The digitalization strategy developed by Klöckner & Co aims to eliminate information asymmetries by digitally connecting all market participants in order to increase efficiency for all. To this end, Klöckner & Co founded a digital unit, kloeckner.i, in Berlin in 2014, which now has around 90 employees.
Besides the systematic digitalization of internal and external processes, an essential component of this digital transformation is a profound cultural shift within the Company. Our employees therefore need to incrementally develop their digital mindset, which is crucial to our shared migration to Industry 4.0.
To ensure that everyone embraces and sees themselves as part of the changes, we have prepared a broad range of measures offering all employees the opportunity to acquire digital know-how at their own speed.
Employees have access to job-specific, in-house training and language courses via our Group-wide Digital Academy in order to selectively broaden their digital skills. This enables them to take part in online training on a voluntary basis during office hours on our premises or from a home office. The academy offers numerous online courses for users, mostly with the aim of enhancing digital skills.
Participants’ feedback and requests are also taken into account in the development of new course topics so that they have a hand in shaping future training packages. In 2019, new courses were created in the areas of platform thinking, artificial intelligence and agility to specifically address the needs of our employees.
Agility is a key prerequisite for speeding up internal processes and responding instantly to customers’ changing wishes – and thus gaining an edge over competitors in the marketplace. By applying agile working methods, we design digital solutions for our customers and partners in the shortest possible time. The Group is continually expanding its agile methods expertise. Two-day scrum courses run by external trainers teach our holding company employees the basics of the agile methodology. Afterwards, a test can be taken to certify the course participant as a scrum master or product owner. In order to also reach employees unable to participate in the courses, we launched an agility campaign on Yammer in 2018 that vividly illustrates the different principles and methods of agile working and thinking. The videos and images proved so popular that we created a poster summarizing the key principles of agility in 2019.
Another key driver of our cultural change is in-depth internal communication to highlight for employees the need for digital transformation and to alleviate any concerns.
As early as 2014, Klöckner & Co introduced the Yammer social network throughout the Company. Today, some 70% of employees use the hierarchy-free communications portal to exchange ideas, enter into discussions and as a valuable information resource. The CEO invites all employees to engage in open dialog on Yammer and uses the tool – in addition, for instance, to regular town hall meetings – as an information channel to communicate on the progress of our digitalization strategy, among other things.
In order to enhance cooperation within the Group, promote agility and inspire enthusiasm for innovations, Klöckner & Co continued with the rollout and refinement of #DigiDesk in the reporting year. This lets the workforce make use of all Microsoft Office 365 applications via the cutting-edge intranet. A hub structure connects all individual #DigiDesks, which are a source of local insights, so that employees can effortlessly exchange experiences, files and news around the world. Toward the end of summer, we also migrated the Digital Academy to the SharePoint environment.
In order to provide more in-depth practical knowledge of digital work methods, we have also implemented the Group-internal “Digital Experience” exchange program within our country organizations. Participants’ digital and individual skills are further enhanced in a several-week stay at our digital unit kloeckner.i in Berlin. In return, the exchange with colleagues who are mostly involved in business operations gives kloeckner.i first-hand expertise in steel. While in recent years the international exchange program was directed primarily at sales staff, participation was opened up to other areas of the Company, such as HR and apprentices, in 2019.