Why the skilled trades should concern themselves with digitization
There are many reasons why digitization is currently a burning issue for the skilled trades. Many of them are repeated like a prayer mill in lectures and trade events up and down the country. In particular, scary buzzwords such as transformation or even disruption are used, which are supposed to show that skilled trades no longer have a future without digitization.
But is that the case? Are cost savings and increased efficiency the main focus? Do these arguments even hold water? Do the investment costs in digitization possibly even exceed the benefits and are thus nothing more than risky bad investments?
Customers of tomorrow are digital
One aspect that is often forgotten is not internal to the company, but external. Often said, but seldom seriously considered, is the guiding principle that “the customer is king”. Because today’s and tomorrow’s customers have completely different expectations in terms of communication, service, and quality.
And this is one of the main reasons why it is imperative for craftsmen to address the issue of digitization – simply because changing customer needs require it.
Increased customer expectations through digital experiences
Customer expectations are driven by increasingly new and digital experiences in all areas of life. Particularly in the area of consumption, for example, online shopping, entirely new experiences are being created and expectations are being nurtured as a result. Almost as a matter of course, these are being transferred as requirements to other areas as well, such as the trades.
Today, anyone who orders a package from one of the numerous online stores knows in minute detail what happens to their order. Permanent updates on the status are sent without any further intervention – proactively and digitally. At any time of the day or night, the status of an order can be called up in an online portal. When the order is delivered, the parcel service provider, usually directly linked to the store system, also provides almost exact information about the current location of the parcel and the expected delivery date.
Does the trade need to change?
And what about the craftsman who is far removed from digitization? Is he able to provide information in the same way? Anyone who doesn’t have a handle on the delivery dates of their upstream suppliers, finds out about changes and delays too late, and doesn’t proactively pass them on to their customers, will quickly fall behind in this expectation.
Good craft businesses need to have their business processes under control and an excellent relationship with their customers. Most of the time, this is only possible with a high “manual effort”. Here, digitization can actually help save costs and create more time for the essentials.
Digitization is therefore worthwhile for craftsmen in any case
In addition to the much-cited cost savings and the prophecies of doom, digitalization is worthwhile for you as a craftsman in any case, because the customer simply takes it for granted.
Everything is fine the way it is without digitization
In principle, it’s the same with any kind of change, you always have a choice! Do we go for the change or do we leave it? How tempting it is to stay in the old rut and how fatal are the possible consequences of a missed chance?
But look at it this way, when the telephone was invented and introduced to companies, many companies surely thought to themselves: Is it worth it? Do I have to introduce a telephone, we don’t get any calls – all our customers come in person.
Sure. And it can stay that way. After all, if you haven’t introduced a telephone at this time, you still won’t receive any calls. So, in concrete terms, it doesn’t mean any change. No one called before and no one will call in the future.
The question is a different one, is the market changing, and with it your customers and your competition, or more precisely – are your customers’ demands on you changing as a result? And here it is quite clear: Yes, they do.
As already explained, it would be fatal to assume that a customer today still has the same requirements as in the past. They change, and very quickly. People who build houses today, take their vehicles to the repair shop, go to the hairdresser and the baker – in short, place orders with craftsmen, they are all used to receiving digital added value elsewhere, to ordering digitally, to being informed digitally, to using digital products, and so on.
Digitization: You can’t hear it anymore?
Digitization is on everyone’s lips and has already reached a point where it often starts to get annoying. In addition, there are a lot of “black sheep” who are out for the quick buck and less for shared success. We understand this, and of course, we claim the opposite.
Think of it this way, with every step you take toward digitization, you will learn, gain experience, and become more and more of a digital expert. Digitization is not a one-time action that you implement and then it’s done. It is not a game where you reach the game-over sign. It goes on and on and you will never be at the end. It is an ongoing learning and development process.
With that in mind, let’s tackle it together!
Learn your tools about digitization
There are many ways to gain experience and knowledge. But in the end, you will always come across the same thing when learning, you have to actively DO it!
So take every opportunity to practice, and there are plenty of them. No matter what “level” you are currently at — play around. No ideas how? Here are a few suggestions:
- Are you able to set up your smartphone yourself, or was it done for you by one of your co-workers, your child, or your grandchild? Either way, get an old, used cell phone, and put your SIM card in it. If you haven’t already, reset the device and set it up again. While you’re at it, pay attention to what you’re doing. Do you know the terms? If not, clarify them for yourself.
