Online auction pioneer NetBid
An example of successful digitisation is NetBid Industrie-Auktionen AG. When the company began organising the sale of machinery and equipment through online auctions almost twenty years ago, the initial feedback was sceptical. Today, the process is well-established, and www.netbid.com is one of the largest European online platforms for the marketing of investment goods. Most recently, NetBid now also offers the possibility of trading in ships by online auction on the platform www.vesselbid.com. In May 2018, the successful online auctioning of the container ship “Buxharmony” opened up a new chapter in ship sales. It was the first time that a merchant vessel was sold in this way. “In the banking centre of Hamburg, ships are the logical extension of our range of digitally marketed investment goods,” says NetBid executive board member Clemens Fritzen, explaining the next step of digitisation. Another example of digitisation from the Angermann Group is bürosuche.de. The online property search function, which will continue to be developed further, allows office tenants to find office space in a much more transparent, convenient and user-friendly way on the internet.
The project concept is outdated
Before a company pursues its digitisation strategy, it must find out where action is needed. For example, should the digital change processes affect only customer relations and products, or internal workflows as well, such as accountancy or the goods ordering process? The analysis should take into consideration which new digital business models are currently changing the market, and how vulnerable the company’s own business model is to them. A strategy which clearly defines objectives, KPIs and initial milestones is the basis for successful digitisation. Nonetheless, it must be ensured that the objectives can be adapted to market conditions at any time. Digitisation is not a project, but rather a continuously developing process which is carried by all the employees in a company. It requires sensitive change management and may necessitate the involvement of external experts. The high speed of technological developments and the competition from companies coming onto the market from outside the industry mean that agile processes are needed. The old project structure is outdated. Entrepreneurs must remain flexible, and be quick to bring ideas onto the market, improve or discard them. This means being courageous and abandoning the idea of a project with a beginning and an end. “It was an important and right step for us to enlist the support of external consultants when digitising our corporate group; they have shown us new paths and helped us to move the process forward together with our employees”, says Dr Torsten Angermann.