Ms. Engelhardt, are you actually a fan of American football?
I think it's an extremely complex, fast and exciting sport. It demands a lot from the players. As a company, you can learn a lot from successful football players, and I drew some analogies at Digidays that I think are apt.
Feel free to report back for the readers.
It's about a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. The Bills led by three points with 13 seconds left, actually impossible to make up in that short time. That's because the Chiefs needed at least a field goal to tie the game. But to do so, the team first had to play itself into a promising position. The ensuing shot from 49 yards out went into the goal. In overtime, the Chiefs scored a touchdown and still managed to win the game.
What does that have to do with thyssenkrupp?
We won't win the Super Bowl either – fortunately we don't have to! But seriously: To be successful as a company, it is necessary to make the right decisions together under time pressure based on information and data - just like the Kansas City Chiefs did.
Not that simple at all. Behind it all lies a highly trained performance capability, teamwork based on trust, and technologies that link all this together and speed up processes. This is also where digitalization comes into play in American football. Did you know that many NFL clubs use artificial intelligence to calculate the success of plays? And employ entire tech departments to digitally collect and analyze data related to the game? Partly because of this data and its proper analysis, the Chiefs turned the game around in the remaining 13 seconds.
What does this mean for our business?
To attract and retain customers and investors, as well as talent and the workforce, we have to be really good at what we do, we have to work well together – that's a question of both corporate culture and the organization of processes – and we have to be able to apply technologies such as digitalization and artificial intelligence in particular.
You joined thyssenkrupp in May as Chief Information Officer. Have you been able to get an overview of where thyssenkrupp stands in terms of digitalization and AI?
We still have some catching up to do. That also has to do with the fact that thyssenkrupp has been busy with a considerable transformation in recent years. The company is in the middle of a transformation. The question I therefore ask myself is: How can we now perhaps take two steps at once to catch up more quickly?
Where do you see the biggest need for improvement?
We are still, shall we say, a bit too shy in using the tools available. My impression is that we can do much more than we have been doing. We should all use digital applications actively and as a matter of course in our day-to-day work. The second point is collaboration. If something works well in one place in the company – why don't we adopt it in other places? Why don't we use the digital expertise in the company across the board? We need more trust in ourselves, in the skills of our colleagues and in technology. I would like to see a culture in which we look beyond the garden fence of our own department, our own segment, and ask ourselves where I can find help or a role model for my problem or my task in the company.
Are digital applications and AI the keys to success for thyssenkrupp?
I think so. Both are unbeatable in linking data or information and thus accelerating, automating and completely changing processes. But this can only be achieved in conjunction with other factors: digital skills and efficient, collaborative structures. We need to master these technologies, and ideally we should even be pioneers within our respective industries. In the interplay of the aforementioned factors, artificial intelligence is not simply a component on top, but an element that lifts the entire organization to a higher level.
What do you mean by that?
Artificial intelligence not only increases the speed of collecting and analyzing data en masse, but also recognizes patterns in the data and can provide decision-making support. This is also extremely exciting for a company like thyssenkrupp because it makes us more precise and agile in all areas from production to logistics and sales to recruiting. At the same time, AI is helping to improve both the user experience of our customers and of every employee, in other words, the way we work together.
Where is thyssenkrupp already using artificial intelligence?
There are already many use cases across thyssenkrupp where we use AI. In production, whether at Steel or Automotive Technology, machine learning for error detection and quality assurance is already virtually standard and is being used successfully in many places. In Materials Services, forecasts on delivery times are made in Sales and Supply Chain based on data models. In addition, in Finance and HR, the posting and checking of documents in SAP is automated with the help of RPA - Robotic Process Automation.
How will AI change jobs at thyssenkrupp?
There's no general answer to that question. As with all past developments in the area of digitalization, there will certainly be changes. The important thing is that we shape this change at thyssenkrupp together and see the opportunities as well as the possible risks. Knowing exactly what the future will bring is impossible.... However, it helps to ground the topic of AI again and again and to show very specifically what is associated with a respective application for the employees and the company. And how we can use it to our own advantage. From the company's point of view, the introduction of AI tools is an important building block for solving this problem in view of the shortage of skilled professionals.
You just mentioned a more positive experience of one's own work through AI. How do you intend to implement this?
One example: thyssenkrupp is one of 600 companies worldwide invited to test the functions of Microsoft Copilot in a pilot project. MS Copilot is an assistance software with artificial intelligence for Microsoft 365. Copilot supports every user while they are using Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, SharePoint, etc. I am excited myself to use Copilot in my daily life and get to know it. I am currently looking for 299 employees to try it out as well. We want to know: How can this help us? What impact will it have on the way we work? If anyone is interested, please feel free to apply via we.match. We are at the beginning of the project and the testing phase.
What about the much talked about digital dividend? When will we reap it?
A digital dividend results from the efficient interplay of our capabilities, i.e., performance based on our know-how, processes and corporate culture, trust-based collaboration and technology... We have to invest in the right projects in a targeted manner and generate the corresponding added value. We have some potential, as the many use cases and projects at thyssenkrupp show. These need to be implemented profitably across the board and scaled via platform approaches. Given our heterogeneous, distributed system and data landscape, this is not easy, but I am sure that together we can find and implement suitable and good approaches.