On 21.06.2018 it was that time again: communicode AG invited representatives from trade and industry to the joint knowledge forum "ThinkChange - perspectives of digital transformation" in the Red Dot Design Museum on the premises of the Zeche Zollverein in Essen. This year's motto "The Core of Commerce" dealt with the key success factor for business projects in our digital world: the customer and his needs.

Customer centricity is not a passing management or strategy hype. A pronounced customer focus is the answer to hyper-competition in the markets. Companies operate in an environment of ever faster change. Technologies, products and business models come and go. Only one thing remains the same: successful business models are based on the ability to build customer relationships, maintain them over the long term and expand them.

The event started at 1 p.m. with a joint networking lunch at the Red Dot Design Museum. The prelude and introduction to our focus topic was made by Professor Dr. Maik Eisenbeiß with his keynote.

Seduction or trust – what really matters

Professor Eisenbeiß conducts research in the areas of digital marketing, cross-channel management and CRM. Using the example of programmatic marketing – one of the most popular personalization technologies – the marketing specialist explained that the basic attitude when companies use these technologies does not match the needs of the target group. Internet users often only see obtrusive and more or less well-designed advertising messages that convey what the magazine “Brand Eins” impressively summed up in issue 2 of 2014 with the title “Kauf Du Ass”. In the competition for the best advertising space or the number of impressions, the companies outbid each other, while the customer benefit unfortunately falls by the wayside. Rather, brands should maintain contact with customers and put themselves in their position. With impressive studies and figures from his own research work, Maik Eisenbeiß underpinned his thesis on how important the need for "trust and its protection" is for customers, how it can be positively satisfied and why this aspect in particular is decisive for the success or failure of digital marketing efforts can be.

The Internet of Things and the “e-World of Thermomix”

In his presentation, Julius Ganns, Head of Vorwerk Digital, gave us an insight into the digital world of Themomix. Vorwerk recognized early on that the benefit and experience with the product is more important to the user than outstanding technology. Although sophisticated technology is also necessary for success, it is initially in the background for the customer. For him, it's all about ease of use and time-saving, inspiration, support with cooking and shopping and, of course, good luck with cooking. Technology, and with it the device, becomes a lifestyle product with status and a guarantee of success. Cooking with guaranteed success! This promise is realized through the further development of the Thermomix into an IOT product that interacts with the user via digital recipes and has a steadily growing community on the Internet. The convinced fan likes to advertise and easily inspire other customers. This community spirit is also reflected in the company's own sales strategy, which relies on network marketing.

Improvements to the product and processes are implemented in an agile and continuous manner, which in turn can quickly incorporate customer aspects and constantly expand the Thermomix universe and the benefits related to the product.

Agile PIM and training for digital change - "It's all about Klaus."

Our communicode PIM experts, Michael Ochtrop, Principal Consultant and Stephan Franke, Director Business Development & Head of Business Unit PIM/DAM, presented their experiences from various customer projects. In your contribution, you described an agile alternative on how to effectively implement product information management projects. Because here, too, people - let's call him Klaus - are the critical success factor. Using a fictitious company, real requirements and fictitious personalities, the two PIM specialists showed the stumbling blocks of a conventional PIM implementation and in comparison to solution approaches in the agile concept, which does not just focus on the technology, but on people and processes. Complex projects become less complex, technology easier to learn and workflows more quickly accepted.

"Curiosity and the luckiest squirrel in the world"

After a short coffee break with cake, an interactive workshop continued: Prof. Dr. Christian Rieck/Professor of Finance and Economic Theory at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences explained to us in a playful way what curiosity has to do with innovations, brand awareness and addressing customers.

To what extent does curiosity influence our behavior? What are the downsides of curiosity? What if there was no curiosity? How can curiosity be used in marketing and protect against disruption? Playfully and with examples from the animal world, Mr. Rieck conveyed the Coolidge effect, positive feedback, tipping points or priming and the Nash equilibria. Today's growing weariness is a direct result of curiosity - the mechanisms for satisfying our curiosity influence our consumer behavior. How and what we consume and what we seek for satisfaction is one of the downsides of curiosity. Curiosity can even be deadly. At the same time, however, it is a driver of change and an important factor in our survival. Because if there were no more curiosity, the squirrel would be satisfied with the first big nut it found. Luckily, there's always at least one unsatisfied squirrel looking for an even bigger nut. On the one hand it remains in the hedonistic treadmill, on the other hand this behavior ensures its own survival.

On the one hand, it was about leaving well-trodden paths, finding something new, questioning the existing and “taken for granted” and thus securing one’s own existence and mastering disruptive environmental factors, processes or technologies. On the other hand, to understand our own mechanisms better, so as not to become a slave to our own curiosity.

Conclusion of the lecture: Stay curious like a child! Conformity is dangerous and leads to nothing! Ricochets and dissenters are essential to the survival of our kind, and the nut will never be big enough for us. Curiosity - used creatively - will always let us venture into new, unimagined realms.

Customer experience “Straight out of Hell”

Michael Wolfframm/Director Business Solutions of communicode AG, took the customer perspective in his contribution, quoted his negative Omnichannel experiences and what consequences resulted from it. Using the example of his own customer process at a mobile provider and its subsidiary, he made it clear how non-networked customer data and regular process corsets spoil the customer experience for customer care employees. On top of that, there were disproportionately high additional expenses on the customer and provider side and dissatisfaction, which in some cases led to the loss of the customer. This could have been prevented with entrepreneurial thinking outside the box, common sense, empathy for the customer and his customer journey, as well as a comprehensive availability and connection of the customer data of both companies.

As a result, this means that companies can only achieve business success in cooperation with all business units, because the customer does not care which touchpoints he uses to make his purchase.

Think new – Transform now

The Future Talk with Christian Wehner, Business Development Senior Specialist, SAP CX, concluded the program. In his fireworks of current examples, he made it clear to us where the future has long since caught up with us. With quotes and videos, Christian pleaded for a new culture, a rethinking of CXOs and managers and for new skills that we as humans should keep in a highly technical, networked and AI-supported world.

His conclusion for everyone: We must teach our children the skills of this century: values, conviction, transparency and truth, teamwork, compassion and independent thinking, creativity, sports and artistic activities. With this statement he also refers to the opinion of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who said: "Everything we teach should be different from machines".

Watch our summary in our video: