Patrick Wilhelm ERNI

Patrick Wilhelm

Principal Consultant and Global Lead Services Innovation and Digital Business Consulting

Four Digitalists Part 04 – Digitalizing traditions

In our new four-part interview series about Digital Business Consulting, we want to give you some insights into the daily work of our experts. We talked to four of them about their recent projects, the challenges they faced and how they overcame them to create the most value for our customers. In the last interview of this series, Patrick Wilhelm talks about how he and his team helped a company, which is rich in tradition, to move into the 21st century. He is active as a Principal Consultant for the Swiss market unit and is globally responsible for the Innovation and Digital Business Consulting services.

What experiences do you have in DBC?

For example, I worked for an insurance company where I was responsible for a program with the intention to digitalize the company’s internal processes. To do so, we looked for the necessary infrastructure, like workflow tools and software to scan and interpret content.

The program included projects from different business areas, which we gradually digitalized. In the end, we successfully implemented the whole infrastructure, and like that, increasing internal efficiency. When we implement digital projects, we use innovative methods to quickly understand the challenges and find the optimal approaches to overcome them. I acquired the necessary expertise from different roles in several projects over the past years.

Recently, I finished my Executive MBA at Imperial College in London, where I focused on digital transformation and innovation to deepen my knowledge even further and keep it up to date. My insatiable curiosity helps me to constantly strive to discover and learn new things.


In what project did you use that experience and how did you do it?

It was a project from an association in the building industry. They’re existing for a long time and are a group for all swiss engineers and architects, which, among other things, sets and defines norms you need to follow in building projects. They were working manually based on Microsoft Office and saw, nowadays there are better ways to provide this information. Basically, they wanted the benefits new technologies can provide, like a better workflow and easier interaction with their customers.

We looked at everything to see, what has to be done and how we need to set up the new strategy for this initiative. In the first step we developed a “breakout strategy”, so to speak the strategic lighthouse on the future course. To do so, we took a human-centered approach to envision a value proposition and based on that, planned which internal processes need to be changed in order to provide this added value. Then we created a possible business model and an action map in which we defined the short- and medium-term steps for further implementation.

As you can see, in the beginning, it’s less about the technology. Our experience has shown, that especially the big picture and the customer focus is an essential success factor and the basis for further activities.


What were the challenges in that project?

There were not many people at the company, who were able to spend the necessary workload to conduct this project. Then, they were lacking skills in terms of digitalization and didn’t know what’s possible nowadays. And, to choose the right methodology for such a project. These were the reasons why they came to us for support in these areas.


What have been the core tasks?

We’ve used a service package called “Strategy and Business Model”, which essentially consists of four elements: vision, value proposition, business model and action map. These serve as a basis for any further implementations.

We sketched the big picture, set the goals we wanted to reach at the end of this project and defined the customer segment. As I said, the customer segment of this group is in the building industry, so we wanted to see what their challenges are when getting the norms. Then we defined a value proposition to see, what this company can provide its customers in the future. Based on that we sketched a business model to find out, for example, what key resources they needed to provide this value, how the future revenue stream could look like and what the costs are.


With which methods did ERNI support the customers in realising their project?

Among other things, we’ve used well-known assets like the Business Model Canvas. It’s easy to use and offers great added value. This enabled us to see what has been in place already, what has been lacking and in conclusion what needed to be set up in the action plan to reach the target state for this initiative. In this framework, we gave them the methodologies to move on.

In addition to that, we could rely on the expertise every one of us acquired from many different projects, that we implemented prior to this one. Digitalization initiatives are not only about which technology you choose but also about aspects like a cultural change due to new structures and procedures.


What did ERNI contribute to the project, regarding digitalization?

It was the first milestone because they started on a green field. They had the idea to move on in terms of digitalization as they thought, there are a couple of chances and opportunities. But they didn’t have the necessary resources to move on. We supported them from the first step on and gave an outlook on what the future could look like.

We gave them a plan on how they can tackle the challenges and a framework about breakout strategy and facilitated the whole process in a very short time. In the end, I’d say the benefit for this company to work with us was, that we have more than 20 years of experience in IT and tech solutions and the competence in consulting. It wasn’t an initiative that lasts for a couple of months. We set it up in one-day sprints in which we set a goal for the day like set up the vision or the value proposition. We were able to provide all the deliverables in a very short amount of time. It was really about speed and of course about content.


This was the fourth part of our interview series about Digital Business Consulting. If you’re interested in our service, you can find more information on our website.


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