10 minutes with Wibke Reidenbach-Meiler, Senior Digital Consultant
on Digitizing Companies
In November, you and other experts will be in Aalsmeer at the "Raise the Bar" event. Maybe some participants already know you from one of your numerous workshops, not least at this year's Inpulse. What's your part in Raise the Bar?
I will be one of the consultants at the expert session. In addition to having lunch, you can talk to us about your own challenges in your very own company - either face-to-face or in a cross-departmental team. We will have an informal and open atmosphere, you don't have to be afraid to approach us with your questions. Every company has its own challenges, and we are there to help you master them.
Can individual topics really be addressed?
I really hope that participants open up, because it is in the small things, where change begins. In any case, there will be many experts with experience from different areas. I can't promise that we'll find the perfect solution for everything instantly, but during the course of the day we'll always have the opportunity to come back to the challenge and, in case of doubt, make another phone call or connect for further guidance afterwards. My personal goal is to get in contact with many interesting people and challenging activities. Most times, people are close to a solution themselves, but they need an external view to see it. Therefore I hope to provide food for thoughts and help to find at least one answer to your question / challenge on which you can then build on.
It seems you always have an exciting story from the day-to-day challenges of companies that want to digitize themselves. Where does your experience come from?
I have been working on the customer side for almost 10 years and therefore experienced most of the current challenges of B2B medium-sized companies myself.
I've actually grown up in marketing and like to be creative and pragmatic! I still don't think there's one perfect department where digitization projects have to be steered from, but marketing is always around there. Coming from that, I was later in charge of the global e-commerce for the B2B company. I experienced almost everything from "what do we need?" to "Why should we change it?"
Take a look at the sales support – for example. Sometimes it's a bit annoying for them when customers ask for yet another time if a certain product is in stock, or if they can have it the day after tomorrow! Do companies generate more revenue when the Sales Support is relieved? Probably NOT – but do they have more satisfied customer? Definitely YES. It's very difficult to tell everyone that it might not necessarily generate more revenue to digitize the underlying technologies, but that the challenge is not to lose that revenue in the future. That exactly was my first big challenge and when you get to a point where you roll out globally you have to remember that every country has its own requirements. So I learned that you should start small and then gradually add something to it, because this opens up completely different development opportunities.
What I noticed back then is how important the interaction between the various departments is - and how important it is to keep an overview. Properly combine processes and systems, set up new cross-functional workflows and include topic-specific experts. Only if all pull in the same direction even the biggest challenges can be solved.
Back then, we not only rolled out the online shop, but also a PIM, a CRM and tried to revise the dealer portal. However, we quickly learned to set real priorities and get to best of breed solutions.
That sounds like a very complex project and a high degree of digital maturity that has been achieved. Can you translate your experience to absolute digital beginners or is your personal expertise keen to tackle only very complex systems?
My expertise is ideal for Digital Beginners, and also for those who have already started to become digital. It takes a lot more than having a PIM, a CRM, a MAM, and a retailer portal to be digital. The processes and interfaces have to be right, the data processes have to be aligned and afterwards the processes of the employees have to be adapted. The whole "change management" construct is part of it. I experienced a lot, ran aground with some things, got up again and found myself a meter further ahead. And this practical experience is simply worth a fortune, for any kind of digital maturity.
Not only talk about it - just have the courage to do it. Do not be afraid of mistakes, because most lead to an even better product or service!