual business units, colleagues from all operative departments, and the IT department.
We are currently in the middle of a major shift – digitalization and industry 4.0 – and this is how we want to transform Hirschmann Automotive in order to meet the challenges of the new digital era.