- You will be surprised about how many “stumbling blocks” and interesting questions come up. It starts right at the beginning: SIM card, SIM PIN. What do SIM and PIN actually mean and what is it all about? Do I have an Android or an iOs smartphone or something completely different?
- Boring? Then something else for you. Do you use iPhone and iPad or are you rather an Android user? Force yourself to get to know the other world, get a cheap smartphone and/or tablet from the other universe, set it up, and work with it productively for several weeks.
- What is the same, and what is different – in the future, you will be an expert on what the differences are and where the respective advantages and disadvantages lie. You will be miles ahead of other “blind believers” because you really know your stuff.
- All water under the bridge for you? Do you do it with your left hand? Then please, set up your own private website. Does your first-name-and-your-last-name.com already exist? No? Well then go ahead! Secure your name as a top-level domain, and set up web hosting and a WordPress project for it. Okay? What was a top-level domain again and what is WordPress?
- You don’t have Alexa or similar devices from Google, or Apple at home yet? Well then, let’s get on with it! Set up such a device and do it yourself. Buy it, read the instructions, connect it to the wifi, etc. Be brave. Nothing will break.
- You are not overwhelmed with this either? Get a digital light that can change color and make it blink blue three times when you get a new email.
- Nothing there for you? You don’t want to play around, but want to get directly involved with digitalization in your company. Talk to us and we will find your very own personal challenge in which we will gladly accompany you!
In any case, learning and gaining experience has never been so easy and never so affordable.
There are countless learning portals, blogs, YouToube channels, etc. on the Internet, where you can build up almost any digital knowledge with any level of knowledge for very cheap money. And of course, if you have questions, ask someone you know – or us!
The necessary equipment is usually available anyway in abundance or for cheap money.
Test, select, and become a digital pro
The following applies to everything, test out everything you can get your hands on.
After you have tested, tried, compared, discussed with others, and evaluated, choose what suits you. Not all that glitters is gold. Not everything will make sense for you and your particular application. But some of it does.
And when you have found that, become a professional at it. Continue to build up your knowledge in this area. Continue to gain experience until you are a professional. Both the way there and the building up of knowledge in the depth of digitalization will show you new possibilities and you will profit from them for a long time to come.
Expand your tools of the trade to include digital tools
Literally, the tools of the trade you should have mastered are the tools you learned as a craftsman. Why should it be different here? Swap bricks, trowels, and mortar (or whatever fits your trade) for digital tools.
The level of digital maturity
Once again, we don’t want to expose anyone or even make fun of them with this article. Many are already much more advanced than we have described here. Many are at the very beginning. But that is not the point, because everyone is at their own personal starting point. From there, everyone can learn. And that is what matters. We would like to show that there are ways and means and encourage them to go.
Everyone can and should judge for themselves how high their level of digital maturity is. You should assess yourself openly and honestly: How well do I know myself, the people in my environment, and in my company about topics related to digitization? Do we have the necessary tools and are we prepared for the future?
Building a digital mindset
Mindset? Another bulky term? Let’s just talk about the digital mindset.
Why don’t you leave everything as it is for now, and don’t “mess around” with issues that have worked and been solved after the fact? But what is currently on your mind? What decisions are you thinking about right now? Aren’t their opportunities to bring in digital aspects here?
What new products are you introducing in the near future? Will these also have a digital component? Couldn’t the new development also talk to the cloud? Can’t we order the new product to be introduced from the manufacturer directly from our EDP?
What investments are you thinking about? Where and how do I manage if my new machine needs maintenance? Can my new machine be integrated into the network and connected to the Internet? If yes, how could we use the gained data profitably?
Which cooperations, which software, and which innovation could we use to open up new markets? Which services could possibly also benefit our company with digital concepts that have already been tested on the market and applied differently? Which digital service could offer our customers new added value?
These are the questions you should ask yourself! With every question and every decision, just keep thinking in terms of digitization. You will see what interesting considerations and further questions arise as a result. We will help you to answer them.
Get started! Be active!
The saying “Dream big, start small” carries something very important, namely a call to action. In any case, to achieve something big, you first have to start with it. So you could aptly add to it ” Dream big start small but most of all, start “.
For you as an entrepreneur or employee in a company, this means making decisions and thus making investments. As already described in advance, you do not have to start immediately with large amounts and an immense investment of time. Especially in the environment of cloud software, you have enormous flexibility with monthly cancelable license models to simply try things out.
But in any case, you have to do something. And that includes starting. Jumping in at the deep end. To try and dare something.
What are you waiting for? Embark on your digital journey together with us!