What matters to tradespeople who have their own companies? Success in business, of course, based on satisfied customers. To achieve this you need above all skilled staff, efficient work processes, profit-driven business models and innovative products and services.
The digitalisation process makes the interaction of these success factors more transparent and easier than ever to plan and manage. But in what specific ways can the digital transformation be put into practice in businesses in the skilled trades segment?
In this interview, digital thought leader Andreas R. Fischer* will discuss this and other issues in depth with Elke Harreiss, Director FENSTERBAU FRONTALE and Stefan Dittrich, Director HOLZ-HANDWERK at NürnbergMesse.
The management of the leading exhibitions FENSTERBAU FRONTALE and HOLZ-HANDWERK 2020 has engaged Fischer and his team to realise the new Forum Applied Digitalisation for Craftspeople. It is designed to be the first port of call, gathering place and platform for information and knowledge-sharing about all aspects of the digitalisation process.
The fact is that the days of awareness-raising and pep talks about the digital transformation are over and it is now time to get down to business and take specific action.
Ms Harreiss, how does the Forum Applied Digitalisation for Craftspeople differ from other formats on this topic?
This forum will provide tangible added value to all decision-makers from trades-based businesses to enable them to successfully shape their own digital futures.
In addition, it will facilitate networking between digital pioneers, representatives of trade associations and organisations, the trade press and start-ups from the skilled trades sector. In a nutshell: all those who see digitalisation as an opportunity and want to benefit from it.
The skilled trades sector needs digital strategies, digital tools and a new mind-set geared to these developments. This includes, for example, the digitalisation of knowledge, the comprehensive use of data and digital collaboration between companies – from the planning stage to execution. Access to order information irrespective of time and location needs to become the standard.
Once the business owner recognises this, there will be an automatic connection to all other sub-areas of the “eco system” of society and industry currently undergoing the process of digitalisation. The Forum Applied Digitalisation for Craftspeople here in Nuremberg will provide concrete examples of how that works and which solutions are available to the business owner to initiate, plan and implement the digitalisation process.
Mr Fischer, do these changes not totally disrupt the established expertise of the skilled trades sector?
Most definitely not, the point is still to acquire and satisfy customers on an ongoing basis and accordingly, to consistently improve productivity.
This is why when designing the Forum Applied Digitalisation for Craftspeople we have made sure that implementation and problem-solving skills take centre-stage, for example through TED-style talks, discussions with entrepreneurs and the presentation of real-life examples from companies in the skilled trades sector. Solution providers with extensive digital expertise will also be actively involved. This will allow business owners in this field to immediately incorporate practical tips, recommended courses of action and real applications into their companies.
Mr Dittrich, does that mean that the focus will be mainly on digital controls for machines and systems?
Of course these topics will also play a role. But we believe that the exclusively practice-driven Forum Applied Digitalisation for Craftspeople will be a drawcard for owners of trades-based businesses because it is about more than “just” machine controls. The skilled trades sector needs concrete guidance when it comes to “putting digitalisation into practice”, as the forum title says. And this affects all areas of business activity.
Mr Fischer, what will be the highlights of the Forum Applied Digitalisation for Craftspeople at FENSTERBAU FRONTALE and HOLZ-HANDWERK 2020?
In the skilled trades sector, digitalisation is becoming increasingly more important day by day! Although there are still differences in the degree of digital “maturity” of the various trades and businesses, a lot of developments and trends relating to how people communicate within companies and also with customers and external partners have made their way into this sector. These include, for example, digital collaboration, online project management, and the use of social media etc.
The new working methods associated with these developments are important factors in ensuring long-term business success. The same applies to Cloud services, the use of Smart Data, the Internet of Things and so on, i.e. those technologies that allow trades-based businesses to systematically implement their digitalisation process. And that is precisely why, as already mentioned, the Forum Applied Digitalisation for Craftspeople will consistently focus on the practical aspects and skills needed for implementation.
Ms Harreiss, how do you envisage the future of the skilled trades sector in the context of digitalisation?
New developments have always resulted in new occupations and jobs. And digitalisation is no different. A lot of job areas are becoming more interesting and associated with better prospects.
For the skilled trades sector this means opportunities. People and their professions will continue to evolve. It’s all about learning new things and doing more interesting work.
What we need are well-trained and skilled tradespeople who are just as capable of handling digital applications as they are conventional materials and tools. There will be infinite opportunities for those who want to learn interesting trades.
Mr Fischer, Ms Harreiss and Mr Dittrich, thank you all very much for these interesting insights!
One way or another, there will no longer be any skilled trade without digitalisation. The conversation shows how important this forum is in the framework of traditional exhibitions for the skilled trades sector like FENSTERBAU FRONTALE and HOLZ-HANDWERK 2020. All trade visitors are set to get lasting benefit from it.
*Andreas Fischer lives and breathes digitalisation. This is why he is passionate about helping companies, regardless of industry or size, to benefit from the “booster effect” of the digital transformation.