7 questions to Stefano Calestani, Service Innovation Director.
1. We are experiencing a moment of medical emergency triggered by the spread of Covid-19: what is the current general overview?
The health emergency that became global in a few months triggered a unique systemic crisis compared to what we have known so far, not only because it has never been experienced on a global scale, but also for the important consequences it generates on the economy and daily reality. Our way of dealing with life experiences, personal or professional, has turned upside down, generating much uncertainty, typical of situations of change, and fear due to the effect instead of the consequences on people. Another element of complexity is the phase in which the crisis is gradually penetrating the various countries, the speed with which entire production sectors stop and the strong interaction between different markets due to the effect of interconnected and global economies. The overall overview is slowing considerably at the moment, with different ways of managing the newspaper, interacting with our customers and managing the territories. The conscious and timely actions that Biesse has set up to react are used to face a situation that will evolve positively but presumably maintain new ways of everyday living.
2. How did the Biesse's Services area react and what strategies and tools has it adopted?
By definition, services represent the front line with customers. Daily on-site and back office interaction required immediate adoption of all actions aimed at ensuring the safety of employees in order to safeguard the health of their resources and customers as a priority measure. At the same time, business continuity was assured for customers and areas still active, ensuring operations in the shipment of spare parts and remote support, with timely interventions in the territories safe for technicians.
Biesse has heavily invested in the digitalization of services and machine connectivity in recent years, an action that has allowed us to use advanced tools and technologies to support our customers. The SOPHIA IoT platform has made it possible to follow connected customers daily, with live support and video assistance via remote streaming, maintaining proactivity as a value. Similarly, through PARTS SOPHIA, continuity of service in the management and shipment of spare parts was ensured. We have also prepared the provision of online training and demo on demand, which our customers have followed and will follow directly from home, reproducing the relationship with the technician and actually accelerating the adaptation of new solutions to be maintained going forward.
3. And how have the branches in the world reacted?
A Service Business Continuity Management Committee was set up to coordinate support actions and proposals for worldwide customers, also incorporating local crisis management regulations to integrate them into the continuity matrix. Thanks to the one company approach, with the consistency of processes and tools all over the world, the reaction of the branches was very timely in ensuring sustainability of service levels and offerings to customers. The worldwide spare parts hubs and the regionalization of technicians and service organizations allowed us to follow customers day by day, accompanying them in the different phases of the crisis.
In two weeks, we trained over 1,500 customer resources with different online training programs to encourage skills development and better autonomy in managing installed machines, and the sessions were extended in almost all regions with great success.
4. What needs have customers shown to the company in this emergency period?
Our customers around the world have suffered from business restrictions that have been defined by the governments of their countries, similarly to the branches of Biesse all over the world. Some supply chains remained active, albeit with reduced volumes, and benefited from the support of remote service assistance, troubleshooting and spare parts supply. Thanks to the IOT SOPHIA platform we have allowed customers to have effective remote assistance without having to intervene in the field. Nonetheless, the online training offer has served to satisfy a punctual and concentrated need for training requests, with peaks of over 200 unique participants per session in the different markets.
5. Biesse is a company perfectly integrated into the 4.0 business. How much digital services can they support in this emergency situation?
Technology offers solutions to manage interactions and remote support. In recent years Biesse has believed in investing in digital services, creating an infrastructure and processes. A great opportunity that customers are receiving positively and will become more and more substantial in the future. Having to limit travel, the availability of synchronized tools that allow you to be effective at a distance and the digitalization of the services offered, become an opportunity to guarantee a level of service in efficiency and sustainability; conditions both to be made structural downstream of crisis management.
Similarly, the SOPHIA platform, for machine connectivity (IOT SOPHIA) and online spare parts order (PARTS SOPHIA) is a solution that helps the customer to improve his productivity by facilitating interaction with Biesse and ensuring timeliness and continuity of service.
6. It is a global situation that affects everyone. What advice would you like to give to small and medium-sized enterprises to better face this moment?
We are also experiencing a period of reflection: for this reason, the advice that I want to share with entrepreneurs is to find time to reflect on their own way of doing business, not only analyzing the consequences but also looking at the opportunities that this crisis makes available, in operation of needs and experiences of your company. A strategic change may also prove necessary: face and manage change with the awareness that it will be important to be lean and dynamic, working in agile ways supported by the digitalization of processes, tools and documentation. The sharing of data and the intelligent of analysis of the same, the medical experience in the coronavirus field also teaches us, it accelerates the ability to respond to the common and specific needs of the company and customer. In my opinion, only through digital tools, integrated processes and analytical intelligence is it possible to think of medium to long-term solutions, strengthening one's business, especially in contexts where the movement of physical resources and people can be severely limited. The crisis must give the right stimulus to try to implement strategies that can prove to be better, also thanks to digitalization.
7. How will the future of businesses change?
This crisis will have consequences on two levels: one for proximity and the second for technology. It is inevitable that in a future where limitations in physical travel may be necessary, perpetuating the strategy of localizing skills within individual markets around the world, allows us to support all customers directly in their local areas. The future of business must go in this direction, maintaining and strengthening local controls, through specific skills in the area. But the biggest opportunity that this crisis situation offers, is to be able to encourage the change of those who approach the digital world also as a user. You can work and interact in a simpler way, not only through smart working or online training (see example in schools), but also through the installation or maintenance of machinery inside our customers' factories with remote support. The use of e-commerce platforms for businesses will instead facilitate the distribution channel.
The crisis is in fact an accelerator of change and Biesse is ready to accept and seize the opportunities to make tools available that go towards simplifying and optimizing our customers' production processes and flows. Digitization and localization: I am sure these are the two key words that will show companies the right direction to follow in the future.