An interview with Dr. André Jung, CPO at Digital Spine

André Jung, Chief Product Officer at Digital Spine – a new digital unit of medium-sized, family-owned Europe-wide operating company with roots in Munich and many years of experience in elevator construction – in an interview.

interview | 25.05.2020

Dear André, why is the Mittelstand so important?

Medium-sized companies are an important anchor for Germany as a business location, because we pursue a business policy that is geared towards long-term and continuity. While CEOs in corporations do things right, family-run companies do the right things. Digitalization is not only on the agenda for the term of a CEO, but for the coming generations. Decisions and investments must be aligned to “infinite game”. In the current, highly volatile time, which is characterized by cultural and social change, we see that long-term thinking is more important than ever - specifically in a world where disruption of classic business models through digital services can literally happen over night. Values such as orientation towards the common good or social responsibility, for which SMEs have always stood, are suddenly becoming a strategic competitive advantage.

Where do medium-sized companies stand when it comes to innovation and digitalization? What are the biggest challenges?

Currently, small and medium-sized enterprises are offered a massive opportunity: combine the century-long experience of the core business with modern digital technology - before a software giant from Silicon Valley hires the domain experts to take over the business sector. As the backbone of the German economy, SMEs can become the driving force for progress in the economy and society. In general, SMEs are faced with the challenge to find the right talent to transform the current challenges into opportunities - and realize them. The desire is finding hexagons, but the recruiting process might only let through standardized squares. Often German HR departments ask for certificates, even for the Master’s thesis which lies 20 years in the past - instead of asking: What are you excited about and what did you do in the previous 5 years of your career. Challenges change: therefore we need people who are able to change with them - quickly. We all want the big innovation leading to new products and higher customer satisfaction … and eventually sustain the revenue stream instead of being disrupted, at best create additional business. Therefore, we need to establish a working culture which nurtures innovation and independent thinking. This is not only a challenge for SMEs, but also for major public companies and recently founded startups.

Why is the Maschinenraum so important? How can it help?

If we are honest, we cannot implement digitization and transformation alone. Digitalization is a holistic opportunity across domains and products - and therefore across companies. Partnerships are key. This is exactly where the Maschinenraum can help. At the Maschinenraum, we work together as if we are all on the same mission. And we are. We expand our network, learn from each other. We share our experience and knowledge, and so do other members - all in a safe and trustworthy environment. The Maschinenraum gives us the opportunity to open up our mindset through constant exchange and a stimulating environment. It is a breeding ground for innovation, it is about the big picture of digital transformation. From business model to product development to corporate culture. We see a unique opportunity to break up our existing habits and structures and create something truly new - outside the beaten paths of the core organization.

On what project(s) are you working at the Maschinenraum?

We are operating an Industrial IoT platform for Smart Building, Smart Factory, Smart Logistics and Machine-to-Machine-Communication. Already today, we are offering the leading solution for smart machine (elevators) automation and predictive maintenance. But there is progress everywhere, and there is always room for improvement. Therefore, we are looking for impulses and ideas. Our aspiration is to become the most widely used IoT platform for smart lifts.

The best thing about the Maschinenraum in one sentence?

The potential of the Maschinenraum. The momentum that the Maschinenraum can create that goes far beyond what an individual can achieve.

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