During his time as an IT management and digitization trainee, Tobias Eckhoff got to know various business units of the thyssenkrupp group: ideal preparation to hit the ground running as a digital lab manager in the Strategy, Architecture & Innovation team at thyssenkrupp Steel Europe in Duisburg. His role: driving the digital transformation through jointly developed solutions that make work easier for everyone. In our interview he explains what that means in practice.

What changes are you making at thyssenkrupp?

I’m helping actively shape the digital transformation at thyssenkrupp. That’s the task we as a team are focused on. We want to make a difference with our work. Together with various departments in the company, we test innovative and promising ideas based on digital technologies. For this we use an agile working model, so-called digital labs. I’m responsible among other things for project management. To run our digital labs, we have support from a network of internal and external experts. We also have a physical digital lab, our co-working space in Essen, where we can work with participants undisturbed and productively, away from their normal jobs, for the duration of a digital lab, typically one to four weeks. But since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, all our digital labs have been run remotely. Our goal every time is not just to create neat-looking charts but to develop (almost) complete prototypes. The result could be an app for example. This is then made available for testing to the department that initially approached us with a problem. If the tests go well, we take the app live according to a specified procedure. At the end of the day, the digitization ideas we implement should make work easier, more convenient and above all more efficient for end users.