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A fact check on six myths about digitisation


Digitisation is profoundly changing the economy. New business models are prevailing in the market and threatening established revenue streams. Many companies in the commercial vehicle sector are also facing uncertainty. What does this digital transformation mean for you and how can you adequately react to the challenges? This fact check dispels six common myths about digitisation.


Digitisation primarily affects IT

Incorrect. The collation and evaluation of data is certainly an important condition for digital transformation. The programming of software also plays a significant part. And these are the skills that IT specialists possess. Yet the input from other departments is just as important as their skills. Sales, Aftersales and Product Management know best the innovative functionality that customers really need and want. The know-how from departments like Development, Engineering and Production is required to integrate digital applications into vehicle technologies and production processes. Quality Assurance also plays an important role in ensuring vehicle safety, for example. The commercial vehicle sector needs to consider digitisation as an interdisciplinary challenge that involves all areas of a company.  


Every company has to completely reinvent itself

That is only partly correct. Vehicle manufacturers will continue to produce vehicles. Transport companies will still convey goods from A to B. Public transport companies will in future continue to ensure the mobility of passengers. To that extent, many stakeholders in the commercial vehicle sector will not have to fully rebuild their business model. But they will have to place it under the microscope and continuously adapt it as necessary. Because digitisation has the huge potential to make transport and passenger transport safer, more efficient and more eco-friendly. It promotes developments like autonomous driving, digital logistics, digital fleet management and vehicle sharing. Trends like these are fundamentally changing our sector. Those who fail to grasp their opportunity could eventually disappear from the market.

Illustration on the topic of the myths of digitalisation


Digitisation is just the introduction of new technology

This is far from being true. Above all, digital transformation denotes a new way of thinking. This transformation begins in the mind. It requires the preparedness and curiosity to try out new working models and to step away from business as usual. This includes companies considering: What are the needs of our customers? How can we better help them to achieve their objectives? And how must we organise ourselves to be able to do that? Digital technologies supply the tools to advance the transformation. But it is primarily a digital mindset that is required to use them sensibly. Those who combine the new technology with innovative ideas will be successful in digitisation. There is moreover a need for new legal conditions relating to traffic, which are required to enable us to exploit digital technologies. Germany has for instance just become the first country in the world to pass a law enabling driverless deployment of automated trucks and buses.


All processes have to be digitised at once

That is not quite true, because digitisation is not a quick-fix undertaking, but a long-term process. Companies should set priorities in terms of their products and work processes for which digital solutions are most urgent and then introduce these preferentially. The decisive factor here is the means by which your customer’s business and the company's own activities can best be simplified. Digitisation is occurring at different levels in the commercial vehicle sector: an increasing number of intelligent assistance systems within a vehicle are helping drivers. More and more digital services are becoming available to organise maintenance, workshop service and fleet management. There is also growth in the networking of a vehicle with its infrastructure. This is furthermore the prerequisite for autonomous driving, which is likely to be the most significant future technology in transport. Digital transformation in the commercial vehicle sector is therefore continuing to progress.

Illustration on the topic of the myths of digitalisation


Digitisation destroys jobs

This myth persists, but is still not valid. Firstly, it is certainly true that digitisation results in work processes previously performed manually by people now being automated. This does lead to the disappearance of jobs, particularly in the area of unskilled and mundane activities. Secondly, however, it is also the case that digitisation opens up new tasks and entirely new vocational fields. Studies by organisations like Bitcom, Deloitte and the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW – German Economic Institute) come to the conclusion that digital transformation even results in increased demand for personnel. They suggest that heavily digitised companies engage more additional employees than companies in which the internet plays a less relevant part. Digitisation is therefore a driver in relation to the labour market. Above all, it is well-trained employees that are in demand, but even people from other backgrounds have a golden opportunity if they can continue their digital education and transfer experience from their previous job to new tasks. 


The coronavirus has sharply accelerated digitisation

This myth is often repeated, but it is only valid in sectors where digitisation has been rather sluggish so far. Many professionals involved in administration, for example, first became familiar with remote working from home and the widespread use of digital communication tools during the lockdown. In the commercial vehicle sector, by contrast, digitisation has for some time played a significant part, both in the vehicles and in its work processes. Digitisation projects in this sector were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Some examples of this are the postponement due to contact restrictions of field trials relating to automated driving and digitisation in container terminals. These trials have not been cancelled, though, they are rather being advanced in a manner that is adapted to the current conditions.

Illustration on the topic of the myths of digitalisation

Text   Felix Enzian
Photos   Michał Bednarski


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