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How the industry can make the most of data management and AI

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How the industry can make the most of data management and AI


Data management can play a major role in the digital transformation of the industry: it helps with maintenance, reduces downtime and allows to predict the budget. Our trinational Technology Circle in November 2020 explored the topic extensively.

Prof. Dr. Marc K. Peter from the FHNW School of Business introduced participants to the role of data management as key success factor in digital transformation. He showcased the importance of data quality, customer relationship management (CRM), IT software investments in data management, propaganda bots in social media, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), risks in connection with IT and data security as well as business development opportunities such as smart/predictive maintenance and new business models.

The presentation was followed by a case study stretching out the potential of data management for business development purposes in predictive maintenance. Michael Kummer from Küffer Elektro-Technik AG (Ketag), winner of the i4Challenge 2020, presented the establishment of a performant data monitoring system with a dashboard system in order to reduce unplanned breakdowns and thereby reduce delivery delays.

Predictive maintenance solutions help to calculate cost

A group of experts led the first workshop, focusing on added value for customers by offering data driven services and maintenance agreements. Conversations have shown that maintenance contracts reduce the overall downtime and maintenance cost by improving partial parts availability as well as supply and storage, and thereby improving production planning. Furthermore, performant hosting systems have a positive effect on disaster recovery sites. Even though the introduction of predictive maintenance solutions (driven by data capturing and analysis) is perceived as expensive, they do have a positive financial effect as they allow a more predictable budget as well as a more accurate cost calculation. The return on investment (ROI) is thereby considered to be positive.

Another group discussed the importance of exploring possible applications of data driven maintenance solutions, which are considered as very wide in a sense of application possibilities as well as industries. However, one of the major problems is the entry point in companies for startups as they do not seem to immediately obtain a buy-in for their innovative solutions.

AI will transform the industry

The second topic emphasized the possibilities of data-driven artificial intelligence (AI) in the transformation of modern workplaces. Guest speaker Mike Tonazzi from the Future Work Group presented various examples how AI can be applied in order to improve meetings, sales activities, customer service and HR activities, among others. The discussion in the workshops following the presentation highlighted that various data sources such as CRM, ERP and others could be combined in order to rapidly and easily analyze and manage big data volumes. It was however mentioned that false or inaccurate algorithms could lead to wrong outputs and/or conclusions. A participant mentioned that in many cases, these are closed systems which are being permanently improved and becoming more performant. By focusing on one same system, a company might become too comfortable and thereby forget to foster innovative debates and strategic thinking.

Another group reflected on fears with regards to AI as well as possible risks and discussed the philosophical question if AI is a method to be used. They concluded that the use of AI will soon increase, and it thereby has also to be perceived as an opportunity for business development and innovation. The most important aspects when developing AI solutions is to involve customers and employees and to implement monitoring capabilities.

The knowledge exchange and discussions with the keynote speakers and workshop participants was extremely interesting and fruitful, with many other topics emerging from discussions. The Technology Circle provides a useful platform to present and share ideas, best practices and to reflect on important developments in the trinational region of Germany, France and Switzerland.

We thank our partners for their contribution and support to make this first event of the Interreg program Titan-E a success.

CCI Alsace Eurométropole
Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
Fonds européen de développement régional
Future Work Group
Industrie- und Handelskammer Südlicher Oberrhein

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