Industry 4.0. Customer orientation. Customer facing. Value-add to Customer. Digitize. Are you hearing these words every day & everywhere but are struggling to relate? I am and this is an attempt to put these words in context in “Simple English” and to explain my understanding of what these terms really mean. Things generally become easy for me to understand when I try and relate them to my own little world.
I spent my growing years in Mumbai, India. On graduating, as I started working and earning money, I opened my first bank account with a local bank. As my needs and money grew, I got exposed to the world of investing and invested my hard-earned money with the usual vehicles that a working individual invests in – mutual funds, bonds, fixed deposits etc.
Over the years, the number of investment vehicles and accounts that I owned grew exponentially. At that time, internet and online banking was not that big in India. If I wanted to know how I was doing financially, I had to manually consolidate all information every month in an excel workbook even to get an overall picture of my finances. It was good but painful and this method had its limits.
- Data was not easily accessible. I had to physically go to each bank to get my bank passbooks updated. For some data, I had to wait a quarter so I had to improvise.
- Information that I had was not real-time. I had to wait for the month-end to first update my passbooks and then to update my workbook (I couldn’t possibly go to each bank every day!)
- Tools to consolidate my data and get a glance at my financial picture were not easily available or were extremely expensive – I had to put in a lot of manual effort just to get my data consolidated.
- I had no idea about my financial health. There were no means to know that if I continued down the current path would I be financially secure?
I relate this scenario to Industry < 4.0.
Flash forward to around 10+ years. We now have tools like Personal Capital, Mint & Betterment, in the US at least (I know there are other tools in India that perform the same task), that more or less let me do what I couldn’t do before.
- I have access to MY data whenever I want and with whichever device I want. I just have to open the apps and my data is available in real-time.
- These apps show me my complete financial picture. I really do not have to put in any effort other than to add accounts and wait for the first synchronization.
- I must admit I am lazy. But I have now the means to know my financial health. These apps intelligently predict what will happen if I continue down the current path.
- I can set goals and the apps tell me if I will achieve that goal or if I am breaching it and what to do to get it back on track.
- In addition, these tools also make recommendations on how to improve or advance my financial health and provide me possibility of buying relevant products to implement those recommendations.
I relate this scenario to Industry 4.0.
So what am I trying to say exactly? If I think of myself as a customer and apply the scenarios mentioned above to any large or small company in any industry, this is what you need to provide me, the customer, in order to be relevant –
- Complete picture of MY data related to what I own that you sold me, in real-time.
- Easy-to-use, smart tools that work on my data and predict my current and future path – i.e. where I am headed.
- Tools that allow me to set and monitor KPI’s and alert me in case any KPI is breached; of course with suggestions on how to get back on track.
- Tools that intelligently compare my data with my history and databank of others and suggests me measures or products that will improve efficiency, safety, reliability and performance.
- Tools that give me an option of running scenarios where I can add your suggested measures and visualize effects of implementing those measures without actually implementing them.
- And finally, tools that provide me with an interface where I can choose to actually purchase/procure or put in place your suggested measures.
I have no doubt SAP as a platform is getting there from a technological and UX standpoint. What remains to be done is to shed the image of big project teams, long project durations and expensive license costs!
Ashutosh Karambelkar wrote this article in his personal capacity. The views expressed are his own and do not represent the views of the company that he works for.