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“Cross-functionally digital: three departments are more than just the sum of their parts” 

 

The digitalisation and networking of commercial vehicles facilitates completely new services and business models, but also demands a new organisation to develop them. To achieve this, MAN has established the “Digital Triangle” consisting of the areas of Sales, R&D and IT. In this interview, Christoph Herr (Head of Digital Solutions), Stefan Teuchert (Head of Electric/Electronic Systems) and Andre Wehner (Chief Information Officer) explain the idea behind it and what benefits it will bring for MAN customers. 

Mr Herr, what makes the Digital Triangle different from the previous development process at MAN?

Christoph Herr: Just like all our competitors, we are facing the question of how we want to move forward with new topics – such as digitalisation, electromobility and autonomous driving. Initially, there are two possible extremes: agile development in a separate organisation, or development within the framework of the existing organisation. Here at MAN, we have opted for a hybrid model: these areas remain firmly anchored within our organisation, but they work together cross-functionally. In more concrete terms, we are in the process of establishing an international network of Digital Hubs. You have to think of it as a project centre in which our teams work together across department boundaries. We have opened another hub not far from our factory site in Munich, just like the ones in Pune in India and Lisbon in Portugal. Here too, staff from different departments work together on the issues affecting the future of our industry. 

Mr Teuchert, how are the tasks of the three departments divided?

Stefan Teuchert: Software development has been consolidated within my department, R&D. That includes all vehicle and vehicle-related software. The IT department looks after everything of a more process-oriented nature, and anything relating to sales and market requirements is handled by Sales. The aim is to create added value for our customers. And the best way to do that is to have all three departments in the same boat. With Christoph Herr, Andre Wehner and me, we have created a management team that doesn’t think in terms of silos. Instead, our thinking is very strongly product- and customer-focused. That’s a great advantage. 

Mr Wehner, why was the Digital Triangle established now?

Andre Wehner: We’re now in constant contact with our customers via these new digital services – no longer just when we hand over the vehicle or when it comes into the workshop as we were in the past. We can look at their interaction with our services and see exactly and in real time how well our offering is accepted. This has demanded new skills from a development perspective: we need teams who can work together constantly and rapidly improve our services on the basis of customer feedback. Only then will we be able to create real added value for our customers with our portfolio of services.

In the end, the customer benefits are the deciding factor. To what extent do MAN customers benefit from the Digital Triangle?

Andre Wehner: It’s true that we need to be one hundred per cent customer focused. The Digital Triangle creates the ideal conditions for this: we get to know our customers’ requirements at an early stage and can react to their feedback more quickly. The old “waterfall model” is not fit for this new world; we can’t simply write a list of requirements, task IT with the development and then see what comes out at the end of the process. The good news for our customers is that we have a whole raft of ideas for new services that can use vehicle data to optimise maintenance and reduce downtime, for example. Then we can use the Digital Triangle to implement them quickly and for the benefit of our customers.

Which new services will be developed as part of the Digital Triangle project?

Christoph Herr: Our teams are working on projects such as the development of the MAN eManager. This is software that provides fleet managers with information on aspects such as battery condition or remaining range. We also want to create the right environment to sell our vehicles online too. We’re sure that a new generation of logistics companies would have significant interest in such an offer. My third example is that we are working intensively to further expand MAN Service Care. That is a tool for proactive maintenance and repair management – it identifies imminent problems so that our MAN Mobile24 breakdown service can advise the driver to visit a workshop promptly, for example. Our aim is 100 per cent vehicle availability.

Has the Digital Triangle met your expectations so far?

Stefan Teuchert: It has exceeded them. We follow a very customer-focused approach in this arrangement because traditional departmental thinking has almost completely vanished. Everything is going well and going quickly. And everyone brings their own strengths: Christoph Herr is excellent in the areas of strategy and marketing. Andre Wehner’s strength is the rapid and clean implementation of the necessary IT processes. And almost no-one can get anything past us when it comes to product development. Everyone does their part, and when we add it all up, the sum of our departments comes to much more than three. 

Text   Christian Buck
Photos   MAN

#Digitalisation#Electromobility#Automation
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